Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Does Collagen Break a Fast?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in recent years. The concept is simple yet revolutionary: by restricting meals to a specific period each day and fasting the rest of the time, you can encourage your body's natural healing processes and improve your overall health. Intermittent fasting, or IF, isn't just about weight loss (although many people find they lose weight while practicing IF). Instead, it's about kicking your body's cells into a higher gear, helping to boost your metabolism, improve healing and support your immune response.
There are many different kinds of intermittent fasting, but they all use the same basic framework: eating only during a set period and fasting. The exact time periods may vary, as can the strictness of the fast. Many people starting IF often ask whether or not nutritional supplements break the fast, disrupting the positive effects and derailing the healing process. For example, will taking collagen break a fast when practicing IF?
The Fasting Period
During the fasting period, IF practitioners all agree, you should avoid consuming any calories. Some people go so far as to fast completely, including refraining from water, but most IF proponents don't go that far. Many drink calorie-free fluids during their fast, including tea and coffee. Of course, you can't have milk or sugar in your beverages -- even sweeteners can have a few calories, which technically places them off-limits during your fast.
The length of the fasting interval varies from practitioner to practitioner. Some use alternate-day fasting, where they'll eat normally one day and eat nothing or a small 500-calorie meal the next. Others follow a 5:2 pattern, where they'll eat a typical amount five days per week and fast for two days. On the other hand, daily time-restricted fasting allows you to eat every day -- as long as it's within a specific window. The length of this window will vary, with some people using a fasting interval of as much as 20 hours. A fasting window of 16 hours is more common. This allows people to fast until lunch and then eat normally (as long as they stop eating by a certain point in the evening). Because it's much easier to fit into your everyday life, the 8:16-hour fasting pattern is quite popular.
Less strict practitioners do allow a small number of calories to be consumed during the fasting window. Some consider anything below 50 calories to be fast-friendly, while others allow 300 calories to be consumed while fasting. The longer the fasting window, the higher this number of calories is likely to be.
If you're considering intermittent fasting or have already taken it up, you're probably concerned about health and well-being. Maybe you're looking to IF as a way to improve your overall health. In either case, you may also be taking nutritional supplements.
Collagen is one of the most popular nutritional supplements around -- and for several excellent reasons. Collagen is an exceptional protein found almost everywhere in the human body. It's powerful but also flexible and resilient, helping to build tough yet pliable tissues. Collagen is found everywhere, from your circulatory system to your joints and even your hair follicles. Taking collagen in the form of supplements can help your body produce more of its collagen, keeping your joints, skin, and internal organs in good shape. Collagen peptides are the best form of collagen to take, as they're easier for your body to break down and absorb.
Can You Have Collagen During Intermittent Fasting?
Technically yes, but not all collagen supplements will do the trick. Collagen brands such as Body Kitchen are ideal due to their specific di-peptide formulations. While collagen has very few calories, it is a caloric substance and is considered breaking a fast. That doesn't mean you have to stop taking your daily collagen supplements. It simply means that you need to choose one with a high absorption rate (we recommend Youthful Beauty) so that you're consuming them during the window of time when you'd normally eat your meals. Most collagen brands on the market will break the fast due to using low-quality and slow digestive collagen.
Something that many people forget about nutritional supplements is that they often work best when taken with food. In the case of collagen specifically, the supplements are most effective if they're consumed alongside appropriate levels of antioxidants and other nutrients -- the things that your regular meals should provide. For this reason, even if you're of the liberal fasting mindset and allow a small number of calories during the fasting period, you should still avoid taking your collagen while fasting. Consuming your collagen with a meal will maximize absorption and ensure that you get the full benefit from your supplements.