What Is Collagen?
Collagen is one of the most abundant sources of protein found in the human body. You can think of collagen as the glue that holds the body together. Collagen makes up 90 percent of our connective tissue and 70 percent of our skin. There are at least 16 different types of collagen, but 80 to 90 percent of them belong to types 1, 2, and 3. These different types have different structures and functions.
What Role Does Collagen Play In Our Bodies?
Collagen constitutes 75% of the skin’s dry mass content. A key component of the skin’s structure, collagen fibers provide the infrastructure for elastin, which maintains skin elasticity, and for hyaluronic acid to trap moisture.
Tendons are strong fibrous connective tissues that connect muscles to bones. During muscle contraction the tendons’ role is to transmit forces and withstand tension. Tendons contain 85% collagen type 1 and also proteoglycans.
Joint cartilage is made up of cellular building blocks (chondrocytes), which produce an extracellular matrix, consisting of collagen and proteoglycans (mainly aggrecan). Collagen fibers make up 70% of cartilage and are responsible for its structure and strength, while proteoglycans serve as lubricant to the joint.
Representing around 90% of organic bone mass, collagen provides the structural framework on which calcium and other minerals are anchored. Collagen fibers also provide bone flexibility.
Type I Collagen – Skin, Tendons, & Ligaments
Type I collagen forms the longest triple helices. This makes the structure of type I collagen extremely suitable to form strong fiber networks that can be stretched without breaking. Those elastic structures provide support and flexibility to our body.
Type I collagen is found throughout the human body: it makes up more than 90% of organic bone mass, as well as comprising a major part of our skin, tendons and ligaments.
Type II Collagen – Flexible Cartilage
Type II collagen is the collagen form present in cartilage (no type I in cartilage). Most importantly, it occurs in a natural matrix with glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). While type II collagen provides tensile strength and elasticity to the tissue, the GAGs lubricate the cartilage, together providing the perfect matrix to absorb shock and bear stress.
Collagen For Weight Loss
Now that we know what collagen is, and the important role it plays in the body, let’s talk about supplementing with collagen and if it can be used to help enhance weight loss.
One of the biggest benefits to supplementing with collagen protein is that it provides you with a satiating effect. It can help keep you feeling fuller, for longer periods of time, which will help prevent you from snacking. Collagen protein is a clean protein. In its pure form, it has no additives or sweeteners.
In a study assessing hunger hormones in 10 obese patients and 12 patients of normal weight, researchers found that the intake of gelatin (a substance derived from collagen itself) actually increased the satiety hormone, which means the subjects were more likely to adhere to their weight loss diets.1 If you could maintain satiety longer, you may be on the road to effective weight loss simply by reducing your own hunger.
Another benefit to supplementing with collagen is that it helps your body repair and recover faster from training sessions. Adding collagen protein into your daily diet can help support your bones and joints. In a 24-week study, researchers observed the effect of collagen hydrolysate supplementation on exercise-related joint pain on 97 human athletes. The researchers found that collagen supplementation can reduce joint pain. Since collagen can help reduce joint pain this can lead to better and more effective workouts in the gym thus burning more calories and leading to more weight loss.
Another great benefit to supplementing with collagen is that it naturally contains high amounts of the amino acid arginine. Arginine increases nitric oxide levels in the blood which helps to promote better circulation. Arginine has also been found to help promote strength and recovery from intense training sessions. By being able to recover faster, you can build muscle faster, which in turn will raise your Basal Metabolic Rate.
Unlike other supplements like fish oil or multivitamins, collagen is not a one size fits all supplement. Whether you’re considering using collagen to promote hair growth, prevent balding, improve skin health or restore joint strength – the dose of collagen your body requires will vary.
- Enhance Skin Complexion & Reduce Wrinkles: 5g/daily for at least 12 weeks
- Improve Hair Health & Slow Follicle Thinning: 5g/daily for at least 8 weeks
- Joint Pain Relief: 10g/daily for at least 24 weeks
- Prevent Bone Loss: 5g/daily for at least 12 months
- Muscle Strength & Recovery: 15g/daily for at least 12 weeks
- Heart & Artery Health: 16g/daily for at least 6 months
Foods That Contain Collagen
- Egg whites
- Citrus fruits
- Red and yellow vegetables
- White tea
- Leafy greens
- Bell peppers
- Herbs high in collagen (Chinese knotweed, horsetail, gynostemma)
- Herbs that help to produce collagen (gotukola, bala, ashwagandha)
Final Verdict – Can You Use Collagen For Weight Loss?
Collagen is one of the most abundant sources of protein found in the human body. It is the glue that holds the body together. Collagen plays a vital role in creating a strong and durable structure to support our bodies.
Supplementing with collagen for weight loss can be advantageous for those who use it. By supplementing with collagen you will be satiated for longer periods of time which will help to prevent you from cheating on your diet. Collagen will also help enhance muscle recovery and growth. By increasing your lean muscle mass you will increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which will lead to more calories being burned at rest.
Even though adding collagen to your diet is a great way to help promote weight loss, you will still need to put in the work inside and outside of the gym to really reap the benefits. Collagen is not a magic potion but another tool to help you reach your weight loss goals.