One of the biggest concerns most people have in today’s society is maintaining an ideal weight. One way that has sparked debates and has ongoing research is using collagen for weight loss. Collagen is a structural protein best known for supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails. But could weight loss be another added advantage that many do not know of? Let us look at what science says.
What Is Collagen?
It is a hard, insoluble, and fibrous protein that makes up to one-third of the protein in your body. The molecules in collagen are packed together to form long, thin fibrils that act as supporting structures for cells as they anchor each other (6).
Collagen is essential in your body mainly because it gives your skin strength and elasticity (6). Additionally, it provides structure to several connective tissues, such as tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, ligaments, and muscles (6).
Many individuals take collagen supplements to add more collagen to their diet. And there are specific reasons for this, all of which are because of the purported benefits to your body. It is worth noting that the effectiveness of these collagen supplements is dependent on what you are using them for (3).
Although there are theorized several health benefits of collagen supplements, some are not backed up by science. Again, there is no oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on how well any collagen supplement or product works (3).
How Are Collagen Supplements Made?
Most of these collagen supplements go through the process of hydrolyzation. Hydrolyzation indicates that the manufacturer has broken down the collagen in the supplements into peptides (5). These are easier for your body to absorb and use (3). You can find these supplements in capsules, powders, and tablets. Similarly, these supplements are sold online in different health stores.
What Are The Benefits Of Collagen?
Collagen can be used for several medical and cosmetic purposes and potential health benefits. Some of the research-backed up benefits include:
Collagen helps wound healing by attracting cells that promote healing to the wounded area. It can also provide a platform for new tissue growth (6).
Making Skin Fillers
Collagen is widely used in the cosmetic industry as a component of skin fillers which remove wrinkles and lines from the face (6).
Most skin products like creams and powders contain collagen as it is claimed to revitalize the skin by boosting collagen levels (6). However, that is unlikely because these molecules are too large to be absorbed by the skin (6). People also consume hydrolyzed collagen in the hopes that it will boost collagen production by the body (6).
A 2018 study discovered that taking collagen supplements helped decrease painful symptoms and improve joint functioning in individuals with osteoarthritis. However, this is only one study and there were other ingredients in the supplements as well which could have contributed to the benefit,, hence the need for further research (6).
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Collagen For Weight Loss: Does It Work?
If you are interested in using collagen supplements for weight loss, perhaps the first step you should take is to identify their effectiveness. After all, you would like to work with practical solutions to help keep the weight at bay and for the long haul. How effective is using collagen for weight loss? To help us answer this question, we have analyzed a few studies that examine collagen for weight loss. Take a look:
A 2019 study was conducted to investigate the effects of collagen peptides from skate skin on body fat in overweight individuals (4). First and foremost, it is worth noting that this was the first study to test this effect in humans.
This randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blinded study was conducted to determine the efficacy and tolerability of oral skate skin collagen peptides in reducing body fat in overweight adults. The study findings indicated that after the 12 weeks of the trial, the percentage of body fat in the intervention (collagen peptides) group was significantly better than in the control group (4). The results suggest potential benefits of skate skin collagen peptides in reducing body fat in overweight adults (4). However, more human studies are paramount to discover if collagen peptides’ benefits include weight loss in overweight individuals.
In this 2018 study, the aim was to investigate the anti-obesity effects of collagen peptides derived from skate skin on lipid metabolism in high-fat diet-fed mice (1). The collagen-fed groups gained less weight and visceral fat than the control groups, and the histological analysis findings showed that collagen treatment reduced lipid droplet size in the adipose tissue and suppressed hepatic lipid accumulation. The study concluded that skate collagen peptide may have anti-obesity effects. They suspect that these effects are achieved through lipid metabolism regulation and fat accumulation suppression (1).
Protein supplements are being widely used to lose weight and control body weight. But despite their wide use, the impact of protein quality on body fat attenuation remains unknown. This study investigated the effects of isocaloric isoproteic supplementation of whey protein (WG) and hydrolyzed collagen supplementation (CG) in overweight women on adiposity, dietary intake, and biochemical markers (7).
The study findings indicated that whey protein supplementation in overweight women increased concentrations of nesfatin, a signaling protein which can reduce hunger. Additionally, it increased the resting metabolic rate in body composition improvement programs within eight weeks (7).
The study also indicated that whey protein in overweight women could help control body weight, and that whey protein was a more effective supplement for overweight women trying to work on their body composition (7).
Read More: Hollow Cheeks: Causes And Treatments
How Effective Is Collagen For Weight Loss?
Most people are using collagen for weight loss without knowing how it works or if it is safe. To help understand its association with weight loss we analyzed the studies summarized above. We have discovered a bit about how collagen might work for weight loss from all these studies. They include:
All the studies we have analyzed above indicate that collagen does not directly promote weight loss on its own. However, there are ways collagen might indirectly help with weight loss.
It is challenging to assess the effectiveness of collagen for weight loss as of now, mainly because it probably does not directly promote weight loss on its own. But one thing that evidence shows is that people using collagen for weight loss have contradicting results.
The analysis of the studies above shows that collagen might promote weight loss indirectly due to its satiating, metabolism increment, and anti-obesity effects. Unfortunately, it can also jeopardize your weight loss efforts. This might be because these supplements have become an excuse for most people not to practice healthy behaviors that promote weight loss. For example, managing stress levels, quitting smoking, and getting enough sleep (3).
You must remember that weight loss is an all-rounded concept that requires lifestyle changes. Besides taking collagen supplements for weight loss, you must also make several lifestyle changes to keep the weight off long-term. Again, note that using these supplements should not be your primary weight-loss approach but used in conjunction with other effective methods like exercise.
Of course, every weight watcher wants to use the best collagen product for weight loss. So, you will come across searches, such as: what is the best collagen powder for weight loss? Or what is the best liquid collagen for weight loss?
But these questions seem difficult to answer for several reasons, mainly due to their safety aspect. Unfortunately, most of the downsides of using collagen for weight loss are magnified when reviewing its safety.
First, there has been a concern about collagen supplements containing heavy metals (3). Second, in the U.S., the FDA does not review supplements for safety or effectiveness (3). It is hard to tell what these supplements contain or if they will do what the label promotes (3). Research has yet to discover the best collagen for weight loss due to these limitations.
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How To Add Collagen To Your Diet For Weight Loss
There are different ways you can add collagen to your diet, depending on its form. For example, if it is in powder form, you can add it to your smoothie or coffee. You can also get collagen injections, depending on what you want to use collagen for.
Since most get their collagen in liquid or powder form, they likely add it to their smoothies. But what do you pair it with to help shed pounds? Here is a simple recipe that gives an overview of how to add collagen to your smoothie for weight loss:
Recipe: Chocolate Collagen Protein Shake (2)
- 1 scoop of pasture-fed collagen protein powder
- 200 ml unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 1 heaped tablespoon of raw cacao
- Stevia to taste
- 3 ice cubes
- Put everything in the blender, blend, and then serve.
NOTE: If you love a thick smoothie, you can consider adding flax or chia seeds. Both are excellent sources of fiber and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which have added weight-loss effects. Additionally, you can add a scoop of vegan protein powder or a banana.
The following recipe only makes one serving, whose nutritional profile is as shown:
- Calories- 174.7
- Total fat- 16.4 g
- Total carbs- 11.2 g
- Protein- 5.3 g
Can You Eat Collagen For Weight Loss?
If you are not a fan of pills, powders, or injections, you may be curious to know if you could eat collagen for the same benefits. There are several foods you can add to your diet as they are rich in collagen. Some of them include (3):
- Tough Cuts of Meat. These cuts have high collagen levels due to their richness in connective tissues. However, remember that consuming too much red meat is deemed unhealthy due to the increased risk of diseases like heart disease.
- Bone Broth. Bone broth is also shown to be rich in collagen. You prepare bone broth by simmering different animal bones in water and a small amount of vinegar for 4 to 24 hours (3).
- Foods Rich in Gelatin. Gelatin is a form of collagen prepared by boiling animal bones, skin, and cartilage for several hours before leaving it to rest. It is produced when the connective tissues break down (3).
You can also consume different foods to boost collagen production. Some of them are high-protein foods like meat, eggs, and poultry rich in collagen-making amino acids like glycine (3). Additionally, you can add legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and shellfish rich in zinc which helps in collagen production (3).
Other Ways To Boost Collagen Production In Your Body
Here are some ways you can naturally boost collagen production in your body for its benefits:
- Managing Stress Levels. You release cortisol when you have high-stress levels. Unfortunately, high cortisol levels may decrease collagen production (3).
- Exercise. Although research remains unclear on the association, evidence shows exercising may slow down cell activity that contributes to aging skin (3).
- Get Enough Rest. An average person is advised to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night (3).
- Eat a Balanced Diet. Do not only consume foods that are rich in or help with collagen production. Instead, aim at eating a balanced nutritious diet.
The Bottom Line
Using collagen for weight loss has been an ongoing debate among scientists for lack of direct evidence. However, some available literature shows that collagen might indirectly help with weight loss, for example, due to its possible anti-obesity effects.
That said, collagen supplementation should not be used as the primary weight-loss method if you want to lose weight fast. Instead, you should consider other practical strategies such as exercise. Please talk to a healthcare professional if you are interested in taking liquid, powder, or pill collagen for weight loss.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Anti-Obesity Effects of Collagen Peptide Derived from Skate (Raja kenojei) Skin Through Regulation of Lipid Metabolism (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Chocolate Collagen Protein Shake (2022, eatburnsleep.com)
- Collagen (2022, hsph.harvard.edu)
- Effect of Oral Ingestion of Low-Molecular Collagen Peptides Derived from Skate (Raja Kenojei) Skin on Body Fat in Overweight Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Enzymatic Hydrolysis of a Collagen Hydrolysate Enhances Postprandial Absorption Rate—A Randomized Controlled Trial (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is collagen, and why do people use it? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Whey Protein Supplementation Compared to Collagen Increases Blood Nesfatin Concentrations and Decreases Android Fat in Overweight Women: A Randomized Double-Blind Study (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)