Can Collagen Really Help You Lose Weight?
Ongoing research on collagen shows that it may help with weight loss.
Posted March 17, 2018 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan
One of the biggest concerns many of us have as we get older is weight management. Maintaining a healthy weight is a lifelong struggle for many and can get harder as we get older. In fact, 70 percent of American adults are overweight and half of those adults are obese. We need to find ways to lose weight in a healthy manner, and more importantly, keep off the weight long-term. Ongoing research about collagen, a natural and unique type of protein, shows that collagen supplementation just might be the key in your journey to stay at a healthy weight.
Collagen is an important component of our body, making up 90 percent of our connective tissue and 70 percent of our skin. Our American diets, and Western diets in general, tend to not include many foods that naturally contain collagen. This is unfortunate because collagen plays an important role in helping us minimize the signs of aging, and it promotes gut and joint health. To remedy this, many people are supplementing with collagen peptides. Not only can collagen supplementation help to rebuild skin, bones, hair, and the gut, but recent evidence suggests that collagen can help fight obesity.
Collagen Promotes Satiety
One of the important reasons we consume protein is that it helps to keep our bodies full. While many people use protein powders for this purpose, a lot of protein powders are filled with fillers or unnatural additives. Collagen protein, on the other hand, is a clean protein — in its pure form, it has no additives or sweeteners — that can help keep you full and promote satiety. Several studies have focused on the benefits of consuming collagen in helping people who are trying to lose weight. 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.
Other studies have had similar results with regards to the effect of collagen supplementation in helping to promote fullness. One study consisted of 24 healthy adults who tested the satiety effects of various protein supplements. The subjects had two breakfast meals with specific types of protein in each: one meal had alpha-lactalbumin, gelatin, or gelatin + tryptophan (TRP) (Breakfast 1) and the other meal contained casein, soy, whey, or whey + glycomacropeptide (GMP) (Breakfast 2). The study found that Breakfast 1, which included gelatin (collagen), was 40 percent more satiating than Breakfast 2, which did not contain gelatin or collagen. Additionally, the participants who ate Breakfast 1 with gelatin ended up consuming fewer calories for lunch. Researchers concluded that gelatin increases satiety, which can lead to subsequent reduced energy intake, thereby promoting weight loss.2
To put this into simple terms, collagen protein promotes fullness and keeps our body feeling satisfied after a meal. If we feel more full for a longer time after eating, we are less likely to overeat at the next meal. This goes hand in hand with fighting off pesky cravings. We know how difficult it can be to fight cravings, such as those for salty, oily or fatty foods. And not to mention sugary foods, which our brain can actually get addicted to. Including collagen into your daily diet can help in the battle against cravings and weight loss by keeping you full and satisfied.
Collagen Supplementation Can Also Keep Our Bodies Strong
An important component of losing weight and staying healthy is being active — whether by going to the gym or just walking regularly. To stay active, we need to make sure our bodies stay strong as well as avoid injuries or other aches and pains that may prevent us from working out. Collagen supplementation can help. 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.3 Therefore, adding collagen into your daily routine can help in your weight loss plan by preventing pain and joint injury arising from physical activity and exercise.
Another benefit of collagen supplementation to your workout routine? Collagen contains high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which changes into nitric oxide to help our blood vessels relax and promote healthy circulation. Additionally, arginine has been found to help promote total strength and recovery in adult males.4 Adding collagen to your daily diet can help keep your bones strong, helping you to stay active and healthy.
So collagen can help you lose weight, but it won’t do all of the work for you. Instead, collagen is great for providing you with the right tools to act on your diet plans — adding collagen into your diet can help to decrease your food and energy intake, beat cravings, and prevent pain due to physical activity.
What to Look for in a Collagen Supplement
Now that I’ve told you about the benefits of collagen supplementation and how it can help in weight management, you may want to know which collagen supplement to use. There are a lot of collagen supplements out there, and I’ve tried most of them. I highly recommend you do your research to make sure you purchase one that contains no additional additives, flavors, or sweeteners. Also, make sure the collagen has no hormones in it: Look for collagen from grass-fed and pasture-raised bovine or wild-caught fish.
1. Rubio IG, Castro G, Zanini AC, Medeiros-Neto G. Oral Ingestion of a Hydrolyzed Gelatin Meal in Subjects with Normal Weight and in Obese Patients: Postprandial Effect on Circulating Gut Peptides, Glucose and Insulin. Eat Weight Disord. 2008 Mar;13(1):48-53.
2. Veldhorst MA, Nieuwenhuizen AG, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Westerterp KR, Engelen MP, Brummer RJ, Deutz NE, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. A breakfast with alpha-lactalbumin, gelatin, or gelatin+ TRP lowers energy intake at lunch compared with a breakfast with casein, soy, whey, or whey-GMP. Clin Nutr. 2009 Apr;28(2):147-55.
3. Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, Deitch JR, Sherbondy PS, Albert A. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96.
4. Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Veldhorst MA, Westerterp KR. Single-protein casein and gelatin diets affect energy expenditure similarly but substrate balance and appetite differently in adults. J Nutr. 2009 Dec;139(12):2285-92.