Does collagen help with weight loss?


Collagen is well known for helping to provide structure, support and strength to your skin, muscles and bones – but does collagen help with weight loss?

As we age, maintaining a healthy weight can often become more difficult. And while eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, or even taking the best vitamins for women over 50 can all contribute to good health, those extra pounds can sometimes be hard to shed.

Most of the claims behind collagen focus on glowing skin, healthier hair and nails, and greater joint flexibility. Even Jennifer Aniston adds collagen powder to her coffee. But when it comes to collagen aiding weight loss, the evidence is less clear. So far, few studies suggest that taking collagen will directly help you lose weight. However, collagen can reduce body fat in a number of ways by helping you build lean muscle and increase satiety. Read on to find out what our expert has to say.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and makes up a large part of our connective tissue, bone mass, and skin. In fact, 30% of all protein is collagen. Collagen is produced naturally by cells called fibroblasts and depends on us getting enough high-quality protein from our diet. You can also get collagen from certain food sources (like organ meats) or by consuming supplements.

But what does collagen do? Having healthy collagen levels plays an important role in maintaining:

  • Joint health
  • Elasticity and structure of the skin
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Kidneys and other organs

As we age, our body begins to produce less collagen and the existing collagen we have breaks down faster. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough high-quality protein to provide your body with the building blocks it needs.

Person on a scale

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Does collagen help with weight loss?

Let’s be clear: taking a collagen supplement is not a magic weight loss pill. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, prioritizing quality sleep, and reducing stress levels are all areas you need to focus on in the first place.

According to Sophie Medlin, dietitian at CityDietitians (opens in a new tab), the fascination with collagen as a weight loss solution stems mainly from the fact that it is a high source of protein and low in calories. “It can help people feel full longer,” she says. “However, there are currently no large studies that support collagen intake as a credible method of weight loss. The studies we do have that link collagen to weight loss tend to be tested on animals, which is not always indicative of the reaction of humans.Physiologically it is highly unlikely that collagen promotes weight loss better than any other high-protein food.

Sophie Medlin is a consultant dietitian and president of the British Dietetic Association in London. Sophie has expertise in gastrointestinal and colorectal health. She worked in acute hospitals specializing in gastrointestinal diseases before joining academia, where she worked as a lecturer at King’s College London.

In a 2019 study published in Marine Drugs (opens in a new tab), 90 overweight participants were randomly assigned to two groups; one group received 2,000 mg of ray skin collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks, while the control group received a placebo. After 12 weeks, the percentage of body fat and body fat mass in the test group was found to be significantly better than those in the control group. This suggests that skate skin collagen peptides may be beneficial in reducing body fat in overweight adults.

And since collagen is a protein, there could be other ways that collagen can indirectly aid weight loss as well.

Increases muscle mass

Collagen is made up of three primary amino acids; glycine, hydroxyproline and proline. Our bodies use these compounds to make proteins, which are then used to build and repair muscle, skin, cartilage, bones and organs.

In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (opens in a new tab), older men with sarcopenia (age-related skeletal muscle loss) participated in a 12-week resistance training program. However, half of the men also took a daily collagen peptide supplement. While all of the participants improved their muscle mass, those who took the collagen supplement also improved their muscle strength and lost more body fat.

Medlin says, “Higher muscle mass increases our metabolic rate, which may promote weight loss. It’s important to note, however, that collagen is not a complete protein, so collagen supplements alone aren’t enough to ensure you’re getting all nine essential amino acids.

“As above, there is no reason that collagen in combination with bodybuilding increases weight loss more than other protein sources and bodybuilding, which has been repeatedly proven in research. “

Indeed, a study published in Nutrients (opens in a new tab) found that whey protein increased resting metabolic rate more than collagen in overweight women. In that case, it might be worth investing in the best protein powder for weight loss.


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Increases satiety

But compared to other protein powders, collagen peptides may be more filling. A study published in Clinical Nutrition (opens in a new tab) found that a breakfast containing collagen was 40% more filling than a breakfast containing the same amount of whey, casein or soy protein. Participants who ate the collagen breakfast also consumed 20% less at lunch, suggesting that collagen may increase satiety, leading to reduced energy intake and thereby promoting weight loss.

“Anecdotally, a number of people have reported that collagen supplements make them feel full longer, which in turn may reduce snacking,” Medlin adds.

At the same time, a small study (opens in a new tab) found that collagen supplementation was no different than whey protein when it came to affecting appetite in healthy women. While levels of leptin (the satiety hormone) were slightly increased by hydrolyzed collagen, effects on appetite as measured by feelings of hunger, desire to eat, or satiety were no different.

We can therefore conclude that although collagen may help increase satiety and build lean muscle mass (potentially aiding weight loss), it is not superior to other forms of protein when it comes to these benefits. . Whether or not you supplement with collagen or another protein will likely depend on your preference; collagen supplements tend to be cleaner, while whey protein may contain added sweeteners and flavors. But whey powders also tend to be better absorbed than collagen supplements and contain a full amino acid profile.


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How does the body break down collagen?

The body cannot absorb collagen in its whole form, which means it must be broken down into an easily absorbed protein form. It will do this in one of three ways.

The first is to break collagen down into individual amino acids.

“The amino acid building blocks are then distributed throughout the body, going to where they are needed most,” Medlin explains. “This means the body can use collagen peptides for other purposes, and not necessarily to produce collagen itself.”

The second way the body can use collagen is to break it down into smaller peptides. These are then absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

There are about 28 to 29 types of collagen, but the most common are types 1 to 5,” adds Medlin. “Bovine collagen and marine collagen are the most common sources found on the market, although there are vegan versions available. Many collagen supplements are ‘hydrolyzed’, which means they are easier to absorb. . »

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