Confession: When it comes to breakfast, I’m a creature of habit. Most mornings, I have two eggs. Hard boiled, scrambled, over-easy — you name it (I’m not picky). Sometimes with spinach or kale. Sometimes with a side of fruit.
So when I was asked to eat egg whites for breakfast every day for two weeks, I thought, “No problem. I’ve got this.” It’s basically what I eat anyways.
Even though the yolk is delicious (and full of nutrients, FYI), the egg white itself is lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol, which is pretty tempting. Plus, the whites still have a ton of protein. “With three and a half grams of high quality protein apiece, egg whites are a top food for appetite control and muscle building,” says Karen Ansel, registered dietician and nutritionist, and author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging: Stay Younger, Live Longer.
But would I miss my beloved runny yolk? Would I feel any different? Challenge accepted:
1. I was full all morning
When I started this experiment, I was afraid that a breakfast of egg whites only wouldn’t keep me full all morning. I was wrong.
A couple of egg whites (I usually ate egg whites from two to three eggs) actually left my stomach pretty satisfied until lunch. I mixed them with veggies like scallions or spinach and a serving of fruit to add a little variety. There were no 10 a.m. stomach grumbles from me the whole experiment!
2. They helped me work out better
Before working out in the morning, I have to have something eat—preferably something light that won't sit like a stone in my stomach while I go for a run.
Usually, a big egg scramble doesn't fit the definition of "light." But I discovered that two hard-boiled egg whites were the perfect fuel for my morning runs or gym sessions (as sad as they look in this picture). I felt like I had a sustained level of energy throughout my workout, sans the carb crash that I often get after eating a banana or piece of toast. And no painful fullness or bloating, either.
3. Egg whites are pretty damn boring
I can eat whole eggs for days and not get bored, but egg whites? They got tiresome fast. While you’d think that they would be the perfect blank slate for any breakfast, I had a hard time keeping my palette interested.
But things got worse when I mixed things up. I tried the paleo favorite, "oat-less" oatmeal — egg whites, half a smashed ripe banana, a touch of milk, and cinnamon. I don't get the fascination at ALL. It tasted more like a weird, watery mix of scrambled egg whites and banana.
Egg whites can also get really rubbery. When I made an egg white omelette, the texture was like plastic. Talk about a let-down.
4. I missed my runny yolks
You guys, I really, really missed my runny yolks. From the taste to the texture to the colour, egg yolks add a little something that makes breakfast feel satisfying and special to me. Plus, I was missing out on some key nutrients by ditching the yolk.
“The egg yolk is where you’ll find almost all of the nutrition, like B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin D, iron, zinc and choline,” says Ansel.
While the white has most of the protein found in the egg, you'll get extra just by eating the yolk. "Plus, the yolk gives you close to five grams of fat, which can help you stay full longer than just feasting on the whites," Ansel says.
5. I wasted so. Many. Eggs
For my experiment, I didn’t buy cartons of egg whites that you see in the supermarket. Instead, I used whole eggs and separated the whites from the yolk. At the end of the two weeks, I wasted a LOT of egg yolks — despite all my best efforts to save them to use in other recipes. I felt pretty bad about throwing away so many yolks.
Next time, I’d buy the cartons of egg whites you see in the supermarket. It may cost more...but I’d waste less food.
At the end of my two weeks, I was more than ready to return to the whole egg. But I think I'll stick with my hard-boiled egg whites before working out — that tip was a keeper!