What's the deal with collagen peptides?

Updated: Aug 26, 2018

collagen peptides, collagen and joints, collagen for weight loss

Pick of the Week: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Nutrition highlights per scoop: 35 calories, 9 g protein, 10 g collagenI’ve recently started including collagen in my daily routine. Here’s why: Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. Though most protein (like meat and fish) are broken down to support our collagen structures (like ligaments, tendons, and skin), the amino acid content of collagen peptides is especially bioavailable and easily digestible. Typically, you’ll find one of two forms: Bovine-based collagen and marine-based versions (which I recommend for vegetarians who include fish).

Benefits of collagen

There is intriguing research linking collagen in this form to reduced wrinkling and improvements in skin elasticity. But beauty benefits aside, there are also studies suggesting that it may decrease pain from osteoarthritis and counteract some of the wear and tear on our joints, making it a beneficial addition for my active friends. Interesting evidence also suggests that collagen may decrease pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Another study showed improvements in bone mineral density among post-menopausal women. As I said before, while we do get these specific amino acids by consuming protein from routine sources in our diet (such as eggs, meat, poultry, beans, and fish), science suggest that these collagen peptides are very easily absorbed, and therefore may stimulate the collagen formation in our bone and elsewhere.

What about collagen and weight loss?

Don't expect a miracle here. This type of protein is unlikely to help manage hunger or stimulate muscle growth. One study showing improvements body composition among people taking collagen peptides has been widely disputed.

Is there a downside? The main reported side effect  is that collagen creates a heavy feeling in your stomach—a little bit like feeling full. Outside of that, I’d suggest being cautious with the brand you buy to ensure good quality and minimal risk of contaminants (which is always a concern with supplements, and why I always recommend high quality versions). The other potential downside is that it’s unclear what form of collagen will turn out to be best (say, marine vs. bovine). And of course, as research continues, there's always the chance that you'll spend money on a supplement and we'll later learn that the promising early research didn't get confirmed with advanced studies. I’m not a risk-taker and for me, the potential benefits outweigh any potential downsides.

My collagen ritual: I stir one scoop of collagen into my coffee each morning. It dissolves quickly and is completely tasteless. I’ve also added it to smoothies. Though I haven’t tried it, you could stir it into oatmeal.