If you’re online, then you’ve probably seen a lot of ads for new Collagen products, lately. These collagen products promise to help you improve your skin, the appearance of stretch marks and the appearance of loose skin. Lots of companies are marketing them, lately, including the nutrition megacompany Herbalife. It’s another reason why people go crazy over making bone broth (although scientists question that one, too). I hate seeing ads for this product because I think the science behind the products makes about as much sense as trying to brush your teeth with barbecue sauce. Read on to find out why collagen is a waste of money!
Please note that this particular post is specific to consuming collagen for the purpose of improving skin appearance, stretch marks and loose skin.
As always, my blog posts are not meant to constitute medical advice and you should always consult your doctor before adding OR removing any supplements to your diet. All opinions are my own. I do think they’re pretty awesome opinions, especially on this topic. I have my BS in Biological Sciences (I was a pre-med student) and an MS in Exercise Science & Sport Studies, which has a massive amount of physiology coursework (read more of my bio here). I’m currently an online fitness and nutrition coach and I dedicate a ton of my free time to staying up to date on the latest science in my field, including supplementation.
Why collagen is a waste of money
It’s my personal theory that most supplementation theories like this tend to be grossly generalized and miss some key points. This is the same reason that people started taking L-Carnitine to help them burn body fat and it’s made millions of dollars as a fat burner, even though researchers have clearly shown that it’s useless.
Collagen is a protein that comprises a huge percentage of tissues throughout your body. Collagen is very important and essential in the body – I certainly agree with that. Go Collagen! Woohoo!
People who promote collagen as a supplement think that orally ingesting collagen is going to increase the presence of collagen elsewhere in the body. However, critics of the collagen theory don’t believe that’s the case.
When collagen protein enters the body and arrives at the stomach, it’s broken down into smaller peptides and amino acids. Amino acids are passed from the stomach into the intestines, where they are absorbed. Collagen no longer exists. It existed as it entered the stomach, but now it’s gone. There’s just amino acids at this point. No collagen. So, This is the first point of contention with the collagen theory.
Amino acids are absorbed through the intestines and into the blood stream, where they become part of your body’s amino acid pool. When they’re in the amino acid pool, they act like little chess pawns waiting to be commanded by the king. Until they receive a command from the king, they’re really not doing much. Seriously, imagine a bunch of pawns sitting in your kids’ kiddie pool and that’s what’s going on with collagen. They just hang out in the kiddie pool until the king yells at them to get out and get to work.
When your body determines that there is a need for collagen, it will order those pawns to join up with other pawns and take action… in science terms, it causes amino acids to be taken from the amino acid pool and synthesized into collagen protein (or another protein, if that’s what the body deems is necessary).
This is a complex process that involves really fancy stuff like DNA, RNA, ribosomes and transporter proteins. It HAS to be triggered by a series of commands related to some more fancy things related to homeostasis, which is regulated your nervous system (the king). This is my second point of contention, because you can’t just increase collagen for the collagen theory to work… you’d also have to increase the numbers of all the different helper particles that help this process along… you’d need more DNA transcription to RNA, more proteins manufactured from the RNA, more ribosomes, more transporter proteins… if you don’t have more of all those things then you’re out of luck.
Let’s go back to the kiddie pool. The pawns are sitting in the kiddie pool, but now let’s assume that they’re not allowed to leave the kiddie pool without someone holding their hand and walking them from the pool to their new job site. You haven’t accomplished anything if you double the number of pawns in the pool but don’t double the number of helpers to hold their hand to their job site.
Anyways, the biggest and final point of contention… All you’re doing is adding more amino acids (pawns) to the amino acid pool. You’re not increasing the synthesis of collagen in the body and “refilling” holes of collagen missing from tissues. That’s something that has to be driven by your body’s homeostasis defenders (king), which (as far as we know) are not directly impacted by ingesting collagen. Any benefits from increasing collagen would be the same benefits of increasing total body protein/amino acid pool, which we know to beneficial for a multitude of things anyways.
If we go back to the kiddie pool analogy one more time, it doesn’t matter how many pawns are sitting in the kiddie pool if the king doesn’t command them to go do something. Ingesting collagen won’t make the king give more commands.
There are some studies that show that collagen is beneficial for skin elasticity, but there’s also some studies that show it’s not. Most of the research is done on people who have preexisting clinical deficiencies in collagen or illnesses that cause collagen loss.
Interestingly, scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency that causes issues with collagen production in the body… but collagen supplementation does not cure scurvy. Only Vitamin C supplementation does.
At this point, the pool of research is extremely mixed on the topic. I’d be really interested to see research studies that start comparing collagen supplementation to plain old protein supplementation. I have a feeling that boosting total body protein would give the same results as boosting collagen. But over all, this is why I think collagen is a waste of money.
I wish it really was a magic bullet. We sure could use some magic health bullets…
Having a healthy, vibrant adult body starts during childhood. Team sports, PE class and normal play aren’t enough to keep children’s bodies mobile, aligned and healthy.
Our bodies change in response to our environment – everything from the temperature, light and smell to the seating options, floor surface and air quality. School and home environments are where kids spend the most time. The school is a harder environment to control, but your house isn’t.
Is your home set up to promote healthy and normal physical development for your child? Most people’s homes aren’t. These five items can take your kids from sedentary and stiff to constantly moving.
1. Eliminate most “sitting” furniture.
Furniture like chairs and couches puts kids in a 90/90 position (90 degree angle and knees and hips) – a passive position that requires little strength, flexibility or muscle activity. Add a cushion and kids will likely sit for a long time without moving. As small children, we all have a natural drive to move around. However, we lose the drive as we get older. In theory, the cultural and social impetus to move should replace the biological imperative. It doesn’t work that way anymore, thoug; Instead of engaging in hunting, gardening and migrating kids now go to school and sit in a desk.
Why is that bad? A lifestyle of constant movement is important for healthy mental development, healthy structural development (bones and joints) and maintaining the level of flexibility that we are born with and are meant to maintain as adults (yes, your teenage son should still be able to sit in a deep squat position or touch his toes. So should your husband. So should your grandma.) Constant movement doesn’t mean running on a tr eadmill all day long – it means sitting criss cross applesauce, then squatting, then sitting with your legs wide apart, then kneeling, then playing hopscotch, then hanging from the monkey bars, then going inside and squatting on the floor again… and so on.
Sitting on the floor is self-limiting; Meaning, you get uncomfortable pretty fast and move into a different position. Sitting on the floor/eliminating “sitting furniture” is the easiest, most no-brainerest (definitely a made up word) way to encourage constant movement in your child’s life. Kids will naturally move from one position/activity to another as they regulate their comfort level and attention levels.
Are you totally confused by how this works in real life? Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well has a wonderful video tour of her mostly-furniture-free home. Click here to go to the postfollow. Also, stay tuned for TLM tutorials on living without chairs.
Not ready to ditch the couches? Save them for guests and institute a “no sitting on the couch” rule. If your children have learned to stay away from great grandma’s China then they can also adapt to the new couch rule.
2. Introduce a squatty potty.
Squatting is easy and natural for a toddler. Keep it up!
A squatty potty is a platform that you stand on while you use the traditional toilet, allowing you to descend into a squat position while you do your business. Yes, I know I’ve lost a lot of you right here! “Weird,” “Gross,” “Freaky,” you might be thinking.
First, let me tell you that many far eastern countries ONLY have squatty potties. As-in the toilet is actually sunken into the floor and you have to squat over it. I first saw them when I visited Japan. It was so shocking for me that I used an entire roll of film for toilet pictures. If you’ve never seen a squatty potty then head over to this Amazon.com Linkfollow.
Second, know that squatting is one of the most important positions to put your body in. It’s crucial for maintaining supple ankles, knees, hips and spines. It was also the only way we sat for centuries. My brother in law called me from Turkey a few months ago in disbelief because everyone squats there. He saw an extremely overweight, very old woman squatting at the bus stop and couldn’t believe his eyes. He wanted to take a picture to show me. Everyone is capable of squatting if they never stop squatting!
A squatty potty is part of a “lifestyle of movement.” Simply trying to squat more during the day may mean that you drop into a squat for 3 or 5 extra times per day. It becomes homework. However, if you had to squat every time you went to the bathroom then you’re naturally integrating several repetitions of squatting into your daily life. No need to think about it. No need to plan.
A side note: If you know anything about natural birthing methods then you probably know that the deep squat position is one of the best positions to eliminate things from your body – like babies and *cough* other stuff. Ideally, your knees should always be above your pelvis during elimination. The higher your knees are the better the position. Traditional toilets place your thigh bone in line with or below your pelvis, so elimination requires straining (a major player in hemorrhoids). Interestingly, many babies and toddlers prefer to potty while squatting but are untrained to do so.
Don’t want people to think you or your kids are weird? Put the squatty potty platform in a bathroom that guests don’t use, or get a squatty potty platform that you can stash away when guests come. Teach your kids about the difference between the different ways of pottying and why they don’t have a squatty potty at school. My husband and I had many heated discussions about the squatty potty and if it would introduce unnecessary social challenges for our son – I believe that offering the squatty potty as an option and also offering the traditional potty as an option is the best course of action, provided that you explain to your child that they use the regular toilet outside the house.
As a side note, if you have daughters then the act of introducing the squatty potty is helping to educate them and prepare them for successful child birthing as adults. The oral tradition of birthing education has been lost over the last century, just as with breastfeeding, but it doesn’t have to be.
3. Have a place to “hang out.”
Kids need objects to hang from.
Hanging from the hands is an extremely important part of a child’s physical development. Most parents know that hanging helps develop upper body and core strength, but many don’t realize that it also helps with grip strength, hand articulation and wrist articulation that are crucial for writing.
Unfortunately, most kids only have access to a place to “hang out” when they are at a playground – nowadays, many kids don’t even have a good tree limb to hang from.
Even a baby and toddler can grab on to a bar and experiment with hanging. At 1.5 years old, hanging made my son giggle and he kept running back to his bar for more.
Get a child-sized pull-up bar or monkey bar set for your home. Some people install monkey bars near the ceiling of a long hallway with a wall ladder providing access for tiny people.
You can also use a trapeze, gymnastic rings or TRX Suspension Trainer – note, however, that A) Children love to swing on these things, which may or may not be a bad thing to you B) the straps are a potential strangulation hazard and your child should always be supervised during use. Also, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under their hanging area. You’re never too young OR too old to start hanging!
4. Have objects to climb.
Kids often only get the chance to climb at the playground.
Climbing is also a big part of a child’s physical development. If you make it to a playground or wooded area for your child’s daily dose of climbing then you may not need to introduce climbing objects in your home. However, if your schedule is inconsistent then you may want to introduce at-home options.
There’s no need to buy fancy playground equipment for them to climb on- consider using used items like an A-frame pool ladder, a wooden ladder installed on an angle or an ottoman. Don’t forget about trees, too – those are free! Get creative.
Just as with some hanging equipment, remove any necklaces, hoodies with strings and jackets with strings.
If you’re worried about your child crash landing (let’s admit it, that’s likely!) then arrange some couch pillows, body pillows or gymnastics mats under the hanging area.
5. Never introduce a pillow for sleeping.
Humans don’t actually need pillows, by design. Pillows are assistive devices for sleeping when no assistance is needed (Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well likens them to orthotics in your shoes). We adapt to the stimulus of the pillow, meaning simply that using a pillow makes you need a pillow.
Humans have been sleeping on the ground, without pillows, for thousands of years. Our bodies adapt to every situation we’re in – including our sleeping situation. If your torso, shoulders and neck are malleable, relaxed and flexible then you’ll have no problem sleeping without a pillow. It’s a a chicken-or-the-egg situation because sleeping without a pillow also keeps your body malleable, relaxed and flexible.
Children are born with the perfect structure for pillowless sleep, so don’t mess with a good thing.
Most children A) Never ask for a pillow but are given one by well meaning, concerned parents or B) Ask for one because they see that there parents have one.
Please note that older children who are used to sleeping with a pillow may need gentle exercises for regaining neck, shoulder and torso mobility before they are able to enjoy pillowless sleep. Gradually downsize the pillow from extra puffy, to normal, to flat, to a camping pillow, to a rolled towel to nothing. Immediately removing the pillow can lead to discomfort. You may find that children who sleep pillowless may have some discomfort while sleeping if their bodies are becoming immobile from other parts of their day, like sitting in a desk at school or riding in the car for long trips. This is a sign that daily activities need to become more body-friendly.
Kids are less likely to resist sleeping pillowless if they see their parents doing the same. Stay tuned for tips on helping adults sleep without a pillow.
Here’s my 21 day fix waffle recipe in two formats: Regular “measurements,” and one for the 21-day fix approved containers!!
I have a bunch of different waffle recipes – my skinny waffles are most appropriate for really, really low calorie diets. This recipe is a perfect intermediate because it’s not too calorie dense but not too light either.
This recipe is for a single serving. It uses whole eggs, while my other recipes use egg whites. I really prefer keeping the yolks – they are SO nutritious! Can you believe that an egg yolk contains all the nutrition that a baby chicken needs to grow?? If I can help it, I don’t want to throw that in the trash!!
If you’re using Portion Fix or doing the 21 Day Fix/Hammer and Chisel, this is the equivalent of one red container, one purple container, one yellow container and 2 spoons!
21 Day Fix Waffle Recipe
- 2 Eggs (1 red container protein)
- ½ cup oatmeal (1 yellow container oatmeal, for carbs)
- ½ banana (1 purple container, for fruit)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil (2 spoons)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (none)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (none)
- Sprinkles, if approved.
- Plug your waffle maker in and let it warm up.
- Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
- When the iron has preheated, pour batter into the waffle iron. Don't use too much, as it will expand and make a mess!
- If you're using sprinkles, sprinkle them lightly on top of the waffles.
- Cook according to your waffle maker's specifications.
- Remove from waffle maker and ENJOY!
What’s the problem with a Running New Year’s Resolutions?
So how can you prevent this?
Pregnancy Fitness Update at 24 Weeks Pregnant
Haven’t done a pregnancy update in a while! Ta da! This time, I am showing you a video called “pregnancy negative chin ups video.”
Disclaimer: Nothing in this video constitutes health or fitness advice, it is simply an example of what I am doing now. It is meant to inspire. Do not participate in this exercise without clearance from a medical professional and proper supervision from a fitness professional. A spotter is recommended, as there is risk of falling while pregnant. Perform this exercise at your own risk. This page contains affiliate links, meaning that I receive a percentage of the profits from any purchases made through the link.
It’s from my workout today. Prior to pregnancy, I had just achieved my goal of doing 4 (almost 5!) full chin ups. I was so excited. However, my growing belly and growing weight means pullups are a lot harder these days. Doing negatives is a great way to keep pullups available in my work. In any lift, you are stronger on the way down (eccentric phase) than the way up. So, my muscle can handle my heavier bodyweight as I move downward. I use a box to stand up and skip the “up” phase (concentric) phase.
AGAIN: If you choose to do this exercise, be careful about the risk of falling from the box. Falls can lead to trauma to your belly and baby. This is not my first baby, so I feel comfortable stepping up on the box. Please be careful and know that there is risk involved to height!
Another option is to use a stretch band (like this one) for assistance. I hope to highlight that exercise in the future.
Other than that, I am still feeling well. I am not running as much (some run walks), but I’ve taken up swimming. I’ve found I really love it! I continue to do what I call “barbell cardio.”
Still deadlifting several times per week, in varying repetition and weight schemes. Trap bar deadlift and sumo deadlift feel the best right now. I’ve dropped the weight on my kettlebell work, but still doing it.
Pregnancy Negative Chin Ups Video
Here’s a video of me doing eccentric chin ups (aka negatives) at the gym today. I’m wearing a better binder belly support under my clothes, focusing on effective breathing and maintaining a pelvic brace! These things are crucial for preventing diastasis recti, hernias and back injuries.
Pregnancy negative chin ups video.
One of the perks of blogging is I get to try some really gnarly new products for free – I was given just that opportunity, recently, with a new food product for athletes – EnergyBits. I aM excited to have the opportunity to do this EnergyBits Review. Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I received product as compensation for my post. As always, opinions are my own.
Supplements and I
Anyone who knows me knows that I do NOT take supplements often. I like real food, unadultered by processed crud. I don’t like additives and fillers. I don’t like artificial sweeteners. And it’s hard to find anything in a nutrition store that’s pure. In fact, I bought my first tub of protein power just this year – after nearly 8 years in the fitness industry – because I dislike most supplements so much.
That’s one of the reasons I’m so crazy about the idea of EnergyBits – they’re real food! They’re made out of spirulina algae that’s been dried and pressed into a tiny tablet “pill,” so its more palatable than eating the real algae.
If you’ve never heard of Spirulina, you’re missing out. This little algae delivers benefits ranging from sport performance to improved focus and amped up energy. So what’s in this stuff?
First, it’s got lots of protein. According to the folks at EnergyBits, these tablets have the highest concentration of protein out of any food in the world – all while packing only 30 calories per recommended dose. The protein is already broken down into amino acids, meaning that they’re quickly absorbed into your bloodstream so they can be used for fuel. Even better, spirulina is a complete protein – meaning it contains all the amino acids that your body can’t make itself.
Even better, it’s also got B vitamins (important for metabolism!), iron, minerals and antioxidants.
The spirulina in EnergyBits also contains nitric oxide, a substance that scientists think might improve sport performance by improving the delivery to oxygen in working tissues (researchers are still mixed on this, though – if you’re a super dork like me, then check out the review “The Effect of Nitric-Oxide-Related Supplements on Human Performance” in the journal Sports Medicine, volume 42, issue 2, pp 99-117).
I had thought that EnergyBits might work very similarly to a branch chain amino acid supplement – BCAAs – and could be a good, natural replacement for a BCAA powder (Background: BCAAs are used for fuel during activity. Eating BCAAs makes them more available in your blood stream, so supplementing with BCAAs can boost work output, aid in recovery and help build muscle). However, you’d need to take 5 servings of EnergyBits to get the same dose of BCAAs as in a powder – leucine, isoleucine and valine normally make up 50%/25% /25% of 5 g of BCAA powder- the 5g of protein in EnergyBits is made up of ALL the different amino acids, with 8.2% /5.4% / 5.2% being the three branch chain amino acids. So, you’d need to take roughly 5 servings of EnergyBits to get the equivalent of one serving of BCAA powder. The protein-punch of EnergyBits is still relevant with other goals in mind, though.
Each serving of EnergyBits is 30 calories and 5 g of protein – it won’t raise your blood sugar and cause an insulin response, so I consider it an appropriate supplement to use for fasted exercise. I tried it on several days of fasting and found that it curbed my hunger and helped keep me from feeling “foggy.”
Things That Make You Say “Hmmm”
One claim that EnergyBits makes is that the spirulina protein is immediately absorbed into the body and quickly converted to glucose, which can then be used to fuel activity (if you’re a science geek, some amino acids go through gluconeogenesis and other components enter the krebs cycle). While it’s true that protein can be converted to glucose, whether that happens or not is up to your body. If your body isn’t energy depleted then the protein might simply go into the amino acid pool.
Second, I doubt that it’s possible to use EnergyBits as a sole source of fuel during an endurance event (as the EnergyBits web site loosely implies). Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. 33 tablets of EnergyBits contain only 30 calories – those 30 calories of protein can only be converted to 30 calories of glucose in the body. Anybody who has ever run on a treadmill with a calorie counter knows that you utilize hundreds and hundreds of calories to run. You’d have to take several servings of EnergyBits during a race to come close to the amount of energy you could get from a typical sport supplement. I think athletes who use EnergyBits MUST use some other race-time nutrition, too.
Spirulina doesn’t taste so good on its own – you could buy it in a powder and blend it into smoothies, but that’s not ideal if you’re trying to eat for fat loss (I don’t recommend drinking calories if you’re trying to lose fat) or if you practice fasting, like I do. EnergyBits are packaged into little tablets – just swallow them with water and, voila, you’ll get all the benefits of Spirulina. These won’t upset your stomach before a run or event, which is especially important if you’re a competitive athlete.
EnergyBits are pricey, with a month’s supply running around $115 – for our family, that’s one week of groceries. However, it’s only a little more expensive than a monthly supply of other popular supplements – or, the equivalent of a nice dinner out. If you have the money to put towards your sport performance and feel like you need a boost then this product might be for you – get with your coach and/or nutritionist to evaluate if it has a place in your training regimen. EnergyBits has an ambassador program that could help you defer the cost, too.
Please note, this product isn’t for you if you don’t like swallowing pills! You’ll have to swallow 30 individual capsules per dose – I didn’t like the idea of it, but they were actually very easy to swallow because they’re not too big. I swallowed them in groups of five with no problem.
The Recap of My EnergyBits Review
This plant-based sport supplement is packed with protein, nitric oxide, b vitamins and iron. It’s well suited for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-frees. I think it’s particularly great to alleviate the “dizzies” while fasting and the nitric oxide might help boost cardiovascular performance. However, I doubt that EnergyBits are an appropriate supplement to use for energy during a sport activity. I expect they need to be paired with something else.
If you’re curious about it, I’m giving away one serving of EnergyBits to a lucky reader! Just enter using the rafflecopter app below.
ENERGYbits are only available at ENERGYbits.com, and Jonathan (their Community Manager) has shared with me that he’d be happy to connect anyone with a current ambassador to share a discount on a bag of bits, or more info on their sample program – you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org– thank you to EnergyBits for sponsoring this giveaway! I hope you gained some useful information from this EnergyBits review.a Rafflecopter giveaway
EnergyBits Review & Sponsored Giveaway