I don’t know about you, but this is a question I’ve asked myself before:
Is it possible to be strong and muscular without depending on protein powder?
In short… YES.
One of the first things I was indoctrinated into when I started working out was using protein powder. Perhaps you can relate to that. Like many, I became convinced that it was a critical necessity if you wanted to get big.
Somehow, someway, real food just couldn’t cut it in the protein department – so the story goes.
After years of using protein powders almost daily (mostly whey or hemp seed), I also spent years not using them.
I eagerly verify that it is possible to satisfy your protein needs without relying on the powders. Contrary to popular opinion (marketing spin?) I did not wither away into nothingness. If anything, I found out how unnecessary protein powders can be for some people.
But first, know that there are quality protein powders that are safe and deliver bioavailable protein. This isn’t a slant against powders. This story is shared for those who have a personal desire to try an alternative to protein powders, for whatever reason that may be.
Why supplement protein?
Many people who exercise, lift weights and play sports seek out supplemental forms of protein. But everyone needs it in adequate amounts, and even more so as we age.
To prevent age-related wasting, I have seen well-researched recommendations for senior citizens to consume up to 100 grams of protein a day!
Some guys take this to the extreme, consuming upwards of 300 grams of protein a day. Arguably, the body may not actually be making much use of much protein beyond ~1gram per pound of lean body weight.
Still, we must consume adequate amounts.
The body needs it for building muscles, cell structure, creating vital amino acids, maintaining immune strength, and more. Above this, the body’s protein needs are greater for active people than for others.
Protein powders are often very inexpensive, with the decent ones costing a bit more. It’s a quick, easy and economical way to boost your daily protein intake. Typically, a few big scoops of powder will net you around 50 grams of protein. Blended into a shake with peanut butter, coconut milk, and bananas crafts a decadent, muscle-building treat.
Or it can be simply mixed into water or milk, although that may taste bland or chalky, depending on the brand.
But what if you wanted to bolster your protein intake without depending on protein powder?
Perhaps you’d prefer to get your extra protein from a whole food source.
There is an option, a damn good one – raw eggs.
Raw Eggs vs Protein Powder
Studies have shown that quality whey protein can be very healthful in multiple ways aside from protein content.
On the other hand, some people are concerned about eating foods as isolates – like soy isolate or whey isolate. The food has undergone processing, probably heat treatment, and lots of good elements from the whole food are left behind or destroyed.
Alongside thousands of years of evolution, we ate whole foods and adapted to the package of elements presented in their natural forms. Isolates jar the body with an unique and unusual digestive challenge, and some are more sensitive to that issue.
What’s more, whole foods usually offer multiple benefits that isolates don’t. Eggs provide highly bioavailable protein, B vitamins, vitamins A, D, and E, hormone-building (ie testosterone) cholesterol, and minerals; particular zinc and selenium which are very important for the immune system, fertility, hormones, and more.
Here is what you get from 1 cup (4.86 large eggs)
Does it matter what type of eggs you use?
It’s important to know that I specifically buy local, free range eggs. It is suspected that eating undercooked eggs can cause food poisoning, but I feel this risk greatly reduced or completely eliminated by buying from a high quality source. Perhaps people have had good results with regular eggs – but I can only vouch for my experience.
Most often my eggs come from a small town 15 mins away, or a local farm that has a market store. I also recently bought 20+ meat and egg birds to have a steady, fresh supply of fresh eggs and roasted chicken through the summer and fall.
I’ve never gotten or felt sick from eating raw eggs in this manner. I often drink 5-8 at a time. To be honest, the digestive reaction to it is usually pretty good. Feels like it digests quick and easily, compared to sub par forms of protein that cause bloating and gas.
Yes, those of you crop dusting across the gym – there is a better way.
Slam raw eggs like Rocky did?
I don’t remember everything from my childhood, but I sure do remember the first time I tried raw eggs!
As a young man who had just seen Rocky for the first time, like many I became all sorts of fired up to wear sweat pants, go jogging in Chuck Taylors at the crack of dawn, and slam glasses of raw, unmixed eggs.
I had the Eye of the Tiger, but it wasn’t enough and my gag reflex triggered hard. I coughed eggs into the sink and I wondered how the hell Balboa swallowed such a load.
Thank goodness, when I began researching and experimenting with raw eggs as an adult I found a much better method.
Make decadent, delicious, protein-packed smoothies
Here’s a fun fact: raw eggs make a fantastic emulsifier in the food industry. Water and oil can be mixed with raw eggs and this creates an emulsion – two liquids that normally would not mix together can do so using emulsifiers. Mayonnaise is an example of eggs, water and oil used in this way.
For smoothies, mixing in raw eggs makes the blend exceptionally smooth and creamy.
So far, this is my favorite creation:
The Banana Banger
- 5 free range eggs
- 5 tablespoons organic peanut butter
- 1 medium banana
- 1 teaspoon raw cacao
- 16 ounces of coconut milk or organic milk
- 1 tablespoon raw honey (helps to offset bitterness of cacao, but cancel if you’re watching your sugar)
- (bonus) 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Blend thoroughly and enjoy!
It’s a great way to get in a ton of bioavailable nutrients including:
- highly digestible protein for building muscles, a healthy immune system and more.
- healthy fats and cholesterol to build hormones, fuel energy, and protect the body.
- life-giving vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other nutrients.
- powerful, free-radical busting antioxidants in the polyphenols of cacao.
In all, here’s the macronutrient breakdown of the Banana Banger:
- Calories: 1,344
- Protein: 50 grams
- Fat: 97 grams
- Carbohydrates: 76 grams
Pretty hefty, hmm?
I usually use coconut milk, but regular milk would easily net you another 16 grams of protein.
You’ll notice there is a tremendous amount of fat in this smoothie and that’s because healthy fats are tremendously good for you. This brings long lasting fullness and sustained energy.
Sometimes I crave a bit more protein and kick it up to 8 eggs. That would ramp up the protein content to 65 grams and it still goes down quite easily.
One of the great things about raw egg smoothies is that it’s a lot easier to drink 5-10 raw eggs than eat them cooked.
Extensive bonus that will make your girlfriend smile
Bodybuilding legend Vince Gironda advocated consuming 36 raw eggs a day as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids. Whether that is true or not… cholesterol is the precursor for testosterone and you’ll do yourself a favor as a man to eat some quality eggs in the diet.
I can feel the difference between eating 5+ eggs a day and none. More eggs, more morning wood every time.
That’s an intuitively accurate barometer for sexual health, in men – whether he gets morning wood. Aside from that, my body (and many others) do very well with eggs as a staple alongside other meats, and of course veggies.
But aren’t eggs more expensive than protein powder?
This can be a legit issue depending on what is available in your area, and I understand. This is one of the reasons I bought meat and egg birds – to help mitigate the costs of eating meals that are substantially filling yet still healthful.
I know you guys can relate – given free reign, we may take down a dozen eggs a day between fried eggs, hardboiled eggs, and raw egg smoothies!
Let’s do some cocktail napkin math to compare the costs of raw eggs vs protein powder
A popular protein powder has a 3.5lb tub for about $50, and gives 50 servings.
That’s about $1 per serving, which is 24 grams of protein.
The total protein content (24 grams x 50 servings) = 1,200 grams of protein
Let’s imagine that instead of spending $50 on protein powder, you bought the equivalent in eggs.
My local suppliers offer free range eggs at roughly $4.50 / dozen.
@ $4.50ea, 11 dozen eggs costs a total of $49.50. This provides 132 eggs.
The total protein content (6 grams x 132 eggs) = 792 grams of protein.
For the same $50 bucks, the protein powder would net you about 400 grams more protein.
The trade off is that unlike eggs, protein powder doesn’t come packed with healthy fats, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals. As outlined above, eggs are one of the worlds healthiest foods. It’s not just a protein source. This has to be factored into the equation.
Also, many protein powders contain things that you may not want to eat – like soy and artificial flavors. There’s already a near-epidemic crisis of endocrine disruption (infertility, low test) in this country. We shouldn’t fan that flame.
Give it a try
Protein powder makes it easy to hit 300+ grams of protein a day, but it’s arguably unnecessary to consume that much. I don’t know how you feel about it, but in my experience its just over-hyped supplement company nonsense.
My protein needs are met with 150-200grams of protein/day. I’m currently ~210lbs at 6’4″ and still gaining, even though this is “only” about 1 gram of protein/lb of bodyweight.
With eggs, chicken, grass-fed beef, elk and buffalo (buffalo is the BEST) I hit this target easily. If you’re looking to get your protein needs satisfied exclusively from whole foods, this approach may work for you too.
If protein powder helps you with your goals, that’s great also.
However, now you’ve seen plenty of reasons why raw eggs vs protein powder is a worthy consideration.
For myself and plenty of others, it is such a great staple of protein, fats and other nutrients that it makes protein powders completely unnecessary.
With that being said… Cheers!