Before I dive in, please know that I have just started adding collagen to my diet. I will share the benefits of adding collagen to your diet, and the results I hope to see after using it for a prolonged period of time, but understand that I have not see any profound results yet.
With that “disclaimer” aside. Let’s dive in.
What is collagen?
It’s a protein — the most abundant protein in our bodies. To add some extra context, protein makes up about 20% of the body’s mass and collagen makes up 30% of the body’s protein. There are different types of collagen (Type I, II, III, etc.), but I’m not going to get into that.
Collagen is found in muscles, tendons, bones, skin, blood vessels, and digestive system. It gives skin strength and elasticity, and also replaces dead skin cells. When it comes to the tendons, collagen is the glue that holds things together. Because it’s a protein, collagen has a lot of the same muscle-related benefits as your favorite protein powder, with the added bonus of benefitting hair, skin, nails, blood vessels and your digestive track.
What are the benefits of collagen?
After the age of 25, the body slows the creation of collagen by about 1.5% every year. The depletion of collagen results in brittle hair and nails, saggy skin and tight ligaments, tendons and muscles. Adding collagen to your diet, especially as you age, can help ease these symptoms of aging. Benefits include:
- Improve health of skin: By giving your body the collagen it needs, elasticity of your skin remains strong.
- Strength hair and nails: Hair and nails may grow faster and thicken.
- Reduce pain and the speed of degeneration in your bones and joints: Mom always said, “Drink your milk for strong bones.” But, that’s because milk has calcium (also great for bone strength). Collagen exists in animals bones and muscles, which is why bone broth is all the rage in the collagen world. More on that later.
- Positively impact gut health: Adding extra collagen to your diet with help with some aging-related digestive issues. Read more on that here.
- Boost metabolism and improve muscle mass: Muscles are made up of collagen… collagen is important… der.
Why did I decide to start adding collagen to my daily — or at lease weekly — diet?
Like kale, quinoa, coconut oil, chia seeds — it’s one of those things that keeps popping up on my Instagram feed and health blogs I follow. I’ve also talked to some fellow health and fitness pros who started adding it to their supplement routine. This sparked my interest and research.
As a fitness professional and fanatic, I move my body daily — and I’m not always gentle. That said, fitness happens before and after my 9-5 job that involves a lot of sitting. My philosophy when it comes to health is to use food as medicine and as a way to optimize performance and function. I am to eat clean, whole, nutrient-dense foods at every meal — but as we age this becomes even more important.
How do I add collagen to my routine?
My goal is to meal prep at least one meal or snack with collagen in it every week. By doing this, I can get the extra collagen at least 5 days per week — a good place to start in my opinion. I started with Neocell Super Collagen Powder (1 serving is about 6,600 mg or 1.5 Tbsp). I wanted powder so that I could add it to smoothies, bars, muffins, etc. You can get you collagen in pill form, in certain protein powders or find it in bone broth. Here are some ideas for getting it into your diet:
- Add it to smoothies: Take your powder and add 2 Tbsp to my cacao smoothie or vanilla coffee smoothie.
- Add it to muffins: My oatmeal breakfast muffins are a great place to start. If you are making 5 servings like this recipe, add 1/3 cup of collagen powder to your batter.
- Use bone broth in soups and sauces: When a recipe calls for vegetable or chicken stock, use bone broth instead. I used it in my recent beet gazpacho recipe. Adding a beef bone broth to my miso meatball soup adds depth of flavor.
- Add it to coffee: Are you a bulletproof coffee person? Try this recipe from Vital Proteins.
- Pancakes: I have a recipe for protein pancakes. Use collagen powder instead of protein powder when you make these Sunday morning.
Collagen is best absorbed through ingestion. Consider adding it to your weekly routine one way or another as you age.