Collagen makes up around 30% of your body’s total protein mass. This protein plays an integral part in tissue formation and cellular function. Moreover, there is a growing interest in whether people can use collagen for weight loss. This article aims to answer this question based on scientific findings.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It participates in bone and skin health and connective tissue formation.
Different forms and types of collagen supplements exist. Research suggests that the supplements’ effectiveness depends on the production process and purity.
Collagen supplements are generally known to be safe for everyday use. The safe daily doses range between 2.5–20 grams delivering no significant side effects.
Studies with humans and other mammals indicate that the everyday use of collagen supplements may initiate weight loss and improve metabolism.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, playing a primary role in skin, bone, muscle health, and connective tissue formation. Collagen is a chain of three essential amino acids working synergistically to support cellular stability.
The three amino acids forming the collagen chain are proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. Also, the stable collagen chain formation depends on the body’s vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese balance.
Despite numerous studies about collagen, its function, and its benefits for the body, the question “can collagen supplements reduce body fat?” remains relevant. Collagen supplements have been long known for their benefits for skin, nails, and hair health by boosting collagen synthesis.
In addition to the above-discussed, recent studies shed light on collagen for weight loss. Several types of collagen supplements exist, serving different health benefits.
Types of collagen
There are 3 types of collagen:
- Hydrolyzed collagen
- Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II)
The hydrolyzed collagen (aka collagen peptides, collagen powder, and hydrolyzed gelatin) is obtained by adding a water molecule to collagen. This reaction results in smaller amino acid chains making it easier for the body to absorb the collagen.
Gelatin is the well-known and basic form of collagen, which benefits bone and cartilage strength. This form of collagen is obtained via boiling collagen and is highly bioavailable.
Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II) is thought to be hard for the body to break down into essential amino acids. However, studies showed that the administration of undenatured collagen positively affects joint pain and even osteoarthritis.
Scientists differentiate 28 types of natural collagen present in the eye, bone, skin, and connective tissues. The above-mentioned supplements are made of the five types of naturally existing collagen — types I, II, III, V, and X.
Consequently, you can find different forms of collagen supplements:
- Foods and drinks
- Topical collagen
Supplement producers source collagen from marine invertebrates, cows, chickens, rabbits, and eggshells.
Are collagen supplements safe?
Research shows that daily consumption of 2.5 to 15 grams of collagen is safe and well-tolerated in the human body. It is worth mentioning that the FDA does not regulate the production and safety measures of collagen supplements. Hence, choosing an established and reliable collagen provider is essential.
It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before incorporating any supplement into your diet to avoid any serious adverse effects.
Collagen for weight loss — can it really help?
Recent studies with humans and also mammals have shown that collagen intake may help weight loss and carry the following health benefits:
- Appetite reduction
- Increased satiety
LDL (“bad cholesterol”) reduction
- Improved glucose metabolism
- Insulin sensitivity
- Reduced fat accumulation
Topical and oral collagen supplements have been believed to promote healthy and slow skin aging. But which collagen form is best for weight loss?
Since collagen peptides are smaller chains of amino acids, they get better absorbed in the bloodstream than other forms of collagen. Hence, to answer the question — collagen peptides are the best form of supplement for weight loss.
The first double-blind human study aimed to show the efficacy and safety of collagen peptides in reducing body fat and weight. During the study, people in the intervention group consumed a daily dose of 2000 mg (20 g) of collagen peptides.
As a result of 12 weeks of collagen administration, 90 healthy volunteers documented a significant reduction in body fat.
The used amount of collagen peptides in the study met the safety standards with lower doses. However, another research suggests that higher than RDA (recommended daily allowance) active protein intake may help to promote healthy weight management and increase exercise stamina.
After all, collagen is not a panacea for body fat reduction and the promotion of metabolic function. While taking collagen supplements, following an active lifestyle and a healthy diet is important to promote weight loss.
What is the best time to take collagen for weight loss?
The best time to take collagen for weight loss is in the morning. You may take the supplements on an empty stomach to double the absorption pace.
Studies with humans indicated using 20 grams of collagen a day for weight loss and enhanced metabolism. Regardless, the effective amount of collagen intake ranges between 2.5–20 mg daily. Remember to consult your doctor regarding the period and amount of collagen consumption.
Do collagen supplements have side effects?
Yes, collagen supplements, like any other supplement, may have side effects due to misuse, supplement form, body type, and reaction.
The common side effects of collagen supplements are the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mild headaches
- Allergic reaction (bovine collagen)
- Mood swings
- Hypercalcemia (marine collagen)
How to choose the best collagen supplements
Best collagen supplements come from grass-fed animals, wild-caught fish, and are pesticide-free.
The most effective and safe collagen brands show third-party testing to guarantee you do not harm your body with mold, heavy metals, and harmful chemicals present in the supplement. Plus, when buying collagen supplements, check for the dosage and the serving size on the label.
Collagen supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Hence, numerous unverified brands claim the effectiveness and safety of their supplements and display customer reviews that seem too good to be true.
So, be skeptical when choosing a supplement brand, do thorough research, and look for transparent brands demonstrating certificates of analysis (COA) and reasonable prices.
When choosing vegan collagen, read the label to make sure there are no ingredients of animal origin. Pure vegan collagen is generally made of yeast or bacteria without additives from egg, honey, or dairy products.
How long does it take to see the result of collagen supplements?
The noticeable results from collagen emerge in around 6–8 weeks. Studies with humans consuming collagen peptides showed positive results in 6-week use. In case you don’t see any health progress, consider changing the brand or the dosage only after talking to your doctor.
At what age should I start taking collagen?
The right age to start taking collagen supplements is considered 20–25 years old. However, supplementation soon after natural collagen levels start declining may be a reasonable practice. Don’t forget to consult your healthcare provider for a professional recommendation.
What happens when you start taking collagen?
After starting collagen supplementation, one may notice several health improvements. The signs may be skin elasticity, bone, and joint pain alleviation, stronger nails, and weight loss due to suppressed appetite. But it is worth mentioning that these effects are rather anecdotal than science-based.
- NIH. Effect of Oral Ingestion of Low-Molecular Collagen Peptides Derived from Skate (Raja Kenojei) Skin on Body Fat in Overweight Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.
- NIH. A Review of the Effects of Collagen Treatment in Clinical Studies.
- MDPI. Significant Amounts of Functional Collagen Peptides Can Be Incorporated in the Diet While Maintaining Indispensable Amino Acid Balance.
- NIH. Effects of Native Type II Collagen Treatment on Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.