The single most frequent question I get from my followers is about collagen. Collagen has gained a lot of popularity as the paleo movement has moved into mainstream. Collagen has a variety of benefits, won’t break the bank, and can be easily incorporated in your diet. I have been consuming collagen on a daily basis for about 9 months now. I’ve tried a few different brands and experimented with how to best incorporate it everyday. Let’s chat about the frequently-asked questions I get.
What are collagen peptides?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Both humans and animals depend on collagen for skin, gut, and joint health. Collagen is stored throughout the body including in the muscles, bones and blood stream. Collagen peptides are the derivative of pure collagen from an animal sources that is minimally (ideally) processed and turned into a consumable product for health benefits. Collagen is a protein made up of several amino acids that are easily absorbed in the gut. One scoop of collagen contains 11 grams of protein and 40 calories. Most collagen comes in powder form but I’ve seen collagen creamers and collagen infused snacks like granola bars.
How do you consume collagen?
Personally, I find the easiest way to incorporate collagen daily is to put it directly into my iced coffee and blend. I’m not a big smoothie person, but that’s probably the second most common way to consume collagen. I have also found they can easily be added to things like energy balls, baked into breads or sweets, or stirred into a hot cup of tea. Even though collagen is an animal product, they are virtually tasteless and odorless.
If you’re going to mix collagen into a cold liquid it’s important that you blend the liquid with a blender or battery-powered whisk to avoid clumping. Clumpy collagen is not all that appetizing, trust me. If you go the hot beverage route a spoon will do the trick.
Can I get collagen naturally in foods I eat?
Yes! Many foods have naturally occurring collagen in them that you can eat plenty of and reap the benefits. Keep in mind however, you cannot overdose on collagen (that I know of), so I recommend eating a diet rich in collagen as well as supplementing with collagen peptide powder. Foods that are rich in collagen include bone broth, salmon, eggs, berries, and dark greens. If you were hoping I’d say ice cream and potato chips, sorry about it. I don’t necessarily know that there is a way to tell if you’re collagen-deficient, but if you suffer from digestive issues, brittle hair and nails, or have joint pain, I recommend trying collagen to see if your issues subside.
What are the side effects of collagen?
Zero. I have not experienced any side effects of consuming collagen. However, everyone reacts differently to supplements. One person has told me they added collagen to their diet and noticed that they had an acne flare up. Another person shared that it caused major bloating associated with autoimmune disease. Again, each of us have very unique systems. If you anticipate having an adverse reaction or if you have food sensitivities start with a smaller serving size and work your way up. Obviously I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, so if you have major concerns, contact your health professional first. Collagen is safe for those that are pregnant and breastfeeding, but again, consult someone with a PhD if you’re unsure.
What are the benefits of collagen?
The most apparent benefits of consuming collagen for me are related to my hair, skin, and nail health. The last two times I’ve gone my hairstylist she’s pointed out that my hair is growing faster than what’s been typical for me in the past. My nails also grow much faster and are less brittle. My skin has cleared up significantly from breakouts since adding collagen to my routine. Most skin creams and serums these days contain collagen. Consuming them in your diet will give you the same benefits for your skin as putting them on topically. Some research suggests that topical collagen is actually ineffective, but I’m not here to slam any products that contain the good stuff.
Another huge benefit of consuming collagen is joint health. A lot of the research on collagen peptides deems the previous mentioned benefits for skin, hair, and nails as “possible benefits.” However, researchers consistently find that collagen peptides are essential in joint health. Collagen is a major player in connective tissue throughout our bodies. If you lack collagen in the body you could experience major issues with tendons and joints. Think of collagen as a strengthener for our joints and tendons as well as a lubricant to decrease that crunchy sound you may here going down the stairs or getting out of bed in the morning.
Lastly, one other key benefit of collagen is gut health. Collagen peptides are rich in glutamine. Glutamine and other amino acids are essential for healing gut issues and making digestion a smoother process (pun intended). Collagen is also a player in the acid production and release in the gut. I used to suffer from intense bouts of heartburn. Collagen has helped me nearly eliminate this issue altogether. Without getting too sciency, collagen can help improve digestion and gut health even if you don’t think you have any issues. Collagen helps store water in the intestines and strengthening the walls of our digestive organs. Everyone can benefit from better gut health, I promise! If you are on an antibiotic regimen or taking painkillers, collagen may help protect the gut lining from the harsh compounds in medications.
Do the benefits kick in right away?
No. Collagen isn’t like popping an allergy pill or an Ibuprofen. You have to consume collagen regularly for 4-6 weeks before you notice benefits. That doesn’t mean that you may notice changes sooner, but it will not be overnight. You have to have a build up of collagen in your system in order to reap the benefits. Think of collagen similarly to a fitness routine. Sure, doing some strength training is good for your overall health, but unless you do it regularly you may not notice any benefits.
How do I pick a brand?
There are a billion brands of collagen peptides or collagen-containing supplements out there. Personally, I use the both the Vital Proteins Brand and the Sports Research Brand and have been a loyal customer for as long as I’ve been adding collagen to my diet. Vital Proteins brand mixes more easily into liquids in my opinion, but Sports Research has a lower price point, so pick your pony on that one.
Two important things to look for are that your collagen comes from grass-fed beef or other high-quality animal sources. Since collagen is an animal product it is very important that you’re consuming a brand that eliminates the guesswork. Some beef-based collagen peptides have shown high levels of metals in them, so make sure you go the grass-fed route on this one. There are products out there that combine collagen with coffee cream, flavoring, and other tasty treats. In my opinion though, you can use plain old collagen peptides more versatilely than by purchasing a product that contains collagen.
Hopefully this answered some of your questions! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been thinking about adding collagen or if you’ve recently tried it. As always, you can reach out here or at TheFruGal@frugallyrooted.com with any questions!