As fitness buffs, we know that protein fuels our bodies, but what you may not realize is the most common protein in the body is collagen. Collagen is found throughout our connective tissues — tendons, ligaments, fat — and even muscles and bones. Collagen’s role in the body is to keep us flexible and strong.
Two things every BodyRocker likes to hear: strong and flexible. Not a BodyRock yet? Join the family and get access to an amazing fitness community and thousands of workouts!
The only trouble is, like many things, with age comes the decline in collagen production. However, the good news is there are many ways to encourage our bodies to manufacture more collagen.
Collagen vs. Collagen Peptides
Both types of collagen contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids. While collagen peptides are the most bioavailable version, as they’ve been converted from a long-chain (harder to reap benefits) to a short-chain collagen peptide (for rapid absorption).
Since collagen peptides are a short-chain molecule, when you consume it, your body directs it to your connective tissues and muscles, where it’s converted to long-chain collagen for on-the-spot muscle repairs.
In a nutshell, collagen (peptides for faster release) is like first aid for your body after you’ve just slain a BodyRock+ sweat ‘sesh.
Types of Collagen
Although having glowing skin is fantastic, we’re here to focus on the benefits of collagen for exercise recovery.
The primary types of collagen are:
Type 1 & 3:
Type 1 & 3 account for 90% of the collagen in the body and are typically associated with bones, muscle, and skin health. Type 1 is dominant in the skin (70%) and is known for its anti-aging properties. However, it also aids in muscle repair and recovery. While Type 3 is prevalent in hollow organs (stomach, arteries, intestines, etc.) and muscles. Type 3 also contains an impressive antioxidant profile and has been recognized for its gut-healing properties.
-Protein Sources: Type 1 collagen can be found in bovine or marine sources, while Type 3 is found in bovine.
-Type 2: Type 2 is exclusive to your cartilage and makes up a whopping 50-60% of all the protein found there. Type 2, therefore, is excellent for joint and connective tissue maintenance, like reducing inflammation.
-Protein Sources: Chicken is naturally rich in type 2 collagen protein.
Collagen and Exercise
No matter your sport, whether it’s doing BodyRock+ HIIT or jogging, taking collagen can help with your post-exercise recovery as collagen works to repair, replenish and rebuild your connective tissues, muscles, and joints — making collagen a great choice for athletes. Another thing collagen does well is encouraging muscle growth and strength, thanks to collagen’s role in creatine production.
How to Increase Collagen Production
If you want to increase your collagen production, there are many ways you can integrate it into your diet so you don’t have to rely on collagen supplements (unless you want to).
-Aloe Vera: The aloe plant isn’t just good for skin irritations. It’s also an abundant source of collagen and when ingested, it actually promotes collagen production — hence, why it’s excellent for soothing skin!
-Vitamin C Rich Foods: As we age, our natural hyaluronic acid levels decrease. This is problematic for athletes as this acid is responsible for boosting recovery times while providing joint pain relief. The good news, vitamin C has a role in the synthesis of this acid, so by eating a diet rich in vitamin C, you’ll naturally boost your collagen levels.
Foods to Eat
- Great producers: Berries, citrus, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
-Chicken: Chicken is the kingpin of Type 2 collagen, and studies suggest that the consumption of chicken cartilage and necks is an effective treatment for arthritis. If you’re looking to support joint and connective tissue health (especially if you have an injury), then it’s time for chicken!
-Fish: For our Pescatarian friends, fish is an excellent source of Type 1 collagen, however, the collagen-rich sources of fish are not the edible part (head, scales, etc.). So to up your Type 1 intake, it may be wise to use a fish supplement.
-Beans: Vegan friends rejoice; eating beans will contribute to collagen production as many of the amino acids they contain supports collagen synthesis. Interested in going vegan? Check out our Plant-Based Guide.
-Cashews: Who doesn’t love cashews? These guys are rich in copper and zinc, which aid in collagen production, making cashews an excellent post-workout snack.
If you’re looking to take collagen peptides, the recommended dose is between 5-15g with 50mg of Vitamin C per day.
Need more nutrition information? Check out our BodyRock Meal Plan eBook--on sale now! There are dozens of collagen-rich recipes to take the guess work out of getting more of this protein.
More collagen = less wear and tear on your body.
As BodyRockers, we understand that exercise and recovery are equally important. So if you build up your collagen stores on the days you choose to HIIT it at BodyRock+, you’ll naturally boost your collagen production for less soreness on your recovery days.