Chances are, you’ve witnessed collagen’s recent rise in popularity. From the beauty industry to the fitness world, collagen is highly regarded for its wide range of benefits.
So what exactly is collagen? How much collagen should you take per day? How much collagen is too much?
Collagen is a family of proteins that are the main structural component of the body’s connective tissues. These proteins make up a third of all the proteins in the human body.
There are 28 different types of collagen, and each type is categorized based on the composition of its amino acids. Approximately 90% of the collagen in the body is type 1. This is the type found in the skin, tendons, internal organs and organic parts of your bones and what helps give skin a youthful appearance, diminishes the appearance of cellulite, counteracts the aging effects of sun exposure, makes your hair appear fuller and allows your nails to grow stronger.
However, despite its abundance in the body, collagen production in the body begins to decline around age 25. Given collagen’s reputation for improved skin elasticity, healthy hair and long nails, collagen supplementation has become a popular way to make up for the collagen loss that starts in your late 20s/early 30s.
Collagen is typically marketed toward people looking for its anti-aging benefits. Although collagen has earned its reputation among experts in the beauty industry, it also has a wide range of fitness-related benefits that should not be overlooked. Collagen supplementation is very effective for post-workout recovery and is an important aspect of a fitness regimen. Remember: Collagen supports joint health and the elasticity, strength and regeneration of connective tissue, such as skin, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. These are parts of the body that are particularly vulnerable to damage when you engage in physical activity.
If you’re someone who works out often, collagen supplementation can help relieve joint inflammation and ease the extra pressure put on cartilage and bones during intense workouts. This helps you better avoid the risk of injury and reduce muscle soreness while also giving your athletic performance a boost. In fact, between 1–10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen, which is why collagen is so vital for athletes. Collagen supplementation can boost your muscle mass and keep those muscles functioning properly.
A collagen powder supplement is created by processing the collagen from animal tissues and breaking down the amino acid chains. You’ll find that nutritional collagen supplements are often created from bovine collagen (the protein present in the connective tissue, bones, cartilage, and hides of cows) or marine collagen (the protein present in the skin and scales of fish).
The breaking-down process — called “hydrolyzation” — makes the nutrients in collagen (glycine, arginine, proline and hydroxyproline) easier and faster to digest. When collagen is easier to digest, your body is able to reap its benefits more quickly. Non-hydrolyzed collagen is gelatin that does not blend well into liquid. Due to its digestibility, hydrolyzed collagen is the type of collagen supplement that athletes should seek out.
The amino acids in connective tissues — such as glycine — are very different than the amino acids in muscle tissue, making the addition of collagen an important aspect of any fitness-centered supplement regimen.
In addition to improving skin health and allowing your body to better sustain higher levels of activity, there are many other benefits of collagen.
Collagen assists in wound healing as well as bone loss prevention, especially when it is combined with calcium. Conditions like osteoporosis are characterized by low bone density, and collagen helps prevent the bone breakdown that leads to these types of conditions. Collagen also helps reduce several heart-related conditions, including atherosclerosis. This is a disease that involves the narrowing of the arteries and can lead to heart attack or stroke. Collagen helps provide structure to your arteries, thus reducing the risk for these types of conditions.
Collagen’s effects on brain health haven't been widely studied, but many people also report that collagen supplementation has led to improved moods and reduced feelings of anxiety.
As you know from above, collagen supplementation is a key ingredient for performance.
To figure out the role collagen can play in your fitness and nutrition regimen, take Gainful’s quiz. Based on your answers, a team of experts can recommend a protein powder blend, pre-workout and hydration formulas, as well as Performance Boosts. Because the formulas are created based solely on your own body, you can trust that each product contains the right ingredients that aligns with your body, diet, fitness routine and goals.
You’ll find that Gainful’s Collagen Performance Boost is an easy-to-mix, easy-to-digest supplement that gives an extra boost of support to your muscles and joints, as well as your skin, hair, nails and other connective tissues.
Take the quiz and learn how you can add the Collagen Performance Boost onto your next Gainful order.
So you’re sold on the benefits of collagen and want to begin adding it to your regimen — but exactly how much collagen should you take each day?
According to a 2019 review of clinical studies published in the journal Nutrients, taking between 2.5 to 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen peptides daily is both safe and effective. Postmenopausal women may benefit from getting closer to 15 grams of collagen every day, per a 2019 study titled “Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial” published in Nutrients. Athletes looking to build muscle may also benefit from a higher collagen intake per day.
According to a 2015 randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Nutrition, increasing daily doses to 15 grams of hydrolyzed collagen can improve muscle mass and body composition. Collagen peptide supplementation combined with resistance training showed improved body composition and increased muscle strength among the study’s participants (though it’s important to note that the effect on muscles is likely due to the total protein content and not specifically collagen; collagen just happens to be the protein source used).
To ensure your body is able to make the most out of the collagen you consume, consider taking vitamin C with 15 grams of collagen. Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which is what helps relieve joint pain and helps speed up recovery time. Hyaluronic acid helps boost collagen production in the human body. Bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts and those focusing on building muscle should consume 15-20 grams of collagen with 50-100 milligrams of vitamin C from foods and drinks (like fruit juice or fruit smoothies) or supplements around 30-60 minutes prior to weight-bearing exercise. Gainful offers a Collagen Performance Boost supplement that actually combines vitamin C and collagen into a single formula, making it easy to get proper amounts of both. The Collagen Performance Boost contains a scientist-recommended dosage of vitamin C, which enhances uptake of collagen and absorption of collagen into tissue. Your formula dose is based on your body and your goals, taking the guesswork out of collagen supplementation for bodybuilding.
(Just remember: Collagen isn't just for bodybuilding. It is for anyone who is looking to strengthen or rebuild connective tissue. Collagen works as a protein source as well as a muscle-building supplement. Dose effectiveness ranges between 15-20 grams for all types of fitness and wellness goals.)
However, you won’t have to wonder if you’re getting the right amounts of collagen based on your goals — Gainful does the research for you.
For sports performance purposes, you should take collagen prior to your workout. It’s suggested to consume 15-20 grams of collagen at least 30 minutes before exercising to “load” your connective tissues. This is especially helpful if you’re weight-training or resistance-training.
Add a scoop of collagen to a whey protein shake — or whatever drink you consume to fuel your workout — before exercising. A great Gainful product pairing is the Collagen Performance Boost with the Pre-Workout. Consume both your collagen and pre-workout around 30-60 minutes before exercising for optimal performance. Amino acids from collagen peak in 40-60 mins, so consuming collagen 30-60 minutes before your workout will allow the activity to direct the collagen to the body location most needed during exercise.
You may also want to consider a combination of collagen and creatine before your workout, as it provides a “nutrient soup” before exercise to load your tendons with collagen and your muscles with creatine. Gainful also offers a Creatine Performance Boost with its own set of performance-enhancing benefits that pairs perfectly with the Collagen Performance Boost.
Collagen supplements have a few reported side effects, such as feelings of fullness, so keep this in mind when supplementing around the time of your workout.
For any lingering questions you may have about collagen, remember: As part of your Gainful subscription, you always have a Registered Dietitian on-hand who’s there to answer any questions or concerns.
Gainful is here to take the guesswork out of collagen.
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