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When is the Best Time to Take Collagen?
If you've landed here... you're most likely already taking a collagen supplement.
Naturally, the next step is to find ways to maximize your supplement for better effectiveness.
"When is the best time to take collagen?"
"Should I take collagen on an empty stomach?"
"Should I be taking more collagen?"
The list can go on and on, but the good news is that collagen is SIMPLE.
You don't need to worry about when to take it, what to take it with, what to avoid when taking it, etc.
You just need to take it and do it consistently.
IS THERE A "BEST TIME TO TAKE COLLAGEN"?
Morning? Night? Before a workout? After? All good questions.
Some claim that taking collagen first thing in the morning on an empty stomach leads to greater health benefits.
Or that taking collagen at night allows your body to utilize it more efficiently.
However, there is no solid scientific evidence to back up these claims.
That said, the BEST time to take collagen is when you'll remember. Whether it's with your morning coffee or added to a protein shake, start taking collagen daily to reap the benefits.
Advice: The QUALITY and SOURCES of your collagen supplement are what matters the most.
WHAT IS COLLAGEN?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up around 30% of total protein.
Collagen is the main building block of your body's muscles, bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. It’s often referred to as the “glue” that holds your body together.
There are many types of collagen, but the most common forms you’ll find in supplements are type I collagen, type II collagen, and type III collagen.
HOW COLLAGEN BENEFITS YOU
The most well-known benefit of collagen protein is its ability to improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails. But the health benefits of collagen extend far beyond aesthetics.
Here are ways collagen benefits athletes and supports health and longevity.
- Collagen reduces joint pain and supports joint health by contributing to flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.
- Collagen can help improve body composition and increase muscle mass and strength.
- Collagen may help boost endurance by improving structural and cardiometabolic adaptations.
- Collagen is essential in maintaining tendon health and reducing the risk of sports injuries.
- Collagen may accelerate recovery from joint injuries through its anti-inflammatory properties and/or ability to increase collagen synthesis in the connective tissues.
As you age, your body naturally produces less collagen. Research shows this slowdown begins at around age 20 and your body’s ability to replenish collagen declines by about 1.0%-1.5% each year.
In addition to sagging skin and wrinkles, a decline in collagen production can cause muscle aches, joint pain, and digestive issues. Not to mention that tendons and ligaments start to become stiffer, placing an athlete at risk for injuries.
Taking a high-quality collagen supplement can help replenish what is lost in the normal aging process, helping to mitigate the adverse effects of collagen loss.
SORTING OUT THE MOST POPULAR COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT CLAIMS
Not everything you hear is true, especially when it comes to collagen (or any nutrition-related topic).
Here, we’ve outlined a few commonly believed — yet incorrect — collagen claims to help you separate fact from fiction.
CLAIM 1: COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS ARE GARBAGE - YOUR BODY PRODUCES IT!
True: Your body naturally produces collagen.
False: Collagen supplements are useless.
As mentioned above, the body does naturally produce collagen. But as we age, production slows down, contributing to unwanted signs of aging like wrinkles, joint pain, muscle weakness, and slow recovery after exercise.
Moreover, external factors, including poor diet, alcohol consumption, sun exposure, pollution exposure, and smoking, further accelerate collagen loss and signs of aging.
Adding collagen to your diet can replace what your body begins to lack as you age, supporting your overall health and wellness.
Additionally, collagen is rich in the amino acid glycine. While the body produces some glycine, many people can benefit from consuming more from their diets.
Glycine is useful for creatine production, building muscle, and helping the body make its own collagen.
CLAIM 2: COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS SHOULD BE TAKEN ON AN EMPTY STOMACH
Sure, you can take collagen on an empty stomach, but you don't NEED to.
Some claim that taking a collagen supplement on an empty stomach increases absorption.
The theory is that because stomach acid is required to digest collagen, the acid will be more readily available on an empty stomach.
However, there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
The acid in your stomach will digest the contents of the stomach, whether empty or full. Furthermore, protein digestion primarily occurs in the small intestine...not the stomach.
CLAIM 3: HOT LIQUIDS DECREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS
Rumor has it that dissolving collagen supplements in hot liquids; coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate, whatever - will degrade the collagen peptides, causing them to lose their effectiveness in the body.
Think about it, heat is needed to extract collagen from animal sources. If collagen was so fragile that a cup of coffee would reverse its effects, it probably would have already been degraded in the extraction process.
But for the sake of science...
Collagen WILL begin to degrade at a temperature of 572°F (300°C).
Pretty sure that temp won't just burn your tongue, but disintegrate it entirely. So unless you're drinking liquid hot magma for breakfast, go ahead and some collagen to that coffee.
Secondly, there have been no well-designed studies comparing the effectiveness of collagen peptides dissolved in hot or cold beverages.
But one study that looked at the daily consumption of collagen dissolved in a hot liquid for eight weeks found significant improvements in skin elasticity, moisture, and texture among participants who consumed the collagen dissolved in the hot liquid compared with those in the placebo group.
CLAIM 4: MEN DON'T NEED COLLAGEN
GTFOH. With that train of thought, men don't need vitamins, protein, or water either.
Collagen supplements aren't just for women looking to guzzle down the fountain of youth and delay the onset of wrinkles into the next decade.
Collagen is MORE than a beauty supplement, it's a necessity for optimal health.
Both men and women should be using collagen...
- To support the body's natural production of it.
- To improve joint health.
- To strengthen connective tissues in the joints.
- To support muscle and reduce muscle loss.
- To increase bone mineral density.
- To improve wound healing.
- To strengthen skin.
- and many many many more.
Get the picture? It's not called "the glue" for nothing. Your body needs and relies on collagen for optimal functioning.
One 2021 study found that men who combined 12 weeks of resistance training with daily collagen supplementation experienced a significant increase in fat-free mass and a decrease in fat mass compared to those who did not consume collagen.
Another 2021 study in males found that collagen reduces the usual performance decline that occurs 24 hours after muscle damage from intense exercise.
In summary: Men AND women need collagen. The reasons why they decide to take it are up to them.
TIPS TO OPTIMIZE COLLAGEN HEALTH
Consider these nutrition and lifestyle tips to help increase collagen production in your body and optimize collagen health.
TIP 1: CONSUME VITAMINS AND MINERALS THAT SUPPORT COLLAGEN SYNTHESIS
Among other nutrients, the body needs adequate amounts of vitamin c, copper, and zinc to produce and maintain collagen. These nutrients are often found in a well-balanced diet and do not need to be supplemented.
Additionally, consuming vitamin C and at the same time as collagen is not necessary to get the full benefits of collagen.
VITAMIN C - Your body cannot form collagen without vitamin C.
It is an essential cofactor for the important enzymes responsible for turning proline and lysine into hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, two amino acids unique to collagen. There is also evidence that vitamin C can stimulate collagen production by fibroblasts.
Tangent: Yes your body needs vitamin c for proper collagen synthesis, but that doesn't mean your collagen supplement NEEDS added vitamin C for absorption.
If you're confused, read more about that topic here.
COPPER - Copper plays a crucial role in maintaining elastin and collagen, two major structural components of the body. It also activates lysyl oxidase, an enzyme necessary for collagen maturation, which helps form the fibers that support tissues in your body.
ZINC- Zinc serves as a cofactor for proteins needed for collagen synthesis. This means it helps to increase the production of the protein that your body needs to form collagen. Zinc also plays an essential role in activating an enzyme called collagenase, which helps your body break down old tissue to clear space for new collagen production.
SODIUM - You need sodium to absorb vitamin c, which is what makes sodium important for collagen production.
In the book The Collage Cure by Dr. Dinicolantonio you need sodium for these reasons...
- "Sodium is what allows us to absorb vitamin C and drives vitamin C into virtually all tissues in the body..." (pg. 28)
- Low sodium = reduced transportation and absorption of vitamin C = decreased collagen production.
Make sure to have adequate sodium levels to support vitamin C functions and collagen production.
TIP 2: CONSUME COLLAGEN-RICH FOODS AND SUPPLEMENTS
Aside from normal aging, one reason many people lack collagen is poor diet.
Eating collagen-rich foods and supplements can help boost your collagen intake and help your body create collagen.
COLLAGEN PEPTIDES - Collagen peptides are made by extracting collagen from animals. The collagen goes through hydrolysis, which heats and breaks down the collagen into smaller peptides that can easily be absorbed through your gastrointestinal tract. The collagen in collagen powders is traditionally made from bovine (cow) sources, while marine collagen comes from fish.
SLOW-COOKED MEATS - Tough cuts of meat like pot roast, short ribs, brisket, and lamb that are full of connective tissue are excellent sources of collagen. Because of their high collagen content, these meats require long cooking times to break down the collagen into rich gelatin. The slower, the better!
BONE MARROW - Bone marrow is chock-full of many nutrients, including vitamins A and B, minerals, and proteins like collagen. It can be eaten straight out of the bone or simmered with vegetables to make a bone broth.
BONE BROTH - Bones are high in collagen. Therefore bone broth is too. In addition to collagen, bone broth is an excellent source of gelatin, both of which are rich sources of glycine.
MEAT WITH SKIN - Certain cuts of meat, including skin-on chicken, pork ribs, whole roasted chicken, and other bone-in cuts, contain connective tissue rich in collagen.
When we eat skinless, boneless chicken, we lose the connective tissue and the collagen present in meats with skin that are cooked on the bone.
TIP 3: PRIORITIZE EXERCISE
Exercising, particularly lifting heavy weights, can stimulate human growth hormone, encouraging collagen production in your muscles and tendons.
Exercise can also decrease stress. Stress can accelerate the loss of collagen and elastin throughout the body.
TIP 4: AVOID COLLAGEN BREAKDOWN
There are a few reasons why collagen breakdown occurs — some are within your control, while others aren't.
Follow these tips to minimize collagen breakdown in your body.
- The sun has many benefits, but also breaks down collagen. Keep that in mind.
- Follow a whole foods-based, balanced diet that emphasizes protein-rich animal and plant foods, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Avoid tobacco and excess alcohol consumption
- Avoid foods high in simple carbohydrates and sugar, which can trigger inflammation
- Practice stress-relieving techniques, such as yoga or meditation, when needed
We'll leave you with this...
Collagen holds your shit together!
- Hair, skin, and nails.
- Arteries and organs.
- Bones and muscle.
...your entire being. If you want to thrive and to do rad shit without creaking and cracking like some old wood floors, take your collagen EVERY DAY!
And the best time to take it is is every day, morning, mid-day, night, it doesn't matter, just take it.
10 grams is good. 20 is better.
Reap the benefits of collagen by being consistent.