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Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. There are a few different types of collagen, but types I, II, and III make up the majority of collagen in the body.
Recently, collagen supplements have become very popular because they claim to improve hair, skin, nails and joints, and some even claim to help burn fat and build muscle (seeThe best collagen powders for weight loss).
Type I and III collagens are generally geared toward improving hair, skin, and nails and keeping bones healthy, while Type II supports joint health. Some supplements contain one or more different types of collagen.
Most people would appreciate the improvements to their hair, skin and nails, and the added protection for our joints and bones certainly wouldn't hurt, but would collagen supplements also lead to weight gain?
This article offers a brief description of it.Collagen and its possible benefitsand discuss whether or not this may lead to weight gain.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body.
Collagen is a structural protein found in our skin, bones, muscles, cartilage and tendons.
It's a crucial aspect of connective tissue, but it's also important for the immune system, tissue repair, and other bodily functions.
The body produces collagen naturally, but in recent years taking collagen as a dietary supplement has become more and more popular. The idea is that because it plays this important role in the body, we might get additional benefits from taking it more as a dietary supplement.
In addition to the benefits, like many supplements, collagen can have some side effects.
Some people find that taking a collagen supplement causes gas and bloating, and others worry that it could lead to weight gain. Before we dive into the research on the benefits of collagen, let's examine whether or not it can lead to weight gain.
Does collagen lead to weight gain? (What do you need to know)
In its simplest terms, weight gain occurs when calories expended are greater than calories burned on a regular basis (not due to excessive calorie intake in a day). However, the human body is anything but simple. In addition to our calorie intake, many other factors influence our weight. Things like hormones, medical conditions, medications and many, many others can also play a role.
While gas and bloating are possible side effects, adding a collagen supplement to your routine is unlikely to result in weight gain.
It actually increases the total amount of protein you eat, which can help you lose weight. A high protein diet can be very effective for both losing weight and building muscle. However, it's always possible to have too much of a good thing. Overeating anything, be it protein or anything else, can lead to weight gain.
Now that we know collagen alone doesn't cause weight gain, let's look at some of its potential benefits.
Collagen can help you feel fuller
Protein itself, whether from collagen or another source, is known to help increase feelings of fullness after meals. It also has a greater thermic effect than carbohydrates or fats, which means that the metabolism speeds up to digest and absorb protein more than carbohydrates or fats.
In particular, collagen has been found to help increase levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for signaling the brain that we are full. However, one study found that even when leptin levels increased, people did not notice an increase in satiety (1).
Still, consuming collagen is one way to increase your protein intake, which can help promote feelings of fullness and lead to fewer calories and fewer instances of overeating.
Collagen can promote a healthy gut
Taking a collagen supplement regularly can help improve gut health by reducing inflammation in the gut, although this is currently supported only by people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Therefore, it is unclear whether healthy people will experience better gut health with collagen supplementation.2).
Also, some may experience gas and bloating, which is probably harmless but certainly uncomfortable.
Other research has uncovered a possible link between the skin and the gut, so it's believed that if collagen helps improve skin, it could also translate to gut health. However, this is a tentative idea and there is still no concrete research to support it (3).
Ultimately, there is some evidence that collagen supplementation can improve gut health, but most of the research has been in cell and animal studies, so we need more research, particularly human clinical trials, before we can say. for sure (4,5).
Collagen can reduce body fat
Some preliminary research and animal studies have shown that collagen can help improve body composition by protecting muscle mass and reducing body fat (6).
One study found that collagen supplementation was effective in reducing body fat in obese people, even without reducing total calories (7).
If that sounds too good to be true, it might as well be.
Another study found that whey protein was effective at reducing body fat, but collagen was not (8).
We know that protein helps protect muscle mass and support muscle growth, which in turn can help boost metabolism and reduce body fat. Although the research is somewhat mixed, collagen may have an indirect effect on body fat.
Still, collagen supplementation is unlikely to result in drastic changes in body fat, and no amount of supplementation will replace the effectiveness of healthy habits.
Collagen can increase muscle mass
When it comes to building muscle, whole protein sources are important. When considering protein supplementation, whey protein is widely considered the best option for building muscle mass.
Collagen is an incomplete protein because it lacks tryptophan, one of the nine essential amino acids. Despite this, there is still some research that suggests it is beneficial for protecting muscle mass (9).
However, it is important to note that many of the studies on this were conducted in older participants, who are more prone to muscle atrophy and therefore would likely benefit from an increase in dietary protein.
Likewise, it's unclear whether the maintenance of muscle mass can be attributed to the collagen itself or if it's simply due to the increase in overall protein.
In short, collagen has the potential to help maintain and build muscle mass, but specific research is lacking.
Should You Reach Your Weight Goals With Collagen Supplements?
A high protein diet is known to be effective for weight loss. Taking a collagen supplement will help increase your overall protein intake throughout the day, with the potential to offer other benefits as well.
Also, most people specifically want to lose fat. This means that maintaining muscle mass is crucial. Protein will be key when it comes to maintaining muscle, especially if you're eating in a caloric deficit.
As a nutritionist, I generally recommend putting wellness first, but I also recognize how difficult it can be to get enough protein every day. A protein powder like collagen or whey can help you reach your protein goals.
We've also covered some of the other benefits of collagen supplementation, but it's important to note that most of the research on collagen is still mixed and in the early stages.
Still, there's a lot of anecdotal evidence out there and there's nothing wrong with trying out a collagen supplement to see if it's right for you.
Recommended collagen supplements
In my opinion, the following brands are the best for making collagen supplements and they are made in the USA:
- 1. Collagen Phorm com Dermaval
- Urernte-Collagen Powder
Final Verdict: Does Collagen Cause Weight Gain?
No! Taking collagen will not directly lead to weight gain.
Remember that weight gain usually occurs when we eat more calories than we burn (although it's always important to keep in mind that it's not always that simple). A specific food or supplement is not responsible for weight gain.
Still, some people experience gas and bloating when ingesting collagen, which technically can cause small increases in the scale. Keep in mind that this type of increase in the scale is certainly not body fat and is only temporary. It is also perfectly normal and expected for body weight to fluctuate from day to day and even throughout the day, regardless of collagen use.
If you find that collagen isn't a good match for you, consider trying a different form of protein.
DR success tips
- Before adding new supplements, focus on your base first. Remember, supplements are meant to complement! If you don't take care of the basics (good nutrition, exercise, good sleep, hydration), don't expect a supplement to do you any favors.
- There really isn't a magic pill when it comes to losing weight.
- With that said, once you establish consistent healthy habits, collagen supplementation can be a helpful addition to your routine. Adding a serving of collagen every day can increase your total intake by around 20 grams, which can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to weight loss.
About the author
Ellen Landes, MS, RDN, CPT is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and college professor. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in human nutrition and dietetics and is an ACSM-certified personal trainer. Her writing focuses on nutrition, fitness, and other evidence-based health topics.
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