With the popularity of collagen and gelatin protein, often I get asked "Is Collagen a Good Source of Protein?" While I am a big fan of both, I think it's important to note that it may not be the best option for a source of protein.
With the popularity of collagen in recent years, so too have I seen an increase of the use of collagen as a meal-replacing protein. While I am a big fan of collagen and personally aim to consume a high-quality grass-fed collagen protein in some form, nearly daily, myself, and I definitely recommend collagen to many of my nutrition clients for a variety of therapeutic and supplemental reasons – I wanted to take a moment to share why I don't recommend that collagen be counted as part of your daily sources of protein or to used as a post-workout, rebuilding and recovering protein.
Why is a Complete Protein Important?
The human body is primarily made up of water, protein and fat. Second only to water, proteins comprise most of our tissues in the form of amino acids. And in all those amino acids, about half is collagen.
There are 22 standard amino acids. Of those 22, 9 are “essential,” meaning they are not made by the body and must be obtained through our diet. Another 6 are “conditionally essential,” meaning our bodies can make sufficient amounts without getting them directly from diet, but only when circumstances are optimal.
Our bodies NEED protein to sustain life. Protein is responsible for building every single cell in our body. The full panel of essential amino acids are necessary to help us build and repair every structure in our body. We build them up, break then down, over and over and over again. A great amount of dietary protein every day is necessary for this to be done efficiently and effectively.
Lean muscle is made entirely of complete protein as well, and is key for optimal well being. Lean muscle improves metabolism, helps burn body fat, regulates body temperature, as well as keeps you strong, healthy, and supported.
Muscle needs protein and getting adequate, quality protein (ideally from high-quality, properly raised, animal sources) supports strength, injury prevention and longevity. Protein also helps with a higher metabolic rate, greater insulin sensitivity, and building that lean, sculpted, sexy physique, you babe, you. Protein is also responsible for satiety and reducing cravings and hunger.
A complete protein is comprised of, at the very least, the 9 essential amino acids. These are referred to as ‘essential’ because you MUST obtain them from your diet; the body cannot synthesize them on its own. Complete proteins can be found in a wide variety of animal foods and a few plant foods.