Collagen is known and beloved for its purported benefits for your skin, hair, and nails, but could this popular protein have another potential advantage: weight loss? It certainly won't hurt your weight loss goals, said Ryanne Lachman, RD, LD, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Centre For Functional Medicine, but any effect collagen intake has on your weight might actually be indirect. So is it worth it to up your collagen consumption? We talked with Lachman to find out.
Can Collagen Help With Weight Loss?
"Yes, collagen can help you lose weight, but indirectly," Lachman told POPSUGAR. Collagen, she explained, is a protein, which in and of itself makes it a good tool for weight loss. Eating high-protein meals can reduce blood sugar fluctuations, Lachman said, which can help you avoid excessive hunger and overeating. Proteins help you stay full, in other words, and collagen is no exception. A 2009 study, for example, found breakfasts that included gelatin (which is "cooked collagen") were 40 percent more filling than breakfasts that contained other types of protein, which led to study subjects eating about 20 percent less calories afterward. A 2008 study noted that gelatin actually increased levels of the hormone that tells you you're full. And apart from gelatin, a small 2019 study looked at a specific type of collagen derived from the skin of a skate (a type of fish similar to a ray), finding that consumption of it reduced body fat in overweight adults.
In addition, collagen might reduce inflammation-related pain. "If pain is reduced and physical activity becomes an option," Lachman explained, that's yet another way that collagen can support weight loss goals.
Should I Take Collagen Supplements For Weight Loss?
Powder supplements and bone broths are popular ways of upping your collagen intake, but Lachman recommended consuming collagen through solid animal- or plant-based sources if weight loss is your primary goal. It's simply more satiating that way, she explained, which can again contribute to keeping you full for longer. "In terms of weight loss, 'chewing' collagen may make a difference," Lachman said. (Collagen supplements also have a few serious — but rare — side effects to note.)
Here are some naturally collagen-rich foods to add to your diet, plus some that are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that help your body boost its own collagen production.
- Citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, and tomatoes (vitamin C)
- Beans (amino acids and copper)
- Cashews (zinc and copper)
Note that sugar and refined carbs, which can already get in the way of weight loss due to their high calorie count and low nutritional value, can also damage your body's collagen supply.
While collagen isn't one of the first things experts recommend for weight loss (that would be consistent exercise and a nutritional diet!), there is evidence that shows it can help, even if it's just by helping you get full and stay full for longer. Pass the chicken and beans, please!