Can you eat too much egg whites?

Quick Answer

Egg whites are incredibly nutritious and can be a great addition to a healthy diet. However, eating too many egg whites may lead to potential health risks. The key is moderation. Consuming 4-6 egg whites per day is likely safe for most healthy adults. Eating more than that on a regular basis may increase cholesterol levels or lead to biotin deficiency over time. As with most foods, variety and balance are important.

What are egg whites?

Egg whites are the clear liquid contained inside an egg. They are rich sources of protein, micronutrients and antioxidants but contain little fat or cholesterol.

One large egg white contains:

  • 17 calories
  • 4 grams of protein
  • No fat, carbs or cholesterol
  • 54 mg calcium
  • 6 mcg selenium
  • 56 mg potassium
  • Vitamin B2, B6 and B12

Egg whites provide high-quality complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs from food.

Benefits of egg whites

Here are some of the top health benefits of egg whites:

  • High in protein. One large egg white packs 4 grams of protein, providing 8% of the Daily Value (DV). Protein helps sustain energy, build and repair tissues and regulate bodily processes (1).
  • Low in calories. With just 17 calories per egg white, this protein source is low in calories. This can help with weight control when substituted for higher calorie foods (2).
  • Nutrient-rich. Egg whites contain small amounts of many nutrients like selenium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamins B2, B6 and B12.
  • Support muscle growth. The protein in egg whites may stimulate muscle protein synthesis and aid muscle growth when paired with resistance exercise (3).
  • Promote fullness. Due to their high protein content, egg whites are very filling. Eating them can aid appetite control (4).
  • Fat-free.The whites are entirely fat-free, unlike whole eggs which contain about 5 grams of fat each.

Are there any downsides to egg whites?

Egg whites are highly nutritious, but some potential downsides exist:

  • They lack fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K present in egg yolks.
  • Egg allergies are one of the most common food allergies, mainly caused by eggs whites (5).
  • Raw egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds biotin and can lead to biotin deficiency if consumed excessively.
  • May harm people with certain health conditions like diabetes or metabolic syndrome (6).

As long as eggs are thoroughly cooked, avidin is deactivated. So biotin deficiency is mainly a concern for people eating raw egg whites frequently.

For most people, egg whites can be healthy if eaten in moderation as part of a varied diet. Those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome may want to limit egg white consumption to avoid potential health risks.

Can you eat too many egg whites?


Egg whites are low in cholesterol compared to whole eggs.

However, some research indicates that consuming more than 6 egg whites per day for months could still increase cholesterol levels in certain people (7, 8).

One study had participants eat 8 egg whites per day for 12 weeks, equivalent to 72 egg whites per week. Total and LDL cholesterol levels increased significantly (7).

Another study found LDL cholesterol levels increased when men with metabolic disease ate 6 egg whites daily for 3 months (8).

The cholesterol-raising effects seem most likely in those with diabetes, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.

For healthy people, moderate egg white consumption is unlikely to negatively impact cholesterol levels.

Biotin deficiency

Raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which binds to biotin and prevents its absorption (9).

Biotin is an important water-soluble B vitamin involved in energy production. Deficiency can cause symptoms like hair loss, brittle nails and skin rashes (10).

Evidence shows biotin deficiency is possible in people who frequently consume raw egg whites for months to years (9).

Cooking egg whites deactivates avidin, preventing biotin depletion. However, the occasional raw egg white is unlikely to cause problems.

The biotin content of eggs themselves may also help offset potential deficiency in those eating raw whites frequently (11).

Other concerns

Some worry whether the cholesterol in eggs may increase heart disease risk.

However, research shows dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels in most people (12).

Observational studies also report that eating up to 6 eggs per week does not increase heart disease risk (13).

In moderation, eggs are unlikely to increase cardiovascular risk or mortality, even in those with heart disease or diabetes (14).

Overall, eating up to 6 medium-sized egg whites per day is unlikely to cause negative health effects for most healthy people.

Moderation is key, as excessive consumption may increase cholesterol, reduce biotin absorption or provide too much of certain nutrients.

How many egg whites can you eat in a day?

Here are some general guidelines for how many egg whites per day are likely safe:

  • 6 or fewer for healthy people
  • 4 or fewer for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome
  • 2-3 or fewer for people with high cholesterol or heart disease

For healthy people without any underlying conditions, up to 6 whites per day appears unlikely to negatively impact health. This is equivalent to about 42 egg whites per week.

For those with metabolic conditions like diabetes or insulin resistance, limiting egg whites to around 4 per day or 28 per week is more prudent to avoid potentially increasing cholesterol.

People with high cholesterol levels or heart disease may want to limit themselves to 2-3 whites daily or 14-21 weekly at most to be extra cautious.

As long as raw egg whites are limited, issues like biotin deficiency are not a major concern at these intakes, providing a varied diet is consumed.

Any diet changes should be discussed with a healthcare professional if you have an underlying health condition.

Are egg whites safe to eat raw?

Raw egg whites may be safely eaten in moderation, though cooking is generally recommended.

Here are some tips for minimizing risks if eating raw egg whites:

  • Use pasteurized egg whites when possible to reduce the risk of Salmonella.
  • Avoid raw egg whites if you have a weakened immune system.
  • Limit yourself to 1-2 raw egg whites per day and avoid daily long-term consumption.
  • Don’t consume raw egg whites for months at a time.
  • Make sure the rest of your diet provides adequate biotin.
  • Monitor for symptoms of biotin deficiency and promptly discontinue if they occur.

Using pasteurized eggs when cooking raw egg white dishes can help reduce any food safety risks.

Raw egg whites eaten occasionally in small amounts are unlikely to cause biotin deficiency or other issues in healthy people with robust immune systems and varied diets.

Are there benefits to raw vs cooked egg whites?

Some people prefer using raw egg whites rather than cooking them. However, raw egg whites aren’t necessarily healthier.

Here’s how raw and cooked egg whites compare:

Protein content: Cooking doesn’t significantly affect protein content or quality (15). Both raw and cooked provide around 4 grams of high quality protein per white.

Digestibility: Protein is equally digestible in raw and cooked eggs. One study saw no differences in amino acid absorption (16).

Antioxidants: Raw egg whites contain more antioxidants like ovalbumin and ovotransferrin (17). However, cooking only slightly reduces antioxidant capacity.

Biotin: Raw egg whites contain avidin, which can bind biotin. Cooking deactivates avidin.

Food safety: Raw eggs may sometimes be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, while cooking eliminates this risk.

Overall, raw and cooked egg whites are highly nutritious. Cooked egg whites may be safer, while raw egg whites contain slightly more antioxidants. Both provide similar amounts of digestible, high quality protein.

Simple ways to add more egg whites into your diet

Here are some simple ways to enjoy egg whites:

  • Omelets: Whip up an omelet using just egg whites or one whole egg plus additional whites.
  • Scrambles: Combine egg whites with vegetables like spinach, tomatoes and peppers.
  • Frittatas: Mix egg whites with vegetables, cheese, meat or seafood and bake.
  • Baked goods: Replace up to 1/4 of the flour in pancakes, cookies or quick breads with egg whites.
  • French toast: Use egg whites instead of whole eggs when making French toast.
  • Protein shakes: Add liquid egg whites to smoothies and shakes for extra nutrition.
  • Custards or puddings: Use egg whites as the base for healthy custard and pudding recipes.

Egg whites pair well with vegetables, lean protein, cheeses and spices. Get creative and experiment with adding them to entrees, snacks and sweet treats.

Should you eat whole eggs instead of just egg whites?

Whole eggs and egg whites are both highly nutritious, so which is healthier?

Whole eggs contain:

  • All the protein in egg whites
  • Vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin
  • Choline
  • Around 185 mg cholesterol
  • 5 grams total fat with 1.6 saturated

The cholesterol and fat come from the yolk, while the whites provide the protein.

For most people consuming moderate amounts, dietary cholesterol has minimal impact on blood cholesterol (12). Plus, whole eggs provide cholesterol’s benefits, like building cell membranes.

However, people with high cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes may still want to limit whole eggs and mostly consume the whites. Discuss this with your healthcare provider.

For those without these conditions, eating whole eggs is likely fine unless regularly exceeding recommended limits. Whole eggs also reduce the risk of biotin deficiency.

When it comes to muscle growth, fat loss and overall health, research suggests whole eggs and egg whites are equally beneficial (18, 19).

Including some whole eggs in your diet by replacing 1/4 of your whites with yolks is fine for most people. But limit whole eggs to 2-4 daily if concerned about cholesterol.

The bottom line

Egg whites are low in calories and fat while providing high quality protein, nutrients and antioxidants.

For most people, eating 4-6 whites daily, or 28-42 per week, can safely be incorporated into a healthy diet. This provides optimal protein intake while limiting potentially negative impacts on cholesterol levels.

To put this into perspective, consuming 4-6 egg whites per day is equivalent to about 2-3 whole eggs.

So in moderation, egg whites can be part of a balanced diet without concern for negative health outcomes. Just don’t eat them raw or in excess on a daily basis.

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