When choosing a protein supplement, consider whether you have food allergies or intolerances and what your goal is -- weight loss, muscle building, improved sports performance or better overall nutrition. Although your decision will be a highly individual one, looking at the specifics of each supplement and what the current research has to say can be a big help. You should also consult your doctor before adding one of these supplements to your diet.
Egg and Whey Protein Basics
Both egg protein and whey protein, derived from milk, offer complete protein, which means they provide all of the essential amino acids your body needs but cannot make. The amino acids are used to build and repair body tissue, among other important functions. In terms of overall protein content, one scoop of an egg protein powder supplement provides around 24 grams of protein, while a scoop of whey protein provides anywhere from 20 to 30 grams of protein, depending on the type.
Calories, Fats and Carbs
Egg and whey protein supplements have similar calorie counts, ranging between 120 and 130 per scoop. While whey protein tends to be higher in carbs because it's made from dairy, some purer forms, such as hydrolyzed whey, can be even lower in carbs than egg protein. Fat amounts also vary, from no fat in egg white protein supplements to up to 4 grams in some types of whey. Keeping an eye on cholesterol? Egg protein can have as much as three times the amount as whey, with 15 grams per scoop.
Food Allergies and Intolerances
Lactose intolerance is one of the most common problems people face, and depending on your level of sensitivity, you may or may not be able to tolerate a whey protein powder. According to fitness expert and author Mark Sisson, whey isolate, which is mostly pure protein, contains almost no lactose, while whey concentrate, a less pure form, has slightly more. If you know you have an allergy or intolerance to either eggs or dairy, then your choice is easy. If you're not sure, you may have to do some experimentation or ask your doctor.
What the Research Says: Weight Loss
If you're supplementing with protein powder to aid weight loss, your main focus should be on satiety. Choose the protein powder that will help fill you up and keep you feeling full the longest so you eat less. A study published in "Nutrition Journal" in 2011 looked at the effects of several different types of protein on appetite when the supplements were used as a preload before meals. Researchers found that whey had a slightly more marked effect on appetite than egg protein, with those who consumed the whey preload consuming slightly fewer calories at the meal than those who consumed the egg protein preload.
What the Research Says: Sports Performance and Muscle Building
Whey protein has long been studied for its effects on muscle growth, sports performance and recovery, but egg protein hasn't been studied as much, and even less research has been done comparing the two proteins. A study published in "Nutrition Journal" in June 2013 supports the effectiveness of whey for improving body composition and sports performance when used to supplement a training program. A study published in "Nutrients" in October 2012 showed that compared to a carbohydrate supplement, egg protein was no more effective at promoting changes in body composition or muscle strength in female athletes.
- Precision Nutrition: Research Review: Fast vs. Slow Whey for Protein Synthesis
- MedlinePlus: Amino Acids
- Amazon.com: Optimum Nutrition 100% Egg Protein, Rich Chocolate, 2 Pound
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beverages, Whey Protein Powder Isolate
- Patient.co.uk: Food Allergy and Intolerance
- Mark's Daily Apple: A Primal Primer: Whey Protein
- Nutrition Journal: Effect of Different Protein Sources on Satiation and Short-Term Satiety When Consumed as a Starter
- Nutrition Journal: The Effects of 8 Weeks of Whey or Rice Protein Supplementation on Body Composition and Exercise Performance
- Nutrients: Effects of Egg White Protein Supplementation on Muscle Strength and Serum Free Amino Acid Concentrations