Those seeking to maintain or regain plump skin and healthy hair and nails—or in search of food-derived elements to boost gut health—will want to keep reading because collagen protein delivers those benefits and beyond, and we’re going to share how to integrate it seamlessly into your keto diet.
Collagen is often associated with aiding in youthful and radiant skin and lovely lush hair. Still, the importance of this vital protein becomes increasingly significant to joint and tissue health as we age—contributing to every aspect of the health of our precious connective tissues.
Plus, replenishing collagen is more important over time as our natural levels decline year after year and require more mindful support to ensure adequate levels.
What is Collagen
Collagen is a protein that naturally occurs in our connective tissues, hair, skin, and nails. And as 30-40% of the body's protein composition, collagen is the most prevalent amino acid in your system.
Collagen is a vital element and is also referred to as our body's glue because it provides structural integrity to tissue and holds our joints and ligaments together.
As collagen diminishes over time, evidence can appear in the form of wrinkles, sagging skin, or joint pain. In addition, as we age or experience illness or injury, we can compromise our collagen stores and manifest some of the physical symptoms mentioned.
Fortunately, the passing of time doesn't have the final word regarding our health and appearance. We can recapture and sustain a youthful appearance and state of being by adding foods with collagen or collagen-promoting micronutrients to your keto meal plan.
And, you can consistently implement the aid of an animal or plant-based collagen supplement into your regimen for an added boost of joint-protective protein, as well.
Collagen Rich Keto Foods
We derive collagen from many foods we consume, like bone broth or wild-caught salmon, but wisely choosing your food selections is crucial when following a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
A broad range of food choices work well when limiting carbs; it's a matter of identifying ideal options and ensuring they're always near and plentiful. Here are our top 10 collagen-rich foods to enjoy while curbing carbs on a low-carb, high-fat diet:
1 - Fish with the skin on - Eating fish with the skin on is more than delicious; it packs an abundant source of complexion-plumping collagen and adds a crunchy dynamic to a fatty salted fish that is satiating and tasty.
Searing skin-on fish in grass-fed butter is a simple process, but the results are decadent and delicious, perfect as a mono meal or with a nutrient-rich side of mild or peppery micro greens.
Plus, there is much fish with the perfect macronutrient profile for anyone following a diet with a limited carb intake. So consider these collagen-rich fillets as you craft this week's meal plan:
- Cod: Look no further if you want a mild and flaky fish, perfect for frying. Cod is about 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving and packed with protein with minimal calories.
- Salmon: Often praised for its great omega-3 fatty acid content, salmon and its crispy crackling skin offer loads of protein, collagen, and satiating healthy fats.
- Sea Bass: Whether oven-baked or pan-seared with lemon butter and capers: this firm and meaty fish pairs perfectly with a drizzling of olive oil and a side of seared asparagus.
Eating fish and shellfish is often optimal when following a ketogenic diet. Many seafood options like salmon, shrimp, or mackerel are super low or void of carbs and provide a considerable amount of protein with moderate to low caloric loads.
Although many seafood selections contain cholesterol, their omega-3 fatty acid content is beneficial and associated with creating healthy cholesterol levels and aiding in blood pressure regulation.
2 - Fish Stock: Marine collagen is a fantastic protein source to aid in maintaining a lustrous mane and a vibrant complexion. Use your Instant Pot or pressure cooker to make homemade stock or try online options like Healthy Body Organic's Wild Alaskan Salmon Bone Broth Collagen bone broth powder for a nutrient-dense option that's shelf-stable!
Plus, you can use fish stock to create a savory keto seafood chowder or any number of varieties of soups; you'll have a hearty meal and support to continue to produce needed collagen to remain youthful as you age.
3 - Beef Bone Broth: The use of homemade bone broth is nothing new. It's another perfect base for soups and stews and provides loads of minerals and vitamins as well as structure-supporting collagen.
Snag some grass-fed beef marrow bones from your local grocer and fire up your pressure cooker or slow cooker to brew up some collagen-rich broth perfect for supporting optimal gut health and supple, hydrated skin.
Plus, brands like Kettle & Fire offer lines of bone broth you can easily purchase in local stores or online for ready-made and convenient options you can heat and enjoy.
4 - Beef: You may not have thought eating a grass-fed burger could help you look more youthful, but beef is rich in collagen and consuming premium cuts is a great way to support healthy joint and connective tissue.
Plus, with tasty keto recipes that make perfect for long-term meal prep freezer selections like our King Keto Taco Casserole, it's easy and enjoyable to add collagen-rich meals to your plate, often.
Also, making classic burgers with a lettuce wrap, baking a savory and satiating meatloaf, or rolling out a tray of meatballs are all easy methods to incorporate more collagen-rich beef into your low-carb, high-fat keto diet with ease.
5 - Whole Eggs: Although eggs don't contain connective tissues like other animal proteins, they are rich in proline—an amino acid needed to produce collagen.
Whip up a tray of decadent and creamy deviled eggs for a no-cook keto option to enjoy throughout the week, or prep some savory frittatas ahead to portion out throughout the week. Ensuring macro-friendly meals that provide added collagen throughout the week can help you look and feel most vibrant.
Plus, poaching, scrambling, and frying are cooking approaches to have a filling and rejuvenating dish ready in mere minutes from fridge to table.
6 - Chicken: Whether you roast a whole chicken and save the bones for broth or are fortunate enough to source chicken feet from your local butcher—for their gelatinous goodness—you can take advantage of the rejuvenating effect of collagen to plump away fine lines and wrinkles.
Plus, making a platter of party wings, even if you're hanging at home alone, is the perfect way to crush a craving for salty and fatty goodness with the bonus of adding luster and lushness to your marvelous mane.
Also, preparing some barbecue chicken legs to increase collagen consumption is another way to prepare dishes over the weekend to come in super handy throughout the week. Avoid any mealtime hassle, all you need to do is reheat and eat.
7 - Bell Peppers: Colorful bell peppers add visual appeal to meals, but beyond their esthetic, they provide an abundance of vitamin C which aids in collagen production and stimulates cell turnover and collagen growth.
Plus, observational studies have pointed to a reduced risk of dry and wrinkled skin as we age when consuming foods with significant amounts of vitamin C, as with vibrantly-hued bell peppers.
Increase your body's collagen synthesis while keeping keto on Taco Tuesday with our Muy Keto Taco Bowl. This colorful recipe is convenient to make on-demand and loaded with antioxidant-rich bell peppers and—preferably—grass-fed and grass-finished 80/20 ground beef for a healthy helping of premium fat.
8 - Oysters: Eating some foods, like those rich in vitamin C like peppers, as we mentioned, is essential because their contents boost or support healthy collagen production. Similarly, oysters are a food that’s plentiful in protein, fat, and copper—a mineral critical to creating collagen.
Plus, oysters are moderate in carbs and high in iron content—a component often needed in slightly higher amounts for women of child-bearing age.
9 - Garlic: There are many extraordinary culinary and medicinal (home remedy) uses for garlic. Thanks to its sulfur and taurine content, it also serves as a booster ingredient, which helps produce collagen and rebuild collagen fibers.
Combine some fresh cloves with a generous helping of grass-fed butter for the perfect topping for steak or fish.
10 - Dark Leafy Greens: Again, sulfur plays a massive role in collagen synthesis, and cruciferous veggies like kale, watercress, and arugula are particularly beneficial in collagen production—another supportive co-factor ingredient to eat without reservation when seeking to increase the health of the body's connective tissue.
Plus, dark leafy greens are a crucial culinary component of any well-composed keto diet. Grab and include the following keto-friendly veggies into your dishes as often as possible:
- Mustard Greens
- Collard Greens
Also, mix things up and try out some of these collagen-rich recipes any time of day for a fast and tasty boost of joint-soothing protein to keep you feeling vitalized and rejuvenated one meal at a time:
- Keto Cajun Parmesan Salmon: Seared salmon and a side of arugula salad are ideal morning, noon, or night. Plus, we advise adding a dash of parmesan for an added touch of indulgence and protein.
- Keto Beef Tenderloin with Peppercorn Sauce: Pair a glass of cabernet with a slab of beef tenderloin for a hearty helping of collagen and healthy fats—along with a bit of resveratrol to combat oxidative stress thanks to the aromatic vino.
- Kickin' Keto Chicken Salad: Our chicken salad recipe is super simple and provides a source of essential amino acids—including the beloved collagen. Plus, this dish is perfect to toss in a jar ahead, then shake and enjoy at mealtime.
Warm Me Up Slow Cooker Keto Chili: Fall is the perfect time to cozy up to a warm bowl of keto chili. And with our recipe offering collagen-rich beef and bell peppers abundant in vitamin C to support collagen synthesis, our take on this tasty classic is ideal for plumping the skin and strengthening nails.
The body requires specific amino acids to build and repair muscles and retain structural integrity in your joints and blood. Consider integrating some of the following elements into your diet to aid in efficient collagen production:
- Proline: Add an omelet with bell peppers, mushrooms, and full-fat cheese to the menu, or pair sautéed cabbage and onions or roasted asparagus to a seafood platter for a collagen-rich menu fit for anyone seeking to curb carb intake.
- Glycine: Enjoy munching on chicharrones or pork rinds for a healthy helping of collagen that's zero-carb. Plus, crispy and savory fried chicken skin and animal or plant-based gelatin offer ample amounts of collagen, as well.
- Vitamin C: Add a spritz of lemon or lime juice to meals or a glass of spring water first thing in the morning to boost alkalinity and aid in collagen production.
- Zinc: Maintaining adequate zinc levels is essential to support many bodily functions. Fortunately, keto-friendly fare like lamb, pork, shellfish, milk, cheese, and various nuts and seeds are excellent sources of this vital mineral and worth adding to your meal plan ASAP.
- Copper: The idea of eating organ meats like liver may conjure frightening childhood memories, but giving it and other nutrient-rich items a try can prove worthwhile because of how well they contribute to proper collagen synthesis.
Plus, you can add plant-based sources of copper, like cocoa powder—that also aids in reducing oxidative stress, or creamy cashews and slightly-nutty sesame seeds—to your meals to further facilitate collagen production.
Maintaining an abundance of collagen to support supple skin and healthy connective tissue is crucial. So whether you opt to fill your meal plan with loads of collagen-rich fare, decide to add a supplement to your regimen, or both—increased collagen protein is a bonus to your wellness regimen no matter your age, but particularly as you age.
Fortunately, the keto-friendly foods packed with this joint and ligament elixir are so tasty, low in carbs, and high in fat that eating foods to deliver the complexion and body of your dreams is an effortless and enjoyable, sweet endeavor.
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- Hulmes, D. J. S. (n.d.). Collagen diversity, synthesis, and assembly. Collagen, 15–47. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-73906-9_2
- Enhanced cellular uptake and sustained transdermal delivery of collagen for skin regeneration. (n.d.). https://doi.org/10.1021/acsabm.0c00755.s001
- Hester, S., Wood, S., Gray, R., Kern, D., & Draelos, Z. (2021). Collagen supplement improves skin attributes in healthy adults. Current Developments in Nutrition, 5(Supplement_2), 321–321. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzab037_031