Rocky Balboa has some of the most infamous workout scenes in the history of cinema: He chases chickens, punches frozen meat and runs through knee-high snow. In one of the movies, he wakes up before sunrise, sleepily cracks raw eggs into a glass and drinks them.
It might look cool, but raw eggs can make you sick. Even if that doesn't concern you, it's still best to wait until after your workout to have high-protein foods or drinks like milk.
Raw eggs and milk are more beneficial to drink after your workout because they can be difficult to digest.
Protein for Recovery
When you're serious about training, you don't want to let all of your hard work go to waste. That's why many people have turned to protein supplements either before or after their workouts to ensure they're getting enough protein to support their muscles.
There are differing opinions about when to take protein and what kind of protein is the best. The highest-quality proteins are the ones your body can digest easily and extract the most protein from.
Milk and eggs have high-quality animal protein that provides plenty of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Your body uses these amino acids to build its own muscle. The protein found in milk and eggs is similar to the protein your muscles are made of, making it very useful.
Pre- or Post-Workout?
Rocky liked to drink his raw eggs before his workout, but that's probably not the best time to have a high-protein snack. When you digest food, blood has to divert away from your muscles toward your stomach and intestines. If it doesn't, you have trouble digesting the food. You might feel nauseated or bloated as a result, neither of which is conducive to your workout.
Milk can be particularly problematic to digest, because many people are lactose intolerant or have a hard time digesting dairy. For this reason, it's best to keep milk and raw eggs as a post-workout recovery snack.
Will Drinking Eggs Build Muscle?
There's a window of time after your workout when protein is the most effective. At one time, it was thought that window was less than an hour, but you probably have two hours to get your protein in, according to an article from Precision Nutrition.
One cup of whole milk has about 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates. If you have an egg with milk, it creates roughly a 1-1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates, ideal for recovery.
Depending on your weight, you should have between 20 and 40 grams of protein after your workout to get the maximum muscle-building effect, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. That means you'll need 2 cups of milk and an egg or multiple eggs.
Dangers of Raw Eggs
According to nutrition facts from the American Egg Board's website, one large raw egg has 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and no carbohydrates. There's also potassium, sodium and vitamin A. Despite the nutritional benefits, it can be dangerous to eat raw eggs.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can contaminate eggs. Before your eggs reach the store, they go through a decontamination process that kills most of the bacteria. However, there's still a chance that the raw egg you're eating is contaminated.
If you get sick, you might experience nausea, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. In serious cases, you can end up in the hospital from dehydration. There have even been deaths from salmonella, according to an article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so it's nothing to scoff at.
People with weak immune systems, including children, older people and pregnant women, should never eat raw eggs. If you have a robust immune system, eat them at your own risk. It's much safer to cook your eggs, which kills potentially harmful bacteria. If you're really pressed for time, you can even scramble your eggs and cook them in the microwave.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Salmonella and Eggs
- Precision Nutrition: All About Post-Workout Nutrition
- ACE Fitness: Strength Training Post-Workout Nutrition Guidelines
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Nutrient Timing Revisited: Is There a Post-Exercise Anabolic Window?
- American Egg Board: Nutrition
- SelfNutritionData: Milk, Whole, 3.25% Milkfat, Facts & Calories