Do Collagen Supplements Build Muscle?

Could Collagen Supplements Make You Leaner? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

Sports SupplementsCollagen supplements have been considered “vanity products”. Their largest market is people who want to have younger, more beautiful skin. And for many people, collagen delivers on this promise.

However, collagen plays many other roles in the body. It also helps rebuild tendons and ligaments. Many people take collagen supplements to reduce joint pain.

But could collagen supplements coupled with resistance training also build muscle and reduce fat? If so, that would be huge.

A recent study (D Zdzieblik et at, British Journal of Nutrition, 114: 1237-1245, 2015) suggested collagen supplements may do just that. This study showed that a collagen supplement plus resistance training increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat mass in elderly men (average age = 72).

If this finding is duplicated in future studies, it has significant health implications. Both men and women in their 70s lose muscle mass at a rapid rate (a process called sarcopenia). Anything that slows or reverses this process has the potential to extend high quality life and prolong their golden years.

But what about younger adults? Could a collagen supplement plus resistance training also help them build muscle and lose fat? This study (D Zdzieblik et at, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18: 4837-4855, 2021) was designed to answer that question.

It was a randomized, placebo-controlled study comparing 15 g of collagen peptides with 15 g of whey protein, and a placebo (silicon dioxide).

How Was This Study Done?

couch potatoThe study recruited 120 middle-aged (average age = 50), overweight (average BMI = 30) men who were untrained (<60 minutes of exercise per week over the previous year). [In other words, the study recruited middle-aged couch-potatoes.]

The participants were asked to fill out a three-day diet analysis at the beginning and end of the 12-week study with the assistance of a nutritionist.

  • Average caloric intake was 2,600 calories/day.
  • Average protein intake was 104 grams/day. That is 30% higher than the recommended protein intake for men of that age and weight.
  • The macronutrient content of the diet was 16% protein, 37% fat, and 43% carbohydrate.
  • These values were not significantly different between groups and did not change during the study.

All participants participated in a one-hour training program three times per week. The training began with a 10-minute cardio exercise to warm up. That was followed by a three-set program consisting of horizontal leg presses (both legs), reverse crunches, lat-pull exercise, sit-ups, and chest presses with 1 to 2 min rest periods between sets. The intensity of exercise was gradually increased over the 12-week study.

The participants were randomly divided into three groups. After each workout they were given sachets containing 15 g of collagen peptides, 15 g of whey isolate, or 15 g of silicon dioxide (placebo). They were instructed to dissolve the powder in 8 ounces of water and drink it within one hour of the workout. They were also given the same sachets and instructed to take them at the same time of day for the days they were not working out.

Finally, the participants were instructed not to change their diet or physical activity apart from the intake of the powder in the sachets they were given and the one-hour training sessions.

Do Collagen Supplements Build Muscle?

Collagen Supplement & Muscle MassAll three groups had statistically significant:

  • Increases in percent lean muscle mass.
  • Decreases in percent fat mass.
  • Increases in leg muscle strength.

No surprises here. If you take a group of middle-aged couch-potatoes and put them in a strength training program, you will see increases in lean muscle mass, decreases in fat mass, and increases in muscle strength.

The real question was what was the effect of the collagen and whey protein supplements? This is where the results got really interesting.

  • The collagen peptide supplement gave a significantly greater increase in lean muscle mass and decrease in fat mass than the placebo. The increase in leg muscle strength was also greater than the placebo, but this difference was not statistically significant.
  • The whey protein supplement also increased lean muscle mass and decreased fat mass compared to the placebo, but these differences were not statistically different.

In other words, at the doses used in this study (see next section for discussion), the collagen supplement worked better than the whey protein supplement. Here is the actual data from the study:

  • Increase in percent lean muscle mass: collagen supplement = 7.4%, whey protein supplement = 5.8%. placebo = 5.0%.
  • Decrease in percent fat mass: collagen supplement = 15%, whey protein supplement = 11.5%, placebo = 10%.

In the words of the authors, “In conclusion, collagen peptide supplementation combined with resistance training was associated with a significantly greater increase in fat free mass and a decrease in fat mass compared with placebo. Resistance training combined with whey protein also had a positive impact on body composition, but the respective effects were more pronounced following the collagen peptide administration.”

Could Collagen Supplements Make You Leaner?

strengths-weaknessesThis study leaves lots of questions. Let me handle the main ones here.

What Are The Strengths and Weaknesses Of The Study?

The strengths are obvious. This was a well-design, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, which is the gold standard for determining the efficacy of a treatment.

The weaknesses are also obvious. This was a very small clinical study. There is one previous study that showed the same benefit of collagen in an older age group. However, both studies were published by the same group of scientists. And these scientists were funded by the manufacturer of the collagen product used in the study. More and larger studies performed by other laboratories are needed to confirm this finding.

How Do Resistance Exercise, Whey Protein, And Collagen Stimulate Muscle Growth?

Muscle growth is stimulated by a regulatory pathway called mTOR that (among other things) regulates protein Weight Trainingsynthesis in muscle cells. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss 3 mechanisms for activating mTOR and increasing muscle protein synthesis.

#1: Resistance exercise (weight training) activates mTOR. That should come as no surprise. The main reason people do weight training is to increase strength and muscle mass. mTOR is the pathway that makes this possible.

#2: Whey protein is rich in the essential amino acid leucine, and leucine also stimulates the mTOR pathway.

  • Leucine is one of three branched chain amino acids. While all three branched chain amino acids have been traditionally credited with stimulating muscle protein synthesis, recent research has shown that only leucine is needed. The other two branched chain amino acids just play a supportive role. You only need enough of the them to make a complete protein.
  • While whey protein gets all the attention in the sports world, any complete protein with high levels of leucine has the same effect.
  • The effect of leucine and resistance training on the mTOR pathway are additive. That is why whey and other leucine-rich proteins enhance the effect of resistance exercise on both muscle mass and strength.

#3: Collagen does not contain enough leucine to activate the mTOR pathway. However, the authors have proposed another mechanism to account for collagen activation of the mTOR pathway.

  • Most proteins we eat are digested to their individual amino acids before they are absorbed. However, collagen is rich in an unusual amino acid called hydroxyproline that makes collagen resistant to our digestive enzymes.
  • Thus, collagen is not digested to individual amino acids, but to small peptides that are absorbed from our intestine.
  • One of these breakdown products, a dipeptide composed of glycine and hydroxyproline, has been shown to stimulate the mTOR pathway.

While this mechanism has not been proven, collagen does appear to enhance the effect of resistance exercise on both muscle mass and strength.

Collagen Only Has 8 Essential Amino Acids. How Could It Stimulate The Synthesis Of Muscle Protein, Which Requires 9 Essential Amino Acids?

Question MarkThe answer is simple. The people in this study were consuming 30% more than the recommended amount of protein in their diet in addition to the collagen supplement. They already had all the essential amino acids needed to synthesize muscle protein. The collagen supplement simply stimulated the rate of muscle protein synthesis by activating the mTOR pathway.

However, there are situations in which the 9th essential amino acid could become important for muscle protein synthesis. Here are two examples

  • Vegans and strict vegetarians might not be getting enough protein in their diet. As I pointed out in a previous article vegan “experts” know how to get enough protein from their diet, but many vegan “novices” do not.
  • Older Americans are also at risk. They need extra protein in their diet to prevent sarcopenia (muscle loss) as they age. And some of them are on restrictive diets, either because of the latest fad or because of loss of income and/or mobility.

Why Did The Collagen Supplement Work Better Than Whey Protein In This Experiment? 

Again, the answer is simple. Both collagen and leucine-rich proteins like whey enhance muscle protein synthesis by activating the mTOR pathway (see above). This study used the same amount of protein (15 g/day) for both collagen supplement and the whey protein supplement.

While 15 g/day appears to be optimal for the collagen supplement, the authors pointed out that previous studies suggest that the optimal dose for whey protein is closer to 20 g/day for middle-aged men.

So, I would ignore the apparent difference in effectiveness of the collagen and whey protein supplements.

The important conclusion is that both collagen and leucine-rich proteins like whey enhance the effect of resistance exercise on lean muscle mass to a similar extent. But they appear to do so by slightly different mechanisms.

What Does This Mean For You?

This study is intriguing. It suggests that collagen may have some tricks up its sleeve we didn’t know about.

  • It may do more than give you a healthy, youthful looking skin.
  • It may do more than help with achy joints.
  • Coupled with resistance exercise it may also help you increase muscle mass and reduce fat mass. It may make you leaner.

The Bottom Line

Collagen supplements have been considered “vanity products”. Their largest market is people who want to have younger, more beautiful skin. And for many people, collagen delivers on this promise.

However, collagen plays many other roles in the body. It also helps rebuild tendons and ligaments. Many people take collagen supplements to reduce joint pain.

But collagen may have other tricks up its sleeve. A recent study suggests that collagen supplements may enhance the effect of resistance exercise on increased muscle mass and reduced fat mass. It may make you leaner.

The study also concluded that both collagen and whey protein enhance the effect of resistance exercise on lean muscle mass to a similar extent. But they appear to do so by slightly different mechanisms.

Let me be clear. I am not recommending you take a collagen supplement to help you build muscle mass. I consider these results as preliminary, and we have good evidence that leucine-rich proteins plus resistance exercise helps build muscle mass. 

However, if you are taking a collagen supplement for another reason and are working out, this could be an unexpected benefit.

For more details about this study and how collagen supplements may increase muscle mass, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Relief From Hip And Knee Pain

A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 Happy April! Happy Spring!

spring flowersOne of the best parts of April (other than all the beautiful flowers) is that the weather is great in both the North and the South.  Up north, you are warming up from the bitter cold of winter, and here in the south, we still have low humidity and temps are in the 70’s most of the time.  Perfect!

April Fool’s Day is a fun “holiday” that I loved when I was a child.  It was always a challenge to catch my Mom, but I’m sure she was pretending most of the time when I told her silly things.  I wonder if kids still play jokes on their friends’ and family?

This year the Christian Easter Holiday is on April 4th, and the Jewish Last Day of Passover is also on April 4th.  So, lots of family gatherings are happening everywhere.  And there are lots of ridiculous holidays, like International Pillow Fight Day (April 3rd) and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day (April 12th).  What will they think of next!!

Do you like to garden?  Now is the perfect time to get your gardens planted so you’ll have home grown veggies for the entire summer.  For me, it’s also a great time to do some spring cleaning and get the house in order before the summer closes all the windows and the air conditioning becomes our indoor relief.

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Happy, Happy News!

As you know from previous newsletters, I did a TEDx talk on December 6, 2020.  I was so excited. Then the Powers-That-Be decided to decline putting it on YouTube because I dared to question why muscles aren’t ever thought about when searching for the cause of pain.

I jumped through a bunch of hoops, sending peer-reviewed medical journal articles that proved that trigger points are real, and they are known in the medical world.  I had to send my CV to prove that I had background that qualified me to ask the question, and a bunch of other documents for them to ponder.

The good news is, I’ve finally been approved! 

You can either go to YouTube and put in “Julie Donnelly, Pain” so you can also see the 20+ pain explanation videos I’ve done, or you can click on this link: The Pain Question No One is Asking! It’s really important to please Like it, and then Share it with as many people as possible. The parent company, TED, will invite me back to speak if I get enough Likes and Shares.  My next talk would be to explain to people why muscles in your thigh and hip cause low back pain.  People are suffering, and they are looking at the wrong area for relief.  Your low back isn’t really the source of low back pain.

I’m communicating with an animated graphics expert to build a short video that visually explains the “why” and “which” of the muscles that cause low back pain.  It could make a huge difference for millions of people.

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A Common Cause For Pains From Hip To Knee

There are times when I am led to sharing a treatment because I had a run of clients all suffering from the same source muscle.  That is what happened for this newsletter.  In March I had at least six clients come to my office, all having different symptoms, but all stemming from the same source.

My clients complained of hip pain, thigh pain, knee pain, and pain down the outside of the lower leg.

In this case it was the Tensor Fascia Lata and two of the three Gluteal muscles: Medius, Minimus. The Gluteus Medius is directly over the Gluteus Minimus, so treating one will actually treat both.  And the Tensor Fascia Lata is right next to both these muscles.

All these muscles insert into the same area of the hip, and for different reasons, they all cause hip pain.  Also, each muscle refers pain to a different location, so you think you have a problem in these referred pain locations, but they are all coming from your hip.

This is one of the many times when working on one area will solve many different problems.

Take a look at these Trigger Point charts:

To read the charts, look at the shaded area (which shows where pain is felt) and look for the muscle name in the same color.  Then follow the arrow to the same-colored round circles with “x”. This is the trigger point (spasm) that is the source of that pain pattern.

You’ll notice that the spasm (trigger point) for the purple pain pattern is in the Gluteus Minimus at the outside of the hip, but the pain pattern goes to the outside of the thigh, the knee, and all the way down to the ankle.

The spasms for the Tensor Fascia Lata is in the same place on the hip, but the pain pattern is the hip, the thigh, and the outside of the knee.

In each of these cases the pain is being felt along the insertion points for the muscles.

Relief From Hip And Knee Pain

To relieve the muscle spasms that are causing the problem, use my “Perfect Ball” (You can use a baseball or tennis ball, but my Perfect Ball is just the right size and hardness for the job). Then, either lie on the floor or stand up and lean into a wall as shown in the two photos below.  Lean into the ball, easing your pressure onto the ball gradually.  As the muscle releases it will hurt less and less.

Then you can rotate your body, so the ball is pressing into the front of your hip or rotating so the ball is rolling toward the back of your body.  You will likely find multiple painful tender spots.  Each spot is a spasm that is putting pressure on your bones or is pulling on the tendon (called the IlioTibial Band – ITB) that is putting pressure onto your lateral knee joint. 

You can also treat these muscles by using a length of 1” PVC pipe as shown in the picture on the left.

 

This picture was shared with me by an athlete. An avid runner, she couldn’t get down on the ground, nor was there a wall that she could press into, but using the pipe and a street sign pole, she was still able to release the tight muscles that were preventing her from running.

 

This may not be perfect for you, but if you are an athlete, it could be just what you need when you’re unable to treat yourself as shown above.

You REALLY CAN Treat Yourself 

Since 1989 I have been working with people who are experiencing severe &/or chronic pain.  During those years I’ve managed to figure out why they are in pain, and how they can stop the pain by treating themselves.

It is wonderful when someone can come into my office and I can work directly with them, but I’ve found that the key is the self-treatments I teach them to do at home.  With the self-treatments you can release the tension multiple times every day, retraining your muscles to stay relaxed.

Thousands of people have been able to stop pain fast because they have followed the simple techniques I teach.

You can stop pain fast too!  Even chronic pain releases when you treat the source and not just the symptom! 

To enable you to know where to treat, and how to treat the muscles that cause pain, I’ve produced several “How To” books and DVD programs.

Visit my shopping cart to see the full line of pain-relief products that will help you overcome:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Carpal tunnel symptoms
  • Trigger finger
  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Sciatica
  • Knee Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis

In fact, you can get relief for pains from your head to your feet!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly

 

Julie Donnelly has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. She is the author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

Julie has also developed a proven self-treatment program for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

 

Inner Knee Pain Relief

You Don’t Need To Suffer From Inner Knee Pain

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

inner knee painInner knee pain will prevent you from straightening your leg. You may feel the pain especially when you go from sitting to standing, or when you walk down stairs. Yet treating a tiny muscle called Popliteus will often stop the pain quickly and easily.

 

Inner Knee Pain Is Frequently Caused By A Small Muscle

inner knee pain popliteusThe muscle is called Popliteus and is a muscle that is rarely considered by professionals while searching for solutions to inner knee pain.

Your Popliteus muscle is located deep inside your knee, connecting your thigh bone to your lower leg bone.  As you follow the link, move to #2 and #4 to see the Popliteus.  You’ll also see a muscle called Plantaris, which may or may not be a part of your problem.

When you are standing up straight, the muscle is at its longest length, but it shortens as your knee bends. The contraction of the muscle initiates the movement, giving the muscle the title of “the key that unlocks the knee.”  When you are sitting for hours or doing an activity such as cycling, the muscle is held shortened. This is the beginning of the problem.

A phenomenon called “Muscle Memory” changes the length of the muscle to the now-shorter length.  Since the muscle doesn’t lengthen as you go to stand up, it puts pressure on the two bones. You feel pain deep inside your knee joint, and you don’t realize it’s caused by a muscle.

In fact, because of the tension in the muscle, you may not be able to straighten your leg. You may feel the exact same symptoms as arthritis.  Fortunately, the muscle can be treated easily, releasing the tension on your knee joint.

Inner Knee Pain Relief By Treating Your Popliteus Muscle

inner knee pain reliefTo treat your Popliteus muscle, bend your knee and wrap your hands around it as shown in the picture.

Place your thumbs on the top of your knee cap and press your middle fingers into the back of your knee joint.

Press around with your fingertips until you find a “hot spot.”  This is the spasm that is causing the inner knee pain.  Once you have found the spasm, hold the pressure for 15 seconds. After 15 seconds, continue pressing on the spasm but slowly straighten your leg. This is releasing the spasm in the muscle and it is also stretching the fibers.  Repeat it 3-4 times or until it is no longer painful.  You don’t have to suffer from inner knee pain or many other joint pains.

inner knee pain free livingYou Can Eliminate Pains Quickly And Easily!

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is an easy-to-read and easy-to-follow guide to other Julstro Method self-treatments for joint pains.

Colorful charts show you the areas of pain, and the location of the spasms that are the source of discomfort. Photographs and clear descriptions show you how to release the spasms.

This is not a book for your library. Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is a reference book that will become your favorite “go-to” book when you have aches and pains!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

julie donnelly

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Health Tips From The Professor