The benefits of adding collagen peptides to your healthy lifestyle are vast. But what if you're fasting? Is collagen off the menu, or a great way to boost your protein intake during a fasting window?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating template which cycles between periods of eating and periods of abstaining from food. The difference between this and most diets is that it focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat.
Variations of intermittent fasting include only eating between certain times, fasting for a given number of hours (e.g. 16 hours, 24 hours) and even fasting for certain days of the week.
Whichever method is chosen, most food is off the menu during the fasting window. Technically, any food or drink (other than water) will break a fast. However, most people allow themselves a very small number of calories as the general consensus is that this will not impact the outcome of a fast.
The health benefits of intermittent fasting
There are many reasons why people choose to incorporate intermittent fasting into their healthy lifestyle. This can be for weight maintenance, to support optimal gut health, to promote longevity or simply for overall wellness.
Whatever your reason for intermittent fasting, the evidence shows that getting it right can have some pretty incredible health benefits:
✅ Caloric deficit and ketone-based energy supply promotes fat loss and helps to improve long-term weight maintenance
✅ Could help to reduce the risk of chronic lifestyle conditions such as Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome
✅ Has been shown to promote brain health and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders
✅ Can help to control risk factors for disease including blood lipids, blood pressure, insulin resistance and inflammation
Intermittent fasting combined with a nutritive, healthy diet during eating windows is a great way to take a proactive approach to achieving optimal health. What's more, you can utilise intermittent fasting whatever your dietary preferences!
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting is all about encouraging a metabolic shift by abstaining from food. In this way, it is very similar to the Keto diet, with both eating templates sharing the end game of switching from glucose-based to ketone-based energy provision. The key difference is that Keto achieves this by cutting out carbs and intermittent fasting by abstaining from all food.
When we do not eat for longer than 10-12 hours, the liver switches from using glucose from food to fat stored on the body for fuel. In other words, when we don't eat and glucose is depleted, body fat is broken down and used as energy.
Using the body's fat stores for energy is not only great for weight loss, but this metabolic shift is also the underlying mechanism for most of the health benefits associated with intermittent fasting.
Possible risks of intermittent fasting
Like all diets, there are some potential downfalls of intermittent fasting. However, it should be noted that most of these are exacerbated by not getting it right or choosing to fast for the wrong reasons. Let's take a look at some of the things which can go wrong when fasting:
- Fasting for longer than necessary can contribute to nutritional deficiencies and muscle wastage
- Dehydration and hunger can disrupt sleep and cause headaches
- It can cause cravings for less nutritive foods and lead to overcompensating on eating days
- It could increase the risk of disordered eating in certain individuals
- Intermittent fasting is not for everyone - it is best avoided for those under 18 years of age, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women
As with any change to your diet or lifestyle, the most important thing is to do your research and make sure that your intermittent fast is safe, sensible and effective. So, as you are reading this article, well done - that counts towards your research!
Will taking collagen break a fast?
As collagen contains protein and therefore calories, some will argue that it will break a fast. However, many people choose to limit their caloric intake to a very small amount rather than disallowing calories altogether. Therefore, collagen could arguably be enjoyed during a fast just as black coffee often is.
The answer to the question "will collagen break a fast" is not yes or no! Instead, it depends on your reason for fasting in the first place and also your weighing up of the drawbacks and benefits of taking collagen during a fast. Let's take a look.
Intermittent fasting for fat loss and metabolic flexibility
This is likely the most popular reason for intermittent fasting, so can collagen be incorporated?
Studies have shown that one serving of collagen peptides has minimal impact on ketone production, which means that if your fasting focus is metabolic flexibility and fat loss - you can enjoy collagen during a fast.
Furthermore, collagen supplementation has its own benefits when it comes to fat loss. It encourages protein sparing (amino acid sparing), helps to maintain lean muscle mass and also increases satiety - which could help you to fast for longer.
Intermittent fasting for gut health
Most people who have not delved into the world of intermittent fasting will think that it is mainly used as a weight loss tool. However, intermittent fasting has so many other benefits and isn't just all about weight management!
One of these benefits is that it can help to reset gut health. Abstaining from food is a simple way to reset gut health. When you don't eat you don't need to digest food and so the gut can take a break from its many jobs, such as secreting hormones & digestive enzymes and absorbing nutrients.
Instead, it can focus on lowering inflammation and repairing damage in the gut - which is invaluable for those with digestive health conditions.
Is collagen supplementation a good idea for those using intermittent fasting to nurture their gut health? Technically no, collagen is a source of protein which will stimulate digestive responses and disrupt gut rest.
However, it should be noted that collagen has some pretty amazing benefits for gut health itself - so enjoying it during your eating window is a great way to reap the benefits of both intermittent fasting and collagen.
Intermittent fasting for healthy ageing and longevity
One of the lesser known but equally important benefits of intermittent fasting is the potential to encourage healthy ageing and longevity. This is something which has been embraced by the biohacking community.
During fasting, cells in the body experience adaptive stress which has been shown to promote enhanced defence and repair mechanisms. Studies have shown that this has many beneficial effects including stimulating the production of antioxidants, reducing inflammation, DNA repair and autophagy (which removes dead or damaged cells).
So, it's understandable that intermittent fasting is something which many people choose to incorporate into their lifestyle for optimal health in the long-term, as well as for the more immediate benefits.
Whether or not collagen peptides inhibit longevity, with a particular focus on autophagy, is much debated and not very well understood. Some studies suggest collagen can help to induce and promote autophagy, via a process called protein cycling. Others argue that protein intake will disable the adaptive stress response and reduce the impact of autophagy.
When deciding if collagen can be enjoyed during a fast in the context of longevity, we value the health optimising benefits of collagen peptides in their own right - and think fasting and collagen go hand in hand for promoting longevity. However, it is clear that further research into this area is needed for sure!
The Verdict: Will collagen peptides break my intermittent fast?
We hope this article has given you the evidence and knowledge to make your own decision when it comes to collagen supplementation and intermittent fasting.
It is important to consider your reasons for fasting, as well as if you plan to fast in the short-term or long-term, before deciding if collagen supplementation can be included in your lifestyle.
Overall, there's no right or wrong answer, but we personally think that fasting and collagen supplementation can work in synergy to support optimal gut health, metabolism and longevity.
Whilst there are some potential drawbacks to including collagen during a fast, the obvious benefits for overall health and wellness should be carefully considered and weighed up!
- Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Ageing and Disease - https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1905136
- Collagen Peptide Supplementation in Combination with Resistance Training - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26353786/
- Time Restricted Feeding Improves 24 Hour Glucose Levels - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627766/
- NAD+ and Sirtuins in Aging and Disease - https://www.gwern.net/docs/longevity/2019-decabo.pdf