Bodybuilders drinking raw eggs is at least as old as training montages from the 70s and 80s – but why do bodybuilders eat raw eggs?
Today, we will look at where it came from, why you might do it, and any risks it might pose for you. It’s a good chance to focus on one of the most important muscle-building foods, and we’re going to take you through everything you need to know.
Do Bodybuilders Eat Raw Eggs?
Bodybuilders eating raw eggs or drinking them is a long-time trope. Some of them do it, but not many.
It’s a way of showing off someone’s hardcore and taking their nutrition seriously. You might be familiar with it from Rocky – but that’s not the best place for training and nutrition advice.
It’s a bit of a silly trope, but it is a real thing – there are many bodybuilders out there who will actively drink raw eggs. It’s also related to other common practices for building more muscle – like consuming liquid egg whites, which is one of the most popular and effective ways to get more protein in your diet.
Let’s take a look at what eggs can do for you and why they’re so popular, so you can get a picture of how raw eggs got their reputation and cult following.
They’re a staple muscle-building food, so let’s get into the important stuff.
Eggs have their reputation as a healthy food for a few reasons: they are relatively high in protein, they’re packed with important vitamins and minerals, and they’re one of the most bioavailable foods around.
Most carnivorous and omnivorous animals will eat eggs because they’re some of the most digestible forms of protein, vitamins, and minerals. These are important in bodybuilding, where the ability to absorb nutrients is always given close attention.
Every egg form is popular for bodybuilding breakfasts – and raw eggs are just a variation.
Due to its lean nature, you’ll often find elite bodybuilders eating scrambles and omelets for breakfast. This is especially true with a mixture of egg whites and whole eggs.
Egg whites are rich in protein and very lean – at 100% protein per calorie. Egg yolks – and thus whole eggs – are where the high-quality fats, vitamins, and minerals are. This makes them higher calories but more nutritious.
Many bodybuilders will use several egg whites and whole eggs (I like 1-2 whites per whole egg) to increase protein intake without more food/calories.
Why Raw Eggs?
Eggs are a potent protein source, and their whole benefit is bioavailability. Some people want to maximize bioavailability, which is possible with raw eggs.
The benefits are supposedly better results from improved absorption and digestion.
The cooking process can denature some of the protein in eggs if cooked too high or too long. This means a drop-off in that bioavailability, and some bodybuilders aren’t willing to lose that top-level absorption.
What’s not clear is if it makes any practical difference.
The absorption of eggs is already great, and digestibility is not changed too much, nor are the actual kinetics of protein getting from food into the gut and then onto the muscles. Eggs are fine when cooked and still offer some of the best protein sources.
Raw Egg Risks: Salmonella and Food Poisoning
Many people are concerned about the risk of salmonella from raw eggs.
This is well known and is a common side-effect of drinking raw eggs. Salmonella risk is relatively high, though this varies massively based on the source of your eggs, how they’ve been treated, and when you got them.
The major risks for salmonella are contamination, but this is a problem for raw eggs because you can’t cook it off. Cooking your eggs typically kills the bacteria at the base of things like food poisoning, but raw eggs don’t receive that same bacteria-killing process.
Raw egg consumption is more commonly associated with food poisoning than cooked eggs, even though they may have the same bacteria concentration before preparation.
Cooking reduces your risk and keeps you safe – it’s hard to make muscle gains when you’re too busy experiencing diarrhea and vomiting for days.
Should You Drink Raw Eggs as Bodybuilder?
There’s no reason to drink raw eggs when cooked eggs are safer and don’t have a practical downside. Elite bodybuilders do many things that the average person doesn’t need to do – and the long-term risk of getting one bad egg and contracting food poisoning isn’t worth it.
The normal, cooked use of eggs is enough to get all the best benefits.
The degradation of proteins isn’t well quantified, but it doesn’t seem to be a major practical difference even in the most elite of the elite – but even one week of food poisoning will throw you off for weeks or even months of training.
Raw eggs might be a cool way to show everyone that you’re hardcore, but it doesn’t have a good risk-to-return ratio.
The risk is a horrible food poisoning experience, while the return is just that you might potentially see improved muscle gains when comparing decades of raw eggs vs. cooked egg use.
Raw Eggs: Are the Risks Worth the Rewards?
The difference between raw and cooked eggs is also minimized if your diet is well balanced. A few grams of protein per day, changed a few % of bioavailability, really doesn’t matter if you’re consuming the proper amount of protein.
If you’re eating 1.2g of protein per kilo or more, then the bioavailability of a tiny fraction of your protein intake from eggs isn’t that big of a deal.
The % difference in bioavailability is already small and your eggs as part of your whole day’s eating should also be a small percentage.
The risk doesn’t seem to justify the (lack of) reward. It’s a bit of a cult habit to get into, and it looks cool, but there’s no practical benefit. You can do whatever you want, but we’re saying it’s probably not the best choice.
Raw Egg and Muscle Building FAQ
Do Raw Eggs Help Muscle Growth?
Raw eggs help muscle growth compared to no eggs, but they’re not provably better than cooked eggs for muscle gains. They’re more bioavailable – but only by a small amount – and that’s not a 1-1 indicator of muscle growth.
There are a lot of factors going into muscle growth and changing from a scramble to raw eggs won’t improve results by itself. It does increase the risk of food poisoning directly, though.
Is It Okay To Drink Raw Eggs?
It’s probably a bad idea, it only takes one egg contaminated with salmonella to produce a bout of food poisoning – which is often reported as one of the most unpleasant experiences. It’s also – obviously – more of a detriment to your progress than just cooking your eggs would be.
The risk to reward is off. It’s probably not okay to drink raw eggs.
What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Raw Eggs?
The benefits are that it’s quicker and takes less prep time – and it’s slightly more bioavailable.
These benefits trade off against the risk of contamination and bacterial problems, especially in the gut where salmonella can cause severe food poisoning. This is not worth the risk for the average person – and may not be worthwhile for bodybuilders or athletes, either!
Raw eggs are a popular trope but they don’t offer much benefit for the increased risk you take when chugging them.
They’re not only a bit of a health risk, but also pretty unpleasant – and they won’t make you a cool guy because nobody’s watching you drink them first thing in the morning when cooked eggs would have identical nutritional effects.
There’s something ritualistic and ceremonial about chugging a glass full of raw eggs – but that’s the only real reason to do it. It does have risks and it doesn’t have particularly impressive benefits, so you have to accept that you’re doing it because you want to – and because you’re living out a cheesy 80s training montage.
That’s fine – your body, your risks – don’t expect any nutritional benefits.