The amount of available sports research on collagen peptides is expanding rapidly - and for good reason. Collagen has many potential advantages in sports and exercise, and this supplement has caught the attention of many nutritionists and scientists who are eager to learn more.
Exercise can mean many things depending on the person. Not only are exercise goals varied and individual, but they’re often misunderstood and lacking in robust sports research.
With the amount of information out there on nutrition and supplements for sport and exercise, it can quickly become overwhelming when trying to narrow down what works and what doesn’t. From protein powders to pre-workouts, there is a wide and diverse amount of sports research available.
So how do you know what research to pay attention to, and how can you create the best workout program for yourself? Should collagen be included in that program? Why or why not? Today, we will dive into some current sports research on collagen peptides to answer those questions.
Creating the best exercise program for yourself
What do muscle strength and fitness look like to you as an individual?
Are you looking to not tire out first when playing sports with your friends, family, or in-laws? Are you investing in a longer life and a more independent future? Are you trying to become a pro athlete? Maybe you just believe that building some muscle mass will increase your body confidence.
Muscle strength can be utilized in many forms - whether it’s a 75-year-old lady picking up a gallon of milk, parents carrying around tired children, or a running back powering through a tackle.
If you can visualize your exercise goals well, you’ll be able to find more tailored and effective sports research to support your personal objectives.
Whatever your aim, you should be informed by a variety of sports research articles so you know you’re on the right track. When it comes to supplementation, athletes in the know reach for protein…but which? In a world of whey, casein, and collagen, it’s the latter that stands out the more we test its attributes.
What makes collagen peptides special?
If you’re new to sports research and collagen peptides, it’s worth giving a quick definition of what collagen peptides actually are - and that starts with an understanding of collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is used to structure and strengthen all your connective tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, organs, and even bones.
Collagen protein by definition is animal-based, so plant-based collagen is a misnomer. We digest collagen from animal products or supplements and it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, ready to be sent to where it's needed. While training, that’s usually in muscle and tendon cells.
Collagen isn’t a carbohydrate (incidentally, this means collagen peptides are keto friendly), so it doesn’t give you energy. Instead, it fuels the body with proteins to replenish the muscle and ligament fibers that are damaged through the mechanical demands of exercise.
So what are collagen peptides, precisely? Collagen peptides are another name for hydrolyzed collagen. This is collagen protein that has been broken down into smaller, more easily-digestible pieces through the chemical process of hydrolysis. This makes collagen peptides more bioavailable.
Why does that matter?
When you ingest collagen in its whole form through your diet, the molecules are large enough that you won’t easily be able to absorb them into your bloodstream. Because of this, the majority of the collagen you ingest will pass through your digestive tract and go to waste. Literally.
That’s why collagen peptides are the focus of sports research - they get more results, and they get them done more quickly. But just what does hydrolyzed collagen help with, and how should you take it when you train?
We have compiled some of the latest sports research on collagen peptides to give you our top tips to change the way you train.
6 tips based on sports research on collagen peptides
Sports research on collagen peptides is helping give clarity to our exercise regimens, and we’ve compiled a selection of promising studies for you right here.
Good sports research for collagen peptides needs to be rigorous and provable. The good news is, sports research into collagen peptides is definitely in the spotlight right now, which is evidence in itself that the results are positive.
As more and more studies make their way online, athletes and non-athletes alike will be able to dive into the numerous benefits of collagen for training. In the meantime, here are some tips for your lifestyle and workouts based on sports research into collagen peptides.
1. Co-ingest carbs and collagen
Consume a snack midway through endurance training that contains both carbohydrates and protein. Why?: You may recover faster, and with less muscle soreness, if you do.
In one study, it was found that mid-marathon collagen supplementation influences post-race recovery. In this study, the co-ingestion of protein with carbohydrates as a mid-race snack, rather than purely carbohydrates, was linked to less muscle soreness.
In addition, muscles also underwent better recovery post race, and participants noted being in a better mood too!
What’s the science behind this? Well, carbohydrates will give you the sugars needed for cells to keep respiring and energizing for the mechanical demands of the marathon. However, the stress of these actions breaks down the muscle, ligament, and tendon fibers at pressure points all over the body.
Over the course of a race or other long workout, this takes a toll on your body. This breakdown of fibers contributes to muscle soreness that will continue long after your workout adrenaline has faded away.
In addition to helping with muscle soreness and recovery, sports research on collagen peptides suggests that supplementation can help you postpone fatigue after a workout.
If your body is refueled with readily-accessible protein for the second half of an endurance routine, then it shouldn’t suffer as much down the line. A convenient carbohydrate and protein snack will replenish energy and collagen stocks for the difficult second half of a long workout.
Armed with this knowledge, it’s no wonder that supplements for endurance athletes are in high demand. The ongoing sports research on collagen peptides, with regard to science-backed nutrition tips for runners, is a fascinating field of study for athletes and non-athletes alike.
2. Supplement in conjunction with a balanced diet
One worry about supplementation is how much of a traditional diet can be safely substituted.
Sports research into collagen peptides is clear; protein supplementation should not fully replace dietary protein. Collagen supplements shine by being on hand for readily-accessible protein when your body needs it, and is a great accompaniment to training and exercising - but you still need a balanced diet.
Here’s what sports research into collagen peptides has to say on the subject: Foods are usually strong in carbohydrates or proteins, but always come with additional benefits such as vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals. Collagen supplementation can substitute the protein in these foods, but is not helping with the other benefits of a healthy and balanced diet.
Dietary protein and supplemented protein mostly differ in when, and how quickly, they can be digested. Athletes can benefit from access to protein at different times, just as you can benefit from both simple and complex carbohydrates depending on what amount of energy is required.
Incorporate small amounts of protein in your diet at regular intervals throughout the day to have a strong baseline of available protein in your body. In addition to this, use a high-quality collagen supplement before exercise to get your cells ready for their vital replenishing work.
3. Double-up on supplements for two-a-day athletes
A level as high as 36% of your daily protein can be substituted with collagen peptides (while ensuring indispensable amino acid requirements are met). Effective amounts of functional collagen peptides (up to 15g a day) are below the maximum level that can be incorporated into the standard American diet.
This is great news for two-a-days football athletes who would appreciate the benefits of taking a protein supplement before each of their workouts.
4. Take collagen for speedy injury recovery
Very rarely is an athlete going into a game or event at 100%.
Although not technically injured, people who regularly exercise go through the bumps and twists of building and maintaining physical health. Building muscular strength is deeply connected to a journey of constant restoration as the body builds back stronger from the demands of exercise that we subject them to.
Is there sports research into collagen peptides that could assist here? Absolutely!
One sports research collagen peptides study notes that both muscle fibers themselves and connective scar tissue can benefit from collagen during healing.
Samples taken from injured areas during recovery time display high levels of various collagen types at the site during the recovery phase. The body is able to identify and allocate collagen where it is needed during a period of injury, until the required tensile strength is restored to normal parameters.
Because our natural collagen stores dwindle as we age, it becomes more and more important to supplement with collagen for proper healing.
It’s amazing how the body automatically gets to work on this, and the only work we have to do is make sure we’re supplying the body with the fuel it needs to take care of the issue.
5. Use collagen for healthy joint management
When we consider effective sports injury treatment, it’s important we don’t just think about muscular health. Effective exercise may begin with your muscles, but it extends tendons, ligaments, and cartilage too.
Collagen plays an even larger role in the makeup of joints than it does of muscles. In fact, up to 80% of the dry weight of tendons is collagen.
The health of your joints is incredibly important. Ligament and tendons are naturally weaker than muscles, and so they are more prone to common sports injuries.
In addition, any force created in the muscle has to be transferred through a tendon to the skeletal system. Weak tendons will cap the amount of transferable force generated by a muscle, which will keep you from your full potential.
Sports research on collagen peptides suggests that collagen supplementation can help protect the health of your joints - setting you up for success.
6. Choose a nano-hydrolyzed collagen supplement
What type of collagen supplement should you look for? A nano-hydrolyzed one. Hydrolyzed collagen is digested faster than collagen in the whole form, and nano-hydrolyzed collagen has gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once - making it even more bioavailable.
The results of the sports research collagen peptides study above show a significant increase in the levels of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline levels for the hydrolyzed collagen trials, and conclude that hydrolysis increases the absorption rate and bioavailability of the collagen supplement.
The best collagen protein for athletes
Now that sports research into collagen peptides has given you a better understanding of nano-hydrolyzed liquid collagen benefits for your workout, it’s time to find the best collagen supplement for you.
With a wide variety of collagen protein supplements, it can be difficult to know what to choose, but Frog Fuel leads the way when it comes to nano-hydrolyzed collagen protein. Frog Fuel is proven for 100% digestibility in less than 15 minutes, unlike other collagen peptides available on the market.
What’s more, the single-serve pouches could not be more convenient, as they each contain 15g of liquid protein. This makes them easy for athletes to take on the go, and strong enough to fuel you through even the most strenuous workouts.