Collagen is one of the most popular supplements today, but does it affect your body weight? Some people claim collagen does help you lose weight, while others worry it might make you gain weight. What is the truth behind these claims? Read on to explore the science behind collagen and its impact on your weight. We will also discuss collagen's benefits and side effects and whether you need collagen supplements.
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What Is Collagen?
Collagen is the most extensively present protein in the human body. It is a major component of connective tissues, including the skin, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Collagen provides structure, strength, and elasticity to these tissues. It constitutes approximately 30% of the protein in the human body.
Collagen comprises three polypeptide chains that twist together to form a triple helix structure, providing strength and resilience. These chains contain essential amino acids, such as glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline.
What Does It Do In The Body
Collagen does several important things in the body, including:
- Promoting cell growth: Collagen helps the formation of fibroblasts within the dermis (middle layer of the skin). This promotes the growth of new cells.
- Renewing skin: Collagen plays a part in removing old skin cells and replacing new ones, keeping your skin fresh.
- Protecting organs: It acts like a shield for your vital organs, providing an extra layer of defense.
- Supporting skin health: Collagen contributes to the structure, strength, and elasticity of the skin, keeping it resilient and youthful in appearance.
- Helping in blood clotting: It also helps your blood clot, essential for healing wounds and preventing excessive bleeding.
Top 3 Benefits Of Collagen
Collagen has many benefits for your health and appearance, but here are the 3 most notable ones:
- Improves skin quality: Collagen can help reduce the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, dryness, and sagging. It can also improve skin hydration, elasticity, smoothness, and brightness. Studies have shown collagen supplements can enhance skin quality in at least 4 weeks.
- Supports joint health: Collagen can help prevent and treat joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, and degeneration. It can also improve the mobility and flexibility of the joints. Studies have shown Collagen supplements to relieve pain and enhance joint function in persons with osteoarthritis.
- Boosts muscle mass: Collagen can help increase muscle mass and strength, especially in older adults prone to muscle loss. It can also enhance muscle recovery and performance after exercise. Studies have shown collagen supplements can increase strength and muscle mass in older people with sarcopenia.
What Are Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are products that contain collagen derived from animal sources, such as:
- Bovine (cow)
- Porcine (pig)
They are available in various forms, including powders, capsules, liquids, and gummies. You can take them by mouth or apply them directly to your skin.
Who Takes Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are used for a variety of reasons, but they are most commonly taken by:
- Older adults to support joint health, muscle mass, and skin health.
- Athletes to improve muscle recovery and performance.
- People with joint problems such as osteoarthritis to reduce pain and inflammation.
- People with skin concerns such as wrinkles and fine lines to improve skin appearance.
Collagen supplements are generally safe for the majority of individuals. However, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Does Collagen Make You Gain Weight?
A common worry regarding collagen supplements is whether they can lead to weight gain.
The simple answer is no. Collagen does not cause weight gain. It is a type of protein, and proteins are not stored in the body as fat.
Collagen And Bloating
Some people may experience bloating or gas after taking collagen supplements. This is usually due to the type or quality of the collagen supplement or the way your digestive system processes it. To avoid this side effect, you should:
- Pick a high-quality collagen supplement that is hydrolyzed or broken down into smaller peptides for easier absorption.
- Begin with a low amount of collagen and gradually increase it as your body gets used to it.
- Take collagen with plenty of water to help it dissolve and remove any potential toxins.
- Don't take collagen with dairy products or foods that might cause bloating or gas.
Collagen And Water Retention
In a scientific study, researchers explored how collagen, gelatin, and collagen peptides interact with water. They used specialized equipment to understand this phenomenon.
Their findings revealed that collagen possesses the highest water retention capacity, with gelatin coming next and collagen peptides having the least water-holding ability.
Under around 60% humidity, collagen retained 22% of its weight as water, while gelatin held 14%, and peptides retained only 9%.
All three substances mainly attracted water molecules with longer hydrogen bonds, indicating effective water retention.
Furthermore, collagen exhibited a stronger interaction with water than gelatin and peptides.
It bonded more firmly with specific collagen components, such as aliphatic CH2, CH3, amides, COO-, and C-O.
The study also suggested that water molecules were attracted to the polar C-O bonds in collagen fibrils comprising the collagen structure.
These fibrils contain sugars that act as links, and water molecules also interact with the aliphatic CH side chains on the surface of these fibrils.
However, it shows how collagen's exceptional water retention properties and robust interaction with various collagen components make it an effective water retainer.
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Collagen May Actually Help With Weight Loss
Contrary to the myth that collagen can make you gain weight, it helps you lose weight by promoting satiety, reducing fat accumulation, and speeding up metabolism.
Collagen can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce your appetite and cravings.
This is because collagen, rich in protein, suppresses hunger hormones (ghrelin) and stimulates satiety hormones (cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1).
Reducing your calorie intake can create a deficit essential for losing weight.
Reduces Fat Accumulation
Some studies suggest that collagen may help reduce the development and accumulation of fat cells.
A 2019 research on collagen from skatefish indicated a potential human body fat reduction.
An animal study published in 2016 found that hydrolysate (collagen peptides) can reduce fat cell size and weight gain.
Does Collagen Speed Up Metabolism?
It's uncertain if collagen speeds up metabolism, but there are indications it might:
- Collagen could increase metabolism by preserving muscle mass since muscles burn more calories than fat at rest. Collagen helps maintain muscle, potentially boosting metabolic rate.
- Collagen may enhance metabolism by promoting a healthy gut. A well-functioning gut helps digestion and nutrient absorption. Collagen supports the gut lining and encourages good bacteria growth. This can lead to improved metabolism and weight loss.
Other Benefits Of Collagen
Besides helping with weight loss, collagen has many other benefits for your health and appearance, such as:
- Improving gut health: Collagen helps repair your gut lining, preventing issues like leaky gut syndrome, which can cause inflammation and immune problems.
- Boosting brain function: Collagen protects your brain from stress and age-related damage while boosting memory, learning, and mood.
- Supporting heart health: It can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease by reducing plaque buildup and artery hardening.
- Faster wound healing: It's helpful in healing scars and recovering from injuries and surgeries.
- Healthy teeth and gums: It strengthens mouth tissues and helps lower the risk of gum disease and tooth loss.
Side Effects Of Collagen
Collagen can cause side effects ranging from common and mild to severe. Here's a breakdown of these side effects:
Common Side Effects:
- Digestive disturbances: Some individuals may encounter issues like diarrhea or indigestion when taking collagen supplements.
- Unpleasant taste: Collagen supplements can leave an unfavorable taste in the mouth.
- Mild ailments: Minor symptoms like headaches, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, or skin rashes may occur as mild side effects.
Severe Side Effects:
- Allergic reactions (hydrolyzed fish collagen): In rare instances, anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, may occur due to collagen supplements containing hydrolyzed fish collagen.
- Liver abnormalities: While infrequent, some liver abnormalities cases have been linked to collagen supplements.
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Do You Need Collagen Supplements?
Collagen supplements are not essential for everyone. You can obtain enough collagen from protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy or collagen-containing options like bone broth and gelatin.
Boosting your body's natural collagen production is also possible by including foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits), vitamin A (carrots), and zinc (oysters) in your diet.
Collagen supplements can benefit those with collagen deficiencies or conditions affecting collagen synthesis, including osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and skin aging.
However, the evidence regarding the effectiveness of collagen supplements varies, and additional research is required to confirm their safety and advantages.
If you are considering taking collagen supplements, it's advisable to consult with your doctor first.
Summary: Does Collagen Make You Gain Weight?
Collagen does not cause weight gain. In fact, it helps in weight loss by promoting feelings of fullness, reducing fat accumulation, and speeding up metabolism.
Collagen offers a range of other benefits, including improving gut health, supporting brain function, and enhancing heart health.
While some side effects can be associated with collagen supplements, they are generally safe for most people.
Remember that collagen supplements are unnecessary for everyone, as you can obtain sufficient collagen from a balanced diet.
If you are thinking of taking collagen supplements, it is advisable to consult with your doctor beforehand.