When choosing nutrition supplementation for improving body composition and preserving lean tissue mass we often first think of whey protein or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). However, collagen peptides should also be considered. In a study published two weeks ago in Nutrients, researchers demonstrated the efficacy of specific collagen supplementation in improving body composition and muscle strength in premenopausal women.
This double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial consisted of 77 premenopausal women over a twelve-week period. Each individual participated in weight training three times a week and supplemented with 15 grams of collagen peptides or a placebo. Assessments included body composition by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) and muscle strength by isometric strength testing.
As a result, there was a significant increase in the percentage of fat free mass, a reduction in body fat, and a higher gain in hand-grip strength as well as leg strength in the collagen supplementation group compared to the placebo. There were still overall improvements in the placebo group due to the resistance training; however, significant improvements were seen universally in the collagen group over the placebo group.
Collagen has been receiving more and more attention over the past couple of years, and rightfully so. The richest sources of collagen—animal skins, bone broth, and tendons— are not typically part of the modern Western diet, making it extremely difficult to obtain adequate levels of collagen through diet alone. Thus, supplementation in the form of collagen powder is an ideal alternative. Collagen supplements can come from a variety of sources such as porcine, bovine, or marine. In addition, there are variations in quality and molecular weight (mass), which affect absorption and efficacy. Collagen is digested in the gastrointestinal tract and mainly broken down into single amino acids and di-peptides, which enter the bloodstream and accumulate in various tissues depending on molecular weight. Low molecular weight is important for superior absorption.
In addition to improving body composition and muscle strength, collagen supplementation may also be beneficial for helping with skin health, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, blood pressure, and insulin resistance. It important to use a quality collagen supplement that has research behind it and is a low molecular weight in order to optimize absorption and efficacy.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Jendricke P, Centner C, et al. Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 20;11(4).