Staying Healthy While Getting Fit
With all the health benefits of being in shape – healthy lungs, heart, metabolism, etc. – you may think staying healthy and getting fit are basically the same thing. But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to exercise.
Any kind of intense exercise puts strain on your body even as it is building some parts of it. Your bones and connective tissue are under stress, and your muscle tissue tears. If you take advice from a personal trainer, we usually tell you to manage by giving those strained tissues a break. That’s why there are workout schedules. In addition to making sure you work out all the major muscle areas, it ensures you give each one a break. Your arms and shoulders get to rest a couple of days while you work on core tomorrow and legs the next day. But maybe, because of age or how intensely you work out, even those breaks are not enough. Which brings us to collagen.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It’s both a building block for many of your tissues, and a binding for other building blocks. You need it for strong bones, since it binds the calcium together, and it’s how connective tissues stay strong and flexible.
When you’re still young, your body produces plenty of collagen, but mammals slow down their production as they age. For humans it’s typically in our 20s. Less active people might take longer to notice the effects, but if you’re getting close to 30 and still pushing yourself like you did five years ago, you might feel it now. Maybe you need longer recovery times to avoid soreness. Your bones and ligaments feel the effects of each set more, and your torn muscle cells take longer to feel strong again. The thing is, you’re going at the same pace, and your collagen isn’t keeping up.
Where do I get collagen?
It’s made up of the amino acids in protein, which is partly why we trainers tell you to eat protein after a workout. But there are two problems: the highest concentration of collagen is in the parts of the animal we don’t eat (skin, bone, cartilage), and even if we got the collagen out of them (think bone broth) your body won’t absorb much. Collagen pieces (called “fibrils”) are too large to be absorbed as nutrients.
The increasingly popular solution today is a kind of supplement called hydrolyzed collagen, which is broken down into peptides small enough to enter your bloodstream. Soy and protein powders have also been popular for over a decade, but they have much lower concentrations of amino acids, and only a fraction of the glycine, which helps produce creatine. I’ve tried it both ways, and collagen peptides are better than other protein powders by a long shot.
I go with Prisma Natural Plus SPORT, because along with the advantages of collagen peptides, it also has glucosamine, bromelain, and condroitine for joint protection, and L-glutamine for muscle healing.
Alex Hubbard is a CrossFit enthusiast and personal trainer. He owns manages CrossFit286 where he serves as a fitness coach, helping people realize their fitness goals.