What is a Collagen Diet?

Synthia L. Rose

The collagen diet, made popular in Japan, is an eating plan designed to maintain youthfulness, energy, and beauty by consuming foods high in collagen. An alternative form of the diet utilizes collagen supplements and collagen injections instead of food. Whether through supplements or meals, this diet can purportedly induce weight loss, although most participants embrace it primarily to fight aging. Despite folk anecdotes that affirm the anti-aging benefits of the collagen diet, medical reports debunk the diet, saying it cannot halt aging and produces no scientifically-supported benefits.

Collagen capsules can supposedly fight aging.
Collagen capsules can supposedly fight aging.

A type of protein, collagen is loaded with amino acids. These amino acids are building blocks that support the growth of skin, nail, and hair cells. Abundant amounts of collagen can strengthen the hair and nails, allowing them to grow longer. For the skin, collagen purportedly fills in ridges and lines, creating a plumper appearance that looks unwrinkled and less aged, according to proponents of the collagen-based diet. Alternative medicine practitioners credit the collagen diet for giving skin, particularly on the face and neck, a more elastic and supple quality.

Many people who partake in the collagen diet do so to combat the signs of aging.
Many people who partake in the collagen diet do so to combat the signs of aging.

Collagen assists with weight loss by allegedly increasing the body’s metabolism so that more calories are burned. Many on the collagen diet claim that the tasteless protein gives them more energy for exercise and suspends their appetite so they eat less. Some individuals claim to lose roughly 2 lbs. weekly on this diet.

Some anti-aging creams contain collagen, which is generally considered ineffective in improving the appearance of wrinkles.
Some anti-aging creams contain collagen, which is generally considered ineffective in improving the appearance of wrinkles.

Foods eaten on the collagen diet include noodles, jellies, and pig hooves. Pig hooves and cow hooves are major sources of collagen and serve as the basis for gelatin, another staple of the collagen diet. In Japan, a major source of nutritional collagen is nabe, a type of soup which has a gel-like consistency. Nabe, also frequently called a “collagen hot pot,” is a medley of vegetables mixed with bits of meat and clear pieces of collagen; the vegetables and herbs add flavor to the hot pot since collagen itself has no taste and needs to be flavored. Those on the collagen diet also eat the skin of chickens and fins from sharks since both are substantial sources of collagen.

People on the collagen diet have claimed that the tasteless protein gives them more energy for exercise.
People on the collagen diet have claimed that the tasteless protein gives them more energy for exercise.

Dieters relying on supplements usually take collagen with additional medicinal herbs such as aloe vera, safflower oil, and lecithin. Lecithin is considered a weight-loss aid because it allegedly helps to loosen and dissolve fat. For that reason, it is a frequent companion of collagen in commercial supplements in order to assist with the weight loss component of the collagen diet.

One form of the collagen diet may utilize injections, supplements and creams as opposed to food.
One form of the collagen diet may utilize injections, supplements and creams as opposed to food.
Vegetables can help add flavor to a collagen diet.
Vegetables can help add flavor to a collagen diet.
Following a collagen diet may be used as a healthy alternative to collagen injections to achieve a youthful appearance.
Following a collagen diet may be used as a healthy alternative to collagen injections to achieve a youthful appearance.
While a collagen deficiency may cause premature aging of the skin, too much collagen may cause the skin to harden.
While a collagen deficiency may cause premature aging of the skin, too much collagen may cause the skin to harden.

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Discussion Comments

discographer

I'm on a collagen diet and I love it! I know that a collagen diet has anti-aging benefits and that's great. But I'm actually on it for arthritis and joint pain. I have to say that it has made a huge difference for me. My joint pain is almost totally gone and I'm much more active than I used to be. I could barely walk up the stairs before I started this diet.

I eat salmon at least twice a week and make my own chicken broth and use that to make meals.

burcidi

@burcinc-- I don't think that a collagen diet consists only of collagen-rich foods. You're right that some foods with collagen can cause problems for cholesterol patients.

There are also many foods that do not contain collagen, but help the body produce more collagen when they're consumed. There are also foods with nutrients that help the collagen in our body work better.

For example, vitamin C and all foods that are rich in it help our body produce collagen. The same goes for fish, turkey and dark green vegetables. So being on a collagen diet doesn't meant eating jello all day.

burcinc

As far as I know, many foods that are rich in collagen are also rich in cholesterol, such as red meat, pig hooves and chicken skin. How do people on a collagen diet keep their cholesterol under control? Can someone with high cholesterol do the collagen diet?

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