Is it possible to increase the collagen synthesis through the diet? How are collagen and physical exercise related? We answer all these questions here, so keep reading!
Connective or Conjunctive Tissue
Muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones… all of them have something in common: cells and extracellular matrix.
The so called connective or conjunctive tissue provides support to our cells. In fact, it works like glue, being the base of human biology.
Having a strong connective tissue is the wish of all athletes
How to strengthen our ligaments, tendons and cartilage?
The easiest and simplest way is generating tension.
Bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments will directly respond to the most basic physiological stimulus: mechanical tension:
- Little tension and they will not even notice
- A lot of tension and we will cause an injury
Learn more information about the functions of collagen and its benefits for the organism.
Collagen Supplementation to improve the conjunctive tissue
Beyond strengthening these structures with physical exercise and mechanical stimuli, we believe there is another way to improve the synthesis of collagen. In fact, we think that our body is capable of doing so with the right nutritional strategies.
Therefore, it would be useful to take the most important protein when we talk about the connective tissue: natural collagen
People have become quite obsessed with collagen in the last few years
In this article, we are trying to answer a very simple question: can gelatin supplementation increase the synthesis of collagen?
To illustrate our point, let’s look at this study (1):
- 8 healthy men and a randomized double blind crossover trial.
- The subjects either took a placebo, 5 grams of gelatin or 15 grams of gelatin.
- They took blood tests before and up to 72h after the intake in order to measure the precursor of type I collagen: procollagen (a proxy of the collagen synthesis).
Everyone was surprised by the results:
This study coincides with others such as the one by McAlindon, who showed how taking 10 grams of hydrolyzed collagen increases the collagen content in the knees (2).
Another randomized and controlled trial that lasted 24 weeks showed how those athletes who took hydrolyzed collagen (more info) felt less subjective bone-joint pain (3).
On the other hand, one of the conclusions of this study about gelatin was that peaks of short activity and intensity followed by periods of enough rest are better when it comes to stimulating the regeneration and synthesis of collagen. This also happened in the study that combined 10 minutes of exercise with 6 hours of rest (4).
- We can increase the synthesis of collagen with nutritional strategies as well as physical exercise.
- Moreover, the study shows that taking 15 grams of gelatin enriched with vitamin C one hour before exercise increases the synthesis of collagen. At least from the forth hour after the workout up to 72 hours (when the study was over).
- In addition, high intensity interval training (HIIT) followed by enough rest are more efficient. Consequently, they improve the synthesis of collagen even more than long and continuous workouts.
- This strategy could be used to prevent injuries, shorten the recovery and relieve the bone and joint pain (which is yet to be proven).
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- Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross MLR, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;
- McAlindon TE, Nuite M, Krishnan N, Ruthazer R, Price LL, Burstein D, et al. Change in knee osteoarthritis cartilage detected by delayed gadolinium enhanced magnetic resonance imaging following treatment with collagen hydrolysate: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Osteoarthr Cartil. 2011;
- Clark KL, Sebastianelli W, Flechsenhar KR, Aukermann DF, Meza F, Millard RL, et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008;
- Paxton JZ, Hagerty P, Andrick JJ, Baar K. Optimizing an intermittent stretch paradigm using ERK1/2 phosphorylation results in increased collagen synthesis in engineered ligaments. Tissue Eng Part A [Internet]. 2012 Feb [cited 2019 Jul 9];18(3–4):277–84.
More info about this topic:
- Collagen for vegans – see more
- Benefits of glycine and collagen?, read more
- List of foods rich in collagen here
- Do you want to start taking collagen? All you need to know is in this post
- Click here – Magnesium + Collagen
- All the info about the types of collagen: pros and cons