Collagen and beef protein to prevent sarcopenia

Collagen and beef protein to prevent sarcopenia

Updated: Mar 26, 2024Veronika Larisova

Sarcopenia, a muscle loss associated with aging, immobility, and lack of exercise, involves degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength and increased fat-to-muscle ratio. This phenomenon is linked to falls, osteoporosis, fractures, and metabolic diseases. 

Physiological causes of sarcopenia include

  • Changes in the synthesis of many hormones affect the ability to build and maintain lean muscle mass, such as growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), cortisol and sex hormones. The decline in growth hormone and IGF-1 strongly correlates with increased visceral fat, reduced lean muscle mass and declining bone density. 
  • Increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines (inflammaging) causes protein degradation and suppresses protein synthesis. 

There is increasing evidence that older individuals require greater levels of protein intake to enhance muscle protein synthesis. 

Collagen Supplementation for Sarcopenia

Although collagen used to be regarded as having a relatively low biological value, mainly due to the low amount of BCAA and lysine, a study from 2016 indicated that the mixture of amino acids in collagen protein is superior compared to whey protein in maintaining nitrogen balance and body weight during a low-protein diet. Furthermore, collagen contains relatively high amounts of arginine and glycine, which are essential substrates for synthesising creatine in the human body. 

A randomised controlled trial in 2015 found that collagen peptides further increased the benefits of a 3-month resistance training protocol in older subjects with sarcopenia. Compared with the placebo, subjects in the collagen-supplemented group showed a significantly higher increase in fat-free mass and muscle strength and a greater reduction in fat mass. The increase in lean mass is thought to be due to collagen’s effect on the surrounding connective tissue (i.e., myofascia). While whey and casein protein supplementation do not increase postexercise intramuscular collagen protein synthesis, evidence suggests that collagen-derived protein sources may support connective tissue protein remodelling.

Another study on elderly patients in recovery-phase rehabilitation wards in 2020 also found increased skeletal muscle mass after supplementation with collagen peptides. A study on aging mice in 2022 demonstrated that a 12-week supplementation with collagen peptides improved age-associated sarcopenia and suggested that collagen peptide supplements may represent an effective therapeutic approach for age-associated sarcopenia by increasing IGF-1 and decreasing myostatin expression.

Beef Protein for Sarcopenia

Beef protein is high in the amino acid LEUCINE, which has the highest anabolic response, stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS). The timing of protein intake is important as the research found the highest MPS when protein was ingested straight after a training session.  Other important factors in MPS are source, digestibility, and fat and carbohydrate co-ingestion. 

As we age, we need up to 50% more protein daily due to an age-related decline in muscle sensitivity to amino acids.  A general recommendation is to spread the protein across the meals and ingest 20-30g of protein per meal, especially after training. Co-ingestion of fat and carbohydrates blunts the MPS, especially in the elderly. 

Our Organic Beef Bars and Organic Biltong makes the best post-exercise snacks as they are made from beef, easily digestible and low in fat and carbohydrates, while our collagen bars are the best pre-workout snacks. Just make sure you have them 30-60min before exercise for the maximum benefit. 

    Veronika Larisova
    Co-founder, Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist
    Follow Veronika on Instagram




Collagen peptide supplementation, in combination with resistance training, improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men. Randomised controlled trial, 2015

A collagen hydrolysate/milk protein-blend stimulates muscle anabolism equivalently to an isoenergetic milk protein-blend containing a greater quantity of essential amino acids in older men, 2021

Effect of collagen peptides on skeletal muscle mass in the elderly: An interventional study examining oral nutrition support for patients in a recovery-phase rehabilitation ward, 2020

A Collagen Hydrolysate Containing Tripeptides Ameliorates Sarcopenia in Middle-Aged Mice, 2022


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