Benefits of Collagen for Runners
I've been using collagen for the last 2 years and am excited for the opportunity to partner with one of my favorite brands, Vital Proteins, for this post about collagen (all opinions are my own!).
Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues and is made up of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine (amino acids). Collagen supports hair/skin/nail health, bone/joint health, connective tissues, and gut health.
Aside from the beauty benefits (who doesn't want better hair, skin and nails?), I'm sure you are more interested in how this can benefit you as a runner, right? If you are not currently including collagen as a supplement in your diet, you should consider it. Here's why:
Reduced Inflammation/Better Recovery
When you run long distance, do a speed workout, or lift weights, you're straining your muscles, which causes inflammation. Collagen promotes speedy recovery of your connective tissues which reduces this inflammation. Collagen also supports and maintains the protein content of your muscles, making it ideal to include in your post run/hard workout recovery nutrition.
As endurance athletes, you know how hard continuous training can be on your bones and joints. With the aging process, this continuous strain enhances collagen depletion in your body. Supplementing your diet with collagen can promote joint health and elasticity. Over time, this can reduce your risk for injury by keeping your bones and joints strong.
As I mentioned, collagen contains amino acids and 2 of these (glycine and arginine) promote the synthesis of creatine which improves performance during short periods of exercise and muscle contraction (think speed workouts). This, paired with the reduced inflammation and better recovery of muscles after a hard workout, it's ideal to make sure you're getting collagen in your diet for those peak weeks of training.
How I include collagen in my daily diet:
You may be wondering how to incorporate collagen each day (aside from the obvious smoothies). Here are my favorite ways to include collagen in my diet:
Beef Gelatin: Coffee
I really love the beef gelatin in my coffee each morning. Beef gelatin thickens upon cooling, so it works perfectly to thicken up my coffee each morning. It also works great in soups or baked goods. Beef gelatin is great for digestion and keeping your gut healthy in addition to the other already mentioned athletic benefits of collagen. Here's what I blend up each morning:
- 8 oz hot coffee
- 1 scoop Vital Proteins beef gelatin
- 1/4 tsp ashwaganda
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp maca powder
Combine all of that together in your vitamix and blend! It feels like you're drinking a fancy latte because the gelatin foams when blended.
Collagen Peptides: Oatmeal/Chia Seed Pudding
I use collagen peptides in my oats and chia seed puddings. It's a great way to get protein after I do a morning run and keeps me full until lunch. Here's my everyday oatmeal recipe:
- 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
- 1/2 cup shredded zucchini (such a good way to get veggies in your breakfast!)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 scoop Vital Proteins collagen peptides
You can mix this all together the night before in a mason jar and warm in the microwave for a quick breakfast on the go. Or, just heat the milk on high and once boiling, add all ingredients and reduce to a simmer for a few minutes.
The great thing about collagen is it comes in different flavors (or flavorless) and forms (powders or capsules), so it's easy to make it work for you. If it's easier for you to get all your vitamins in at the beginning of your day, add a capsule to the regimen. If your like me, and prefer to eat your vitamins, find fun ways to mix them in. I just started using the Vanilla Collagen flavored peptides in my oats and it gives it a slight sweetness. I like adding a stick of Marine Collagen (a great option for vegetarians) to my banana bread. The options are endless!
Have you ever used collagen? If so, how do you incorporate it into your diet?