You’ve probably gotten wind of the collagen hype, but before you write it off as just another fad, our expert coaches break down what it is, the benefits, where it can go wrong, and how you can add the right type of quality collagen into your eating plan.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen, the uncooked form of gelatin, is the major structural protein that forms the connective tissue and extracellular matrix of the human body. Collagen is the durable, supportive material that gives our bones, organs, skin and connective tissue shape, flexibility and strength. About 90% of our organic bone mass and about 80% of our skin is made of collagen. [i]
Structurally, collagen is a tough, fibrous form of protein that isn’t well digested by humans unless it’s cooked or simmered for many hours to “release” it’s repeating amino acid peptides of glycine-proline-x (where “x” can be any amino acid). In order to get enough collagen, we must consume an adequate amount of bony fish, fatty fish, the skin of chicken or cuts of meat that have the connective tissue slow-simmered into the broth.
Why Does It Matter?
We all need enough protein to sustain the integrity of our tissues, skin and digestive system. If you aren’t getting enough collagen in your dietary plan, you could be missing out on a variety of benefits.
Younger, suppler skin.
Have you been disappointed by the latest “age-defying” topical serums and lotions, or frightened by the cost of other cosmetic procedures that promise more youthful skin? Then you’ll be pleased to know this: several studies have shown that oral supplementation with collagen peptides significantly improves skin hydration and elasticity, and significantly reduces wrinkle depth in as little as a few weeks. [ii] [iii] [iv]
Using collagen peptides as a supplement has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on cellulite morphology, essentially helping to smooth out the uneven protein matrix that supports our skin. [v]
Leaner and more muscular body.
The benefits of protein supplementation in active individuals are well-researched and well-known. And now we find that collagen peptides may offer unique benefits to elderly men with age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia). One double-blind study showed that daily collagen peptide supplementation, in combination with resistance training, improved body composition and increased muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men when compared to the placebo. [vi] The men taking collagen peptides after their workouts gained more lean mass and lost more fat mass than those who didn’t receive additional collagen peptides postworkout.
More durable joints.
Whether you have stiff joints, tight tendons or frequent and intense training sessions that put stress on the joints, you may benefit from a daily dose of collagen peptides. Over the span of a few months, collagen peptide supplementation appears to promote structural integrity and mechanical properties of tendons. [vii] Collagen peptides have also shown potential as therapeutic agents to support management of osteoarthritis and joint health. [viii] [ix]
Like our skin, the lining of our digestive tract is technically an external surface of the body. The lining acts as a vital barrier to protect us from pathogens and other substances. Thus, it’s important to keep it healthy and intact. The amino acids found in collagen are also uniquely supportive to the health and integrity of our digestive lining, not just our skin. [x]
It’s not just an old wives’ tale that soothing bone broth is a helpful method of easing illness and promoting the strength of our immune system (by way of a healthier gut).
Few things can make us look or feel younger and more energetic than a solid night of sleep. And while there are hundreds of sleep remedies available — and dozens of over-the-counter medications that promise more restful sleep — what if a real solution could be part of your bedtime snack?
Choosing a Quality Collagen:
With so many benefits, it’s important to choose a high-quality collagen supplement. When looking for a quality collagen supplement, Coach Anika recommends looking for one that has minimal (and recognizable) ingredients and is low in sugar. It should also be manufactured in a GMP-certified facility (GMP stamp should show on bottle) to verify its safety. While Coach Anika is a huge fan of our Chocolate- and Vanilla-flavored Collagen, she most recently enjoys our new flavorless Collagen that is now available online and launching in clubs later this month. The best part about this one? The unflavored supplement will make it easy to add to lower-protein foods such as organic, gluten-free oatmeal; coffee; and homemade soups.
If you’re just getting started with collagen, our coaches recommend taking 10 to 20 grams a day (½ to 1 scoop for 3 to 4 weeks) as this regimen is a good starting point to begin seeing changes.
If you’re unsure about how to add collagen into your eating plan, try adding the powder supplement to some of the following foods and beverages:
- Coffee and Smoothies
- Pasta Sauces
While the ways you can add collagen into your eating plan are seemingly limitless, be sure to check out some of our dietitians’ favorite collagen recipes here. If you discover any new ways to incorporate collagen into your diet, be sure to share your ideas with us!
– Life Time Weight Loss Staff
This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.