Intermittent fasting is a fairly easy diet that can help you manage blood sugar, lose weight, and get healthy. For many people, the great thing about it is that they can drink their black coffee without breaking their fast. Something that goes great with coffee is collagen. Does collagen break a fast?
If you’re thinking about fasting in the traditional sense, yes, collagen breaks a fast. But the answer is a little more complex than that. Some say, despite its caloric content, collagen may not spike insulin as much as other foods with the same number of calories would. Others claim that you would still get most of the benefits of fasting even if you add collagen.
So let’s explore this topic in-depth and see how collagen affects fasting.
Does collagen break a fast?
Yes, collagen breaks a fast because it has about 30 calories per serving. Most intermittent fasting methods allow only 1-2 calories during a fast. Others may say 5 calories, but 30 is certainly well above the limit.
However, collagen is slightly different, so you may be able to have it, depending on your fasting goals and your own body. For instance, collagen does not seem to spike blood sugar in everyone. Some find that even after having coffee with some collagen, their blood sugar levels remain almost unchanged, which means they are technically still in a fasted state. The problem is that just because your blood sugar doesn’t increase the first time, doesn’t automatically mean it will never increase, so there is always a risk.
In other words, the safest option, if you’re fasting for blood sugar management or weight loss, is to stay away from collagen during your fast. The same goes if you’re on a traditional or even a religious fast that requires you to stay at zero calories and nutrients. If your method allows for more calories as long as there isn’t an insulin response, you could always invest in an at-home blood sugar monitor and see if collagen affects you or not.
Does collagen stop autophagy?
This is another interesting debate that sadly has no definitive answer. The short answer is: it might. Sadly, there is not enough research to give us a proper answer.
One study on autophagy reveals that pure collagen may break autophagy slightly, but not enough to impede the fat burning effect of a fast or to take you out of ketosis.
In other words, it is again up to you to decide if you’re willing to take the risk. If your main goal is autophagy and you absolutely do not want to break that, staying away from collagen while fasting would be a better idea. If you’re in it for the general health benefits or are simply hoping to burn fat, collagen could be acceptable.
How does collagen help intermittent fasting?
If you decide to use collagen during your fasting window, you’ll see several benefits that can make intermittent fasting easier. And even if you need to have collagen only during your eating window, you will still get many of these benefits.
It may boost your energy and keep you full longer
Collagen is a protein and all proteins have one thing in common: they give you a feeling of satiety that lasts longer. During intermittent fasting, this is a great benefit that will help you stick to your fast with fewer cravings.
And if your fasting method doesn’t allow for the number of calories in a collagen serving, you can still take advantage of this benefit, by starting your eating window with collagen. That way, you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy foods after a long fast.
Collagen may also increase your energy. This isn’t one of the most discussed benefits of this supplement, but it is an important one nonetheless.
Could help build lean muscle
Up to 10% of our muscles are made of collagen. It is only natural that adding it to your diet through supplements could help you in your effort to build lean muscle mass. For instance, one study showed that collagen helps to boost muscle in people with sarcopenia, which is the muscle loss that happens with age.
Muscle loss is often a concern for those who fast for extended periods of time, so supplementation should help prevent this risk. Don’t forget supplementation isn’t a substitute for strength training when it comes to building healthy muscles, so make sure to include exercise in your lifestyle if this is your main goal.
More research may be needed to assess collagen’s full potential for muscle health, but the first results are promising.
Another good supplement to boost muscles are BCAAs.
May prevent bone loss
Bones are mostly made of collagen, so this is a crucial ingredient for bone health. And research shows promising results with regard to supplementation.
In one study, 66 women were given 5 grams of collagen daily for 12 months. The study included a control group that was given a placebo. By the end of the study, the women who had taken collagen had a 7% increase in bone mineral density, as opposed to those who had been on the placebo. Another study had women take a calcium supplement with an additional 5 grams of collagen, while the control group was given just the calcium. The women who took collagen had significantly better results in terms of bone density than those who had only taken calcium.
Does collagen have side effects?
There are no known significant risks of taking collagen. Some report mild heartburn and some other very mild digestive issues. If you know you have allergies to foods like fish, eggs, or shellfish, you should carefully read the label of your collagen supplement as some include these allergens.
The bottom line
Does collagen break a fast? If we look at fasting from a traditional point of view then yes, collagen breaks a fast. That’s because it contains up to 30 calories per serving and most fasting methods will only allow you 1-2 calories during a fast.
However, if you’re simply fasting for its various health benefits, you could be ok, as long as collagen doesn’t elevate your blood sugar. As far as autophagy goes, there are no definitive studies. Collagen may impair it, but it shouldn’t be enough to take one out of ketosis for instance, or to stop the fat-burning effects of fasting.