Ingesting collagen for weight loss began in the United States and Canada in the 1980s. The hydrolyzed collagen found in the weight loss supplements is gelatin, which is sold by brand names such as Jello or Knox. Gelatin has been clinically proven to improve hair and nail health. It has not yet been clinically proven to help you lose weight.
Collagen is an incomplete protein found in skin, hair, nails and connective tissue. The kind of collagen used in weight loss formulas is the same as the kind used for cooking. It is called hydrolyzed collagen and comes from either marine sources such as tuna or bovine sources. Manufacturers crush the bones and cartilage of the animal. The cartilage is then soaked in hydrochloric acid to remove calcium and in alkali to break down the bonds of the collagen. It is then dehydrated.
Hydrolyzed collagen has been clinically proven to improve the health of hair and nails. There have also been a few peer reviewed studies to show that collagen may be helpful in arthritis pain and in joint pain in athletes who are at risk for arthritis. One distributor of a collagen supplement for weight loss cites an unpublished and non-peer reviewed study showing that a hydrolyzed collagen supplement given to 50 obese participants for three months resulted in an average loss of 10 lbs. and 2.4 percent body fat.
Supplements containing collagen often also contain aloe vera juice as well. Aloe vera juice is a known laxative. Other ingredients include preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. One critic of collagen supplements for weight loss recommends drinking Jell-O brand gelatin and a laxative and not eating as much as you used to for similar effect.
Others feel that there is a basis to following the regime. Supporters of the plan note that it is essential to take the supplement three hours before bed and then not eat anything for the collagen to work properly. Drinking collagen before bed helps the body to heal itself while you sleep, according to proponents of the diet. As collagen heals your body and creates more lean muscle mass, you will become more muscular and lean. Your body will burn fat rather than protein or carbohydrate and you will lose weight, according to diet supporters.
Collagen in the form of gelatin is a readily available food source. There is no known toxicity to eating gelatin. Consuming the hydrolyzed collagen in the various weight loss supplements may or may not help you lose weight. Hydrolyzed collagen most likely will help you grow strong healthy nails and hair, and may even help your joint pain. There is very little risk associated with its use.
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