Proteins are often considered only for their muscle building properties because they are plastered on billboards in the hands of 250 pound, oiled up meatheads who look like they could give the Hulk a run for his money. But obviously, that’s an insanely simplistic characterization.
In the past, food scientists like me often praised proteins as healthy because they help make enzymes, hormones, bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and even blood. But even THAT sells proteins short.
Because research shows a specific kind of protein called collagen can do all that and more, namely: energy production, building healthy DNA, detoxification, digestion, and direct rebuilding of nails, hair and organs.
The best part?
It works for people of all dietary habits.
Folks who can’t tolerate animal proteins, casein, whey, protein powders, egg, protein pea, rice and hemp as well. Check, check, check.
If you’re someone who gets bloated, gassy or brain-fog from a scoop or two of protein powder, or if you don’t eat protein because you follow a strict keto diet and other proteins spike your insulin, collagen may be just for you.
That’s mostly because collagen does not digest nearly as fast as other proteins and other proteins have an insulinogenic effect: so they turn into sugars and kick you out of the fat burning state.
Let’s look at some of the claims, and how you can best utilize collagen to get its powerful benefits.
Claim 1: Collagen helps with muscle building and energy production
The main benefit from collagen is that it is rich in the amino acid glycine, and glycine is the smallest of the amino acids, which allows it to form the flexible structure of protein that makes up virtually every organ in your body. In addition It helps break down and transport nutrients like glycogen and fat to be used by cells for energy. This is a dynamic duo of benefits to both strengthen your muscles and give energy throughout your entire body.
Shockingly, one research study found that consuming 2 tablespoons of collagen per day was enough to increase the energy supple of cells from the 50th to 95th percentile. This is like suddenly jumping from 5’9” to 6’3.”
Claim 2: Collagen makes you look younger
Check out the latest Cosmo and surely you’ll find a picture of celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Beyonce advertising the latest L’Oreal, or La Mer, swearing it is the secret to their amazing skin. But is there truth to these collagen based creams?
Anne Chapas, MD, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Union Square Dermatology in New York, seems to think so. Collagen makes up 30 to 70% of our skin. “That’s why so many of us are out to replace it.”
And these are not empty claims. Clinical studies found collagen travels straight through the blood and improved skin elasticity and hydration and reduced formation of deep wrinkles; in only 6 weeks. The best part? Folks over 30 saw the biggest improvement.
Claim 3: Collagen for shinier, thicker hair
Collagen is great for getting those thicker tresses you desire. That’s because collagen works like an antioxidant to fight free radicals, naturally produced substances in the body, shown to damage hair follicles. By taking enough collagen, you trigger hair growth and strengthening. This literally increases the diameter of each individual hair, thereby giving your flow a fuller appearance.
Claim 4: Collagen gives you strong joints and bones
Our bones and joints contain a large percentage of collagen and, like muscle tissue, require adequate amino acid intake to stay healthy. By supplying your bones, joints and connective tissue with the vital amino acids found in collagen, your body will be able to keep them strong enough to lift the heavy weights during your workouts.
So collagen works, but just how do you get more of this power-packed protein?
See below to find out 3 ways you can get more collagen.
You’ve probably heard of the saying: “beauty sleep.” But while you may have thought that no such thing existed, it actually does! That’s because studies show that quality sleep allows your body to release HGH. HGH is the main producer of collagen. In addition a good snooze can help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress, factors that exacerbate wrinkling and aging.
Just how much should you sleep? According to the collagencomplete.com between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is optimal for collagen production; more of a reason to snooze; to healthier skin, hair, better energy and more muscle growth.
Take Vitamins and minerals rich in collagen
While most people will try skin products and creams to get collagen into the skin, there is a better approach. That’s because topical creams do not get into the inner dermis. The best way is by taking in nutrients rich in collagen.
And just what are your go-tos for collagen? Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants like molecular hydrogen and Rosehip are great for both stimulating collagen production and preventing its breakdown.
Try these amazing biohacks
According to celebrity health coach and biohacker, Ben Greenfield: red light therapy, far infrared sauna, organic essential oil skin serums, a weekly clay mask, and even self facial massage with a car buffer (yes you read that right) are great ways to stimulate collagen production. Ben is a firm believer and practices these routinely.