Should you take collagen post workout?
Dr. Jessica Eastman, ND
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is a key component of all connective and fibrous tissue, including: muscle, bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, hair, and skin (1). Collagen is especially important for muscle health, because it accounts for up to 10% of the total mass of skeletal muscle tissue in the body (2).
What role does collagen play in exercise?We have long understood that exercise causes stress and micro-trauma to working muscles and connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc.). The higher intensity the exercise, the higher the impact on the muscles. This micro-trauma is necessary and valuable; it is the primary driver that directs the body to build more muscle mass and to increase strength. However, repair of the micro-trauma, and increasing muscle mass and strength is only possible if the correct protein and amino acid building blocks are available in adequate amounts. Extensive research has shown that ensuring adequate protein intake has a large positive impact on muscle repair and growth (3).
Let's break it downThe essential amino acids most required for muscle growth and repair are leucine, isoleucine, valine and glutamine, all of which are found in all animal sources of collagen (4). As a great animal-based source of protein, collagen is a helpful addition to an athlete’s diet. Research comparing the use of animal- and plant-based sources of protein in athletes has shown that equivalent amounts of a carbohydrate- or soy-based protein supplement does not have as marked of an impact as animal-based protein on post-workout muscle building (5). Collagen is also high in the amino acids proline and glycine, which are particularly important for the strengthening and repair of tendons and ligaments. They may also help decrease the likelihood of exercise-induced injury (3).
How can I incorporate collagen into my post-workout routine?The standard daily protein requirements for most people are 1-1.5g/kg of body weight per day, although research shows increasing it up to 1.6-2.0g/kg per day can be beneficial in individuals doing more significant resistance training. When adequate daily protein is consumed, research shows that a moderate post-workout dose of protein is sufficient to promote muscle repair. Studies vary, but the suggested dose is between 6 and 20g of protein, taken 1-3 hours post workout (6). You don’t need to be a high level athlete in order to benefit from collagen supplementation. Collagen or a plant-based collagen booster are excellent sources of protein and amino acids. When used in combination with a whole foods diet high in good quality protein, they are useful supplements for anyone who is trying to build muscle, enhance their recovery and prevent injury.
Dr. Jessica Eastman is a licensed and registered Naturopathic Doctor in clinical practice in Vancouver BC, an experienced faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, and the founder of Thrive Clinical Mentorship. Jessica strongly believes in integrative medicine and the value of a supportive community where patients, clients and clinicians can work together.
- Sibilla, S., Godfrey, M., Brewer, S., Budh-Raja, A., & Genovese, L. (2015). An overview of the beneficial effects of hydrolysed collagen as a nutraceutical on skin properties: Scientific background and clinical studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal, 8(1), 29-42.
- Gillies, A., Lieber, R. (2011). Structure and function of the skeletal muscle extracellular matrix. Muscle Nerve, 44(3): 318-331.
- Wells, D. (2009). The post-workout protein puzzle: which protein packs the most punch? Strength and Conditioning Journal, 31(1): 27-30.
- Gauza-Wiodarczyk, M., Kubisz, L., Wiodarczyk, D. (2017). Amino acid composition in determination of collagen origin and assessment of physical factors effects. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 104(Pt A):987-991.
- Philips, S. (2011). The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 70(1): 100-103.
- Schoenfeld, BJ., Aragon, AA., Krieger, JW. (2013). The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(53).