Collagen peptides plus exercise show muscle benefits for the elderly: Study


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Image © iStockPhoto

Related tags Collagen peptides Amino acid Protein Metabolism

A combination of resistance exercise and specific collagen peptides may increase muscle mass and strength and decrease fat mass, lessen age-related muscle loss, says a new study from Germany.

Supplements of Gelita’s BodyBalance-branded collagen peptides for 12 weeks in addition to resistance exercise was found to increase fat-free mass, thigh strength, and decrease fat mass more than resistance training alone, according to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition​.

This is the first study to examine how collagen peptides may affect body composition and muscular power output, claimed the researchers, led by Prof Daniel Konig from the University of Freiburg.

“The impact on body composition has not been in the focus, as it is generally believed that the relatively low biological value of collagen would not favor a significant improvement on muscular net protein synthesis,”​ they wrote. “The results of the present investigation do not support this assumption, and the following findings could contribute to further explain the increase in FFM and strength following collagen peptides supplementation: it has been shown that collagen peptide intake was superior to whey protein in maintaining N balance and body weight during a low-protein diet.

“Although collagen has a low protein digestibility corrected amino acid score, its N content may be higher compared with whey on a per gram basis due to a high proportion of amino acids having low molecular weight or containing more than one N atom.”


Muscle loss is a natural part of aging, and researchers have estimated that, after the age of 50, we lose 1-2% of our muscles each year. Strength declines as well, at a rate of 1.5% per year beginning at 50 years and accelerating to 3% after the age of 60.

According to a monograph from the US Dairy Export Council, the direct health care cost attributable to sarcopenia were estimated to be $18.5bn in 2000 in the US, a number that represented about 1.5% of health care expenditures for that year.

Study details

Prof Konig  and his co-workers recruited 53 sarcopenic men with a mean age of 72 years to participate in their double-blind placebo-controlled study. All of the men underwent the same guided resistance training program, with three sessions per week, and half were randomly assigned to receive supplements of BodyBalance collagen peptides (15 gram given in powder form dissolved in 250 ml water) or placebo for 12 weeks.

Results showed that the specific collagen peptides further increased the benefits of the resistance training in elderly people with sarcopenia.

Specifically, participants in the collagen-supplemented group showed a significant increase in fat-free mass (+4.2 kg compared to +2.9 kg in the placebo group) and muscle strength (+16.5 Nm compared to +7/3 Nm), as well as a statistically significant reduction in fat mass (-5.4 kg compared to -3.5 kg in the placebo group).

“Our data demonstrate that compared with placebo, collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training further improved body composition by increasing fat free mass, muscle strength and the loss in fat mass,”​ wrote the researchers.

“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.”

The study was partly funded by Gelita.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002810
“Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial”
Authors: D. Zdzieblik, S. Oesser, M.W. Baumstark, A. Gollhofer, D. Konig

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