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Does Collagen Help You Lose Weight?

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski (Certified Nutritionist, S&C specialist, M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology)

The noise around collagen got louder recent years especially as influencers endorsing it. Collagen zealots promise you the world: from reducing wrinkles to relieving joint pain and the big one…weight loss. Does collagen help you lose weight? Let’s see if it worth the hype or it’s just another trend.

Collagen might benefit skin, joint and gut health, but does collagen help you lose weight? Long story short: No. Its role in weight loss is indirect, mainly through the satiating properties of protein. Collagen’s low leucine content limits its effectiveness in muscle synthesis and lean muscle maintenance, impacting weight loss.

Does collagen help you loose weight?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, found in our bones, skin, muscles, hair, tendons – basically being the glue holding all of us together in one sexy package. Collagen is not one particular molecule, but a family of related proteins. To date 28 types of collagen have been identified, with 4 main types making up most of the collagen in our bodies:

  • Type I collagen forms dense, fibrous networks providing structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth. This most abundant collagen accounts for a full 90% of the body’s total collagen.
  • Type II collagen consists of more loosely packed fibers found in elastic cartilage, cushioning our joints.
  • Type III collagen helps support the structure of organs, muscles and arteries.
  • Type IV collagen aids in skin layer filtration and barriers.

Most collagen supplements contain Type I, II, and III collagens which constitute the majority of collagen in the human body. These supplements typically contain collagen that has been hydrolyzed – a process of breaking down the collagen into small peptides that are easier to absorb.

collagen powder view

Supplements are typically derived from the tissues of cows, pigs, chickens or fish. Vegan collagen powders have also grown in popularity, produced from bacterial or yeast sources, though more research is still needed to confirm if they provide the same potential benefits as animal-derived collagen.

As we said collagen is protein – picture it as a brickhouse – the building blocks or the bricks of the house are the amino acids. Without getting it too complicated we’ll say that the main types of the amino acid bricks are glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These amino acids, in various combinations, form different collagen structures.

While sources like bone broth and other animal products contain collagen, guess what – your smart body can build as many collagen structures as it needs ensuring that it has all the materials needed – the right amino acids. Let’s talk protein metabolism a bit:  After ingesting protein your body unfolds the complicated proteins to amino acids so the body can absorb them.

Those amino acids then travel to wherever they’re needed to build new proteins and structures. You did a heavy session in the gym? Great – time to repair and grow! Cells takes some amino acids bricks and build whatever houses they need. Same with collagen – body needs more for connective tissue? Guess what – it will make some itself. Aminos transform into tailored collagen.

Additional nutrients – vitamin C, zinc etc. – take part in the synthesis of collagen too. You can help your body produce more collagen by eating lots of glycine- and proline-rich foods like chicken, beef, fish, dairy, eggs, and beans. For vitamin C, zinc, and copper, you should also be sure to eat foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, shellfish, nuts, and whole grains.

Point is: we don’t require collagen supplements if eating enough protein and supporting nutrients. No amino brick haul, no collagen construction! 

preparing collagen drink in shaker

The more essential amino acids (EAAs) in a source, the better. That’s what we call protein quality. Regarding muscle growth and repair, substantial research shows protein’s efficacy tied directly to its essential amino acid profile. Animal-based proteins (meat, dairy) tend to be highest quality in this regard. While collagen contains all essential aminos, amounts pale versus high quality proteins like whey.

As evidence, taking equal protein quantities of collagen peptides versus whey sees wide EAA variance. While collagen supplements have their unique benefits, like being high in glycine and proline, they are lower in leucine, which is essential for muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Thus, supplements like whey protein can be beneficial, especially since not all protein sources are high in leucine.

In summary, consuming complete protein sources ensures abundant availability of all essential amino acids building blocks used in the body’s own collagen structures manufacturing. Make sure you provide your body the full crew of EAAs from quality proteins and let it do its thing.

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4 Collagen Benefits

Collagen decreases with age, leading to various issues. This has spotlighted collagen supplements, believed to offer multiple health benefits. These include enhanced joint function, improved skin health, gut wellness, and muscle mass support. Here, we explore how these supplements contribute to overall well-being.

✅ Enhanced Joint Health

Our joints are sustained by cartilage, a rubbery tissue that protects the ends of bones and enables smooth movement. Collagen is a key building block of cartilage, comprising over 90% of its organic matter. As we age, collagen production slows and cartilage begins to degenerate—a process that increases the risk of painful osteoarthritis.

Emerging research indicates that supplemental collagen may help support joint health in a few key ways. Several trials have linked collagen intake to reduced osteoarthritis symptoms like pain and stiffness. By potentially enhancing cartilage repair and maintenance, collagen supplements may preserve joint structure and mobility over time (Benito-Ruiz P et al.).

For example, one study found that individuals consuming collagen for 24 weeks experienced less knee pain and increased function. The collagen seems to replenish cartilage collagen lost to natural aging and joint stress. (Clark et al., 2008)

✅ Aesthetics

While wrinkles and loss of elasticity often come with age, collagen may offer an ally in the battle for younger-looking skin. It is the most abundant protein in the dermis layer, endowing skin with strength and structure. As collagen levels decline with age, skin thinning leads to crepey textures and line formation.

Research suggests collagen supplementation helps restore collagen content and enhances skin hydration and elasticity. (Al-Atif, 2022) found improved wrinkle reduction, moisture levels, and skin density in individuals taking collagen orally or applying it topically. The collagen peptides seem to stimulate skin cell production of new collagen to recapture a more youthful firmness and suppleness. Regular collagen intake may help maintain optimal skin health and slow premature aging of this largest organ.

✅ Gut Health

Collagen has garnered interest for potential gut health benefits due to its key role in the intestinal lining. As a primary building block, collagen helps maintain the barrier function of the gut. Its amino acids are thought to preserve lining integrity. There are hypothesis collagen supplements may aid healing of barrier damage. However, more data is needed on its specific impacts on digestion and conditions like IBS.

preparing collagen drink with water

Evidence directly linking it to purported benefits is still emerging. How much collagen influences overall digestive well-being remains unclear. Larger, robust studies are still needed to confirm claims. Only further research will show collagen’s impact, if any.

For now, maintaining a healthy diet with a focus on adequate fiber intake remains the best supported approach. Optimizing collagen levels through supplementation may prove low-risk while its role is better understood. Additional trials are needed to evaluate collagen supplements’ potential place in digestive health.

✅ Muscle Mass Support

In terms of muscle mass, collagen won’t actively promote large gains on its own as it lacks some essential amino acids and is not really high in Leucine. However, it does support the muscle recovery process following strength training sessions. Collagen aids muscle protein synthesis through amino acids like glycine and proline that can boost rebuilding of muscle tissues.

As collagen levels decrease with age, it becomes important for maintaining structural integrity of muscles over time as well. When combined with high-quality protein sources from food or supplements after workouts, it appears collagen can effectively aid recovery so the muscles are ready to adapt to the next challenge.

Collagen and Weight Loss: Separating Fact from Fiction

Time to hit the weight loss conversation. Can collagen help you lose weight? Let’s get clear – collagen supplement is no panacea for losing weight. So let’s connect the dots on what we already got. Collagen is a protein, and proteins are known for being the most filling macronutrient, which is great for weight loss.

Also, proteins have a high Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), meaning they burn more calories during digestion, and collagen is relatively low in calories – so far, so good. But is there anything special about collagen specifically? Not really. In fact, collagen supplements tend to be pricier than something like whey protein, and they don’t have the best amino acid profile either, particularly in terms of leucine content, which is essential for muscle protein synthesis.

These are just the facts. Sure, collagen has its other benefits, but when it comes to weight loss, it’s not rocket science. There is no collagen peptides for weight loss, no liquid collagen for weight loss neither collagen powder for weight loss. Ultimately, it’s up to you to find the most suitable and enjoyable way to create and maintain a calorie deficit.

collagen powder

The key is sustainability; your approach should be something you can stick to long-term. Choose methods that fit comfortably into your lifestyle and that you genuinely enjoy, as this will make it much easier to adhere to your plan consistently.

Crafting a Weight Loss Strategy: Beyond Collagen

What’s even tougher than dropping the weight? Well, keeping it off. Chances are, you’ve seen folks trapped in the relentless back-and-forth of yo-yo dieting. Short-term fixes lead to short-term outcomes – that’s why we need something that will be sustainable. The only real way to do that is by maintaining a consistent level of self-awareness and developing lasting habits – it’s what they mean when they say “ it’s a lifestyle”, not a quick fix.

Step one: Get real with yourself. We’re generally pretty bad at judging how much we actually eat, what we do, and how much we move. So, start tracking. Pay attention to what you’re eating, how much you’re actually moving or working out. Before you start blaming a slow metabolism, get some numbers and see the real story.

4 Core Principles of Weight Loss

1. Stick to a Calorie Deficit

The cornerstone of any weight loss strategy is maintaining a calorie deficit. What a surprise. If you dont already know this means consuming fewer calories than your body uses for energy. The concept is simple, but its implementation requires a nuanced understanding of your body’s needs and the discipline to monitor, at least in the beginning to adjust your intake. 

Determining your specific calorie needs is the first step. These needs vary widely among individuals, influenced by factors such as age, gender, current weight, and activity level. Sure, there are formulas and even pricey tests to get an approximate idea of your energy expenditure. But there is a greatly effective and free method you can do yourself. 

To effectively establish a calorie deficit for weight loss, it’s essential to first determine your daily caloric needs. A practical approach is to use a calorie calculator, which considers various factors like age, gender, activity level, and body size. Once you have an estimated number of maintenance calories, maintain this level of calorie intake for 2-4 weeks. During this period, monitor your weight regularly.

Prepared collagen drink in glass

If your weight remains stable, you’ve likely found your maintenance calorie level. If your weight increases or decreases, adjust your calorie intake accordingly. This method provides a more accurate understanding of how much you should eat in relation to your weight changes. After determining your maintenance calorie level, you can start creating a calorie deficit.

When planning your meals, prioritize protein as it’s the most satiating nutrient. High-protein foods not only help in preserving muscle mass, especially important during weight loss, but also play a key role in keeping you full for longer periods. This feeling of fullness often leads to consuming fewer calories overall. Accompany your protein with a mix of fiber and healthy fats in every meal to further enhance satiety and maintain stable blood sugar levels.

:Complement these protein-rich meals with a generous amount of low-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables.They’re great for adding volume and keeping you full without overdoing the calories. In every meal, aim to include a mix of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to maintain stable blood sugar and extend that feeling of fullness.

Embrace an abundance mindset when it comes to your plate, prioritizing what you can add to support your body, workouts, brain, and organs, rather than fixating on restrictions. Additionally, healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring – experiment with flavors or add some fun food to make your meals both nutritious and exciting.

Moreover, when it’s mealtime, try to cut down on distractions. Switch off the TV, put away your phone, and give your meal the attention it deserves. Practicing mindfulness as you eat, taking your time to enjoy each bite, can really enhance the eating experience. It’s about savoring your food, not just consuming it. 

2. Monitor Your Progress 

Alongside setting a calorie target, it’s important to monitor your progress. If you’ve opted to track your calories or macros, that’s great. As you progress in your weight loss journey following a steady pattern, at some point you will hit a plateau.

This happens because as your weight changes, so do your calorie needs, meaning: smaller body requires less energy. This phenomenon is known as metabolic adaptation, a mechanism of your body to keep you alive maintain balance. 

collagen powder in shaked

When it comes to measuring your weight, the scale can be a useful tool, if one knows what to expect. If seeing those numbers swing up and down get you too excited or even sad, maybe skip the daily weigh-ins or ditch the scale altogether.

Here’s what you need to know about daily measurements: You weight fluctuates day to day due to a variety of factors, including stress, sleep, water retention, bowel movements, and for women, the menstrual cycle, so it’s more accurate to assess the average weight changes on a week-by-week basis.

Even if you’re losing fat, your weight on the scale could be the same for days – it doesn’t mean you’re not progressing. The scale just doesn’t tell the whole story. Being overly fixated on your weight without proper expectations could decrease your motivation. Follow your plan and trust the process. 

3. Exercise – The Importance of Strength Training and Cardio

Incorporating resistance training and cardio into your fitness program provides a balanced approach for weight loss and overall health. Resistance training is imperative for developing muscle mass, which not only sculpts and defines your physique but also enhances your metabolic rate,  leading to increased calorie burning even when you’re not actively exercising.

Muscle is pretty expensive metabolically so greater muscle mass equals more calories burned at rest. Conversely, cardio exercises are integral for cardiovascular health and excel at torching a substantial amount of calories, which can contribute to weight loss.

prepared collagen drink

You can choose any form of cardio that you enjoy, making your workout enjoyable and sustainable. Cardio exercises are important for heart health and are effective in burning calories, while also improving insulin sensitivity and overall cellular health. 

When it comes to the impact of exercise on weight loss, it’s important to understand the body’s natural tendency to maintain balance. Although exercise increases your calorie burn, the body may compensate by conserving energy in other ways. For example, you might feel less inclined to move around after a workout, or you could experience increased fatigue, leading to reduced physical activity outside of exercise sessions.

This is the body’s way of seeking homeostasis, or balance, to avoid excessive energy depletion. Essentially, it’s a survival mechanism to prevent running out of energy. This means that while exercise is beneficial, it shouldn’t be relied upon solely for weight loss.

Diet management is equally important. Enjoyable cardio activities are key to a sustainable exercise routine, forming part of a holistic approach to fitness and weight management.

4. Patience in Weight Loss: Collagen as an Optional Add-On

Weight loss and fitness are journeys that require patience and consistency. While you’re working on your exercise regimen, you might consider adding collagen supplements as a beneficial add-on. Though collagen isn’t a miracle weight loss solution, it can support skin health, joint function and muscle recovery. 

Spotlight on Whey – Our Recommended Product

Legion Athletics’ Whey+

Legion Athletics' Whey+
  • Serving Size: 1 scoop (28.9 g)
  • Servings per Container: 30
  • Calories per serving: 100
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Total Carbohydrate: 3 g
  • Protein: 22 g

As we’ve discussed, a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise, alongside a balanced diet, is effective for weight loss and improving overall fitness. Supplements can provide additional support when incorporated properly into an existing healthy regimen.

One recommended protein powder is Legion Athletics’ Whey+. Sourced from grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free cows, this whey protein contains all nine essential amino acids to support muscle growth and strength during weight loss efforts. With only natural sweeteners and flavors and no artificial ingredients, Whey+ makes for a clean protein option. The purity and potency testing also ensures it won’t counteract progress.

Legion Whey Protein

Additionally, it’s important to recognize that protein plays a crucial role in the weight loss process by promoting satiety and helping to maintain muscle mass. This is especially vital when the body is in a caloric deficit and more prone to losing muscle.

For those who struggle to meet their protein needs through diet alone, incorporating a supplement like Legion Athletics’ Whey+ can be immensely beneficial. It provides a convenient and effective way to increase protein intake, ensuring you get the necessary amount for optimal health and weight loss results.


Considering Collagen? Our Recommended Product

Transparent Labs’ Collagen Peptides

  • Collagen Type: Hydrolyzed bovine collagen
  • Flavors: Unflavored, Chocolate
  • Number of Servings: 30
  • Serving Size: ~11-13.75 g
  • Collagen per Serving: 11 g
  • Calories per Serving: 40-45
  • Price per Serving: ~$1.17
  • Company Founded: 2015

Collagen supplements like Transparent Labs’ Collagen Peptides powder have emerged for their recovery-assisting traits. This non-GMO, gluten- and additive-free formula aims to improve skin quality and athletic recovery with its bioactive compounds. How does collagen help you lose weight? It doesn’t.

But weight loss can sometimes negatively impact skin elasticity or joint comfort, collagen can help counterbalance those effects while also keeping recovery on track between workouts. Incorporating supplements is an individual choice, but high-quality options like whey protein and collagen can complement an already balanced fitness plan and aid continuing weight loss success.

They support specific needs that may arise around muscle retention, workout recovery, and general wellbeing during caloric deficits.

FAQ

Can You Lose Weight by Taking Collagen?

Collagen alone is not likely to lead to weight loss. Its benefits for weight management are more indirect, as part of a protein-rich diet that can promote satiety.

Does Collagen Speed Up Metabolism?

Collagen does not directly increase metabolism. Its primary roles are in supporting skin, joint, and gut health rather than enhancing metabolic rate.

What Are the Side Effects of Taking Collagen?

Side effects of collagen supplements are generally mild and may include digestive discomfort or allergic reactions, particularly if there’s a sensitivity to the collagen source (like fish, chicken, or beef).

Does Collagen Burn Fat?

No, collagen can’t help you burn fat. Its role in weight management is more related to its protein content and its potential to promote a feeling of fullness, which can indirectly support weight loss when part of a balanced diet.

Conclusion

In summary, collagen supplements can support skin, joint, and gut health but are not a direct route to weight loss or increased metabolism. For effective weight management, prioritize a balanced diet and regular exercise. Consider collagen as a complementary addition to a holistic health regimen, not a primary solution.

Do you use collagen in your routine? We’d love to hear about your experience and any questions you might have. Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below.

Also read:

References: 

  1. Al-Atif, H. (2022) Collagen supplements for aging and wrinkles: A paradigm shift in the fields of dermatology and Cosmetics, Dermatology practical & conceptual. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8824545
  2. Foster, M., Petocz, P., & Samman, S. (2019). Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 119(7), 1162–1175.
  3. Benito-Ruiz P;Camacho-Zambrano MM;Carrillo-Arcentales JN;Mestanza-Peralta MA;Vallejo-Flores CA;Vargas-López SV;Villacís-Tamayo RA;Zurita-Gavilanes LA; (no date) A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort, International journal of food sciences and nutrition. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19212858/ (Accessed: 07 December 2023).
  4. Clark, K. L., Sebastianelli, W., Flechsenhar, K. R., Aukermann, D. F., Meza, F., Millard, R. L., Deitch, J. R., Sherbondy, P. S., & Albert, A. (2008). 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Current medical research and opinion, 24(5), 1485–1496. https://doi.org/10.1185/030079908×291967

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By trusting the recommendations of our certified experts in coaching, nutrition, dietology, and sports training programming, as well as scientific consultants, and physiotherapists, we provide you with thorough, well-considered, and scientifically proven content. All the information given in the articles concerning workout programming, separate exercises, and athletic performance, in general, is based on verified data. We ensure that you can rely on our professionals’ pieces of advice and recommendations that can be treated as personalized ones which will benefit you and fully meet your needs.

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Camila Parente Santos

Author: Camila Parente Santos
Nutrition and Sport Nutritionist

Experience: 7 years

Camila has worked as a Nutritionist for 7 years. In addition to being a nutritionist, she is an amateur weightlifting athlete for 2 years. Camila has experience at Flamengo’s football base and in a food supplement company and currently provides services at a clinic. At the moment she is coursing a postgraduate study in Sports Nutrition.

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Jacek Szymanowski

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance architect
,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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