The collagen diet, made popular in Japan, is an eating plan designed to maintain youthfulness, energy, and beauty by consuming foods high in collagen. An alternative form of the diet utilizes collagen supplements and collagen injections instead of food. Whether through supplements or meals, this diet can purportedly induce weight loss, although most participants embrace it primarily to fight aging. Despite folk anecdotes that affirm the anti-aging benefits of the collagen diet, medical reports debunk the diet, saying it cannot halt aging and produces no scientifically-supported benefits.
A type of protein, collagen is loaded with amino acids. These amino acids are building blocks that support the growth of skin, nail, and hair cells. Abundant amounts of collagen can strengthen the hair and nails, allowing them to grow longer. For the skin, collagen purportedly fills in ridges and lines, creating a plumper appearance that looks unwrinkled and less aged, according to proponents of the collagen-based diet. Alternative medicine practitioners credit the collagen diet for giving skin, particularly on the face and neck, a more elastic and supple quality.
Collagen assists with weight loss by allegedly increasing the body’s metabolism so that more calories are burned. Many on the collagen diet claim that the tasteless protein gives them more energy for exercise and suspends their appetite so they eat less. Some individuals claim to lose roughly 2 lbs. weekly on this diet.
Foods eaten on the collagen diet include noodles, jellies, and pig hooves. Pig hooves and cow hooves are major sources of collagen and serve as the basis for gelatin, another staple of the collagen diet. In Japan, a major source of nutritional collagen is nabe, a type of soup which has a gel-like consistency. Nabe, also frequently called a “collagen hot pot,” is a medley of vegetables mixed with bits of meat and clear pieces of collagen; the vegetables and herbs add flavor to the hot pot since collagen itself has no taste and needs to be flavored. Those on the collagen diet also eat the skin of chickens and fins from sharks since both are substantial sources of collagen.
Dieters relying on supplements usually take collagen with additional medicinal herbs such as aloe vera, safflower oil, and lecithin. Lecithin is considered a weight-loss aid because it allegedly helps to loosen and dissolve fat. For that reason, it is a frequent companion of collagen in commercial supplements in order to assist with the weight loss component of the collagen diet.