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What Is Hydrolyzed Collagen?

Cyclists fueled with hydrolyzed collagen peptides are pedaling through a sun-drenched road on a competitive cycling race day

As more and more protein supplements hit the market every day, understanding the terminology used is getting harder and harder. If you’ve been looking into the benefits of collagen protein, you may be wondering: What is hydrolyzed collagen?

It seems like a lot of new forms of collagen are popping up - powder, coffee, gel, pills. And now, if you want to get the most out of your collagen supplement, it’s important to understand what hydrolyzed collagen is and how it differs from other protein types.

In this article, we will examine what hydrolyzed collagen is, how it is made, and if it matters regarding collagen supplements (hint: It does). 

If you’re ready to get into the technical bits of what hydrolyzed collagen is, then strap in.

What is hydrolyzed collagen?

Collagen is an abundant animal protein (which is why you can’t find vegan collagen). Humans produce it naturally, and it provides vital structural support to our bones, muscles, ligaments, skin, and tendons.

Our collagen production slows as we age, causing wrinkles and potential joint issues. The only way to curb some of these factors is by using a collagen supplement or ensuring you eat a diet high in collagen, which can be difficult. 

Hydrolyzed collagen is one way to solve this problem, but what is hydrolyzed collagen? 

In short, hydrolyzed collagen, also called collagen peptides, is collagen protein that is broken down into smaller pieces than regular collagen molecules. This makes it easier for the human body to absorb.

In its natural state, collagen is difficult for the human body to absorb. To make it more bioavailable, we must first break it down. By using the chemical process known as hydrolysis, water can be used to break the molecules into two highly digestible parts. 

Once collagen has moved through hydrolysis, it becomes more bioavailable, and your body can start reaping the benefits of your collagen supplement shortly after you ingest it. 

Why molecule size is important

Now we know that hydrolyzed collagen is what happens when natural collagen is broken down, but why is that important? What is hydrolyzed collagen able to do that regular collagen can’t? 

It’s all about molecule size. 

To measure molecule size, we use a unit of mass known as a Dalton. When collagen is in its original form, the collagen molecules will be around 30,000 daltons. For reference, the pores in the stomach are around 4,000 daltons. 

Most of the top collagen supplements are only hydrolyzed to approximately 10,000 daltons. So, that means they’re still about 2.5 times bigger than stomach pores. 

To be fully absorbed - or to absorb enough of it - this hydrolyzed collagen has to be cut down in our bodies to be a size suitable for digestion.

Frog Fuel’s collagen proteins are “nano-hydrolyzed” to a size of 2,000 daltons. We use a natural fruit enzyme in our hydrolysis process, allowing us to create a bioavailable collagen protein that is less than 1% of its original size. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen like when it’s nano-hydrolyzed? In your body, nano-hydrolyzed collagen is much easier to digest – and you need to ingest less than most other proteins to get the full benefit.

One of the biggest differences between collagen protein vs. whey protein is the size; a typical whey protein isolate is around 18,000 daltons. This is a big reason we talk about the protein absorption rate when discussing what hydrolyzed collagen is and the cons of protein powder

What is hydrolyzed collagen’s absorption rate like? We can only speak for Frog Fuel, but our supplement’s small molecular size allows for 100% digestibility within 15 minutes. That means it is digested in your gut before reaching your small intestine.

Frog Fuel protein digests 4X faster than the leading whey isolate protein. 

When you ingest 15 grams of Frog Fuel nano-hydrolyzed collagen protein, your body gets 15 grams of protein. Whereas if you ingest 15 grams of whey isolate or other, larger hydrolyzed collagen, you might only get 10 grams or 2 grams, depending on how big the molecules are and how your body reacts to those larger molecules. 

The fact that protein molecules from other brands are so much larger is why the serving sizes can be 30 ounces or more in a single protein shake. When the protein molecules are too big, you might need to ingest 30 or more grams just to absorb 10-15 grams of protein. 

When the molecules are too large for our bodies to fully digest, most of the ingested protein simply goes to waste. What is hydrolyzed collagen for if not full absorption so you get all the benefits collagen has to offer?

The benefits of hydrolyzed collagen

Knowing what hydrolyzed collagen is, you may already be picturing a few hydrolyzed collagen benefits in your head. But you don’t have to just picture them – there are science-backed benefits to supplementing your diet with hydrolyzed collagen! 

What is hydrolyzed collagen good for? Let’s take a look at just a few science-backed benefits.

Hydrolyzed collagen may help heal wounds and injuries

Hydrolyzed collagen may be one of the best muscle repair supplements after injury. What is hydrolyzed collagen’s role in healing? Since muscle and skin tissue are largely made of collagen, hydrolyzed collagen supplements can provide your body with the materials it needs to heal.

Many customers have come to us looking for a recovery solution after surgery or a sports injury, and our fortified collagen protein has been shown to heal wounds in patients at up to 2x the normal rate.

Because it is fortified to be a complete protein, has a high amino acid profile, and digests completely in 15 minutes, Frog Fuel is considered a medical-grade hydrolyzed collagen protein. What is hydrolyzed collagen doing differently when it’s medical-grade? 

Medical-grade supplements are held to higher production and quality standards and can be used in medical facilities. Frog Fuel, in particular, is trusted by almost 4,000 medical facilities. It can be - and is - used safely for long-term care, wound treatment, bed sores, joint surgeries, and even during dialysis. 

Hydrolyzed collagen may support joint health

Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are also known to alleviate joint pain in people who suffer from osteoarthritis and chronic joint pain. It can also help athletes keep their joints strong and healthy while increasing mobility and decreasing recovery time. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen’s job in joint health? The best collagen for joints can help maintain your cartilage's integrity, and may also help reduce some inflammation that causes joint pain.

Hydrolyzed collagen may help build and preserve lean muscle

Hydrolyzed collagen is what many athletes use in their protein regimen. It has the same muscle-building qualities as many other protein sources like pea and soy. In some cases, due to the extra amino acids, it can improve body composition and build up your lean muscle better than other protein sources. 

This, combined with collagen’s ability to boost joint health, makes collagen the best protein for athletes. And while gaining and preserving muscle is vital to athletes, it can also benefit individuals who lose muscle mass as they age. 

Collagen can enable people with age-related muscle loss to potentially increase their muscle growth and strength.

Hydrolyzed collagen may give you healthier hair, nails, and skin 

Collagen has been shown to set back the clock on skin aging by improving elasticity and decreasing wrinkles. It can also help reduce hair loss and prevent or reduce brittle nails.

After all this, you might wonder, “What is hydrolyzed collagen not good for?” The full-body benefits of collagen can cause some skepticism, but remember that collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It benefits bone, muscle, joint, skin, hair, and nail health because all of those things are largely made up of collagen in the first place!

Choosing the right dosage of hydrolyzed collagen 

As we’ve discussed, hydrolyzed collagen is the easiest for your body to absorb. This means that when you take a 15g serving of Frog Fuel nano-hydrolyzed collagen, your body will likely absorb all 15g of protein. What is hydrolyzed collagen dosage going to be like for you?

The proper dosage of hydrolyzed collagen depends on various factors, including your age, height, weight, gender, and lifestyle. Different studies have found taking anywhere from 2.5 grams to 15 grams of collagen to be effective.

In general, it’s recommended that your diet has 0.36 grams of protein per pound every day. This means if you weigh 200 pounds, it’s recommended that you get at least 72g of protein in your daily diet. 

When supplementing with collagen, 36% of your daily protein intake can come from collagen peptides. This makes peptides a great choice for people who struggle to get enough protein from their usual diet.

Possible side effects of collagen supplements 

What is hydrolyzed collagen like in terms of side effects? Collagen comes with minimal side effects, which is a big reason many people use it over whey. Even though it’s rare, some people may experience mild side effects when taking collagen.

The most common reason to experience side effects is an allergic reaction. If you’re allergic to eggs, fish, or shellfish, then make sure your collagen supplement isn’t made with any of these ingredients as fillers or encapsulants.

There aren’t many reported side effects of collagen supplementation, but some people have reported a slight loss in appetite. For most people, the loss in appetite may be because an increase in protein intake will make you feel fuller.

It’s also possible that you may experience mild symptoms like bloating, feelings of fullness, and a too much protein stomach ache if you take too much of your protein supplement.

FAQs about hydrolyzed collagen 

What is hydrolyzed collagen? That’s a simple question to answer, and science has answered a lot of questions about how collagen interacts with the body, but there’s still a long way to go. 

While we can’t cover everything there is to know about collagen in one article, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about adding collagen to your daily routine.

What is the difference between hydrolyzed collagen and regular collagen?

When looking at hydrolyzed collagen vs regular collagen, the main difference is that hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides are broken down into small protein chains. This means hydrolyzed collagen is what is easier for your body to absorb. 

What is the difference between hydrolyzed collagen and collagen peptides?

There is none! Both “hydrolyzed collagen” and “collagen peptides” refer to the same thing: collagen that has been broken down to a smaller molecular size. You might even see some supplements marketed as “hydrolyzed collagen peptides”. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen doing with different names? Simply put, “hydrolyzed collagen” refers to the process the collage goes through. “Collagen peptides” refers to the smaller molecules that are the end result of the process.

Is hydrolyzed collagen vegan-friendly?

Technically, there’s no such thing as vegan collagen. There are vegan collagen supplements on the market, but these contain no actual collagen. Instead, they have several different kinds of supplements designed to boost your body’s natural collagen production processes. 

There have been significantly fewer studies on whether vegan collagen supplements have similar benefits to actual collagen.

Where does hydrolyzed collagen come from?

Hydrolyzed collagen can be sourced from nearly any animal since it is any animal protein. 

So what is hydrolyzed collagen usually made of? The most common sources are the bones, cartilage, and/or scales from cows, pigs, and fish or shellfish. These are boiled to extract the natural collagen, which is then broken down into your hydrolyzed collagen supplement. 

To ensure our hydrolyzed collagen is high-quality and safe for people with food allergies, Frog Fuel uses 100% US-sourced bovine collagen in our supplements.

What is hydrolyzed collagen good for?

So many things! 

Collagen is what your body uses to ensure your skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments are in healthy working order. When you take a hydrolyzed collagen supplement, your body can put it to work protecting all those connective tissues. 

When should I take hydrolyzed collagen? 

The best time to take collagen depends on your personal preference, how your body reacts to collagen supplements, and the benefits you’re looking to obtain. 

Some people like to take collagen in the morning blended into their morning smoothie, while others take it at night before sleep. You’ll want to try taking your collagen at different times to see if your hydrolyzed collagen is what gives you an extra boost of energy in the morning, or keeps you full and comfortable for a solid night’s sleep.

What are the best ways to get hydrolyzed collagen?

There’s no way to get hydrolyzed collagen naturally since the hydrolyzation process needs to take place before you ingest it. The best way to get hydrolyzed collagen is through a high-quality, medical-grade supplement, such as liquid protein shots

If you want to incorporate more natural collagen into your diet, you can do so by eating more: 

  • Beef, pork, or fish bone broth
  • Skin-on chicken
  • Organ meats
  • Sardines

Is hydrolyzed collagen safe?

Yes, hydrolyzed collagen is safe to take daily. Just make sure you get your supplement from a trusted source and read the label carefully. 

Seafood-sourced hydrolyzed collagen is what causes a majority of allergic reactions, so stay away from labels that aren’t clear about the source if you have any food allergies.

Why should you choose hydrolyzed collagen over gelatin?

Hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin have a few similarities, but one big difference: molecule size. Remember, your stomach pores are only about 4,000 Daltons. 

On average, gelatin is between 15,000 and 400,00 Daltons, making it much harder for your body to fully digest. There’s no problem with incorporating both, but hydrolyzed collagen will be easier to absorb.

Which hydrolyzed collagen is best? 

It’s one thing to ask, “What is hydrolyzed collagen?” and another to ask, “What is the best hydrolyzed collagen?” Finding the best hydrolyzed collagen can be tricky, and that’s why we created Frog Fuel to be the most bioavailable, high-quality collagen supplement on the market.

When choosing your supplement, here are a few things to look for: 

  • Medical-grade supplements, which are more strictly regulated than other supplements 
  • Clear, up-to-date nutrition labels
  • Simple ingredient lists that show you exactly where the collagen is sourced
  • Fortified supplements that provide all essential and non-essential amino acids

Frog Fuel: The most bioavailable hydrolyzed collagen 

There are a lot of low-quality collagen supplements out there, and that applies to hydrolyzed collagen, too! What is hydrolyzed collagen quality measured by? Since collagen is a supplement, it isn’t regulated quite as strictly by the FDA. That means you’ll need to do some digging to make sure your supplement meets all your needs.

We designed our products to meet our needs as former Navy SEALS and athletes. And unlike many brands, we use our products every day to reach peak performance. 

That’s why we believe wholeheartedly that we’ve designed the most powerful protein in the world. (And based on our customer reviews, we aren’t the only ones who think so.)

With our nano-hydrolyzed collagen, we’re offering a fast-absorbing (we’re talking 15 minutes) and exceedingly beneficial collagen protein source so you can perform at your best, always. 

Frog Fuel collagen is a complete protein source with 15 grams of enzyme-hydrolyzed collagen protein that will digest up to 4x faster than the leading whey proteins. 

So whether you’re an athlete looking to support and build your lean muscle, want to promote overall health, or are working to recover from surgery, our hydrolyzed collagen protein is what hydrolyzed collagen you are looking for.