The word ‘collagen‘ is widely recognised as the skin-enhancing cosmetic treatment held responsible for creating youthful, smoother-appearing faces, lusciously-strengthened hair and full, plump lips.
However, holding a high-ranking position on a beauty pedestal represents only a fraction of the magic that collagen can create for your body…Find out the top 5 benefits of collagen protein below!
What is collagen?
The skin-firming ingredient is actually created in the human body, making up a huge 90% of the bone mass and a third of all proteins produced. It is the connective tissue for the heart, lungs, muscles, joints, blood cells, arteries, etc – just to name a few.
From this, you’d wonder why your skin wouldn’t automatically reap the tightening and strengthening benefits as a by-product of producing the popular molecule?
The answer is simple – collagen is considered a fibrous protein, and just like any protein, it is made up of amino acids. Collagen protein will break down without the nine essential amino acids, which can only be obtained through consuming a protein (amino) rich diet.
For example, consuming dairy, eggs, lean meats, and soy can supply your body with these amino acids, enough so to combine and form enough collagen to benefit your body. Alternatively, without it – joints can weaken, muscles can break down, skin can sag… It’s pretty important!
Collagen in the diet
Collagen is available as a highly concentrated edible product under the popular name of gelatine. The only issues of reaping the benefits of this edible collagen is the lack of versatility, as the product can only convert into a gel, restricting foods to the likes of puddings, jelly etc.
However, an easily-digestible, powdered gelatine has recently become an available source to add to a wide variety of foods! The new gelatine, otherwise known as collagen hydrolysate, or collagen peptide, is a purified form of collagen, extracted from cattle hinds, such as bovine, and contains around 90% protein content. In addition to the high protein content, Collagen Hydrolysate also promotes all of the incredible health benefits of normal gelatine.
Here are just five of these impressive benefits…
1) Collagen for weight-loss
The purified, high-protein content of hydrolysed collagen is known to be an effective, natural appetite suppressant, in which many clinical studies have proven the satiating effect to promote weight-loss (1,2).
Additionally, unlike some weight-loss-promoting products, there are no fillers, hormones, acids and it’s not produced with any forms of harsh processing that may affect the normal functioning of your body. Hydrolysed collagen is also proven to show a decrease in fats, avoiding clogging of the arteries and increased organ support. (4)
Individuals can, therefore, benefit from losing weight by consuming edible collagen, due to a lessened desire to snack and helping the body feel naturally fuller for longer… without the nasty side effects!
BONUS: Got cellulite/loose skin?
Consuming collagen protein may reduce both the elasticity of loose skin and the visible appearance of cellulite during your weight-loss journey. This is due to the molecule being responsible for making the connective tissue in your skin, therefore able to thicken the skin and camouflage any irregularities!
2) Muscle growth & performance
Collagen is a powerful molecule that promotes a multitude of benefits to assist the needs and demands for athletes, bodybuilders and everyday gym-goers.
Consuming hydrolysed collagen in the form of smoothies, protein shakes, and pancakes aid the promotion of a natural source of creatine in the body.
How does it work?
Your muscles rely on a direct energy source to maintain a regular function in the body – this is provided through the breakdown of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in your cells. The amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine form the creatine molecule.
Where does collagen come in?…
Collagen peptides contain two of the three amino acids needed to form a natural, energy-boosting creatine source in the body. The glycine and arginine duo in collagen may aid the production of creatine, helping to increase physical performance through repeated bouts of exercise (5) (6). Arginine also helps promote increased muscle growth and maintain muscle mass! (4) Win, win!
3) Joint & bone strength
The high percentage of our bone mass, that’s made up of collagen, has significant control of how strong or weak our joints will be going about everyday life – especially those with an active lifestyle.
Not providing your body with the necessary essential amino acids it needs to build up the proteins required for support, will result in the breakdown of proteins in the body. Not what you need when you’re trying to gain strength.
On the other hand, nourishing your body with the amino acids needed will build up proteins needed to strengthen many parts of your body, allowing for:
- Fewer aches and pains that could prevent any form of exercise.
- An increased range of motion when lifting weights.
- The strength to be able to increase the intensity of exercise/lift more.
4) Collagen for sleep/anxiety
A decent sleeping pattern can do miraculous things for our body. Besides the obvious factor of making you feel less tired and lethargic during the day, more sleep can increase the quality of your health, improve your everyday mood and your sex life.
Plus, not getting enough sleep could be the reason you’re not losing weight too…
Multi-tasking amino acid Glycerine, has the ability to help individuals who struggle to sleep or suffer from insomnia.
A study analysing the effects of consuming glycerine, in comparison to a placebo before bed, clearly shown the amino acid to reduce fatigue and have a tendency toward reduced sleepiness (8)
Glycine in collagen hydrolysate also has the ability to relieve stress and reduce anxiety due to it’s properties of being a neurotransmitter with the ability to promote therapeutic alterations in the body. (9) These factors can lead to a decrease in stress, anxiety, depression and again, promote a better night’s sleep.
5) Collagen for digestion
A healthy digestive system is a great base for a happy and energetic lifestyle. Alternatively, a weak digestive system can result in feeling sluggish and lethargic, make you feel demotivated and it can additionally cause stomach pains – in other words, you definitely won’t feel like exercising. Does this sound like you?
Collagen can contribute to a healthier, less agitated digestive system due to the soothing properties of one of the amino acids glycine.
Just in case you’re interested in the scienc-y bit…
When meat is consumed, amino acids cysteine and tryptophan are released into the bloodstream, which can suppress normal thyroid functioning. This can lead to the brain receiving signals to break down muscle rather than fat for energy, also having a potential domino effect causing fatigue, inflammatory conditions, and a weakened immune system.
Glycine from collagen can help even out the absorption of these amino acids, building a smoother, ‘protective-like’ guard in the digestive tract (7)
Take home message
Adding collagen protein to your diet might just be the answer to your problems.
By Laura Bowden