Before you work on trying to decide if collagen can help in losing weight, it would be a good idea to know what collagen is. The brief explanation is collagen is probably the most abundant protein in your body. You find it in muscles, tendons, bones, digestive system, skin, and blood vessels. It serves to give your skin strength and flexibility and helps in replacing dead skin cells. In your joints and tendons, it works as the ‘glue’ that holds them together.
Just like many other things in your body, the amount of collagen your body makes naturally goes down as you get older. This is the reason so many elderly people have sagging skin, wrinkles, and deteriorating joints.
Some of the things you do in life also contribute to low levels of collagen. Smoking, eating a diet high in sugar, and getting too much sun are a few of those lifestyle issues that work against the collagen in your body.
In most of the articles you’ll read about collagen, the type used is hydrolyzed collagen. Collagen is a fairly large molecule and thus not as easy to digest and use. The process that leads to hydrolyzed collagen breaks these large molecules down making them easier to digest. It makes proteins and amino acids that are easy to absorb and to mix with drinks or food.
It also makes for easier absorption for those people who have trouble digesting gelatins or capsules.
Now, what about …
A lot of people struggle their entire lives trying to keep their weight at a healthy level. And this can get harder as people age.
Some studies have shown up to 70% of American adults to be overweight and half of those are obese. No wonder the weight loss industry in the U.S. is so strong.
There are many fad diets that make dramatic promises of weight loss and yet people still don’t keep their weight off. This leads to ‘yo-yo’ dieting which is a very unhealthy way to try to lose weight.
Recent research has shown some promise for adding collagen to your food and drinks to lose weight. Following are some research-based ways collagen can help you lose weight.
1. Collagen helps you feel fuller longer. One reason many people add protein powder to food and drinks is to help them feel full and satiated for longer periods of time. One problem with this practice is that many of the protein powders available on the market have fillers or unnatural additives in them.
Collagen protein is a more clean protein. There are no additives or sweeteners in its pure form. It will keep you feeling full.
One study showed this when researchers fed obese subjects and subjects of natural weight one of two breakfasts. One breakfast had gelatin (collagen) added to it, the other did not. The researchers measured the subjects’ satiety hormone and found those who ate the breakfast with gelatin had a 40% increase in this hormone. Those subjects were more likely to stay with their weight loss diets.
In addition, the subjects who ate the breakfast with gelatin tended to eat less at the next meal. This increased the likelihood of them losing weight.
2. Collagen reduces the desire to snack. One of the hardest things for people on diets to overcome is the craving for something to snack on between meals. Salty, crunchy, oily, and fatty foods are some of the most chosen snacks.
Indulging in these snacks between meals and right before bed is often the main driver of diet failures. Collagen added to your meals keeps you feeling more full between meals and less in need of some kind of snack.
3. Collagen has been shown to help maintain muscle mass. One of the major issues with growing older is the natural loss of muscle mass. Beginning in your 30s, it is normal for you to begin losing 3-5% of your muscle mass every decade. Even if you exercise regularly, you’ll lose some muscle mass.
Also a normal part of aging is the conversion of some muscle into fat. Losing muscle mass means losing strength and potentially losing the desire to exercise.
Studies have shown collagen to help reduce fat mass and to increase fat-free mass. These studies show adding collagen to your food and drink for as little as 12 weeks can lower the fat mass in your body by as much as 10 pounds and add muscle mass by as much as 6 pounds at the same time.
Another study involved 71-year-old women who added collagen peptides to their meals. They were better able to preserve lean body mass than other subjects who were given whey proteins.
Why is this such a benefit? You have to remember adding muscle mass will increase your metabolism as well. It is your metabolism that allows you to burn calories throughout the day simply by moving in your daily activities, even through just breathing and thinking.
4. Collagen may keep your appetite down. Studies with obese and diabetic subjects found adding hydrolyzed collagen to their diet actually helped keep their appetites down. It appears the collagen stimulates the release of satiety hormones into the blood. Adding collagen actually decreased the amount of food these subjects ate.
5. Collagen may also help you lose weight directly. Studies have shown the importance of sufficient protein in keeping your body lean and in losing weight. Protein has been shown to be the most satisfying macronutrient, one that keeps you feeling full. Some research has shown people who increased protein in their diets and ate lower glycemic foods lost more weight and kept it off longer than people on low protein diets. Since collagen is one of the best proteins, this clearly supports the use of collagen for weight loss.
6. Collagen helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar at the most beneficial level will help reduce the urge to eat those foods that contain a lot of sugar and carbohydrates. When you do eat those kinds of foods you get an immediate spike in blood sugar, but it only lasts for a few hours. Then you’re hungry again. This leads to overeating and gaining weight. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable for longer periods of time will cut down on your desire for sugary foods and reduce your weight.
Not everyone who has investigated the use of collagen for weight loss is in agreement that it actually works. Some of the reason for this lack of agreement has to do with the lack of good, sound scientific research into using collagen for weight loss.
1. Not eating before going to bed actually works. Many of the weight loss supplements that contain collagen say to take it on an empty stomach before going to bed. These programs tell you not to eat anything for three hours prior to going to bed. And those few hours just before going to bed make up the prime time for snacking or even eating a meal. Food consumed at that time is much less likely to be burned off by activity, setting you up for weight gain overnight.
So, if you do take collagen on an empty stomach and cut out the night time snacks you may lose some weight. But what caused the weight loss? The collagen or cutting out the snacks?
In addition, many of the weight loss products add aloe vera to the collagen. Since aloe is a mile diuretic, you may see a weight loss due to the fluid loss because of the aloe.
2. Little evidence that is scientifically rigorous. Most of the evidence that collagen works to help you lose weight is anecdotal. Not a lot has been done that follows scientific guidelines for research.
There is some question as to whether collagen in pill form, the kind used in most weight loss programs, is absorbed by the body in order to be useful. Also, the scientific research done with collagen most often uses chicken collagen. This is not the kind of collagen used in weight loss supplements. So, the research findings may not apply to the supplements.
And when people do lose weight by taking supplements, is it more likely to be because they eat less to take them?
Adding collagen to your diet is not going to hurt you whether it helps you reduce your weight or not. But that’s not all you need to do. Increase your physical exercise along with adding collagen and you’ll see benefits.
Don’t rely on the hyped-up claims of weight loss programs that say collagen is the best thing since cottage cheese. Choose hydrolyzed collagen powder to add to your food and drink. The best ones have no added taste and mix well with foods or just about any kind of drink, either hot or cold.
You may have to try several brands before finding the one that is best for you. Stay with it and you can lose weight, too.
Can Collagen Really Help You Lose Weight? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/food-junkie/201803/can-collagen-really-help-you-lose-weight
How Hydrolyzed Collagen Helps with Weight Loss + Other Benefits https://www.restartmed.com/hydrolyzed-collagen/
Collagen and Weight Loss: 5 Reasons Collagen Can Help With Weight Loss https://www.furtherfood.com/collagen-protein-aids-weight-loss-suppresses-appetite/
Collagen Protein for Weight Loss: Does It Work? https://www.3fatchicks.com/collagen-protein-for-weight-loss-does-it-work/
How Does Collagen Help a Keto Diet? https://www.ketodomain.com/nutrition/collagen-supplement-benefits/
5 Proven Ways Gelatin Helps Weight Loss https://hollywoodhomestead.com/gelatin-weight-loss/ How Do Collagen Supplements Work? What the Science Says https://blog.bulletproof.com/do-collagen-supplements-work/