Examine publishes rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies each month, available to all Examine Members. Click here to learn more or log in.

In this article

Beyond connective tissue: investigating collagen supplementation for strength and muscle mass

Getting enough protein is an essential part of gaining muscle mass. However, not all protein's created equal. This RCT aimed to explore whether collagen supplementation can help bulk up.

Tags:
Study under review: Prolonged Collagen Peptide Supplementation and Resistance Exercise Training Affects Body Composition in Recreationally Active Men.

Introduction

Resistance exercise (RE) results in adaptations to muscle fibers in the form of growth and hypertrophy, as well as to the connective tissue supporting muscle fibers like ligaments, tendons, and the extracellular matrix (ECM)[1]. Collagen is a highly[2] structured protein critical for the function and integrity of connective tissue. It is the most abundant protein in mammals. As such, its turnover is very regulated and responsive to mechanical stimuli like strength training. Indeed, the synthesis of collagen after RE follows[3] the same response as the synthesis of muscle proteins, suggesting that RE triggers a concerted response both in muscle and connective tissue for adaptation to the exercise. Thus, it is important to support both of these processes to maximize training adaptations to RE.

Collagen supplementation has been studied mostly in the context of treating connective tissue disorders such as osteoarthritis[4]. Collagen is low in essential amino acids, which are theorized[5] to promote muscle growth, so it has been assumed that collagen protein has little or no effect on muscle growth. However, only one study[6] has tested the effects of collagen in the form of hydrolyzed collagen, meaning collagen broken down to small peptide fragments, on body composition after an RE intervention. However, the study was conducted in older participants, and the positive findings have been challenged[7] by other researchers in the field.

As collagen supplements become more and more popular among athletes, and because older participants might differ in their response to RE and protein supplementation compared to younger participants, collagen’s effects on healthy young males have to be determined. Therefore, the authors of the current study analyzed the effect of collagen supplementation combined with RE over 12 weeks on lean mass, fat mass, muscle hypertrophy and strength in young, recreationally active men.

Resistance exercise promotes adaptations both in skeletal muscle and connective tissue. Collagen is a highly abundant protein that contributes to the integrity and function of connective tissue, and its production is stimulated by resistance exercise. However, only one study has analyzed the effect of collagen supplementation on resistance exercise-induced adaptations in older participants. The current study sought to determine the effects of collagen supplementation combined with resistance exercise in young recreationally active men over 12 weeks.

Who and what was studied?

Become an Examine Member to read the full article.

Becoming an Examine Member will keep you on the cutting edge of health research with access to in-depth analyses such as this article.

You also unlock a big picture view of 400+ supplements and 600+ health topics, as well as actionable study summaries delivered to you every month across 25 health categories.

Stop wasting time and energy — we make it easy for you to stay on top of nutrition research.

Try free for two weeks

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What were the findings?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What does the study really tell us?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

The Big Picture

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Frequently asked questions

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What should I know?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Free 2-week trial »

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Other Articles in Issue #57 (July 2019)