Collagen has become a popular supplement on the market and it has an important role in our bodies. Trying to figure out what type of collagen works best for you can be difficult, so I am here to help! In this blog post, we will compare liquid vs powdered collagen, help you determine which is the best collagen supplement for you, and provide some recommendations on Sports Dietitian approved products.
First, let’s dive into some background on collagen supplements.
What is the Purpose of Collagen?
Collagen is the most commonly found protein in our bodies. This protein works in our connective tissues, helping to hold everything together. Collagen got its hype from its cosmetic benefits, helping reduce wrinkles and sagging skin. But can also be helpful in athletic performance by keeping our tendons and ligaments healthy.
Collagen naturally decreases with age, which is where the wrinkles come in. However, our joints and ligaments also begin to be affected when our collagen decreases, which makes it important to include it for preventative reasons.
Increase Muscle Mass
Collagen plays a role in the creation of muscle fibers, which can then lead to higher muscle mass. However, it is important to understand that it is not a complete protein. It alone does not contain all 9 essential amino acids that are needed to build new muscle tissue.
Decrease Arthritis-Related Risks
Collagen works to build up the cartilage in between your bones, meaning that it helps them move without grinding into each other. Without this cartilage, your joints would be in large amounts of pain which would lead to conditions like arthritis.
Supports Tendon and Ligament Health
Collagen plays a role in tendon and ligament health as it makes up 65-80% of their structure. Collagen fibers help act like the glue that holds everything together when your body is under the stress of exercise and high-impact sports. This will help prevent injury and lead to less soreness.
When Should You Take Collagen?
The timing of when you take your collagen matters! To gain the maximum benefit, I recommend taking your collagen an hour before your workout. It will help prepare your tendon and ligaments for the stress it is about to take on.
Another tip is to take it with some Vitamin C! Taking you collagen supplement with vitamin C can help the absorption and lead to more benefits when it comes to strengthening your ligaments and decreasing pain. At least 50 mg of Vitamin C (around 12 oz of orange juice) can help improve collagen benefits.
Can I Take Collagen After My Workout?
Collagen is not a complete protein, meaning that it doesn’t have all the essential amino acids in our bodies to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. As such, it wouldn’t be ideal as a protein source alone after a workout because your muscles won’t fully recover. Collagen has great benefits and it is important in the body, but it is best to consume it before your workout.
Types of Collagen
There have been 29 different variations of the collagen protein identified and they are categorized into types, all having different roles. We will break it down into 3 main types.
Type 1 Collagen
Type 1 Collagen focuses on your tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin. This type of collagen works to give strength and structure to these parts of your body. It is also the most abundant form of collagen in the body.
Type 2 Collagen
Type 2 Collagen also is focused on your joints. It is found in elastic cartilage that provides support within the joint.
Type 3 Collagen
Type 3 Collagen plays a role in muscle, arteries, and organ support.
Depending on what benefits you are looking for by taking collagen, depends on what type you choose.
Not only are there different variations of collagen but there are also different types of collagen products on the market. Below, we are going to talk about which one should you reach for.
Here are my recommendations for a liquid and a powder collagen supplement and how they could be used!
Collagen Supplement Comparisons
There are many different collagen products on the market, but they mainly come in two forms. If you choose either liquid or powder collagen, it is important to make sure they are third-party tested and have the correct dosage. See some I recommend below!
1. Liquid Collagen
Benefits of Liquid Collagen
One benefit of liquid collagen is its ease. You can take it on the go and no prep is needed. Most liquid collagens come in a gel or water form and are often packaged in a single serving.
Negatives of Liquid Collagen
A major downside to liquid collagen is that there aren’t many options on the market that are third-party tested and contain 15 grams. The price point is another downside of liquid collagen, as it is most likely more expensive than buying a tub of powder.
Recommended Brand: Momentous Collagen Shot
Recommended Dose: Take two pouches before a workout. NOTE: This collagen shot only contains 10g of collagen, so make sure you are getting two in to meet the goal dosage of 15g.
2. Collagen Powder
Benefits of Collagen Powder
The benefit of powdered collagen is you can add it to anything! Some of my favorite ways are oatmeal, smoothies, and any drink you can think of. This makes it easy to remember to include in your diet. If you are eating or drinking something for pre-workout fuel, this can easily be added. Another benefit is that you can customize how much you get in one dose. If your serving size is only 10 g per scoop, just add 1.5 to make sure you are getting enough.
Negatives of Collagen Powder
The only downside is that it is harder to take with you on the go. You can’t carry around a tub of powder, but you can individually package servings on your own and then can take it anywhere. Another negative would be the mixability of the product, as sometimes it can clump up when you use cold liquids.
Recommended Brand: Klean Collagen+C
Recommended Dose: 1 scoop (15 grams)
How Much Should You Take?
As a Sports Dietitian, I would recommend 15 grams of collagen an hour before you work out paired with 50mg of Vitamin C for optimal results. This will ensure you are getting enough to support your body, improving your joint and muscle health!
Should You Take Liquid or Powdered Collagen?
The difference between liquid and powder collagen is just the form that it comes in if it is third-party tested. Not much research has been done to evaluate the difference between liquid and powder collagen, so right now I recommend utilizing the product that is easiest, most convenient, and most sustainable for you.
I personally recommend a powder supplement, just because of the financial savings you will make when you buy the product and it can be added into so many things that it shouldn’t be an issue to fit in.
Collagen is a protein that has many roles within our body, as it is the most abundant. There are five main types of collagen but types 1, 2, and 3 are the ones that play a role in bone, joint, and muscle health.
Our collagen stores decrease with age, so adding it to your diet now can help prevent chronic diseases like arthritis and prevent you from getting injured in your sport. Adding vitamin C to the dose of collagen is essential for optimal absorption, so try adding it to orange juice or other sources of vitamin C.
Aim for a serving of 15g an hour before a workout. This will help prepare your body and protect itself even before you start!
Try out the different supplements recommended above to see what works as the best collagen supplement for you! There is a reason to choose each, but it’s mostly preference based.
Planning out supplement timing and if it is right for you are things that I discuss with my athletes in the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). PFC is an online sports nutrition coaching program that helps athletes with flexible on-demand content and live nutrition coaching with a sports dietitian. In the program, athletes receive individualized supplement protocols, often including collagen!
If you are looking for guidance on your supplements or maximizing your performance, I encourage you to sign up today. We currently have open enrollment, and I would love to help support you in getting to your goals!