Collagen is one of the latest hot topics in the health and fitness world. What exactly is collagen? What are the benefits of collagen and is it worth the hype? Should you include collagen on the keto diet?
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body with numerous important roles, including helping your blood clot and providing structure for your skin. Collagen has recently surged in popularity as a nutritional protein supplement and ingredient in body lotions and shampoos.
Collagen accounts for around one-third of your body’s protein composition. It’s a major building block of skin, bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Collagen is also found in other body parts, such as corneas, teeth, and blood vessels.
Collagen is often referred to as the ‘glue’ that holds all these things together. The word collagen is derived from the Greek word ‘kólla,’ which means glue.
You have different types of collagen in your body and your body usually produces less and lower quality collagen as you age . Collagen begins as procollagen, which is produced in your body. You can boost procollagen production in different ways, such as increasing your vitamin C (found in foods like citrus fruits and bell peppers) and glycine (found in foods like pork and chicken skin).
In order for collagen production to occur and make these new proteins, your body also needs the amino acids found in high-quality protein. Excellent sources of amino acids include meat, poultry, and seafood [2,3].
Certain factors can degrade or destroy collagen, such as:
- Consuming excess sugar and refined carbs (a no-no on keto!)
- Certain autoimmune conditions, such as lupus [4,5].
Should You Include Collagen on Your Keto Diet?
It’s up to you whether you include collagen in your keto lifestyle. You can find collagen in the connective tissues of animal foods like chicken and pork skin. Bone broth is a rich source of collagen.
Gelatin is cooked collagen, so it has high amounts of amino acids. Gelatin is often used to make sausage casings. You can also find collagen supplements. The most popular collagen supplement is a powder form.
When you’re sourcing collagen supplements, always look for a high-quality source. Bovine collagen, made from cows, as well as marine collagen, made from fish skin, are two common sources.
If you’re interested in supplementing collagen, collagen peptide in a powder form is easy to incorporate into your foods. The peptide form doesn’t gel, so you can mix it into soups, smoothies, or baked goods without sacrificing texture. You can also make homemade keto Jell-O or gummies with collagen.
There’s still debate over whether eating collagen-rich foods increases the levels of this protein in your body. The collagen protein you consume is broken down into amino acids and reassembled, so many experts don’t believe the collagen you eat would translate directly into higher levels in your body.
What’s the Deal with Collagen Supplements on Keto?
The two most prevalent types of collagen supplements are gelatin (cooked collagen) and hydrolyzed collagen (collagen hydrolysate). The large proteins have already been broken down into smaller peptides that are easier for your body to absorb.
More research on collagen supplements is needed. For example, research shows benefits for muscle mass, arthritis, and skin elasticity [6,7,8,9]. Some alternative and holistic practitioners promote the use of collagen supplements to help with leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability).
There are no significant reports of side effects and only limited information available on the efficacy and safety of collagen supplements. Generally speaking, most people don’t report any problems with collagen supplements.
Collagen also has other uses. Did you know collagen is applied in the medical field as a dressing for severe burns and a filler in plastic surgery? Did you know it’s still often used to create strings for musical instruments?
Additionally, supplementing with collagen may still help you reach your daily protein intake needs.
Do You Consume Collagen on the Keto Diet?
How do you incorporate collagen on the ketogenic diet? Do you use collagen powder as apart of your diet plan?
1. Ott, H. C., & Rajab, T. K. (2016). In situ tissue regeneration. Host Cell Recruitment and Biomaterial Design, 229-250. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802225-2.00013-1
2. Self Nutrition Data. Foods Highest in Vitamin C. https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-009101000000000000000-w.html
3. Self Nutrition Data. Foods Highest in Glycine. https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000094000000000000000.html
4. Danby, F. W. (2010). Nutrition and aging skin: Sugar and glycation. Clinical Dermatology, 28(4), 409-411. DOI: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018
5. Knuutinen, A., Kokkonen, N., Vahakangas, K., Kallioinen, M., Sorsa, T., & Oikarinen, A. (2002). Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin. Br J Dermatol, 146(4), 588-594. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04694.x
6. Oertzen-Hagemann, V., Kirmse, M., Eggers, B., Pfeiffer, K., Marcus, K., Marees, M., & Platen, P. (2019). Effects of 12 weeks of hypertrophy resistance exercise training combined with collagen peptide supplementation on the skeletal muscle proteome in recreationally active men. Nutrients, 11(5), 1072. DOI: 10.3390/nu11051072
7. Dar, Q-A., Schott, E. M., Catheline, S. E., Maynard, R. D., Liu, Z., Kamal, F., Farnsworth, C. W., Ketz, J. P., Mooney, R. A., Hilton, M. J., Jonason, J. H., Prawitt, J., & Zuscik, M. J. (2017). Daily oral consumption of hydrolyzed type 1 collagen is chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory in murine posttraumatic osteoarthritis. PLoS One, 12(4), e0174705. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0174705
8. Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerb, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A collagen supplement improves skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density: Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, blind study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494. DOI: 10.3390/nu11102494
9. Vollmer, D. L., West, V. A., & Lephart, E. D. (2018). Ehancing skin health: By oral administration of natural compounds and minerals with implications to the dermal microbiome. Int J Mol Sci, 19(10), 3059. DOI: 10.3390/ijms19103059
Steph Green is a writer, researcher, and singer/songwriter with a passion for all things wellness. In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.