If there was a magic pill that could help improve digestion and gut health, erase wrinkles, prevent weight gain, ease joint pain and give you healthy, thick hair and nails, I would buy it by the truckload. After all, while boosting my overall health is a priority, having shinier hair and minimal crow's feet is a major bonus. Although there's no such magic pill, there is a supplement that promises these results and more: collagen peptides.
Collagen is a protein found in our bodies; it's in our digestive system, muscles, bones, skin, and tendons. But collagen production decreases with age, hence wrinkles and sagging skin.
What are the benefits of collagen?
Taking a collagen supplement is supposed to improve the elasticity of your skin—in fact, a study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology found that those who took collagen peptides once daily for eight weeks showed a significant improvement in skin's elasticity.
As someone who is approaching 30 and constantly stressing over crow's feet and forehead wrinkles, I was hoping collagen would help smooth out some of these signs of aging.
Collagen is also supposed to help with joint pain. Although I (luckily) don't have chronic pain in my joints, my knees do flare up from time to time ever since I ran a half marathon a couple of years ago. I also get some soreness in what feels like the bones in my legs a couple of times a week, usually after a run or intense cardio session. If drinking collagen would ease this pain, then I was game.
Collagen may also prevent weight gain. Collagen peptides are low in calories and high in protein. This one-two punch is the perfect recipe for weight loss. One 2008 study found that consuming gelatin (the cooked form of collagen) increased participants' levels of the satiety hormone, ghrelin. That means participants maintained satiety longer and had fewer feelings of hunger, which means they were more likely to stick to their weight-loss diets. There haven't been many studies done on collagen peptides specifically, but the theory is the same: eating low-calorie protein increases levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone that reduces food intake.
The experiment set-up:
To really test the health benefits of drinking collagen peptides, I vowed to take it every day for two weeks.
My collagen power of choice was Vital Proteins Unflavored Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides in the blue tub. I got the 20-ounce tub and a box of the stick packs, which were perfect for when I went out of town.
I stuck with one scoop from the tub for 35 calories, 9 grams of protein, and 10 grams of collagen (this was the same serving size in the stick packs).
After taking the powdered supplement for over two weeks, here's my Vital Proteins collagen peptide review.
When I started this experiment, I was curious about how long it takes for collagen supplements to work. A skeptic, I thought there was no way I would see noticeable before and after results after just two short weeks. Boy was I wrong! The following are a few significant changes I noticed by the end of my experiment. I also talk about some hyped-up results that I did not notice after my two-week experiment. (So maybe it does take a little longer for collagen supplements to work to their full potential.)
I felt full all morning.
Since I drank my peptides in the morning with my coffee (around 9:30), I found myself full until lunchtime. I tend to take a later lunch, around 2:30, so I typically have a snack sometime mid-morning to tide me over. However, I found I didn't need my morning snack after I had collagen. It also helped to pair my collagen coffee with breakfast, especially if I ate something that wasn't super high in protein such as avocado toast. The 9 grams of protein from the collagen kept me satisfied until my next meal.
While I didn't weigh myself during the experiment, I could definitely see why people take collagen for weight loss. Forgoing my standard 200- to 300-calorie morning snack because I felt full definitely helped to decrease my daily calorie intake—especially because I was replacing it with a 35-calorie powder. Taking collagen peptides long-term could theoretically mean collagen power may help with weight loss.
My nails were stronger.
After about a week of taking the collagen, I noticed my nails were thicker and stronger and were growing faster. Usually, my nails break and tear off after they grow, but after drinking my collagen, they were growing nicely and faster than normal. How could I tell? I got a gel manicure, which is supposed to last up to two weeks, and my nails grew out after about eight or nine days. It left the bottoms of my nail beds exposed. Although it was annoying having to get my nails redone, it wasn't a bad problem to have!
My complexion was better.
I'm not sure if this was a placebo effect or not, but I felt like my skin looked brighter. Although I still struggle with acne and dry patches, I felt like my cheeks looked a little pinker and overall, my skin looked smoother. It wasn't a replacement for my tinted moisturizer, but I'll take it!
My wrinkles did not go away.
However, I still had wrinkles on my forehead and the starting lines of crow's feet around my eyes. These are two trouble areas I'm always focused on, so I was hoping drinking collagen every day would help smooth these out. Although I didn't see any noticeable difference in terms of skin elasticity and my wrinkles, I only did the challenge for two weeks. I'm going to keep drinking collagen every morning and hope it will help my fine lines disappear. If anything, there are other positive health benefits I found from taking collagen that I'll definitely make this part of my daily routine.
I didn't notice a difference in my joints.
Since I get soreness in my knees from time to time, I was curious if the collagen would help ease this pain. However, nothing really changed; my knees still had their routine soreness a couple of times a week.
Collagen powder doesn't dissolve well in cold liquids.
The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides that I used claimed that it could dissolve in hot or cold liquids. However, I found it dissolved much easier when I poured some into hot tea or blended it into a smoothie. For the majority of the two weeks, I put my peptides in my morning iced coffee. Instead of dissolving nicely, however, it ended up clumping into gelatinous pieces throughout my coffee. Although the peptides eventually dissolved with frequent stirring, I sometimes ended up slurping up chunks of the peptides.