The use of various protein supplements in combination with exercise regimens, such as resistance exercise, is well established in elite athletes as well as in recreationally active individuals. Furthermore, post-exercise recovery can be positively affected by different protein intake strategies, as that additional protein facilitates muscle repair, immune function, and muscle remodelling. These effects have been predominately seen for essential/branched-chained amino acids such as leucine, which is associated with improved muscle cell metabolism.

The primary structural protein of connective tissues is collagen. Approximately, 25–30% of total protein mass in human bodies is collagen and its main function is to give structure or mechanical support to the body. The evidence behind supplementing with collagen is strong as exercise itself increases collagen production.

The strongest use case for collagen peptides pertains to joint health. Collagen peptides can dampen inflammation and reduce pain associated with degeneration of cartilage. While the exact mechanism is still debated, collagen peptides appear to block the pain and inflammation associated with joint damage. Since collagen peptides come from the tendons and ligaments of animals, we can use them for the synthesis of our tendons and ligaments once digested. 

Hence, combining exercise with gelatine supplementation (found in the baking section of supermarkets!) has a particularly positive effect on collagen levels. A study led by Keith Baar (2017), professor of molecular exercise physiology at the University of California, found that short periods of exercise with at least six hours of rest in between increased collagen production. When participants took 15g of gelatine (mixed with a vitamin C source) an hour before exercise, the effect was to double the rate of collagen synthesis.

When should we take collagen? Depends on your goals.

Collagen has a muscle-building effect with food, so to gain mass, have collagen after your workout. The exercise session will provide the stimuli needed for the muscle and tendons to create the feedback for repair in which collagen is stimulated.

If you are looking to recover from injury or keep tissue healthy supplementing pre-workout is useful.   before exercise, in conjunction with vitamin C, supplementation improves the body’s collagen synthesis, especially during the post-workout recovery period. This could make joints healthier, stronger and more resilient to injury. Simply including 10 to 15 g in daily intake is likely to be beneficial regardless of timing.

Arguably, collagen’s even more important for the older athletes as loss as we get older is at the rate of about 1.5% of collagen each year. That means by the time we’re 40, our collagen levels have potentially dropped by around 30%.


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