collagen for athletes sports nutrition For athletes collagen it is a powerful sport supplement to support and strengthen soft tissue, reduce injury and help recovery. We are going to tell you the best way to take it, how much you need and the brands we trust. Most recent research on collagen supplements have shown that there is a great benefit to athletes when taken prior to exercise to improve tendon strength, improve performance markers and even help accelerate recovery.  For athletes, maintaining the integrity and strength of these tissues is necessary for success in their sport.  Let’s take a deep dive into how everyone from student athletes, college athletes, professional athletes and active gym goers can benefit from collagen supplementation in their sports nutrition program, specifically before a workout. If you are interested in personalized sports nutrition coaching from our licensed sports nutritionists book a discovery call with us today. 


What is Collagen ?

First, a quick background on collagen. Collagen is highly abundant in the body, making up about 30% of the body’s protein stores.  Due to its fiber-like structure, its role is to build the structure and strengthen soft tissues throughout the body.  This includes muscle, ligaments, and tendons.   

While collagen is referred to as a protein, it is not the same as the proteins that help build muscle.  This is because collagen peptides do not contain enough of the amino acid (aka the building block of protein) leucine that is needed to ignite the process that builds muscles.  For athletes looking to build and maintain their muscle mass, the best source of protein is a whey protein isolate supplement.  But when it comes to powering athletes performance, injury reduction and recovery, collagen supplementation is needed. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are the form that you want to take because they are broken down into molecules that your body can absorb and use.


Why the Timing of Your Collagen Matters 

It all has to do with blood flow.  In the body, blood is what carries nutrients and oxygen to cells within the muscle, tissue, bone and other sites.  The more blood flow to an area, the more nutrients and oxygen these tissues get to fuel and repair.  Compared to muscle tissue which has a great supply of blood flow, other soft tissues like tendons and ligaments have a much poorer supply.


During exercise, with an increased demand for oxygen and nutrients, the body sees an increase in blood flow throughout the body.  This includes increased flow to the tendon and ligament who generally do not get as good as a supply.  It is this reason we recommend collagen supplements prior to training, when blood flow bringing nutrients (like collagen peptides) to the tendons and ligaments is increased.  This specific timing of nutrition and training will bring the collagen to the target site at a greater rate, seeing greater benefits.


How Collagen Improves Performance , Reduces Injury & Speeds Recovery

For athletes, soft tissue injuries are the most common injuries.  These are injuries like strains, sprains, contusion, tendinitis and bursitis.  When it comes to protecting the integrity of your soft tissue, collagen is the leading supplement to be taken.  Consuming collagen supplements has shown to increase collagen synthesis in the body which may aid in injury prevention and recovery (1).  In fact, studies have shown that collagen supplementation may reduce joint pain and improve joint stability (2).  A study on athletes with ankle instability who had taken collagen supplements had shown a reduction of ankle sprains re-injury (2).


Collagen can even aid in enhancing sports performance as well.  Recent research has shown that athletes taking a collagen supplement with vitamin C 60 minutes to training improved explosive power development, a key marker of athletes performance (3).  This is due to collagen’s role in building structure, strength and integrity of muscle, tendon and ligaments within the joints.


How Much Collagen Do We Need and When ?  

The recommended dosage for collagen for sports performance and injury reduction is 15-20 grams along with 50 mg of vitamin C 45-60 minutes prior to training.  Vitamin C is a vital part of collagen production; they should be taken together.  Some supplement brands contain Vitamin C in the powder.  If they do not, we recommend mixing your collagen supplement with orange juice to reap the benefits.  Brands such as Klean Athlete Collagen + C are a perfect supplement for an athlete, containing Vitamin C and are NSF for Sport, meaning it is safe for athletes to take. Find out more about NSF for Sport Supplements in this post.


As an athlete, everything from your day to day sports nutrition to your supplement protocols matter.  Protecting your body and setting yourself up for success is a major part of your athletic career.  Collagen supplementation should be a staple in your sports nutrition plan if not already.  At Athleats Nutrition, we are committed to ensuring the health and performance of our athletes through personalized sports nutrition.  Learn more about how we can help you find greater success through sports nutrition coaching with one of our licensed and certified sports nutritionists  by booking a discovery call with us today.