Collagen Protein for Weight Loss(?)

Fitness Expert Phil Kaplan sheds some light on one of the newest weight loss offerings.

Topic: Collagen Protein - "lose weight while you sleep?"

Offerings for weight loss solutions involving Collagen Protein are springing up everywhere, on radio, in retail stores, and in mail order promotions. The products are of course sold as amazing proprietary formulas. Collagen protein, although it's a component of human connective tissue, skin, and hair, is incomplete in the amino acids needed to build muscle. It has actually been proven that ingestion of complete proteins with a high PER (Protein Efficiency Rating) combined with stimulation of muscle hypertrophy can increase collagen fiber in connective tissue, but that doesn't translate into oral ingestion of collagen protein affecting lean body mass. Collagen gelatin is actually one of the primary ingredients in Jell-O. In reality, with the "guidelines" these products come with, they could just as easily sell Jell-O as a weight loss miracle.

The hook is "You simply drink a tablespoon of the formula before bed, sleep well and lose weight." When you receive the product the directions tell you that you must drink that tablespoon on an empty stomach. You shouldn't eat for three hours before you take it, and not again until you wake up in the morning. Plain and simple, it's calorie deprivation, just like any other ineffective diet that might cause people to shed a few pounds in the short term and slow metabolism in the long run.

The "safe and effective" ingredients often include Aloe Vera. You might know it as something to help minimize the pain and suffering of sunburn, but it's also a laxative when ingested. So . . . don't eat for three hours, then pump a laxative into your body. Hmm. How about don't eat for three hours, have some Jell-O and Ex Lax? I strongly believe the effect will be the same.

Other "ingredients to help you shed the pounds" included in these products may include Potassium sorbate and methyl paraben. These are preservatives and have nothing to do with weight loss. You'll probably also find glycerin and "Natural Flavors" for taste, ingredients that likely affect blood sugar further reducing the long term likelihood users will lose fat.

Often these products are sold piggybacked with other products, in what the manufacturers cleverly describe as "kits." Some of the other supplemental formulas included in these kits contain diuretics and stimulants, both tricks to make the body shed water so people believe "it's working."

Collagen isn't new and it was actually sold as a weight loss aid more than 25 years ago. In the 1970s, a book called The Last Chance Diet, written by Robert Linn, DO, promoted and popularized the use of liquid protein as a weight loss aid. The liquid protein involved was hydrolyzed cow collagen. People died. To be fair, they didn't die because of the collagen. They died because "the plan" suggested the flawed collagen compound as a substitute for food. I'm not suggesting the current collagen offerings are life-threatening, but it is valuable to note how "diets" touting supplements as "cures" or "solutions" can lead people in the wrong direction.

Right now many of the companies selling collagen protein are in a growth spurt. They're making lots of money and fiercely reinvesting profit into media time. A careful consumer will pay close attention to the ingredients and the scientific validation (or lack thereof) before believing an ad for easy weight loss.

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