Collagen plus resistance training better than training alone for body mass, muscle protein changes: RCT

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Nikolas_jkd
© Getty Images / Nikolas_jkd
Adding collagen supplements to a resistance exercise training may lead to greater improvements in muscle strength, body mass and fat-free mass, compared to training alone, says a new RCT from Germany.

Using Gelita’s Bodybalance collagen ingredient, scientists from Ruhr University Bochum showed that participants in the collagen group had significantly higher body mass and fat-free mass, while strength levels were up “slightly” in the collagen group. 

In addition, the collage group displayed upregulation of proteins mostly associated with protein metabolism of contractile muscle fibers.

“Individuals in [collagen group] showed a significantly higher number of upregulated proteins and significantly more pathways associated with resistance exercise compared with [placebo group] after the intervention, indicating stronger effects for the combination of strength training and supplementation on the skeletal muscle proteome than strength training alone,”​ wrote the researchers in Nutrients​.

A first step

The study’s findings were welcomed by Suzane Leser, Gelita’s director of nutrition communication. “This is the first study from the independent group at Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany, using Gelita’s Bodybalance collagen peptides,”​ she told us. “What is new about this study is that, this is a first step in understanding a potential mechanism of action for Bodybalance in increasing lean body mass and strength in young, physically active men. This muscle proteome study suggests that supplementation with Bodybalance upregulates proteins that are associated with the metabolism of contractile proteins in the muscle fibers, which supports our previous end-point findings.”

Leser added that, overall, this is the third published study by two independent research groups to confirm that supplementation with Bodybalance, despite its low essential amino acid profile, can increase lean body mass and strength.

Bodybalance is one of the most interesting products in the Gelita range of Bioactive Collagen Peptides, she said, because its science is calling to re-evaluating today’s approach to protein supplementation for muscle growth under the weight of a new body of evidence that suggests that other mechanisms may also contribute to muscle adaptation, in addition to the well-known effect of Leucine and essential amino acids on the synthesis of contractile muscle proteins.

“This study is only a start in our work to explain the mechanism through which Bodybalance can increase lean body mass. Our views are aligned to the knowledge that muscle differs from many other tissues in the way that its cells are enclosed in a connective tissue framework, or “bags”, formed mainly by collagen proteins. This collagen rich connective tissue does not only transmit muscle force, but very importantly, today we know that it does also define the volume of the muscle fibers.

Leser continued: “Muscle growth is limited by this “bag” unless its enlargement or remodeling occurs, which requires also new collagen synthesis. Resistance exercise upregulates collagen protein synthesis in the muscle, and supplementation with specific collagen peptides might be playing a very important role in augmenting the connective tissue remodeling, enabling further muscle growth and increases in strength, and this is what our external academic network is looking to find out.

“This is the latest study that confirms the outcomes of previous investigations underlining the role of specific collagen peptides in increasing lean body mass, in similar conditions of long-term energy balance and full body resistance exercise training, so we are on a positive path with the body of evidence on Bodybalance,” ​said Leser.

Study details

The researchers, led by Vanessa Oertzen-Hagemann, recruited 25 young men (average age of 24.2) to participate in their double-blind, randomized study. The men completed body composition measurements (average body mass of 79.6 kg, average fat mass of 11.5%), strength measurements, and thigh muscle (vastus lateralis) biopsies were taken before and after the intervention.

The men underwent a 12-week training program (full-body hypertrophy workout three times per week) and were also randomly assigned to receive collagen peptides (15 g per day of collagen hydrolysate: Bodybalance​, provided by Gelita) or placebo.

Results showed that body mass and fat-free mass increased significantly in the collagen group by 3 kg and 2.6 kg, respectively, compared with placebo. On the other hand, no differences in fat mass were detected between the groups.

Both groups displayed improvements in strength levels, with the increase being slightly higher in the collagen group, compared with placebo.

Oertzen-Hagemann and her co-workers also analyzed protein levels, and found that the collagen group had 221 proteins in higher abundance, compared to only 44 in the placebo group. And the upregulated proteins in the collagen group were mostly associated with the protein metabolism of the contractile fibers, wrote the researchers.

“To summarize, we observed considerable differences in the protein response due to collagen supplementation, as both groups performed the same training protocol,” ​they wrote.

Commenting on future studies, the researchers said it would be interesting “to compare different protein sources with regard to their metabolic effects and strength training adaptations”​.

Source: Nutrients
2019, 11​(5), 1072; doi: 10.3390/nu11051072​  
“Effects of 12 Weeks of Hypertrophy Resistance Exercise Training Combined with Collagen Peptide Supplementation on the Skeletal Muscle Proteome in Recreationally Active Men”
Authors: V. Oertzen-Hagemann et al.

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