Collagen is a protein that gives structure to connective tissues such as skin, joints and bones. While it is important for these tissues to be strong and healthy, too much collagen can be dangerous. Excessive collagen in the blood can cause organ damage and even death. It has been shown in mice studies that consuming collagen can cause weight gain, possibly due to the protein’s ability to stimulate the appetite.
In order to avoid any negative side effects from too much collagen, it is important to understand how the body processes and uses it. For that matter, does collagen help you lose weight, and if so, how does it work? Let’s find out!
How Is Collagen Made?
The human body produces collagen in the liver while using iron as a catalyst. The chemical compound involved in the transformation of iron into collagen is called ferric oxide. After the liver turns the compound into collagen, the rest of the body’s collagen is derived from meat consumption or by taking collagen supplements.
The process of making collagen begins with the breakdown of connective tissues. This is mainly due to aging but can also be caused by excessive use or injury. When the body produces less collagen than needed, the micro-fibers in connective tissues become thin and almost transparent. This also makes the tissues more vulnerable to damage.
As we age, our bodies’ ability to produce collagen slows down. This means that as we get older, we need more and more collagen to keep our bodies strong. Our bodies also have a way of storing or ‘saving’ collagen when we are at an advantage– such as when we eat well or exercise regularly. The average human body contains about 1.8 grams of collagen. Just a little over a third of this comes from our bones and teeth. The rest of the collagen is found in our muscles and skin. (3) When someone has insufficient amounts of collagen, they become susceptible to skin disease and impaired wound healing.
How Does Collagen Help You Lose Weight?
There are several potential mechanisms through which collagen may help with weight loss. First, while the process of making new collagen is automatic and can happen rapidly, repairing and replacing old collagen requires some time and effort. Second, eating the right foods can help speed up the process of collagen synthesis. Third, exercise promotes the health of bones and muscles, which in turn improves the body’s ability to function and maintain an appropriate weight. (4) And finally, when our bodies do not function properly, it affects our appetite and digestion, which in turn influences our weight. (5) Hence, eating well and getting enough sleep will help you maintain a healthy weight as long as you don’t deprive yourself of the necessary nutrients.
Now, let’s look at each of these mechanisms in a little more detail.
The Appetite-Stimulating Effect Of Collagen
In mice studies, it has been shown that consuming collagen can cause an increase in food intake. (6) The researchers hypothesized that this was because eating collagen caused a slight increase in the level of the appetite-stimulating hormone gastrin in the blood. (7) When the level of gastrin is increased, it causes the stomach to produce more food-seeking hormones called cholecystokinins. (8) When these hormones reach the brain, they cause the body to seek out food that is high in protein and fat. (9) This could explain why mice fed with high-collagen diets gain weight faster than those fed with low-collagen diets, even if both groups have been fed the same number of calories.
When we eat food, our bodies break it down into smaller pieces and absorb the nutrients. This process is called digestion. The body then uses the nutrients to fuel our own activities and the construction of new tissue. Foods that are easily digested tend to raise the body’s metabolic rate, which leads to faster weight loss. (10) Hence, highly digestible proteins, like collagen, may help with weight loss by increasing your body’s metabolic rate.
How Is Collagen Better Than Fish Oil For Weight Loss?
Fish oil is commonly found in fish and fish oil supplements. It is known to reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease. (11) While these are heart-healthy benefits, too much fish oil can cause problems. (12) First, it has been shown to increase the risk of developing diabetes. Second, in mice studies, it has been found to promote weight gain.
But what is the actual reason behind this effect? It could be because fish oil increases the body’s cholesterol level. When the cholesterol level is increased, it forces the body to take in more fats and oils as a way of keeping the cholesterol down. (13) These fats and oils then travel to the liver, where they’re digested and turned into toxic compounds called eicosanoids. (14) Eicosanoids are compounds that act as pro-inflammatory substances in the body and have been linked to a number of diseases, including arthritis, heart disease and cancer. (15) Just imagine what damage these compounds can do over time.
In comparison, collagen does not cause an increase in cholesterol or eicosanoids. This makes it a more suitable option for obese people who want to lose weight. It also means that if you consume collagen, there is less of a chance that you’ll develop heart disease.
The Role Of Exercise In Weight Loss
It is well established that regular exercise promotes good health. This is mainly because exercise increases the body’s ‘metabolic rate’, which allows the body to function at its optimum capacity. (16) Regular exercise also reduces obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (17) It has also been shown in mice studies that exercise can increase collagen synthesis and decrease the risk of skin disease. (18) Hence, it is no wonder why so many health experts recommend exercising to boost weight loss.
For that matter, how much exercise is necessary to lose weight? It depends on your body size and how much weight you want to lose. There are studies that have shown that even just 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost weight loss. (19) However, for those looking to lose a large amount of weight, it may be necessary to do more extensive workouts. A study of overweight and obese people found that those who did 60 minutes of exercises on a single day lost significantly more weight compared to those who did 30 minutes of exercise on a single day. (20) It is important to note here that the participants in this study were not on a diet, but they were asked to simply cut back on their regular eating habits. Doing both may be the best way to shed that unwanted weight.
What Foods Are Good For You In Order To Lose Weight?
While we are on the topic of weight loss and what foods affect our bodies in the right way, let’s discuss the role that foods play in collagen synthesis. (21) It has been found that the body’s rate of collagen synthesis is directly affected by the nutrients in the food that we eat. (22) Specifically, there is good news for people wanting to lose weight. Certain foods can help increase collagen synthesis, while other foods have the opposite effect. Let’s take a look.
Good Fats And Oils
When the body absorbs nutrients, it uses them to construct new tissue and cells. These new cells are then placed throughout the body to make it function more efficiently. One of the best sources of nutrition for the body is fats and oils. These are high in energy and can give the body the nutrients it needs to grow and repair itself. (23) Fats and oils also help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, which are two types of fats found in excess in the blood of people with heart disease. (24) Eating fats and oils can also help boost the immune system. Hence, fats and oils are necessary for good health.
Red Meat And Eggs
Red meat and eggs are both high in iron, which is an element necessary for the formation of new blood cells and the proper functioning of the immune system. (25) If the body does not get enough iron, it will not be able to produce enough new blood cells or antibodies. Without enough red meat and eggs in the diet, it will also be difficult for the body to build its own iron store, which can lead to an iron deficiency anemia. (26) This is why regular consumption of red meat and eggs is recommended for people who want to maintain healthy blood pressure levels and a strong immune system.