I first encountered collagen supplements when I started doing a lot more work with competitive bodybuilders. I was only a little bit familiar with the health benefits of these products and really didn't realize how important collagen is for athletes.
You might be familiar with it as it's often in beauty, hair, and skincare products, but there is so much more to it when it comes to your body.
For performance athletes, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue can come under a lot of strain, and any lack of collagen can make things worse.
So, our team at TotalShape has done some extensive research and testing to come up with some product recommendations.
Our Top Product Recommendations (September 2023)
1 - CIRA Glow-Getter Collagen
Our top recommendation for collagen peptides comes from CIRA Glow-Getter, which is popular with women due to the great boost of collagen and its effect on skin cells, hair, and nails.
But users have also commented that it seems to work well to improve joint health and support better injury recovery.
We also liked that there are some added vitamins that your body needs for connective tissue and skin repair.
Compared to the second Kylea collagen and third Transparent collagen on the list, it is the only one with both flavored and unflavored options.
In addition, it also mixes very well with water and has some added vitamins which others on the list lack.
- Provides 10 grams of collagen to support joints, skin, and gut health
- Mixes easily with water and suitable for blending with smoothies
- Comes in both flavored and unflavored options for mixing with food
- Added vitamins may help support healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Not suitable for vegetarians/vegans since it's bovine collagen
The only thing to keep in mind is that this isn't suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it uses bovine collagen.
2 - Kylea Collagen Peptides Powder
Over many months of testing out these products, our team has agreed that of all the collagen powders, Kylea has managed to create one that stands out the most.
It’s made from pasture-raised, grass-fed bovine collagen. It’s also free of common allergens, artificial flavors, sugars, and sweeteners. It’s one of the cleanest ingredient list based on our testing.
It also contains a good amount of protein per serving, so it may help with better muscle strength, stronger joints, and healthier skin, hair, and nails.
While it’s unflavored, blending it with some fresh fruits solves the issue.
You may choose Kylea collagen powder or Transparent Labs powder if you prefer more grams of protein per serving.
Kylea collagen powder and Transparent Labs powder have 11 grams compared to the Cira glow-getter collagen, which only contains 10 grams.
- Contains 11 grams of bovine collagen peptides
- Has 10 grams of protein per serving
- Free from artificial additives like colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Many user reports of positive results on joints, hair, skin, and nails
- Only comes in an unflavored option
3 - Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Collagen Hydrolysate
Another one that stood out among the products we tested was from Transparent Labs.
From a nutrition perspective, it only contains collagen and some traces of carbs and iron. In an industry where supplements are so commonly packed full of additives, it's something very refreshing to see.
Some of my female clients who use it didn't just report good results for their bones and joints. They found that it had a positive impact on their skin and hair as well.
Also, if you are on a keto diet, you may choose Transparent Labs collagen powder since it only contains 2 grams of carbs compared to Kylea and CIRA Glow which have more.
- Contains 11 grams of hydrolyzed collagen peptides
- With less than 2 grams of carbs, it's keto-friendly
- Void artificial ingredients
- Restores nail and hair health
- Some more flavor options would be great
One thing I would say is that limiting it to just the chocolate flavor means you can get a bit bored with it.
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4 - PaleoPro Grass-Fed Bone Broth Collagen + Turmeric
As someone who has had success with paleo, I know how difficult it can be to plan your diet.
PaleoPro definitely fills that gap when it comes to premium collagen peptides, which you would only get in your diet by eating the less appetizing parts of animals.
The grass-fed collagen is also certified hormone and GMO-free, which is something that a lot of paleo dieters take quite seriously.
- Minimum processing to provide a healthy source of natural collagen
- Certified paleo-friendly using only grass-fed, pasture-raised cows
- Contains no carbs or fat to mess up your ketosis
- GMO and hormone-free to keep your gut flora healthy
- Some people have struggled with the texture
My personal experience with the flavor was positive, but I found that just mixing it in a shaker left it a bit grainy.
5 - Physician's Choice Collagen Peptides Powder
This is specifically marketed as a health and beauty supplement for women.
Because of this, it's important to note that the dosage is designed for women as well.
Many female users have reported in forums and Facebook groups that the supplement had a positive result on their skin, hair, and nails.
Because it is sourced from animals that haven't been exposed to hormone or antibiotic treatment, you're also getting something that is of higher quality and much safer from a health perspective .
- Contains 7 g of bovine collagen per serving
- Includes some digestive enzymes that can help to absorb the collagen faster
- Comes unflavored, making it ideal for adding to snacks
- Sourced from grass-fed, hormone, and antibiotic-free animals
- High-quality food supplement but a bit on the expensive side
If you work it out per gram of collagen, then this one does come out on the high side, but the quality is highlighted as a big plus in many reviews.
6 - Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
If you're looking for collagen supplements with a stronger dose per serving, then Vital Proteins is one of the best options.
With 20 grams in each serving, your body will have plenty to work with.
After speaking with my dietitian, she said that for most people, half a scoop would be plenty as a nutrition boost.
This means that you can make the powder last a good bit longer.
- 20 g of grass-fed collagen peptides per serving
- With no flavor or odor, you can mix it with tea or coffee
- No added sugar or artificial flavors
- Many positive reports that it mixes easily with water
- Some users reported a slight aftertaste and sensation
While it mixes easily with hot and cold water, I did notice a few comments online that said it left a slightly strange and grainy sensation in the mouth.
7 - NeoCell Super Collagen Powder
Marketed more as beauty collagen products, NeoCell is still a great choice, especially for female athletes.
The formula is designed with the needs of women in mind, meaning you don't get too large a dose in each serving.
A lot of users provided positive comments that it's very easy on the stomach, and many women reported positive and noticeable results within 2 weeks.
- Claims to provide the ideal amount of collagen to support skin, hair, and nails
- Mixes very easily with no flavor to deal with
- Hydrolyzed collagen can make it a lot easier to digest
- Available in bulk containers to save on costs
- Some reports about damaged packaging
The main negative that I saw was that some people reported that the seal on the container was damaged during transport, but they were able to get a replacement shipped out.
8 - Sports Research Collagen Peptides Powder
This Sports Research product is specifically marketed for supporting healthy joints and bones.
This claim is backed up with several reports from users that they suffered less joint pain when taking the supplement.
It's also one of the few products that claim to provide the complete profile of amino acids that your body needs to repair and rebuild damaged tissue fully.
For performance athletes, that can make a significant difference when it comes to recovery from training.
- Claims to provide the full profile of amino acids
- Can be mixed with drinks and healthy snacks
- Doesn't leave an aftertaste or chalky sensation
- Good bulk order options available
- Can cause some bloating and gas
I liked that it had no flavor at all, so you can mix it with all types of drinks and food. But some people did report some initial bloating and gas.
9 - Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein Powder
I follow the Dr. Axe blog a lot and have been using some of their supplements for years.
While this isn't one of the cheaper products available, it does provide a full range of the 5 main types of collagen.
Sourced from chickens, eggs, cows, and fish, you get a very healthy blend to support various body functions .
- Low-calorie with no carbs to support most diets
- Provides a small boost of calcium
- Includes chicken, eggs, bovine, and marine collagen
- Also available in convenient stick packs that fit in your pocket
- Does have a slightly fishy smell
While the collagen from fish does provide benefits, be aware that it gives the powder a slightly fishy smell.
10 - Amy Myers, MD, Collagen Protein Powder
This is a 100% non-GMO collagen that is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised beef.
Dr. Myers specifically designed the formula to support both Type I and Type III collagen.
This means that not only are your connective tissues enhanced, but it supports the optimization of your lean muscle mass.
This collagen protein claims to help maintain a healthy intestinal barrier and provide relief for those concerned about the leaky gut syndrome.
The mucosal lining of the intestines reacts positively to this collagen, which then has a follow-on, favorable effect on the rest of your body.
My clients have reported that this hydrolyzed collagen has the added benefit of reducing their sugar cravings. In a number of cases, this has supported their healthy weight management and improved their lean muscle mass.
- Promotes vibrant hair, skin, and nails
- Uses only the healthiest, organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef collagen
- Mixes easily into both hot and cold drinks
- Although advertised as completely unflavored, some people found it to have a medicinal taste
I also noticed that my hair and nails improved after 2 weeks of using it so I’m not surprised many reviews find this collagen supplement to be a game-changer, both for their musculoskeletal system and also for their intestinal system.
Types Of Collagen In The Body
While there are 5 main collagen types, three of these are more commonly found in the human body.
Some of the above product recommendations will have you covered for all 5 , but this is not always necessary.
The 3 main ones to make sure you get are:
- Type I: Needed for skin, tendons, and bones
- Type II: Mostly found in cartilage
- Type V: Found in cell surfaces and hair
"Type II Collagen is less prevalent within our bodies, it still offers great benefit to the aging body by promoting joint and cartilage health!"
- Taylor Kiser, Food & Nutrition Blogger
Getting these 3 types through supplements, along with some vitamin boosts, can make a significant difference to your health and appearance.
Benefits Of Collagen Supplements
While collagen is needed in practically all vital organs of your body, it mainly provides noticeable health benefits in these 3 areas.
1 - Joint Health
Many studies have identified the direct link between collagen intake and joint health.
One particularly interesting trial looked at the impacts on arthritis and revealed that it also provided an anti-inflammatory effect .
When coupled with a stringent weight loss diet, many people can make a significant difference in the health of their tendons and cartilage.
2 - Skin Health
Collagen is one of the most dominant substances needed for regenerating skin cells. You'll find it in many beauty products and skin creams, but taking it in the form of supplements can have the most significant impact on skin elasticity .
Many people are amazed how quickly it will impact the appearance of their skin, with even better results than topical skin application.
3 - Bone Density
Most people tend to just think of calcium intake when it comes to making sure that their bones remain healthy. But bone mineral density is also very heavily reliant on vitamins and collagen .
Collagen production in the body goes down once you hit the young age of 20, with a reduction of about 1% per year . This explains the initial wrinkles but eventually leads to more problematic issues with bone density.
How To Choose The Best Collagen Protein Powder?
Here are the four factors you should consider when choosing the best collagen protein powder:
Type Of Collagen Supplements
Types I, II, and V collagen are the most important ones to improve your physical appearance as well as joint health. I would always focus on these first, as they give you the most impact without needing to choose some of the more expensive options. When selecting collagen powders, the quality and source of collagen peptides are critical. Look for hydrolyzed collagen, also known as collagen peptides, which is a form of collagen broken down to be more easily absorbed by the body. Hydrolyzed collagen has been linked to a number of health benefits, including skin health and enhanced collagen production in the body.
Notably, it's vital to consider the blend of collagen types in your chosen supplement. Products like vital proteins collagen peptides offer a balanced blend of Types I and III collagen, which supports skin, hair, nail, and bone health. Remember, though, that collagen sourced from various animals, including marine sources, will provide a more comprehensive range of collagen types.
It's also important to remember the role of Vitamin C in collagen production. Vitamin C is essential for the body to synthesize collagen, so it's worth considering collagen powders that include this nutrient or ensuring you're getting enough Vitamin C from your diet or other supplements.
Source Of Collagen
You can get collagen from all types of animals, but the best options are from grass-fed hormone, and antibiotic-free cows. If you want to get the full range of all collagen types mentioned above, then you'll need a supplement sourced from different animals, including fish.
Some collagen supplements are available as flavored options, but I generally prefer to have something that is completely tasteless. The advantage of this is that you can easily mix it with drinks or into your breakfast cereal for a quick boost in the morning.
Unflavored collagen powders or supplements offer the most versatility. You can mix these into a variety of foods and drinks without altering their taste. However, flavored options are available for those who prefer them.
Budget is, of course, an important factor. While it might be tempting to opt for cheaper collagen powders, keep in mind that you're investing in your health. High-quality collagen supplements, like vital proteins collagen peptides, while more costly, offer a more effective and digestible form of collagen. Therefore, they could give you better value for your money in the long run.
What Are the Potential Side Effects of Collagen Protein Powder?
Side effects of taking collagen protein powder are generally very rare, though some people experience bloating, gas, and nausea. In most cases where I found comments in forums and Facebook groups, the reason was mainly down to taking very large doses.
Bloating And Gas
This can happen if you take a large dose with just water on an empty stomach. If you're in a fasting period, then it can often be safer to take the supplement in smaller amounts throughout the day.
Some people report that they feel a bit sick after taking collagen, and this can mainly be due to your stomach adapting to handle a sudden increase in this protein. The best solution for this is to mix the powder in with some food or to take it in smaller amounts several times per day.
Is Collagen Protein Powder Good For You?
Yes, taking collagen protein powder is good for you as your body will gradually produce less of it as you age. For performance athletes, it's best to take some regularly to ensure ligaments and tendons are adequately repaired.
Should You Take Collagen Protein Powder in the Morning or at Night?
You should take collagen protein powder in the morning with your breakfast. This gives you a consistent supply throughout the day. If you do some high-intensity training, then you can also take some along with your post-workout recovery drink.
Does Collagen Protein Powder Make You Gain Weight?
No, collagen protein powder doesn't make you gain weight unless you're taking it in large doses and not exercising enough. As part of a balanced diet, and along with a regular exercise routine, it can have the opposite effect.
How Much Collagen Should You Take?
You should aim to take about 10 grams of collagen for regular daily use. On training days where your body comes under more stress, about twice that amount is the best option to ensure optimal joint health.
Which Collagen Supplement Should You Choose?
Of all the products that my clients and I have tested, I keep going back to CIRA Glow-Getter.
Not only does it have a really good dose of collagen per scoop, but there are some important vitamins that support your skin, hair, nails, and joints.
Whether you're an athlete or just want to look better with a glowing appearance, try out CIRA Glow-Getter today and see how much of a difference it will make for you.
And don't forget to report back to us what your personal results were.
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