So you’re looking into the numerous benefits of collagen supplementation. You’re ready to start on your collagen journey when you hear a worrying rumor: a friend of a friend tried collagen and gained five pounds. Can collagen peptides cause weight gain?
Today, we’ll be exploring the connection between collagen and weight gain – what it is, where it comes from, and whether you need to be worried about your collagen peptides packing on the pounds.
Before we talk about whether collagen peptides can cause weight gain or not, let’s take a quick look at what collagen and collagen peptides are.
What is collagen?
“Collagen” can refer to both collagen supplements and collagen your body produces naturally.
Even if you’ve never taken collagen supplements, there’s collagen in your body right now. Collagen is a protein, and it’s the most basic building block of tissues throughout your body, from your bones and organs to your skin and hair.
Your body produces collagen using specific molecules called “amino acids”. These molecules chain together in different ways to make different kinds of proteins, and they’re found in all sorts of food.
Naturally produced collagen isn’t what people are typically worried about when it comes to weight gain. The real question is: Can taking collagen cause weight gain?
Most collagen supplements are made of collagen peptides – broken-down collagen proteins sourced from meat or fish. So can collagen peptides cause weight gain? Let’s take a closer look at collagen peptides to find out.
What are collagen peptides?
When people talk about the benefits of taking collagen, they usually mean collagen peptide supplements. But if the body can naturally produce collagen and the materials used to make it are found in food, why would we need a supplement?
Since your body can make collagen, can collagen peptides cause weight gain by giving you too much of it?
Truth is, collagen can even be found in foods like eggs, salmon, and bone broth, to name a few. There’s just one problem: This collagen isn’t bioavailable. That means your body can’t use it easily, and the same is true for foods high in the amino acids your body uses to make collagen.
Making collagen naturally is work for your body. Even when it has all the materials it needs, it still needs to arrange those materials in the right ways to make collagen.
Collagen peptides are much easier for your body to access and use, because they’re smaller than the collagen found in food. To make these smaller, easier-to-digest peptides, manufacturers put collagen through a chemical process known as “hydrolysis”.
You might see this on labels for collagen supplements, but even peptides without “hydrolyzed” on the label go through this process.
Hydrolysis essentially pre-digests the collagen, so your body can absorb more collagen and waste fewer materials. But if your body wastes less material and keeps more of the collagen, can collagen peptides cause weight gain?
Can collagen peptides cause weight gain?
The short answer is no. Collagen peptides can’t cause weight gain typically. Actually, there’s evidence to suggest the opposite might be true.
So, is collagen good for weight loss? So far, it looks like that may be the case! There are several reasons why collagen peptides might be good for weight loss. That’s a relief for anyone asking, “Can collagen peptides cause weight gain?”
Far from being a roadblock, collagen can be a tremendous boost to your health, regardless of whether you’re looking to lose weight or not.
Here are a few of the ways collagen and weight gain have a surprisingly positive relationship.
Collagen is high-protein and low-calorie
Since collagen is, itself, a protein, collagen peptide supplements are very high in protein. Does protein help you lose weight? Yes! Your body needs a lot of energy to process proteins, meaning that a high-protein diet prevents storing excess calories as energy, because there aren’t many excess calories to begin with.
Many foods naturally high in collagen can also be fairly calorie-dense, like bone broth. Trying to get the same amount of collagen from foods that you can get from a supplement may leave you with those excess calories.
But can collagen peptides cause weight gain? Not necessarily. Just look for a low-calorie collagen peptide supplement and you’ll be able to get plenty of this vital protein without worrying about weight.
Collagen can boost metabolism
Understanding how weight gain and weight loss work is key when asking, “Can collagen peptides cause weight gain?” One factor in weight gain or loss is calories, and another is metabolism. Your metabolism is the process by which your body turns food into energy.
Genetics, age, illnesses, and general lifestyle choices can all impact your metabolism, both positively and negatively. There’s growing evidence that collagen boosts metabolism, providing anti-obesity effects by making your body more efficient.
Can taking collagen cause weight gain if you have a slow metabolism? Nope! In the study linked above, all participants had the same diet, but one group was supplementing with collagen. Even with the same diet, the metabolism of the participants with collagen in their diet was positively impacted.
Collagen improves joint mobility
Another element of weight is movement. People who are more sedentary tend to gain weight more easily, since your body is burning fewer calories. For people with joint health problems like hypermobility, arthritis, recent injuries, or recent surgeries, movement can be uncomfortable or downright painful.
Can collagen peptides cause weight gain if you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle? Actually, they might help you get moving more! Collagen peptides can help reduce joint pain and improve mobility, since collagen is central to the tendons and ligaments that form your joints.
Moving more comfortably can allow you to get moving more. Movement has a snowball effect – the more you move, the better you feel and the more you want to move!
Collagen supports gut health
While often overlooked, the relationship between gut health and weight gain is even more pronounced than the relationship between collagen and weight gain.
Poor gut health can contribute to obesity, low energy levels, and more inflammation in the body. This is largely because poor gut health impacts your body’s ability to absorb nutrients in food, while having a lesser impact on its ability to absorb sugars and fats.
But what about collagen? Can collagen peptides cause weight gain if you have poor gut health? Again, the opposite is true! Collagen peptides improve gut health, including symptoms like bloating and acid reflux.
Peptides, in particular, can help heal the gut due to how bioavailable they are. An unhealthy gut struggles to absorb nutrients, but since peptides have already been broken down, your gut can still access all the benefits of collagen.
Collagen makes you feel hungry less often
Can collagen peptides cause weight gain if you take them every day? Not at all, and you might find that you eat less when you take collagen every day. Many supplements to help lose weight focus on helping your body absorb nutrients, while weight loss medications typically work by suppressing appetite.
Collagen does both. The high protein content in collagen helps you feel fuller for longer, while the peptides are easy nutrients for your body to absorb. And if you’ve chosen a low-calorie collagen peptide supplement, this means that you won’t feel as hungry and you’re consuming fewer calories overall.
Combined, this means that you’ll be losing weight without feeling starved or deprived, especially if you incorporate your collagen alongside movement and a healthy diet.
How are collagen and weight gain related?
There are many different benefits collagen has when it comes to weight loss. But what about that friend of a friend who said they actually gained weight while they were on collagen? Can collagen peptides cause weight gain in some people but not others?
Collagen peptides can’t cause weight gain on their own, but there could be a few reasons why you or someone you know might notice your weight swinging up.
When it comes to collagen and weight gain, it’s important to remember that not all weight gain is negative. In fact, for some people, weight gain is necessary for their health. And even if you are taking liquid collagen for weight loss, the weight gain you notice could actually be a marker of health!
So, can taking collagen cause weight gain? Occasionally, but not in the sense that most people think. If you’re taking collagen and find yourself gaining weight, it might be due to an underlying health issue, a lack of calorie-burning movement, or other factors in your environment or genetics.
Here are a couple of the ways collagen might genuinely cause the number on the scale to swing up.
Collagen can have a significant positive impact on body composition and muscle strength. The high protein content of collagen can help your body burn fat and build muscle more effectively.
Remember, protein takes a bit more work for your body to process, but collagen peptides don’t carry many extra calories. And muscles are almost entirely made of protein, particularly collagen protein.
Muscle is heavier than fat. This means that collagen peptides can cause “weight gain” by helping you to replace fat with muscle. You’re concerned that taking collagen is causing weight gain because the number on the scale is going up, but take a moment to notice how you feel overall.
Do you feel lighter? More energetic? Are your clothes fitting differently? Do you feel winded or overextended less often? When that’s the case, there’s no need to wonder, “Can collagen peptides cause weight gain? Are they the problem?” You’re likely gaining weight because you’re gaining muscle, which is no problem at all!
Regaining bone density
As we age, we experience bone loss. Bone loss occurs because your body is no longer actively forming bone the way it did when you were younger. Collagen production also slows as we age, which only makes the problem worse, since collagen is a major building block in your bones.
And bones are heavy. Rapid, unexpected weight loss is one of the clearest signs that you’ve started to lose bone density. Collagen can help improve bone density. People over the age of 40 might wonder, “Can collagen peptides cause weight gain?” In your case, maybe.
Not all weight gain is necessarily negative, though. For people over 40, collagen peptides can cause weight gain because they can cause you to regain the bone density you’ve lost. This leads to fewer broken bones and, much like collagen’s positive effects on joint health, can help you stay active and prevent unhealthy weight gain.
Taking charge of your health
So can collagen peptides cause weight gain? Typically, no. And when taking collagen does cause weight gain, it does so by replenishing vital tissues like bone and muscle. When you want to take charge of your health, you shouldn’t have to worry about hidden side effects like weight gain.
In fact, collagen peptides have almost no side effects at all. Being concerned about your health and weight is completely normal, and hydrolyzed collagen peptides are on your side. Using a high-quality, low-calorie hydrolyzed collagen protein can help you support your health goals, no matter what they are.