As a runner, routinely eating eggs oﬀers a number of health beneﬁts, from maintaining a lean body weight and helping ﬁght inﬂammation to promoting bone strength (thanks to high levels of protein, choline, and vitamin D). Egg nutrition has sometimes been a confusing matter, but the fact is they are considered a complete protein and are easily absorbed by the body, making them a great option for post-workout eats, helping to repair all those muscle ﬁbers you just broke down, and promoting muscle growth. Here’s a quick primer of what you need to know about the incredible egg.
Are Eggs Really Good for You?
Now that the research has been unscrambled a bit, health experts seem to agree that for most healthy people, there is no reason to shy away from eating a moderate amount of eggs—yolks and all. Current thinking is that cholesterol from foods like egg yolks does not have as big of an impact on the levels of dangerous forms of blood cholesterol in our bodies as once thought. Besides, while the egg white is crammed with nature’s perfect protein, it’s the sunny middle that has the lion’s share of the nutrition including vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, brain-boosting choline, and the powerful antioxidant duo lutein and zeaxanthin (which impact eye health).
Protein is very satiating, taking longer to digest in the body than carbohydrates. Studies that have reviewed the level of macronutrient intake at breakfast show people who start their day with protein, specifically eggs, more easily lose or maintain weight versus those who eat a high carbohydrate breakfast, such as a bagel or bread.
Oh, and if you’re wondering: Eggshell color depends on the breed of the chicken and pigments they produce with virtually no impact on taste or nutrition. So it doesn’t matter all that much if you grab brown or white eggs at the store.
What Are “Free-Range” Eggs?
The term “free-range”—eggs produced from birds that may be permitted outdoors—has become increasingly more popular over the years. Using eggs dropped by free-range hens does appear to score more of a nutrition impact, including higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3s and vitamin E. (Some research has also shown an increase of up to four times the amount of vitamin D in eggs from hens that have exposure to sunlight, compared to hens that are kept away from sunlight.)
However, the whole “free-range” label is poorly policed and may be used differently depending on the country and the relevant laws. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for example, requires that egg producers be able to demonstrate that “free-range” egg layers have access to the outdoors, though there is no government oversight as to the quality of the external environment or the amount of time the hen has access to it.
For the best bet of picking up truly free-range eggs, you’ll want to grab cartons from a local farmer. Or, check for the brand Pete and Gerry’s, whose eggs hail from birds that are free to roam on organic pasture.
How to Poach, Scramble & Hard-Boil Your Eggs to Perfection
First thing’s first, the way you prep your eggs matter big time for how much you’ll enjoy them. Master these prep techniques and you’ve cracked the code for enjoying eggs all day, every day.
Nuking your egg is the secret to a fuss-free poaching hack. Place ½ cup water and ¼ teaspoon vinegar in small microwave-safe bowl. Carefully crack egg into bowl, cover, and microwave on high for 1 minute, or until white is set and opaque but yolk is still runny. If needed, microwave in 10-second spurts until eggs are done. Remove egg from bowl with slotted spoon.
Low and slow is the key to deliciously silky curds. Heat oil or butter in a skillet over medium-low. Whisk eggs very well with salt and pepper until pale yellow and foamy. Add eggs to skillet and cook, undisturbed, until a thin layer of cooked egg appears around the edge of the pan. Use a rubber spatula to gently push the eggs around the skillet until they have formed soft curds and are barely set.
To nail perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs every time (read: no green-tinged yolks and clingy shells), do away with the boiled part and give your orbs a steam bath. Bring at least 1 inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Place a steamer basket in pan, add eggs in a single layer and steam for 12 minutes. Immediately transfer eggs to a bowl filled with ice water and let rest 30 minutes.
Are Your Eggs Still Fresh?
Need a quick way to test whether the eggs in your fridge are still good? Plop one into a bowl of water. If it sinks completely, it’s very fresh and perfect for runny yolk prep like poaching. If it remains submerged with its wide end pointing up, the egg is a little older but still great for most uses like boiling and scrambling. If an egg floats on its side, it’s too old and should be tossed.