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Collagen Peptides — The Protein Powder You SHOULD Be Taking For Radiant Skin, Cellulite, Strong Joints, & Anti-Aging

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*This article is not sponsored by or affiliated with Vital Proteins. I just really, really like the product.

What if I told you there was a supplement—a protein powder, actually—that could help make your skin more clear and radiant; decrease cellulite, the appearance of wrinkles, and the damage caused by UV light; improve joint health and arthritis; and reduce the development of osteoporosis.

Plus it packs 18g of protein per serving — and does all of the above without any side effects or an exorbitant cost.

Meet collagen peptides. They sound fancy and super science-y. I promise, they’re not.

Like most gym and workout junkies, I’ve had a documented love affair with whey protein powder.

It works and it’s a massive staple in my diet, smoothies, and on-the-go eating repertoire. I’ve taken the time to review 150 of the biggest brand name protein powders on the market. And I continue to HIGHLY recommend whey and plant-based protein powders to anyone who’s looking to slap on new muscle mass, speed up muscle recovery, and catalyze a lean diet.

But for me personally, I’m over it. Whey protein powder, we’ve had a good run. It’s time for something better.

I’ve made the switch to collagen peptides, specifically the ones from Vital Proteins (blue lid). They’re my new go-to wonder supplement for a stack of important health benefits, including perks that go far beyond building muscle and sparking fat loss. Plus, you get all of that SAUCE without any of the digestive issues, additives, sweeteners, or artificial crap found in most protein powders.

Here’s why you should hop on the collagen peptide bandwagon, too.

 

Collagen 101: What Are Collagen Peptides?


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First things first, you need to understand what collagen is.

Collagen is the most common protein in the human body. It makes up roughly 30% of all protein in our body and plays a massive role in the construction of skin, bones, muscles, nails, hair, cartilage, tendons and other forms of connective tissue, where it actively provides strength, structure, and support.1

Collagen actually makes up the 90% of bone—it’s stronger than steel on a fiber by fiber basis—70% of skin, and is particularly lush in-and-around joints.

Just like the fibers in the shirt you’re wearing, or the concrete and steel that go into a skyscraper, think of collagen as the foundation of strong bones and radiant skin. Basically it’s the glue that keeps our connective tissue together, strong, and working smoothly (the word collagen is derived from “kolla” in Greek, which literally translates to glue).

That’s peachy when collagen levels are surging. But when collagen production dips, our bones, skin, and joints start to visibly deteriorate and age.

“Collagen keeps skin resilient and joints working smoothly, and provides the structure in the tissue that connects our organs—but past the ripe old age of 30, everyone’s collagen production declines. If you lose the collagen structure in your bones, that’s osteoporosis. Lose the collagen in skin, you get wrinkles.” —Steffen Oesser, founder of the Collagen Research Institute in Kiel, Germany2

Similar to the picture above, lack collagen and you’ll develop wrinkles, poor skin, and degenerative bone and joint conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis. Your infrastructure starts to wilt.

If all of that sounds like what happens naturally when you age, you’d be correct. And that makes perfect logical sense.

Collagen production naturally decreases with age. That’s a universal truth that goes for everyone. It’s also stunted by overexposure to UV light, which is exactly why sun exposure and fake tanning accelerate skin wrinkling. Smoking and sugary foods also have the same impact.

And that’s where collagen peptides come in. They’re short-chain amino acids—in the form of a flavorless, odorless, ingestible powder—that are capable of naturally boosting collagen production in the body.

Think of it as a little anti-aging forcefield.

By increasing collagen production you can actively offset, prevent, and slow the natural aging process AND improve a number of skin, bone, and joint conditions — especially if you’re predisposed to joint pain and arthritis, osteoporosis (especially big in women), or skin problems like acne and rosacea.

Naturally, collagen comes from animal bones, tendons, and cartilage, typically in the form of gelatin — gelatin is the cooked form of collagen. That’s why bone broth has become such an en vogue food item, especially for paleo junkies. Animal bones and carcasses are loaded with collagen, which in turn breaks down into gelatin as the broth cooks and formulates.

If you’re a fan of chicken soup or broth, or cook regularly with stock, you’re getting a healthy dose of collagen in the form of gelatin.



 

What Are the Benefits of Collagen Peptides?


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OOH LA LA. OH SO MANY!

Collagen peptides have been tested in a long list of human studies and are connected with a spectrum of health and aesthetic benefits. Because collagen plays such a massive role in the composition of skin and bone, unsurprisingly, there’s significant evidence that shows collagen peptides can help delay the aging of skin and bones.

Practically, that means a smaller chance of osteoporosis and slower development of wrinkles and cellulite. The full list of potential health benefits include:

  • Improves skin elasticity, skin moisture, skin hydration, and skin firmness.345
  • Decreases cellulite and the appearance of cellulite.6
  • Reduces skin wrinkles. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 114 women, 8 weeks of collagen peptide supplementation reduced wrinkle depth by 20%.7
  • Significantly boosts the body’s production of procollagen, a precursor to collagen. The same study found that procollagen levels were elevated by up to 65% after the 8 week period. That’s MASSIVE.
  • Increases bone mineral density and stimulates the production of osteoblasts (cells responsible for new bone formation). All of that helps keep bones stronger, for longer, and works to resist osteoporosis.8910111213
  • Improves joint health, lubricates joints, reduces pain, and slows the development of osteoarthritis.141516
  • Just like whey and other protein powders, collagen peptides can help improve body composition, build muscle mass, and accelerate fat loss when combined with weight lifting.17
  • Suppress skin damage and aging caused by UV-B light (aka the sun)18
  • High in Glycine, which can help reduce stress and boost sleep quality. Collagen is about 22% glycine by weight.19
  • Promotes hair and eyelash growth. Collagen’s high arginine content is thought to increase blood and nutrient circulation to hair follicles.
  • Helps with digestion and gut health.20

 

BONUS POINTS! Collagen peptides also double as an extremely pure, clean protein powder.

As a brand and product, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides are as good as it gets quality-wise. They pack 18g of grass-fed protein per serving and only contain 1 ingredient — collagen peptides from grass-fed, pasture-raised, Brazilian cow hides.

Exotic.

They’re also non-GMO, rBGH free, kosher, dairy and lactose free, and completely devoid of artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, additives, and allergens that are stuffed into basically every brand of protein powder.

If you’re someone who chronically suffers from digestive problems (*raises hand high*), collagen peptides are an incredibly effective way to take a protein supplement without destroying your stomach in the process.

 

Should I Take Collage Peptides?


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Verdict: BUY BUY BUY — Vital Proteins, $41 Amazon

Mmmmhmmmmm. 100%. Make the switch, immediately. Try them for 1-2 months, I guarantee you’ll notice a huge boost across the board.

Personally, I’ve swapped out my typical whey protein for Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides over the past 3 months and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. My digestion is SIGNIFICANTLY improved; my skin, nails, and hair have all seemed noticeably more supple, clear, and radiant; and I’ve noticed better energy levels, mood, and sleep patterns.

It’s dangerous to attribute that many positives to one product—and you shouldn’t—but the digestive impact alone is enough to keep me using it.

Collagen peptides go with pretty much anything, beyond just protein shakes and smoothies.

They’re completely flavorless and odorless, and they dissolve easily in cold or hot liquids, to the point that you’ll never notice that they’re there. Coffee, tea, soups and stews, oatmeal, yogurt, sauces, condiments, baked goods, frittatas, protein pancakes, smoothie bowls, etc. are all fair game.

Give ’em a shot. You’ll shoot yourself up with protein and anti-aging goodness.

BUY: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides — $41 Amazon



 
 

References, Notes, Links

  1. Medical News Today — What is collagen? What does collagen do? []
  2. Prevention — Do Collagen Supplements Actually Get Rid Of Wrinkles? []
  3. Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55. []
  4. Asserin J, Lati E, Shioya T, Prawitt J. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2015 Dec;14(4):291-301. []
  5. Choi SY, Ko EJ, Lee YH, Kim BG, Shin HJ, Seo DB, Lee SJ, Kim BJ, Kim MN. Effects of collagen tripeptide supplement on skin properties: a prospective, randomized, controlled study. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2014 Jun;16(3):132-7. []
  6. Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S, Proksch E. Dietary Supplementation with Specific Collagen Peptides Has a Body Mass Index-Dependent Beneficial Effect on Cellulite Morphology. J Med Food. 2015 Dec;18(12):1340-8. []
  7. Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-9. []
  8. Nomura Y, Oohashi K, Watanabe M, Kasugai S. Increase in bone mineral density through oral administration of shark gelatin to ovariectomized rats. Nutrition. 2005 Nov-Dec;21(11-12):1120-6. []
  9. Wu J, Fujioka M, Sugimoto K, Mu G, Ishimi Y. Assessment of effectiveness of oral administration of collagen peptide on bone metabolism in growing and mature rats. J Bone Miner Metab. 2004;22(6):547-53. []
  10. Schauss AG, Stenehjem J, Park J, Endres JR, Clewell A. Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Apr 25;60(16):4096-101. []
  11. Mizuno M, Kuboki Y. Osteoblast-related gene expression of bone marrow cells during the osteoblastic differentiation induced by type I collagen. J Biochem. 2001 Jan;129(1):133-8. []
  12. Andrianarivo AG, Robinson JA, Mann KG, Tracy RP. Growth on type I collagen promotes expression of the osteoblastic phenotype in human osteosarcoma MG-63 cells. J Cell Physiol. 1992 Nov;153(2):256-65. []
  13. Lynch MP, Stein JL, Stein GS, Lian JB. The influence of type I collagen on the development and maintenance of the osteoblast phenotype in primary and passaged rat calvarial osteoblasts: modification of expression of genes supporting cell growth, adhesion, and extracellular matrix mineralization. Exp Cell Res. 1995 Jan;216(1):35-45. []
  14. Kumar S, Sugihara F, Suzuki K, Inoue N, Venkateswarathirukumara S. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, clinical study on the effectiveness of collagen peptide on osteoarthritis. J Sci Food Agric. 2015 Mar 15;95(4):702-7. []
  15. Moskowitz RW. Role of collagen hydrolysate in bone and joint disease. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Oct;30(2):87-99. []
  16. Benito-Ruiz P, Camacho-Zambrano MM, Carrillo-Arcentales JN, Mestanza-Peralta MA, Vallejo-Flores CA, Vargas-López SV, Villacís-Tamayo RA, Zurita-Gavilanes LA. A randomized controlled trial on the efficacy and safety of a food ingredient, collagen hydrolysate, for improving joint comfort. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 2:99-113 []
  17. Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45. []
  18. Tanaka M, Koyama Y, Nomura Y. Effects of collagen peptide ingestion on UV-B-induced skin damage. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Apr 23;73(4):930-2. []
  19. Glycine Health Benefits []
  20. Rubio IG, Castro G, Zanini AC, Medeiros-Neto G. Oral ingestion of a hydrolyzed gelatin meal in subjects with normal weight and in obese patients: Postprandial effect on circulating gut peptides, glucose and insulin. Eat Weight Disord. 2008 Mar;13(1):48-53. []

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • ThiefOfHearts

    Interesting. what got you into this particular brand of collagen powder. sponsor?

    • VP was recommended to me by a number of friends/people I trust in the industry when I was first getting into them. Bought my first jug, was really impressed by the quality and results, and I was hooked after that (purity, sourcing, grass-fed element are all top).

      And no they’re not a sponsor (we always disclose anything that is) I’m just a big fan of their product and like saying nice things about quality companies.

      That said, I’m all for trying different products and companies — I’m sure you’d see comparable results with other brands of CPs.

      • ThiefOfHearts

        Thanks for the prompt response Bryan. was just wondering why this was the only one Ive seen mentioned. Thanks for explaining. Now with the absence of BCAAs (I guess) i reckon you wouldn’t recommend this as a post workout drink? or yes?

        • It’s a relatively new product so there aren’t all that many established brands.

          Smart thought. CPs do have BCAAs, but they’re lower than in traditional whey. Post-workout I’ll typically mix CPs with whey or take a full serving of CPs and add an additional protein source (chicken, fish, yogurt, etccc).

          Moreso than the BCAAs, I’d reco consuming more than 18g of protein post-workout. You can also take CPs and supplement with BCAAs separately.

  • Ashley

    Hi Bryan, I just emailed you 🙂