Collagen: A life beyond protein
Collagen, not protein
Whilst collagen is a protein source, it is referred to as a low quality protein source. This is because of the PDCASS score when compared to dairy and the influence on muscle protein synthesis. However, whilst this is factual, it is the primary role or relevance of collagen in the body that is coming into the light and helping it gain more traction/recognition in the industry. Whilst collagen is still a protein, and does contribute somewhat to muscle protein synthesis, it plays a much bigger role in the health and strength of white tissues. So whilst it has been thought of as a low quality protein source and has not been of great interest in the past, it is becoming more recognised for its functional benefits. As a result, collagen is claiming fame in its own right, it is becoming recognised as collagen not protein, it is a separate ingredient and independent protein with unique benefits.
An evolving role in bars
This is not unique to the powder market. 35% of protein bars use collagen, reflecting its importance for taste and texture. Collagen has previously been used as a technical ingredient in protein bars, more so than a functional one, particularly in high protein bars. 52% of bars greater than 30% protein, and 75% of bars greater than 40% protein use collagen. More recently, bars are using collagen and taking a more functional approach, although this group of products is still relatively small. The original products are Bulletproof, a brand focused on cognitive performance, and Vital Proteins, which is a collagen based brand. But there are more general brands such as MaxSport and MyProtein using, and claiming, collagen for its functional benefits such as beauty, joints.
MyProtein Beauty Bites: With added retinol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to promote skin health and protect against oxidative stress. (Collagen Peptide Powder) MaxSport Collagen+: A collagen twist on the hi-lo bar. They claim to be the first collagen bar on the market, and boast to be 38% protein. They promote the benefits of collagen for joints, hair, skin, and teeth (Peptan - Hydrolysed Bovine collagen) Bulletproof Collagen Bar: Another hi-lo bar, this time with added MCT oil and claiming ‘Keto Friendly’. Bulletproof is known for their fat-focused(keto) approach and targeting mood and brain performance. (Hydrolysed Collagen) Vital Proteins Collagen Bar: A collagen specific brand, adding bars to their range of collagen products (powders, drinks, supplements and gummies). Interestingly, they also add MCTs (and claim it on pack) but do not mention Keto, nor the benefits of MCTs anywhere on their pack or website. (Bovine Collagen Peptides)
Collagen is an interesting ingredient to keep an eye on. The clamour to reduce collagen due to it being an animal source has seemingly dampened down. Collagen has become more functional, and is being recognised more for these benefits, rather than simply being a protein source. As an ingredient, it is still big in products with a beauty and/or general wellness proposition. There is a natural platform here for new and interesting bars, but it is not clear as of yet if collagen can or will build beyond this niche and become a mainstream proposition.