Get cracking: The benefits of eggs for runners

Simple to cook and bursting with benefits, eggs are one of sports dietician Renee McGregor’s food heroes.

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What I really like about eggs is their versatility – whether hard boiled, scrambled or poached, they provide the foundations of a nutrient-dense meal or snack any time of day. They’re quick and convenient, and you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to cook with them. This is why they were one of the hero foods in my first book, Training Food.

Are eggs good for you?

For years, eggs were given a bad press due to them being a source of dietary cholesterol. But recently, a large body of research has found that dietary cholesterol is not the issue. Rather, it’s our intake of saturated fats in general that lead to a rise in LDL cholesterol in the body, the source that’s associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Eggs are a great source of protein, B12 and iron – which is particularly useful for runners who are vegetarian – and one of the only dietary sources of Vitamin D.

Moreover, eggs are one of the only sources of a nutrient called choline, which we make in small quantities in our body. This nutrient is vital in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which supports muscle contraction and plays a role in cognitive function, specifically memory and thinking.

Are eggs good for runners?

A study in the journal Nutrients found that egg protein has a number of benefits to health and performance.

Egg protein is highly digestible and an excellent source of essential amino acids, with the highest attainable protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. This means that it is easily absorbed from the digestive tract and thus can be used by the body efficiently and effectively.

In addition, egg protein has been demonstrated to be important to skeletal muscle health and protective against sarcopenia (the loss of muscle and strength that can happen when someone gets older and does less physical activity) which, while important for all runners, is particularly relevant for older runners.

How many eggs per day?

The latest research suggests that the ideal intake is two large eggs a day, and no more than three a day, to maintain health. Individuals who have a family history of heart disease and high levels of LDL cholesterol may want to stick to a couple of eggs, three or four times a week.

How much protein is in an egg?

Eggs are a great source of protein, both from the white and the yolk. One large egg contains 6.3g of protein distributed as 2.7g in the yolk and 3.6g in the white.

As they come from an animal source, the protein is of high biological value, which is why the bioavailability and absorption is so effective.

An average serving size of two large eggs will provide around 180 calories and 12.6g of protein, making eggs an ideal choice for runners at any time of day. In fact, it has been shown that the protein in eggs provides high satiety (the feeling of fullness), prevents dips in blood sugar levels and helps to regulate appetite throughout the day.

Egg recipes – my serving suggestions

My favourite egg dish is a post-long run recovery brunch – two poached eggs with smashed avocado on toast, topped with a pinch of chilli flakes and served alongside a mocha to drink to ensure I’ve hit my carbohydrate and protein requirements. Here’s another quick and easy option.

Vegetable and cheese frittata

This makes a quick, nutrient-dense recovery meal after a late training session when all you want to do is eat, relax and get some sleep.

Serves 2

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Pinch of dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1cm cube of root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • Handful of chopped mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Mixed green salad, to serve


  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a large bowl and season with oregano, salt and pepper, then set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for about 3 minutes until golden brown, stirring regularly. Add the vegetables and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until it looks like it will come away from the sides of the pan. Scatter over the cheese. Remove the pan and put under a hot grill for 3 minutes, or until the top is golden. Cut into quarters and serve hot with a mixed green salad.

Tarragon mushroom-topped eggy bread

A refreshing twist on a childhood favourite which packs a nutrient punch and is a great choice for lunch.

Serves 2

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of bread
  • Oil for frying
  • ½ punnet mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g cream cheese
  • Pinch of tarragon
  • Seasoning


  1. Place the mushrooms and some oil in a frying pan and fry on a medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until cooked.
  2. Add the cream cheese, tarragon and seasoning to the mushrooms in the pan and put on a low heat. Once mixed through, set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and cut the bread into halves. Dip the bread into the beaten eggs liberally and then fry them in oil in another pan, pouring over any leftover egg. Remove the toast once golden brown on both sides. Top with the mushroom mix and serve straight away.

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