When we think about the benefits of collagen peptides, we think about smooth, healthy skin. Collagen is an excellent supplement for improving your skin’s elasticity over time because it reduces dryness and the appearance of wrinkles. We all love a youthful glow! However, we don’t often talk about collagen’s other benefits, including its ability to boost muscle gain and thus melt body fat.
Most of the research on collagen emphasizes its benefits for skin, joint, and bone health. This is because collagen is a form of protein and a natural component of the connective tissues in your body, including tendons, ligaments, and skin. Three amino acids make up collagen: glycine, proline, and lysine. But collagen is an important component of your muscles, too. It is a major structural protein in skeletal muscles, which connect to your bones and make up 30 to 40 percent of your total body mass.
So, why would you want to supplement something your body already has? Collagen supplements contain high amounts of glycine, proline, and lysine. When you ingest a supplement, you may protect your body’s existing store of collagen because the supplemental amino acids works as antioxidants. Experts believe that the supplement blocks the enzymes that break down the body’s own collagen. In addition, consuming high levels of collagen may trick the body into thinking its natural collagen is breaking down. As a result, the body begins to form new collagen.
Collagen Can Help You Build More Muscle and Increase Satiety
Mary Dragon, nutrition counselor and owner of The Barn Nutrition and Fitness, believes that the benefits of collagen peptides go beyond skin and joint health. “Collagen is a great supplement to support muscle growth and repair,” she says. “It’s loaded with amino acids which are the foundation to muscle building.”
A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition supports this theory. In the investigation, elderly participants with sarcopenia (age-related loss of skeletal muscle) took part in a 12-week resistance training program. Half the individuals received collagen peptides as a supplement, the other half received a placebo. While all the participants improved their muscle mass, the individuals who took collagen had even stronger muscles at the end of the study. The collagen group also lost more body fat. As a result, collagen may have indirectly helped those participants burn more fat by boosting lean muscle mass.
Another theory is that collagen promotes satiety because it’s a protein. According to Harvard Health, protein takes more energy to digest, which keeps you fuller for longer. It also reduces levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. But if you opt for a high-protein diet, experts strongly suggest that you fill out the rest of your meals with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Too much protein without enough carbs may increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Other research studies support the idea that collagen is beneficial in a weight loss diet. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, for example, found that a high-protein diet is an effective and safe meal plan for weight loss. A 2019 study from the Marine Drugs Journal found that fish collagen may help reduce body fat in overweight adults.
How to Add Collagen to Your Diet
As Dragon explains, collagen supplements are an important component of a weight loss diet. “On any fat loss plan you jeopardize losing muscle,” she says. “Collagen along with a higher protein plan would help in preventing that. All my clients use collagen peptides to boost their protein uptake.”
How much collagen should you take in a day? “I personally take 15 to 30 grams of collagen, sometimes doubling it if I feel my joints need some extra love,” says Dragon. “You can find collagen-based products all around, [from] cookies to Jell-O to bars, so getting more than that can be very easy to do.” Of course, cookies might not be the best snacks if you’re trying to lose weight. But if you do splurge, it may be worth it to make sure your sweets have a boost of collagen.
If you buy your collagen peptides in powder form, there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your meals. Blend a scoop or two into a smoothie with banana, fresh spinach, raspberries, nut butter, and your favorite milk. You can even stir a serving into a steaming bowl of your favorite soup.
“I put a powdered collagen in my morning coffee,” Dragon says. “And I’ll sip on bone broth throughout the day.” Indeed, bone broth is a natural source of collagen and may have the same benefits as a supplement. Just remember that some supplements may be better than others, so here are some we recommend. With an extra scoop of collagen peptides each day, you may give your body the nutrients it needs to successfully build more muscle and burn more fat.