If you're somewhat active and have been on a ketogenic diet for a while, like the team here at Konscious Keto, you may already praise the power of collagen protein because of its ability to replenish the body and enable us to gain and maintain lean muscle mass.
But does collagen protein promote weight loss on a ketogenic diet?
What is Collagen Protein?
Collagen protein is made up of amino acids that intertwine to create a triple-helix configuration. This three-part structure is actually why collagen is particularly strong, contributing to the development and maintenance of 90% of our body tissue.
Collagen is directly responsible for whether our skin is supple or our hair lustrous, but beyond that, it is a main component for the solid structure of our bodies.
Collagen is comprised of the following amino acids, all to different degrees:
- Glycine: Makes up approximately 33% of the collagen compound
- Proline: This amino acid makes up about 10% of the compound
- Hydroxyproline: Similar to proline, hydroxyproline makes up 10% of collagen
- Hydroxylysine: The least of all components in collagen, hydroxylysine makes up only 1% of collagen
OK, there's a brief summary of the 'what' of collagen, now for the 'why'.
If we make our own collagen in the body, why do we need to supplement with collagen protein?
The question may seem facetious since we touched on some of the benefits of collagen protein above, but we want to cover the topic a bit more in depth because there are many benefits, and each deserves an honorable mention.
Something important to note is that it's essential to consume optimal amounts of certain nutrients to create collagen, which include the following:
Sulfur contributes directly to the production of glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant that prevents the effect of oxidative stress, which decreases collagen levels.
Cruciferous vegetables, pasture-raised eggs, and garlic are all sulfur-rich foods that are also keto-friendly.
Also supplementing with N-acetyl-cysteine by eating high protein foods like chicken, turkey, yogurt and cheese, provides the body with exogenous sulfur, something to consider if you're not consuming enough of the mineral in your diet.
An essential element needed to convert proline to hydroxyproline, vitamin C is needed to promote collagen production stability.
Plus this antioxidant, works as a beneficial cohort with vitamin E (another antioxidant) to eliminate free radicals in the body and support healthy collagen formation.
This mineral helps prevent collagen degradation.
This family of vitamins is often associated with boosting energy, but it is also vital for proper collagen development.
Small amounts of this mineral support collagen synthesis.
It's important to add in all of these vitamins and minerals to your diet, in addition to consuming foods abundant in collagen and nitrogen, to encourage collagen production.
If nothing else, consider incorporating a quality multivitamin that contains these and other nutrients to support robust collagen production, especially with aging.
Collagen Protein and Weight Loss
Preserves Muscle Mass
Losing muscle mass is common as we age and can result in injury over time.
The noted muscle loss is directly related to our increased need for protein intake and the body's tendency to excrete muscle-supporting nitrogen in our urine as we age.
Adding in additional sources of quality protein, particularly collagen protein, can prove particularly helpful in maintaining our vibrancy and vitality as we get older.
Fortunately, research has found that supplementing with collagen protein helps to preserve nitrogen balance and maintain lean muscle mass, particularly necessary as we get older.
Contributes to Satiety
All protein is associated with satiety, but collagen protein is said to have an increased benefit in the area of causing one to feel fuller, longer.
Furthermore, a preliminary clinical trial found collagen to be 40% more satiating than the same quantity of casein, whey, or soy protein.
Also, the trial found that the individuals studied consumed 20% less food at their meals directly following collagen consumption than individuals who consumed other forms of protein—pretty fascinating and an edge on the side of opting for collagen protein.
Potential Appetite Suppressant
In addition to contributing to feelings of satiety, collagen protein is said to have an appetite suppressive effect that can contribute to fat loss!
Another study, one among obese and diabetic patients, determined that those who consumed hydrolyzed collagen triggered the release of satiating hormones into the bloodstream.
Patients also had a reduced appetite after the intake of collagen, subsequently resulting in a decreased overall food intake.
The diabetic patients observed in the study were able to lose weight by eating fewer calories thanks to the powerful role collagen protein plays in reducing the appetite.
May Diminish the Appearance of Cellulite
More than its benefits related to weight loss even, many are familiar with collagen's benefits related to boosting skin elasticity.
Adding collagen is said to create a supple appearance to the skin and contributes to the health and viability of the dermis layer of the skin, creating a thicker and more supple appearance.
Aging can cause the skin to thin, sag, and lose hydration and youthfulness, which may highlight the cellulite present beneath the skin due to a deteriorated padding between it and our dermis.
Collagen supplementation is thought to thicken the dermal layer, therefore reducing the appearance of cellulite—and who doesn't want that?
Collagen Protein May Contribute to Weight Loss
We alluded to this earlier, and the determination in our estimation points to 'yes'. Ask anyone in the fitness and bodybuilding community, and they will tell you that protein is essential to build and sustain lean muscle mass—and muscle burns fat.
Furthermore, there's considerable research to corroborate the important role that protein plays in muscle tissue building, sustenance, and repair—all vital to those who may be increasing physical activity to facilitate accelerated fat loss.
Also, one clinical study noted that the individuals who consumed more lean protein in conjunction with low-glycemic vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale or cauliflower, experienced more significant fat loss. Even more impressive—were able to maintain their weight loss long-term more so than those consuming less dietary protein.
Collagen Protein Promotes Satiety & Suppresses Appetite
As if helping to rebuild our skin, hair, bones, and gut aren't enough of a benefit to at least make collagen protein worthy of our consideration: now we are learning more about how collagen can help us combat obesity.
While emerging research appears to increasingly point to the ability of collagen protein to promote weight loss, the issue for most eating a Western or Standard American Diet (SAD) is that these diet plans are often void of collagen-rich foods.
Some good news here is that there are foods like powdered gelatin (pure collagen), bone broth, egg whites, spirulina, codfish, and certain other animal products and vegetables that are all rich in sulfur—a trace mineral essential in the process of collagen synthesis.
Animal-based foods like eggs, beef, and dairy are all rich in sulfur and beneficial to facilitate collagen production. But also keep in mind that it’s important to consume vegetable sources of sulfur as they contain the highly-beneficial and potent element of organosulfur, which is absent from animal-based sources.
Excellent sources of vegetable-based sulfur include:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Garlic (a potent and multi-faceted source of sulfur which also contains the anti-bacterial element known as allicin)
Collagen Protein Promotes Satiety & Suppresses Appetite
As we mentioned above, collagen protein is a unique protein said to promote satiety and suppress appetite to a level that exceeds that of other forms of protein.
In its ideal form, free of sugars or additives, collagen protein is a cleaner protein whose gelatin content leads to less caloric intake which naturally leads to increased weight loss as we begin to feel fuller longer.
Furthermore, it is established that consuming adequate amounts of protein contributes to lean muscle gain and that increased muscle mass has a natural thermogenic effect. The more muscle mass we have, the more efficiently and expeditiously we burn body fat.
Could collagen protein be the missing link to maximizing your current low-carb protocol? It seems like it's at least worth some consideration.
Collagen Protein for Stronger Bodies
In general, protein is the building block of many elements in the body and the bedrock upon which muscle tissue is built and maintained.
However, as we've mentioned, collagen protein is a bit of a darling, even among its protein counterparts.
Consider this, the dermis, or the layer that gives our skin its elasticity and flexibility, is comprised of 70% collagen. After age 21 our skin begins to gradually produce less endogenous collagen and it begins to break down.
By our early golden years, around our 60s, we have just half of the collagen as when we were 21-years old, a drastic decline—worsened by the fact that at this point our body produces about 75% less collagen than it did in our 20s.
Collagen Protein for Muscle Mass
Collagen, derived from the Greek, “kólla,” meaning glue, acts as a bonding agent, giving form and support to the body.
A fibrous, wavy molecule, it literally provides us with structure and in its absence, we'd be unformed mounds of matter—after all, collagen's ropelike molecular structure is gram-for-gram stronger than steel!
So, with a bit more detail on the molecule's name and might, it probably makes sense that collagen is an essential contributor to the development, growth, and maintenance of healthy muscle tissue.
Approximately one-to-two percent of our muscle tissue and about six percent of our tendons are made up of collagen.
Also, in addition to providing stretch and agility to our connective tissues, collagen also facilitates the production of new skin cells to help heal wounds and create new tissue growth.
Collagen Protein for Cellulite
We mentioned earlier that collagen creates elasticity in the body and that its presence creates a thickened dermis layer to the skin which reduces the appearance of cellulite.
So, although collagen may not eliminate cellulite, it can reduce the appearance of fat cells that lie underneath the skin.
But what is cellulite and why has it plagued most of us women, regardless of our weight, since college?
Cellulite is essentially a consequence of the thinning of collagen protein in the body due to age, dietary choices and lifestyle. This thinning of the dermis layer of the skin, as we've noted, can produce weak spots and a more porous nature within the dermis.
To illustrate the nature of cellulite, think of carrying groceries home on a rainy day after opting for paper over plastic.
As the bag becomes damp from the rain and its structural integrity is compromised, the contents in your grocery bag may bulge out through the weakened areas of the bag—the same is the case with cellulite.
Collagen Protein on a Keto Diet
While protein is usually kept to a moderate level on a standard ketogenic diet; just like dietary fats aren't equal, the same holds true for proteins.
As we mentioned earlier, collagen protein is a unique protein that contains higher levels of nitrogen, and this is important to facilitate muscle growth and recovery.
The reparative and tissue-strengthening effect of collagen protein are particularly valuable to those on a ketogenic diet. The higher levels of nitrogen found in food-based sources of collagen protein are exceptional for building and maintaining muscle compared to those on a low-protein diet. At times on a standard ketogenic diet, protein intake lessens and nitrogen may become deficient—which can make it virtually impossible to gain or maintain muscle mass.
Interestingly enough, a 2015 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed that collagen peptide supplementation combined with resistance training increases muscle strength and enhances body composition, promoting the release of excess fat and the proliferation of healthy muscle mass!
So, while collagen protein is beneficial for the sound structure of any human body, this is especially the case for those who are very active, those on a ketogenic diet and eating moderate levels of protein, or those aging and naturally producing significantly less collagen.
Also, it's worth noting that even in the realm of collagen protein there are levels of quality. When sourcing a collagen peptide supplement, choose one that is hydrolyzed as it tends to be higher in protein. The enzymatic process used to hydrolyze said protein isolates, also concentrates and purifies the collagen peptides.
It's easy to incorporate collagen protein into keto coffee or a smoothie. For a delicious breakfast with a boost of joint and ligament support, try the following:
- 8 oz coffee (brewed or hot)
- 1/2 cup, unsweetened, dairy-free milk (we love almond, hemp, and macadamia milk)
- 1 tsp (or more, up to a tbsp), MCT oil
- 1 tbsp, hydrolyzed collagen protein powder
- 1 tsp, grass-fed butter or ghee
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender, or use a cup and an immersion blender, and blend the ingredients until combined.
Add your preferred sugar-free sweetener, to taste: we love liquid stevia, monk fruit sweeteners and those made with erythritol like Swerve. Experiment and see which sugar-free alternatives you prefer.
This version of keto coffee is an excellent source of fat and energy—thanks to the MCT oil—and protein, thanks to the added collagen protein powder.
Read our comprehensive article on keto-friendly sweeteners and the differences in the way they compare to the taste of sugar in recipes, here.
Collagen Weight Loss Benefits
So, compound the satiating and appetite suppressing effects of collagen protein and a ketogenic diet and you have a winning pair in the areas of accelerated fat loss and overall health! Honestly, we're a little smitten.
Whether collagen protein is used to trigger satiety and the feeling of being fuller longer, or fortifies our muscles and ligaments as we look to gain lean muscle or recover from an intense workout, it only appears to have benefits.
If you are looking for tips to bolster the strength of your joints, enhance the efficacy of your weight-loss efforts, or prevent certain forms of cancer, feel confident that you have uncovered another powerful tool to add to your wellness arsenal.
There's no need to worry about premature aging with the help of the neuroprotective benefits of the ketogenic diet and the tissue replenishing and strengthening benefits of collagen protein.
Experiment with different recipes. Add a collagen protein supplement to keto coffee or frappes or try collagen peptides in a savory bone broth. Add a dollop of salted grass-fed butter to either for a double dose of cell-regenerating collagen. The possibilities are limitless.
Whichever method you choose to consume collagen peptides, the takeaway is that in doing so you're winning and your body will thank you for it.
Keto StudiesAsserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T., & Prawitt, J. (2015). The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: Evidence from anex vivomodel and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 14(4), 291-301. doi:10.1111/jocd.12174
Flechsenhar, K., & Sebastianelli, W. (2007). 257 Long-Term Use Of Collagen Hydrolysate As A Nutritional Supplement In Athletes With Activity-Related Joint Pain. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 15. doi:10.1016/s1063-4584(07)61889-5
Kim, D., Chung, H., Choi, J., Sakai, Y., & Lee, B. (2018). Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients, 10(7), 826. doi:10.3390/nu10070826
Proksch, E., Schunck, M., Zague, V., Segger, D., Degwert, J., & Oesser, S. (2014). Oral Intake of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides Reduces Skin Wrinkles and Increases Dermal Matrix Synthesis. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 27(3), 113-119. doi:10.1159/000355523
Rubio, I. G., Castro, G., Zanini, A. C., & Medeiros-Neto, G. (2008). 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. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia, and Obesity, 13(1), 48-53. doi:10.1007/bf03327784
Zdzieblik, D., Oesser, S., Baumstark, M. W., Gollhofer, A., & König, D. (2015). Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: A randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(08), 1237-1245. doi:10.1017/s0007114515002810