You know that collagen is necessary for healthy skin and that as you age your natural collagen levels decrease. However, you may not be aware that collagen is also a part of your bones, muscles and organ tissues. Simply stated, your body needs collagen to work effectively. While there are numerous studies on collagen and its effect on your skin, up until recently there were no studies that showed what effect, if any, collagen has on your body composition. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined what effect collagen supplements had on body composition and the results were quite exciting.
Why Your Body Needs Collagen
Collagen is a natural protein that is an essential part of healthy skin, organs and tissue. Nearly one third of the protein content in your body is collagen and it is also found in your bones, muscles and organ tissue. Your body naturally produces collagen, but as you age there is a disruption in collagen production. Women in particular are affected by collagen disruption during ageing because women produce less collagen than men do. Without collagen, your skin loses its firmness and elasticity which results in saggy, wrinkled skin.
Led by Professor Daniel Konig of the University of Freiburg, a study conducted recently indicates that collagen peptides in addition to resistance exercise may increase muscle mass and strength while decreasing fat mass. The study also suggested that age-related muscle loss was lessened with exercise and certain collagen peptides. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study is the first to examine the effect collagen peptides have on body composition and muscular output. For the study, 53 men, with an age averaging 72, who were experiencing muscle loss (a natural occurrence in the aging process) were recruited for a double-blind placebo controlled study. During the course of the study, half of the men received supplements (BodyBalance collagen peptides) while others were given a placebo pill. All participants engaged in the same resistance training program three times each week for a period of 12 weeks.
As the study concluded, researchers discovered that collagen peptides increased the benefits of aging men who were experiencing muscle loss. The researchers wrote “[o]ur data demonstrate that compared with placebo, collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training further improved body composition by increasing fat free mass, muscle strength and the loss in fat mass.” When speaking about the study’s focus they noted that “[t]he impact on body composition has not been in the focus, as it is generally believed that the relatively low biological value of collagen would not favor a significant improvement on muscular net protein synthesis. The results of the present investigation do not support this assumption, and the following findings could contribute to further explain the increase in FFM (fat free mass) and strength following collagen protein supplementation…”
Interestingly, this study showed that collagen supplementation was more effective than whey protein at maintaining body weight and balance. While the findings are certainly interesting and encouraging, the researchers suggest that further study in order to determine what the effect of collagen supplementation and resistance training will be among different ages and genders. Additionally, further research is required to determine the most effective dosage levels of collagen supplementation. Although more study is necessary, the results of this finding are encouraging for those wishing to increase muscle strength during the aging process, as well as those looking to decrease fat mass and maintain a healthy weight.