Collagen makes up roughly one-third of the protein in your body and is a major building block for bones, muscle, skin and more.
As well as being an essential nutrient, collagen is believed to have many health benefits when taken as a supplement, potentially including weight loss.
Some studies have found a link between collagen and weight loss, but more research is needed before to prove that even the best collagen powders are effective for weight loss.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein found in many food sources, but it’s increasingly popular in cosmetics and dietary supplements, as it may help support healthy skin and joints. Because collagen provides structure to your connective tissue, low levels are linked to an increased risk of osteoarthritis and elastosis, and supplements may help to protect against these conditions, especially in later life.
Furthermore, there’s limited evidence that supplementing with collagen may help you lose weight, although more research is needed to prove a definite link between collagen and weight loss. Some studies have linked collagen levels to healthy weight loss, but most of these links are tangential, so we’ll investigate whether the best collagen powder supplements are effective weight loss aids.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most common protein in the body; its fibrous structure makes up connective tissue and is a major component of skin, bone, muscles, and cartilage. Our bodies naturally produce collagen, but this declines as we age, causing our connective tissue to lose structure, which often presents as wrinkled or sagging skin and joint pain.
RELATED: Read our article on the best elastin supplements to learn more about how to keep your skin looking and feeling youthful and healthy.
While collagen has many natural sources, it can only be found in animal-based foods containing connective tissue, meaning that vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of collagen deficiencies. Collagen is vital for maintaining the integrity of connective tissues, and many lifestyle factors – such as smoking and a diet high in ultra-processed foods – can deplete your levels, so the best collagen powder supplements have potential benefits for most people.
Different Types of Collagens for Weight Loss
As one of the most common proteins in animal tissue, collagen has many uses and can be found in various types depending on its uses. There are about twenty-eight known types of collagen with different properties, though the five most common types are:
- Type 1 is the most common type of collagen, making up to 90% of your collagen content.
- Type 2 helps promote joint health, as it is commonly found in elastic cartilage.
- Type 3 is made of meshy fibers and provides structure for blood vessels, muscles and organs.
- Type 4 forms in sheets and is less common than the other types, but it can help your organs filter out harmful chemicals
- Type 5 is found in some layers of your skin and hair and is a fibrous form of collagen.
Ultimately, the different forms of collagen have little impact on the benefits of even the best collagen powder supplements, as your body will convert the collagen you eat into the required form. However, the form of collagen used in dietary supplements can greatly impact how your body absorbs and uses the collagen content, so choosing between collagen protein and collagen peptides supplements can be very important.
RELATED: Learn more about the differences between the two most common collagen forms in dietary supplements here.
Forms of Collagen in Dietary Supplements
Collagen supplements are typically made from the bones and tissues of animals (such as cows, horses or fish) and designed to help your body rebuild collagen. While there is no simple answer on which form makes the best collagen powder, the different forms of collagen have distinct nutritional profiles which may be ideal for your health needs:
Collagen in its undenatured form has not been processed, treated or altered from its natural state, which makes it harder for your body to access and absorb.
Gelatin (cooked collagen) has an almost identical nutrient profile to collagen and similar health benefits, though many gelatin supplements contain additives like sugar, making them inferior to the best collagen powder supplements.
Collagen Peptides (Hydrolyzed Collagen)
Collagen peptides – also known as hydrolyzed collagen – are short chains of amino acids made by breaking down collagen into more bioavailable molecules, improving absorption.
Scientists have found a way to create collagen using genetically modified yeast and bacteria, but this technique has not been used to mass-produce collagen, and vegan collagen supplements are rare.
Which Form of Collagen Is Most Effective for Weight Loss?
As with many other supplements, the main feature of the best collagen powders is their bioavailability, which limits how much of the active ingredient(s) your body can use and the benefits you will see. After all, what’s the point in taking a supplement packed full of collagen if your body cannot absorb or use it?
RELATED: Learn more about the various health benefits of supplementing with collagen by reading our article on the benefits of taking collagen peptides.
Based on the available research, collagen peptides are more bioavailable than other forms of collagen, as the shorter amino acid chains are better absorbed into your bloodstream. This means that gram for gram, collagen peptides are the most effective form of collagen for weight loss, and you should try to find collagen peptides when searching for collagen supplements.
How Does Collagen Powder Help You Lose Weight?
As of writing, there has been little research on the direct link between collagen supplementation and weight loss, and more in-depth studies are needed to prove whether it can help people lose weight. However, several studies have found links between collagen levels and weight loss, and taking the best collagen powder supplements has various health benefits related to healthy weight loss, such as:
High-protein diets improve satiety (the feeling of fullness) and suppress hunger hormones, which can help you reduce your calorie intake and lose weight. Similarly, supplementing with collagen or gelatin increases your protein intake and supports healthy weight loss by reducing hunger.
Increasing Muscle Mass
Building muscle mass is an effective way to lose weight, as muscle burns more calories at rest, increasing overall calorie expenditure. Collagen is the main structural protein in muscle cells, so taking the best collagen powder supplements can help you build muscle mass faster than if you were training with collagen.
Reduced Fat Accumulation
There is limited evidence that supplementing with collagen may reduce the development of fat cells, though studies are limited. Most research on these effects uses animal studies and a specific type of collagen derived from skate fish, so it is unclear if collagen supplementation will have noticeable benefits for weight loss in humans.
Relieving Joint Pain
Supplementing with collagen can help manage osteoarthritis symptoms, reducing joint pain and indirectly supporting weight loss through exercise. However, if you do not suffer from joint pain and exercise regularly, even the best collagen powder supplements will not provide many benefits for weight loss.
RELATED: Collagen supplements may help manage symptoms of diabetes – read our article on the best collagen powders for people with diabetes to learn more.