Collagen powder has become an increasingly popular supplement in recent years, touted for benefits like improving skin elasticity, supporting joint health, and even helping with weight loss.
With the rising popularity of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic (keto) diet, many are wondering whether collagen powder can fit into this way of eating.
What Is Collagen Powder?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up around 30% of total protein. It forms a structural framework that supports many tissues including skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and organs.
Over time, natural collagen production slows. This progressive loss of collagen leads to common signs of aging like wrinkles, sagging skin, joint discomfort, and weakened bones and muscles.
Collagen powder supplements provide collagen in hydrolyzed form, meaning the tough collagen fibers have been broken down into small peptides for better absorption and use by the body.
Supplementing with extra collagen from an outside source can help counteract decreasing natural collagen levels. This is the premise behind many of collagen powder’s claimed benefits for skin, hair, nails, bones and joints.
Is Collagen Keto-Friendly?
The keto diet requires restrictions on both total carbohydrate and protein intake to achieve and maintain ketosis. So will adding collagen powder interfere with the state of ketosis necessary to experience keto’s benefits?
Luckily, collagen is unique among proteins in that it contains very little carbohydrates or stimulatory amino acids. A single serving of collagen peptides powder contains virtually zero net carbs and will not take you out of ketosis.
Additionally, collagen provides needed dietary protein on keto, while avoiding the high levels of amino acids like leucine that can stimulate insulin. Reaching adequate daily protein intake can otherwise prove challenging on the very low-carb keto diet.
So not only is collagen safe for keto diets, it can actually help optimize macros and ensure sufficient protein when carbs and other protein sources are restricted.
Key Takeaway: Pure collagen peptides powder contains no carbs or sugars and will not interfere with ketosis on a keto diet. It is 100% keto-friendly.
Can Collagen Kick You Out of Ketosis?
Some sources claim that eating too much protein on keto can disrupt ketosis through a process called gluconeogenesis.
During gluconeogenesis, proteins can theoretically be converted to glucose. Since ketosis relies on glucose restriction, there are fears that high protein intake may sabotage the efficacy of keto diets.
However, research suggests gluconeogenesis is a normal adaptive process andconsuming adequate protein does NOT impair ketosis. There are no studies showing protein levels achievable through diet alone will activate enough gluconeogenesis to knock someone out of ketosis.
And even if some gluconeogenesis does occur, this can actually HELP ketosis by providing glucose to tissues that rely exclusively on glucose. Gluconeogenesis from collagen peptides may also spare muscle breakdown for glucose production.
So not only is collagen safe on keto diets, it may improve adherence, muscle maintenance, health, and vitality while following a very low carb ketogenic diet.
Key Takeaway: Concerns about getting kicked out of ketosis from consuming too much protein appear largely unfounded. The type and amount of protein in collagen supplements will not interfere with ketosis.
What Is the Best Collagen for Keto Diets?
The most popular and well-researched type of collagen for supplements is bovine (cow) collagen. Bovine collagen provides Types I, II, III collagen that supports skin, joints, bones, muscles, and organs.
For keto dieters, grass-fed collagen is ideal since grass-fed cows have higher nutrient levels (like antioxidants and healthy fats) for a superior quality supplement. Grass-fed bovine collagen provides all the major amino acids while avoiding unhealthy additives from grain feeding.
Some other smart collagen supplement options on keto include:
- Marine Collagen: Sourced from fish skin and scales, marine collagen is highly bioavailable and contains smaller peptides for easy absorption. Those following pescatarian keto diets may prefer marine over bovine collagen.
- Collagen Creams/Beverages: Collagen supplements pre-mixed into “creamer” beverages and powders provide MCT oil or coconut milk, healthy fats that may help further boost ketosis.
- Beef Gelatin: Pure beef gelatin is excellent for adding protein variety to homemade bone broths and smoothies appropriate for ketogenic diets.
No matter which type you select, be sure to verify the product you choose is from a high-quality, reputable provider to avoid any unknown additives or fillers. A quality collagen source ensures purity.
How to Add Collagen Powder to a Keto Diet
The best thing about collagen peptides is their versatility. Unflavored collagen dissolves seamlessly into any food or drink without altering taste or texture. This makes integrating extra collagen into your daily keto routine effortless.
Some easy ways to use collagen protein powder on a ketogenic diet include:
- Blended into hot or cold beverages like coffee, tea, shakes, or smoothies
- Mixed into condiments like salad dressings, sauces, dips, or mayo
- Added to soups, stews, chilis during cooking
- Baked into keto breads, muffins, waffles, or desserts
- Swirled into yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal or overnight oats
- Sprinkled onto avocado toast or egg dishes
- Added to collagen coffee creamer or hot cocoa beverage
Slim tea bags containing collagen peptides are also available for a quick on-the-go solution. For pre-mixed, flavored collagen beverages containing MCT’s or coconut milk, ensure added sweeteners fit your keto macros.
Key Takeaway: Unflavored collagen peptides blend seamlessly into foods and drinks without impacting taste, carbs, or ketosis. This flexibility makes meeting higher protein needs on keto effortless.
Collagen Powder Dosage, Safety & Side Effects
Clinical studies use dosages between 2.5-10 grams daily, often continued for several months, with excellent safety profiles and no serious side effects. Most collagen supplements provide 10+ grams per serving.
At these reasonable collagen doses, occasional mild digestive symptoms like bloating, gas or diarrhea may occur. Starting with smaller doses can help minimize any gastric issues when beginning supplementation.
Rare allergic reactions to bovine collagen are possible. Those with shellfish allergies may also react to marine collagen. Many successfully switch to porcine or chicken collagen instead.
There are no known negative interactions between collagen supplements and medications or other health conditions. However, checking with your doctor is wise if pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications.
Finding a high quality supplement from a reputable manufacturer can help minimize any risks. As with any substance, take reasonable doses and discontinue use if any concerning symptoms develop.
How do you know if a collagen supplement is high quality?
Look for the following:
- Source: Grass-fed bovine or marine collagen ensure higher quality raw materials
- Processing: Cold-processed via enzymatic hydrolysis preserves nutrients
- Purity: Should only contain collagen peptides as the ingredient
- Tested: Third-party testing verifies purity and avoids contaminants
Reputable companies share source information and quality controls. Clinical evidence also supports product efficacy and safety.
How can you use collagen powder in keto baking?
You can substitute a portion of almond or coconut flour in recipes with collagen peptides without significantly altering texture.
Since collagen adds structure (just like gluten), you can typically replace 20-25% of dry flour weight with collagen protein.
As collagen contains no carbs or fat, it slightly reduces calories while increasing protein content.
Does collagen break intermittent fasting?
Consuming calories breaks the fasted state. However, amounts under 50 calories have negligible metabolic impact.
10 grams or less collagen peptides powder mixed in coffee or tea can be safely consumed during shorter daily intermittent fasting windows.
When is the best time to take collagen on keto diet?
Our bodies likely use extracellular proteins like collagen most efficiently in an absorbed rather than degraded form. Distributing intake allows more direct collagen utilization.
Taking 5 grams (1⁄2 serving) twice per day on an empty stomach is likely ideal, such as in the morning and at night. Pairing collagen with vitamin C may also optimize use.
What's the difference between collagen and gelatin?
Collagen peptides and gelatin both originates from collagen-rich animal parts. Gelatin is cooked collagen, so it has undergone partial hydrolysis.
True collagen "peptides" are enzymatically hydrolyzed into small pieces most bioavailable to the human body. Peptides dissolve easily while gelatin forms gel-like clumps.
Collagen powder is a formulated supplement designed to counteract declining collagen levels associated with aging. It provides needed proteins and amino acids in a convenient, flavorless powder.
Research continues to evolve on potential mechanisms and benefits for collagen supplementation. However, collagen peptides appear very safe for most people with few side effects.
For those following ketogenic diets, collagen powder offers a versatile way to increase daily protein intake without disrupting ketosis. Marine or bovine collagen peptides ensure amino acid support while avoiding unnecessary carbohydrate and calorie increases.