Some people swear by a hearty cup of bone broth. Others turn to a bowl of chicken soup when they need a nutritious boost. But both bone broth and ‘grandma’s penicillin’ contain large quantities of the same protein-rich ingredient in products such as Skinful - collagen.
Made by simmering the bones of animals or the skin of fish for hours on end, collagen is brimming with amino acids like glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These help keep our skin, joints, bones and muscles strong, but are surprisingly hard to come by from our diets, especially here in the West with our love of skinless and boneless cuts of meat.
But if you don’t want to spend hours boiling down bones, then a collagen powder could be what you’re looking for. Not only do hydrolyzed collagen supplements contain the same nutritious amino acids, they’ve already been broken down into peptides, allowing them to be absorbed far more efficiently than the collagen in food.
Bare Biology’s newest product, Skinful, is a type I marine collagen. This kind of collagen is thought to be especially effective when it comes to your appearance, because its molecular structure is similar to our own skin. Plus its peptide molecules are smaller in size and therefore more bioavailable to the body.
But is there a way to take a collagen powder, such as Skinful, that can boost its effectiveness even more?
How to take collagen powder
If you’re on Instagram, it may feel like you should put your collagen powder into exotic recipes or you’re somehow doing it wrong. But while keto coconut shakes or chia puddings are fantastic if those aren’t the kind of things you normally like to eat, you don’t always have to be so creative to meet your daily collagen goals. You can just put it in your tea or coffee, super easy.
It truly doesn’t matter what you put your collagen powder in, as long as you take it every day. You may decide to add it to something healthy such as a spinach omelette or vegetable smoothie when you feel like eating something nutritious. You can’t really go wrong.
How to drink collagen powder
You can bake with it, cook with it or even put it in ice lollies. It really is totally up to you and there are so many options to try. But one of the most convenient ways to take collagen powder is to simply stir it into a glass of water or juice.
You won’t have to hold your nose to knock it back, either. Despite being sourced from fish, marine collagen has no taste. It smells a tiny bit of fish, but it tastes of nothing.
Another popular way to drink it is to mix your collagen powder into coffee or tea. Just make sure you stir so it dissolves completely to avoid any brew-spoiling lumps.
Can I really mix collagen with hot drinks?
You can and it’s a really popular way of taking it. In fact one of the things we love most about collagen peptides is that they dissolve completely in either hot or cold liquids. They also add a nice creamy texture and fills you up a bit. We love a mid-morning collagen coffee in our offices.
Does heat damage the collagen powder?
Many foods lose their nutritional value when you heat them up, but collagen powder is not one of them. The reason is the high number of amino acids per peptide they contain. The higher the number of amino acids in a peptide, the more stable it is at higher temperatures. Marine type I collagen (such as Skinful) is the most heat-tolerant of all, because it has the highest percentage of amino acids (along with type III).
Collagen peptides are heat stable up to 300°C, a temperature far higher than normal cooking and baking. As water boils at 100°C, collagen can be mixed into hot drinks, soups and stews without weakening its benefits.
What is the best time to take collagen powder?
There are lots of different arguments circulating on the internet about collagen timing. One school of thought is that you should take your collagen powder on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Another theory says the best time to drink collagen powder is at night, because the skin is repaired and rejuvenated as you sleep.
But all the experts in the field agree there really is no optimum time to take your supplement as long as you’re taking a high enough dose to see a difference, with most concurring that the minimum amount is 5g.
Collagen supplements are broken down just the same whether you take them with or without lots of food. And taking it at night to give your skin a boost? Well, to date there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest any improved results when taking it before bed, as compared to any other time of day.
(As a side note though, collagen contains a fair amount of glycine, an amino acid that scientists believe can promote a restful night’s sleep. While other natural sleep aids have more evidence of effectiveness, if you’re already taking collagen and find it hard to sleep, there’s nothing to stop you taking it before bed to see what happens).
Should I split the dose or take all the collagen in one go?
While it doesn’t matter in terms of its effectiveness, if you’re new to collagen you might wish to build up your dose gradually by splitting the dose throughout the day.
Collagen is, after all, a protein. And too much protein all at once before your body’s had a chance to get used to the idea can lead to bloating, so it’s fine to start off easy. Try one serving in the morning with your coffee and one in the afternoon with your tea.
The extra protein may make you feel thirstier than usual, so listen to your body and always have a bottle of water handy.
Is there anything you can do to make collagen powder work more effectively?
If you really wanted to give your collagen powder a helping hand you could try to cut down on sugar in your diet. Sugar is known to damage collagen in a process called ‘glycation’. When you eat something sweet, the excess sugar is attached to the fats and proteins in the skin, producing enzymes that weaken both the collagen and its elastin fibres.
And although it’s very popular to stir your collagen into tea and coffee, it might be wise not to overdo it on the caffeine over the course of the day. A small study on the effect of caffeine on human skin cells found that it inhibited the fibroblast’s own collagen synthesis.
You should also make sure your diet contains plenty of colourful fruits and leafy greens, because vitamin C is a key factor in the synthesis of collagen. Taking a vitamin C supplement is fine, but you don’t need to take it at exactly the same time as the collagen if you don’t want to.
You’ll get the most out of your collagen if you enjoy taking it
The most effective way to take collagen to maximise its benefits is to eat it in the way you enjoy most. In a fascinating study, a Thai meal was given to groups of both Thai and Swedish women.
The Thai women (who enjoyed the meal) absorbed twice as much iron as the Swedish women (who didn’t). They then repeated the study, where both groups were given a typical Swedish meal of meat, string beans and mashed potato. This time the Thai women absorbed significantly less iron than their Swedish counterparts.
What we’re trying to say is that you get the most out of food when you enjoy it. So put it in the food and drinks you love the most and you’ll make it a habit. This will ensure you’re taking collagen consistently - and that’s the only way you’ll see the results you want.
For more information check out our Ultimate Guide to Collagen.
Shop our pure marine collagen here →