I honestly can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share all about collagen (in an organized way, at least!). If you’ve been following me a for a while, or know me IRL, then you know collagen is definitely one of the health-focused topics I talk about the MOST…and for plenty of good reasons!
Collagen is not just a new hip buzzword everyone wants to talk about – it’s actually the most abundant protein in our bodies! It shows up in our muscles, skin, bones, joints, and even blood! It’s essential to many important functions within our bodies including skin elasticity, protecting joints, and organs, and keeping bones and muscles together.
Our bodies actually produce collagen on a regular basis, however the rate of this production naturally slows over time. That is why as we age, we tend to see things like sagging skin, achy joints and muscles, and wrinkles.
I first discovered collagen about a year ago. I was rolling off of my first elimination experience, and still driving toward new ways to use diet to help heal my body. Specifically, I came across collagen because I was doing a lot of research on how to help bring more health back into my hair!
The short of it: I used to have the most awesome curly hair. I mean honestly, it was incred. Then kind of out of nowhere (honestly), it just lost it’s life. This brought a lot of sadness over me, as I realized too late that I had completely taken my curly hair for granted. Now not only were my curls gone, but my hair was seriously thinning out, and I was worried it would only continue to get worse.
I had tried taking hair, skin, and nails pills…doing treatment masks, and switching up my products to heal my hair, but nothing seemed to work. I talked to specialists, and did a lot of research, and everything kept pointing me toward collagen. I liked the idea of it, admittedly, because after-all, collagen is a natural protein our bodies are already producing. I only needed to support that production.
However, the tricky (ok, and kind of annoying) think about collagen is that all of the research I was finding explained that it could take up to 3 months before any benefits of it would be noticeable. All the same, I decided to give it a try. I started using FurtherFood Collagen, and would mix 1-2 scoops into my coffee every morning. I did this consistently for a couple of months, and then inconsistently for a couple more after that. (This was during a time of a lot of chaos in my life, as I was transitioning from NYC to Ohio, and traveling a lot throughout the summer for weddings and other events). I was determined to really give it a chance, so I did my best to stick with it and eat it every day.
While I really had to be patient before noticing the major benefits to my hair health, a more immediate takeaway for me was how collagen impacted my metabolism and prevented me from snacking throughout the day. I would typically eat breakfast, then add a couple scoops to my coffee and not eat again until lunch. This was a complete shift in my daily routine, as I was used to waking up super early to workout, so I’d find myself super hungry throughout the entire morning, sometimes eating two or three times before lunch! Since collagen is packed with nutrients and protein, it actually helped to keep me full.
Finally, overtime I have been able to notice that my hair has not only grown in thicker and stronger, but it’s continued to grow in length – something even my seemingly healthy curly hair failed to do! I used to lose big clumps of hair in the shower (I know, gross…), but now this is something that literally NEVER happens anymore.
Here are the top benefits of collagen, and the main reasons you need to be incorporating this into your diet NOW:
- Repairs Joints/Eases Pain – whether you are highly athletic, or barely walk from the car to the office, and back again, joint pain can sneak up on any of us. Cartilage weakens over time, and can deteriorate with age. Collagen helps to reduce this and alleviate symptoms of arthritis.
- Digestive Health – Collagen can help support and strengthen the protective lining of the digestive tract, as it lives within the gut’s connective tissue. If you’ve ever struggled with Leaky Gut Syndrome, or IBS, Collagen is a great choice for helping to reduce inflammation and building up the tissues that line your gastrointestinal tract.
- Building Muscle/Burning Fat – Since collagen is a major component of muscle tissue, it can have a big impact on building up muscle mass and providing you fuel throughout a tough workout. Adding lean muscle mass to your frame can help convert essential nutrients to energy.
- Improve Health of Skin and Hair – As I mentioned, there are noticeable changes that happen to our bodies overtime due to the slowing of collagen production. By providing your system with this important (and otherwise depleting) protein, you can aid in the firmness and smoothness of your skin by helping your skin cells to be able to renew and repair normally, as well as keep your nails growing in stronger, and even reverse signs of hair loss.
I mentioned I used to primarily mix collagen into my morning coffee. Since I’ve actually recently gone coffee free, I now have to find different ways to consume my collagen on a daily basis. Here are a few of my favorite ways to eat it!
- Coffee/Tea/Water – since collagen is almost entirely tasteless, I started by mixing it into things I was drinking on a regular basis. It was undetectable in coffee for me, and I didn’t mind the very subtle taste it added to water. I usually mix it with lemon or other fruits if I add it to water. This helps distract from any lingering taste. Now, whether I make a latte at home, or even if I order a matcha or other hot drink from Starbucks or other cafe, I almost always add in a scoop of collagen. I literally carry a container of it in my purse LOL!
- Smoothies – adding the collagen powder to a smoothie or smoothie bowl is super easy, especially if you are using a blender. The only caveat of this technique is to be mindful of your overall protein intake in one meal. I actually don’t typically add collagen to smoothies because I usually make a protein powder based smoothie. However, if you are not using too much protein powder, feel free to add a couple scoops of collagen in!
- Baking – again, since it’s tasteless, you can really add it in anywhere where it can be dissolved easily. I will typically sneak it in anywhere I can – including oatmeal, cereals and even soups! If we are making any kind of baked good at home, collagen is definitely included in the recipe in order to easily increase protein intake alongside other nutrients!
- Bone Broth – OK, so this is different than the powder I would mix into coffee and other drinks/foods, but bone broth itself is an excellent source of collagen! A post I did about bone broth a little while ago includes all you need to know for an easy DIY recipe, as well as all of the amazing benefits of drinking/eating bone broth.
Finally, the most common question I get about collagen is “which brand should I buy?” As I mentioned, I started with FurtherFood, which I really liked. Currently however, I have been using Vital Proteins. I’ve tried a handful of different collagen brands, and the only reason Vital Proteins has won me over recently is because of the price point on Amazon Pantry. The cost savings I receive from my recurring order on Amazon Pantry, coupled with how often we consume collagen, this makes the most sense for my wallet!
Still, I’ll include a list below of different options I’ve tried and my takeaways from each:
- FurtherFood – $49.85/24oz. – Grass-fed, Pasture-raised, Non-GMO, Kosher, Gluten-free, Paleo, Keto
- I used FurtherFood for about 3 months, and this was my first ever collagen brand. I liked it totally fine, I just didn’t like the price point. It was tasteless, mixed well in hot liquids, and mixed fine in cold liquids if I shook or stirred vigorously.
- Thrive Market – $24.99/20oz – BPA Free, Ethically Sourced, Grass-fed, Non-GMO, Pasture-raised, Gluten free, Paleo, Dairy free, Dye and color additive free, No added sugars, etc.
- Thrive Market’s collagen was amazing! I only used it for a month but I was really impressed with the quality – it truly does dissolve well in hot and cold liquids, and is virtually tasteless. The price point is great, I ultimately just decided against opting for a Thrive membership.
- BulletProof – $39.95/16oz.
- Bulletproof was something I tried in a much smaller quantity than the others. I purchased a couple of samples for a work travel trip. It was good – I honestly have no complaints, however I didn’t like that there was not a lot of information about the company’s values compared to the other brands. I.e. gluten free, non-GMO, non-BPA packaging, etc. In addition to the powder, I have also tried some of the Bulletproof collagen protein bars, and they are AWESOME! Not necessarily my top recommendation for someone who isn’t well accustomed to eating protein (there is a bit of a chalky taste/texture), but overall, I really enjoyed them and felt they did a great job of keeping me fueled and satisfied during work travel.
- Vital Proteins – $43/20oz – Gluten free, Dairy free, No sugar added, Paleo friendly, Whole 30 approved, Kosher
- I really like Vital Proteins, as I mentioned, because it works perfectly with my budget and ordering habits. I found it was majorly discounted through Amazon Pantry if I set up a subscribe and save order. VP mixes well, and is virtually odorless and tasteless in everything! If you are intrigued, VP also makes related collagen products including Beauty Collagen, Matcha Collagen and even a collagen creamer for your coffee! I personally have been so attached to the benefits of collagen on it’s own, I do not necessarily feel the need to get a specific type of collagen – the original works perfectly well with my routine – but I have heard great things about them!
I hope all of this information is helpful! This post (and no post I’ve ever shared about collagen) is in any way sponsored by any of the aforementioned companies or brands. Still – if I could persuade you to make any kind of adjustment to your daily diet, it would likely be to add collagen! I believe in it so much – and hope you’ll give it a try to see if the benefits are impactful for you.