Collagen is one of the most popular health supplements today. With weight being a central focus for many people, you might be wondering if collagen supplementation causes weight gain.
In short, no, collagen does not make you gain weight.
Ultimately, weight gain is about energy balance and metabolic rate, and not about collagen or any one food or supplement. This article will further explain weight gain, collagen, and how the two are not necessarily related.
What Causes Weight Gain?
First things first, weight gain is not a bad thing. Contrary to diet culture and the media, there can be benefits to gaining weight.
Sometimes weight gain is a result of gaining muscle and getting stronger. Other times weight gain is necessary to recover from an illness – whether it be something like the flu or something more serious like an eating disorder.
Also, it’s important to mention that bodies are meant to change throughout life, and along with that change comes hormonal shifts, metabolic changes, and oftentimes, weight gain.
It’s important to start to shift the narrative to understand that weight gain is not inherently a bad thing. The more we automatically equate weight gain to being a bad thing, the more people will continue to engage in harmful yo-yo dieting, perpetuating the restrict-binge cycle.
On the other hand, if we take a weight-neutral approach and focus on taking care of the body, we can learn to be more gentle with ourselves and place an emphasis on non-scale victories such as eating consistent meals throughout the day, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, and drinking more water, for example. A healthy diet is the first thing to focus on to lose weight.
With that being said, there are certain factors that can contribute to unwanted weight gain.
For one, being in an energy surplus – consuming more calories than calories burned – may lead to weight gain.
One of the main factors that lead to consuming too many calories is when we succumb to our cravings for junk food, typically very heavy on calories. Eating more protein (including collagen protein) will help maintain satiety and stable energy, thus contributing to managing a healthy weight.
Other factors that may lead to weight gain include hormone imbalances, an underactive thyroid, or fluid retention.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant structural protein found in the body. Natural collagen production provides most of the structural components leading to strength and structure to tendons, ligaments, muscle tissue, skin, bones, teeth, and even blood vessels (1).
When it comes to skin health, collagen has been shown to improve elasticity, hydration, and even reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
There are four types of collagen, but the most common type is Type I, which makes up most of our body’s collagen.
Our body makes collagen on its own so it's not required that we get collagen from supplements, but taking supplemental collagen may be beneficial for skin health, joint health, and increasing our body's overall protein status. However, as the body ages, natural collagen production slows, and the benefits to taking a collagen supplement increases.
How Many Calories in Collagen Protein?
One scoop of Naked Collagen contains 35 calories. It’s recommended to add 1-2 scoops of collagen to a beverage of your choosing. If you choose to add 2 scoops of collagen, it would contain about 70 calories.
All of the calories in Naked Collagen come solely from bovine hide collagen peptides, sourced from pasture-raised cows. The only macronutrient in this supplement is protein, with one scoop containing 9 grams of protein.
Will Collagen Make Me Gain Weight?
Can collagen cause weight gain? No, taking collagen supplements will not in and of itself lead to weight gain. Weight gain is much more nuanced than one specific food or supplement. No one food or supplement will cause weight gain, or even weight loss for that matter.
However, it is well understood that consuming adequate protein as part of a balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight. This is because protein contributes to satiety which in turn can help regulate overall food intake. Plus, protein also helps build muscle which plays a role in increasing the amount of energy we burn at rest.
If you’re wondering how much collagen you should take per day, the usual recommendations range between 10-20 grams.
Keep in mind that meeting your body’s protein needs whether through food and/or supplements should be in conjunction with a balanced diet that meets your individual energy and nutrition needs. It can be helpful to work with a nutrition professional such as a registered dietitian to understand your specific needs and learn individualized ways to meet your goals.
What are the Benefits of Collagen?
There are many wide-spread benefits of collagen protein ranging from improving skin health to nourishing the gut lining, and even supporting joints and bones with essential amino acids.
While the research is still relatively new on the benefits of collagen supplements, the following section lists some benefits of collagen on various areas in the body:
- Improves skin health: Research suggests that taking supplemental collagen can improve elasticity, hydration, and texture of the skin. Plus, collagen may also reduce the appearance of wrinkles (2)
- Reduces joint pain: Collagen supplements may reduce inflammation and pain in joints, which can be especially helpful for athletes or those suffering with osteoarthritis (3, 4).
- Strengthens gut lining: Some research points to the role of collagen in improving the structure and function of the intestinal lining, which can potentially lead to improved digestive health and reduced inflammation (5).
- Increases bone mass: Collagen plays an important role in providing structure and support to our bones, thanks to its cross-linking pattern. In fact, collagen supplements may prevent or prolong the onset of osteoporosis (6).
- Improves lean muscle mass: Collagen supplements may increase muscle gain, but it’s not fully understood whether it’s the collagen specifically or an overall increased protein intake that leads to muscle gains (7).
What Other Habits Help Manage a Healthy Weight?
There are many factors that go into managing a healthy weight. Here are some habits to consider:
- Eat consistently: Aim to have regular and consistent meals throughout the day to keep hunger levels in check and appropriately fuel your body. Think of your metabolism like a fire, and meals and snacks are the logs that keep the fire burning. If we cut out meals or snacks there won't be enough fuel to keep the fire going.
- Don’t cut out food groups: The body works best when we nourish it with a balance of nutrients. Most importantly, the body requires adequate carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to function optimally.
- Move your body: Getting regular exercise, with emphasis on a combination of cardio and strength training is key for overall health and managing a healthy weight. Plus, the more muscle we have, the more efficient our metabolism will be.
Healthy Weight Collagen Smoothie Recipe
Here’s a delicious and healthy collagen-rich smoothie that contains adequate protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep you satisfied and support a healthy weight:
- 2 scoops collagen protein powder
- ½ cup full-fat greek yogurt
- ½ frozen banana
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
- 2-3 ice cubes
Directions: Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!
Collagen is the most abundant protein found throughout the human body. Although we make collagen naturally, there may be several benefits of consuming collagen supplements.
With weight management being top of mind for many people, it’s important to understand that collagen supplements will not cause weight gain. Weight gain is much more nuanced than any one food or supplement.
However, consuming adequate protein is an important aspect of overall health and weight management, and adding a collagen supplement like Naked Collagen can help you reach your body’s protein needs.