Brought to you by Active Stacks Beef Boost protein powder - Rich in both collagen and glycine...Tastes like chocolate milk.
Glycine is "just" an amino acid, but it does so much good for the body. It’s important for the synthesis of creatine, it can improve our sleep quality, and it’s the main component of collagen.
And what is collagen? Oh, just a protein that has a hand in every type of tissue in the body. It’s also critical for joint and gut health, muscle growth, and many other things.
Together, they make quite the dynamic duo. The only issue is, they are both crazily underrated.
Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at why both are beneficial, especially to people who lead active lifestyles.
The Importance of CollagenEven though many people overlook it, collagen is one of the most important and most abundant proteins in the body. It can be found in the bones, muscles, joints, skin, and digestive system. Connective tissues (ligaments and tendons) are almost entirely made up of collagen.
Research suggests that 25 to 35% of all protein content in the human body is collagen.
If the production of the protein is cut short, our joints and connective tissues degrade, our skin loses its strength and elasticity, our wounds heal slower, and our digestive system ceases to work effectively.
As we age, our bodies begin to produce less and less collagen, making us show signs of deficiency - wrinkles around our eyes, joint and bone issues, and saggy skin.
There’s not much we can do to prevent this from happening, but we can certainly slow down the process by making better lifestyle choices. Improving the overall quality of our diets, spending less time under direct sunlight, and not smoking are all great ways of keeping our collagen levels high throughout the decades.
And for someone who leads an active lifestyle, the importance of collagen is even greater. Here is a more in-depth look at the many benefits of collagen:
Collagen and Its Effects on Our Joints and Connective Tissues
As an active person, you’ve probably pushed yourself a bit harder than you should have at some point. Aside from the expected muscle fatigue, you may have experienced stiffness and even pain around your joints.
When you chronically put a lot of pressure on your joints, the protective coating becomes damaged, and some degree of friction occurs. In extreme cases of overtraining, your connective tissues can also take a hit and become inflamed or even ruptured.
So long as your body produces enough collagen and you give yourself time to recover, the protective coating is restored quickly. Your connective tissues also heal up, but at a slower rate.
This allows your joints to glide freely, stay healthy for a long time, and stay pain-free. It also keeps your ligaments and tendons elastic, flexible, and pain-free.
Much like an engine needs proper lubrication to last serious mileage, so do your joints.
But when collagen levels are low, our joints and connective tissues take much longer to heal up. In many cases, especially in physically active people, that never happens because the external stressors, small or big, overpower the body’s ability to recover. Eventually, our joints lose most of their protective coating and degrade. Our connective tissues also heal at a much slower rate, and it’s much easier for them to become inflamed.
Collagen’s Impact on Muscle Growth
Even if you’re not aspiring to step on the Olympia stage, having a bit more muscle on your frame has many benefits. Your metabolic rate is higher, your athletic ability improves, you look better, and you have a greater potential to develop characteristics such as endurance, power, and strength.
Now, we know that collagen accounts for 25 to 35% of all protein contents in the body, so it should come as no surprise that the protein is a major structural component in muscle tissue. Some researchers suggest that collagen accounts for up to 10% of dry muscle tissue.
Though we don’t have solid long-term research on collagen’s muscle-building benefits, we have plenty of mechanistic research that hints at collagen’s importance for hypertrophy.
Since collagen accounts for a percentage of our muscle tissue, having more of it would allow us to build more muscle. One study on older men suggested that supplementing resistance training efforts with collagen led to superior muscle growth when compared to resistance training alone.
Collagen also contains a high amount of the amino acid glycine, which may prove to have a muscle-building benefit of its own. More on that in the second half of this article.
Collagen May Improve Digestion and Gut Health
Proper digestion and gut health might not sound as important for fitness, but they are. In fact, we could argue that gut health is at the center of everything.
Optimal gut health creates a chain reaction within the body and improves everything else - your brain function, endocrine system, energy levels, sense of well-being, immunity, cardiovascular health, and more.
This is where collagen comes in. Research suggests that collagen supplementation may be an incredibly effective way of repairing damaged intestinal and stomach lining. When the intestinal lining becomes damaged or inflamed, collagen production in the intestine increases and smooth muscle cells are created to heal the damaged tissue.
Researchers also suggest that collagen is a crucial player in the healing of stomach ulcers. The protein is rich in the amino acid glycine, which may prevent the secretion of harmful gastric secretions in the stomach lining.
Finally, collagen also appears to aid in digestion. The protein attracts water and acidic molecules, which allows it to help break down other proteins and carbohydrates as it travels through the GI tract.
Does Collagen Timing Matter?
Collagen’s importance is undeniable. But it appears that taking a small dose of the protein at a specific time may boast extra benefits.
As we discussed earlier, collagen is one of the most important structural components for our connective tissues. But since ligaments and tendons aren’t as metabolically active as other tissues in the body (such as muscle), they aren’t able to draw in the nutrients they need as effectively.
Over time, these connective tissues can become stiff and achy. But there is a way to avoid this. In one study, a dose of about 15 grams of collagen before exercise was able to increase collagen synthesis in connective tissues.
The idea here is that the most reliable way to get collagen to our joints and connective tissues is to increase the blood flow to these areas. Taking a dose of collagen before a workout allows it to be present in the bloodstream as exercise then increased the flow of collagen-rich blood to that tissue.
If you were to take the same dose of collagen after a workout, it would be too late. By the time it passes through the digestive tract and into the bloodstream, the blood flow to the connective tissues would have gotten back to normal, and the collagen would not be able to get there nearly as effectively.
Supplementing With Collagen: Dosage & Source
Hydrolyzed collagen seems to be the best option on the market. It has great bio-availability at a competitive price. On days where you exercise, taking a dose of about 15 grams beforehand is a great way to make the most of it, especially if you feel stiffness and pain around your joints.
On rest days where you aren’t planning much physical work, you can take it whenever it feels convenient.
Aside from that, there are some collagen-boosting foods you can add to your diet - bone broth, eggs, garlic, citrus fruits, leafy greens, fish, gelatin, chicken, berries, beans, and cashew.
You could also consider our delicious beef protein powder, Beef Boost, which is full of both collagen and glycine. It has approximately 14-15 grams of collagen and 2-3 additional grams of glycine per serving.
The Importance of Glycine
Glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid that is very abundant in collagen, making up to a third of its amino acid profile.
And though it may seem small and insignificant, glycine is involved in numerous biological processes. As an amino acid, glycine is important for protein and collagen synthesis. It’s also an important player for creatine synthesis, muscle growth, and sleep quality.
Now, glycine being conditionally essential, means that the human body cannot synthesize enough of it to cover all metabolic costs. Researchers suggest that we can synthesize about 2.5 grams of it per day, but need about 15 grams daily. Meaning, we need to make sure to get the remaining 12-13 grams through diet and supplementation.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the amino acid’s benefits:
Glycine is a Component of Creatine
Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid made of glycine, methionine, and arginine. It is used in the formation of ATP (the main energy molecule within the body).
Physical activities such as riding a bike, hiking in the mountains, and skiing down a snowy track are all demanding. They continuously break down our stored ATP into smaller, less powerful molecules (ADP and AMP). Through various processes, these molecules are then recycled back into ATP for re-use.
Creatine works as an energy reserve for ATP production. It lends a molecule called phosphocreatine to ADP and AMP for faster production of ATP. And the quicker we can replenish our ATP molecules, the longer and harder we can do physical activity.
Now glycine wraps this whole thing up because it’s an important component for the synthesis of creatine within the body. If you don’t consume enough glycine, every available bit goes for collagen synthesis and none is left for creatine.
Glycine and Sleep Quality
The importance of quality sleep in our lives is undeniable. Without it, every imaginable system in the body is disrupted. Our cognitive function, ability to focus, and the desire to do things decrease.
We are more prone to errors. Our hormones become imbalanced. Our blood sugar levels become dysregulated. Our athletic performance decreases. Our immunity is impaired. We are tired and irritable.
The list is a mile-long, and though research can’t come up with a definite answer as to why we need sleep so much, it’s clear that we do.
As it turns out, glycine is an important component for good sleep. The amino acid affects the brain and brings about feelings of calmness and relaxation that undeniably help you wind down and fall asleep more easily.
Glycine also helps lower your core body temperature, which is an important factor for quality sleep.
In the studies we have so far, researchers suggest that 3 grams of glycine taken shortly before bed effectively lengthens sleep duration and improves its quality. The most convenient way to get that dose is through a glycine supplement. Alternatively, you can take a dose of hydrolyzed collagen. Depending on the make, one dose should have between 3 and 4 grams of glycine.
Glycine’s Role in Collagen Synthesis
Some of the biggest struggles active people have to face are injuries and degenerative joint diseases. This doesn’t seem like a big deal while we are young, but the chronic stress we put on our bodies over the years and decades slowly adds up and leads to problems down the road.
In one notable study from 2018, researchers looked at the role of glycine in type II collagen synthesis and the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis. They suggested a few interesting ideas:
1) Normal plasma concentrations of glycine in subjects tends to correlate to the consumption of about 1.5 to 3 grams of glycine per day. This result was shown in one study from 1971 and was later replicated in a 2001 paper (Javitt et al.).
2) According to the researchers of the same 2001 study, an increase in glycine intake to about 10 grams/day can increase plasma concentration levels three to four times and an increase in collagen synthesis by 200%.
3) Glycine, being the most important amino acid for collagen synthesis, is essential and must be supplemented with to ensure adequate dosage. Researchers suggest a dose of 10 grams a day.
And their conclusion on the matter:
“..increasing glycine in the diet could be a possible way of contributing to fight and prevention of osteoarthritis to improve cartilage regeneration by means of enhancing collagen synthesis. It may be that the deficiencies mentioned above are not the only cause, but it is certainly a feasible place to start.
To this end our results suggest a viable strategy through increasing the amounts of these amino acids (glycine especially) in the diet.
As these deficiencies will obviously affect other connective or mechanical tissues, such as bones, tendons, ligaments and skin, we would like to remark that this conclusion might also well be applied in the treatment of these damaged tissues in conditions such as osteoporosis.”
This discussion further reinforces the idea that collagen and glycine are critical for the treatment and prevention of tissue damage, as well as conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
How to Fit Glycine Into Our Diet
So far research seems to suggest that the most reliable way to get enough glycine is through supplementation. The human body can synthesize up to 2.5 grams, but we need much more than that to cover all metabolic costs.
Ten grams of glycine split into multiple, smaller doses (with three grams taken before bedtime) might be the best strategy for most people. If you also take a collagen supplement, you can reduce the glycine dose to 3-5 grams per day.
Also, consuming plenty of protein-rich foods every is a great way to get extra glycine into our diets. Some of the best sources include fish, chicken, dairy, and legumes.
Brought to you by Active Stacks Beef Boost protein powder - Rich in both collagen and glycine.