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Over seventies who do strength training will build more muscle by taking a collagen supplement

People in their seventies who do weight training will build more muscle and strength if they take a supplement containing collagen peptide every day. Nutritionists at the University of Freiburg in Germany report on this in the British Journal of Nutrition. So could collagen peptide be interesting for young strength athletes too?

What kind of protein?
What kind of protein supplement works best for strength athletes? The classic answer to this question comes from nutritionists, who say that humans above all need protein with a high biological value. This kind of protein contains the essential amino acids lysine, threonine, methionine, leucine, valine, isoleucine, tryptophan and phenylalanine.

Sports scientists would give a more specific answer, saying that proteins containing high levels of methionine, leucine, valine and isoleucine are the ones that are good for strength athletes because the contractile tissue in muscles are largely made up of these amino acids.

Other scientists however are playing with the idea that, for some groups at least, supplementation with a completely different type of protein might be interesting. Of course these groups also need to consume sufficient amounts of essential amino acids. But in addition to that, supplementation with non-essential amino acids could help bring about muscle growth: in particular amino acids found in connective tissue, such as proline and glycine.

In muscle tissue but also in bone tissue and cartilage you find the amino acids in the matrix that keeps cells together. Until now scientists have looked mainly at the proteins in muscle cells and not at the extra-cellular amino acids. But could supplementation with non-essential amino acids, such as glycine and proline, stimulate muscle growth?

The human study that was published in October 2015 in the British Journal of Nutrition gives an affirmative answer.

The researchers divided 53 men in their seventies who had sarcopaenia into two groups. One group took 15 g collagen peptide daily for three months; the other group took a placebo. The researchers used BodyBalance, a peptide produced by Gelita. Gelita also helped fund the study.

The figure below shows the amino-acid composition of the collagen peptide that was used.

Over seventies who do strength training will build more muscle by taking a collagen supplement

In addition, the researchers got the men to do 60 minutes of strength training three times a week. The men trained under supervision, exercising the most important muscle groups on leg-press, bench-press and pull-down machines.

During the experiment the muscle mass and strength increased more in the subjects who had consumed chopped up gelatin than in the subjects who had taken a placebo. In addition, the experimental group lost more body fat.



"In conclusion, the findings of the present study have confirmed previous results that 60 min of resistance exercise, performed three times per week, is well suited to significantly increase muscle mass, muscular strength and motor control in subjects with sarcopenia", the German researchers wrote.

"Moreover, the study has demonstrated that the combination of resistance exercise and collagen peptide supplementation resulted in a more pronounced improvement of body composition, as indicated by a significant increase in muscle mass and decrease in fat mass, compared with placebo. In addition, muscular strength was significantly improved after collagen peptide intake compared with the training program plus placebo."

"Further studies should investigate the effect of combined resistance training and collagen peptide intake in other study populations, including sex and different age groups and should focus on the mode of action as well as on the required dosage."

Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct;114(8):1237-45.

The anticatabolic effect of glycine 23.06.2014

Collagen & Gelatin
Nutrition & Strength Training