Collagen for Muscle Repair- Is it Worth the Hype?

It’s shown that strenuous exercise can cause pain and stiffness on knees, and other joints. If your an athlete, this can have a huge negative affect on your performance.

This is why you’ll see many nutrition supplements marketed to target tissue recovery. One of which is collagen. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself – it’s usually sold in pill format, and also goes by the name collagen hydrolysate.

But, do we need collagen for muscle repair – Is it worth the hype? or is it a waste of money?



What is Collagen?

Collagen is actually the most abundant protein in your body. In fact, it makes up about 25-30% of your total body’s protein.

Collagen for Muscle Repair - Is it Worth the Hype?

It’s in your skin, muscles, bones, and tendons. And it works as the glue the holds your body together.

It’s believed that since the human body is so high in collagen – eating more can help repair it’s damage.

So far there is far more research on collagen intake and its effects on osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease. Although there has been some promising studies – to date no actual benefit has been proven.

And unfortunately these studies cannot be representative of athletes. That’s because current research shows that tissues affected by OA are genetically, and functionally different than normal cells.

So, we’re left with looking at the limited studies using athletes.



What does research show?

The ability for dietary collagen to be absorbed and used by the human body is still up to debate. One in-vitro study did show that collagen was absorbed through the intestinal tract and deposited into cartilage. But, this doesn’t provide direct evidence of a mechanism in humans.

One of the most well known studies used 147 varsity athletes at Penn State University. They looked at joint pain changes over 24 weeks when given 10g per day of collagen hydrolysate. At the end of the study, they found huge gains in joint pain at rest, when walking, standing, or heavy lifting. Although promising – re-testing the same data using a different analysis resulted in no difference.

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Another small study on eight athletes used 3g of collagen hydrolysate per day over a 6-week period. They were looking at joint soreness, discomfort, or pain – and found no difference at the end of the treatment.

A study on 100 athletes suffering from knee, hip, and shoulder pain did find some improvement after 12 weeks when given 10g per day. But, this wasn’t significant. And the lack of a control group limits it’s validity.

Recent research on 139 athletes given 5g of collagen hydrolysate over 12 weeks did find some encouraging results. A significant decrease in knee pain during activity, and during a physician’s evaluation. While exciting – more research is needed.

Also noteworthy – no studies showed any adverse affects with collagen hydrolysate supplements. And so far no toxic or harmful affects have have been found.

Collagen for Muscle Repair - Is it Worth the Hype?



What’s the verdict?

There isn’t enough research to show any benefit on muscle recovery with collagen supplements. Although one study did show some encouraging results – more research is needed over a longer period.

But – there’s also no proven harm in doing so. So if your still keen on taking them, just know it might not be worth it’s hype.


20 comments on “Collagen for Muscle Repair – Is it Worth the Hype?”

  1. Great overview of the research (or lack thereof). I would also be interesting where the collagen is coming from (beef, hogs?) and how is obtained (byproducts of the meat industry?). It will be interesting to see more research on this in the future.

    • Hi Kristina – great questions! Most of the studies available used bovine (cow) sources, however one did use chicken sternum. And unfortunately not all studies disclosed where the collagen actually came from. However, a few did state that the collagen was obtained from a by-product of the meat industry.
      I agree – it will be interesting to see what more research shows. However, so far it hasn’t shown a benefit for athletes in muscle recovery.
      – Charlene

  2. Great review. I’ve seen a lot about collagen lately and haven’t had time to fully research it. Thanks for keeping me in the know 🙂

    • Hello Kate – Thanks so much! I’m happy you found this useful! Not much supporting science as of yet. But who knows what the future holds…

    • Hi Abbie – My pleasure! I am glad it was worthwhile to you, and I hope you found the science useful. Cheers!

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