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Does Collagen Break a Fast? YES, but it’s complicated

BY

Charlie Bailes

December 30, 2019

Fasting is awesome. Especially since you can still drink black coffee. But *gasp*, what about my collagen you ask? Ah yes, the curious case of collagen and fasting. Does collagen break a fast? We have answers, and the topic can have a lot of gray. We'll explore it for ya!

Dr. Cate Medically Reviewed

I get this question a lot:

Am I breaking my fast by adding collagen to my coffee?

Yes, but it’s complicated.

The people who ask this typically are following a 16/8 intermittent fast and drinking coffee during their fast — which is allowed since black coffee doesn’t break a fast. Though, Dr. Mindy says (see video below) that you’ll need to measure your blood sugar to be completely sure coffee doesn’t pull you out of a fasted stated.

So, back to collagen.

Guess what goes really well with coffee? Yep, collagen. Most collagen takers love their collagen and coffee — it’s a staple to their morning routine.

But, this is where the debate of collagen and its impact on fasting gets gray.

The Short Answer: Yes. Well, maybe.

Does collagen break a fast? As Dr. Cate mentioned above, the answer depends on if you define fasting by the traditional sense. Adding a scoop of collagen powder into that hot cup of black coffee in the morning will, technically, break your fast because collagen is food and contains calories. Even unflavored multi collagen powder — free of artificial sweeteners or additives (like ours) — will come with 30 calories a scoop. More on these calories from collagen in a bit.

However, going back to Dr. Mindy’s video above and our Dr. Cate’s takeaway of defining fasting, the key here is how collagen impacts your personal blood glucose levels.

My readings stay well below what’s considered the “high” ranges when I drink coffee + collagen. I stay in the 80’s consistently. So, from a blood glucose perspective, I am still in a fasted state.

Blood Glucose Levels Chart
Understanding and measuring your blood glucose levels is key to determining if collagen will break your fast. A link to some monitors towards bottom.

But does that mean my body is still performing the natural process of autophagy (“ah-TAH-fah-gee”)? (more on that soon)

We really don’t know.

The Long(er) Answer: It’s, um, complicated.

Great, you kept reading. Good for you. Per the title of this blog, this is a complicated and layered topic. One that really doesn’t have definitive answers.

Let’s take a step back and quickly discuss fasting.

What is Fasting?

Simply put, fasting is not eating or skipping a meal on purpose when we have otherwise been trained to eat, like breakfast for example. But wait, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? It would be a terrible idea to intentionally skip it, or would it?

Coffee & Collagen T-Shirt
Coffee & Collagen. We love it so much, we made a Coffee & Collagen T-shirt!

Let’s have a little history lesson, shall we?

Some of the earliest human fossils date back over 200,000 years ago. Actually, archaeologists in Ethiopia have found human ancestral remains of a female they have named Ardi that are 4.4 million years old. So, whether you think God created Adam and Eve, or we came from monkeys that came from fish that came from an amoeba (we love everybody at CB Supplements by the way), let’s just agree that humans have been walking the earth a very, very long time.

Now, let me ask the million dollar questions.

Pertaining to the humans that lived 20k – 4.4M years ago:

  • Do you think they ate breakfast everyday?
  • Do you think they ate 6 small meals a day?
  • Do you think they liked brunch as much as we do?

If you are laughing, then you sense the undertones of sarcasm in my questions because the obvious answer is no.

Humans ate whatever they killed, whenever they could and went many days without eating not because they weren’t hungry, but rather they had nothing to eat. For hundreds of thousands of years there was no farming, no refrigerators and no Chipotle.

*Gasp*, no Chipotle? What a terrible world! 🙂

Organized farming wasn’t a common practice until about 12,000 – 8,000 years ago (see history of farming), and the refrigerator has only been a commodity for less than 200 years.

So what’s the point again?

The point is that it’s OK to skip a meal or fast. Maybe even every day. The whole concept of breakfast was invented in the 19th century by Seventh Day Adventists James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg to sell their newly invented breakfast cereal. Does that last name Kellogg sound familiar?

Fasting helps put your body in Autophagy

Why is this important?

Remember Dr. Mindy speaking briefly about the process called autophagy? That fancy word is the main reason why fasting is vitally important to health.

In a nutshell, autophagy is a process that happens when we are/have been fasted for over 12-16 hours, where the cells of our body cleanse themselves, breaking down and recycling damaged cells.

In other words, damaged cells, including those that can/will turn into cancer cells, are thrown out and new healthy cells are created. Pretty cool, right?

Autophagy illustration
Why fast? To obtain autophagy, that’s why.

More about Autophagy: Autophagy: The Real Way to Cleanse Your Body

Does Collagen take you out of Fasted State (and Autophagy)?

So if you’re seeking collagen’s benefits, does having 30-35 calories from collagen protein powder in your morning coffee throw you out of a fasted state and therefore out of autophagy?

According to:

    • Heathline = kind of
    • Dave Asprey (founder of Bulletproof) = maybe not
    • Dr. Mindy Pelz = we don’t really know
    • Dr. Jason Fung (the leading expert on intermittent fasting) = no
    • Dr. Ted Naiman (video below) believes “Protein (including collagen protein) is not a fuel source, but rather the building block for all tissues in the body and therefore, not really a calorie.”

As I was saying, this is complicated. 🙂

Let’s pretend Collagen breaks your Fast

OK, so let’s just pretend that adding multi collagen protein to your morning coffee or tea does break your fast, what are the implications?

This is a great question and allows me to highlight another huge benefit to skipping breakfast. By adding collagen to your morning coffee/tea, you push off hunger for a few more hours because like Dr. Naiman stated in the video above, humans eat until we are satiated by protein, which includes collagen protein.

So, if the coffee and collagen replaces breakfast, you effectively just eliminated 500-1,000 calories that more than likely were being supplied by carbohydrates. Do this for 3 weeks and watch what will happen – you will more than likely lose weight!

So even if the added collagen to your morning coffee throws you out of a fasted state, which we aren’t sure has any impact on autophagy, you still will more than likely lose weight. That is a huge win.

Back to the original question: Does a scoop of Collagen in your morning Coffee break a Fast?

Cup of Coffee with Collagen on Teal Background

Now that we have learned about the history of humans, the history of breakfast, autophagy, fasting, and what the heck our bodies do to keep us from dying when we don’t eat — let’s go back to our original question.

Let me answer that question with another question.

Does it really matter?

No.

We don’t really know if consuming collagen protein disrupts autophagy.

And who cares if it breaks your fast as long as it doesn’t spike your blood glucose levels, which can be checked anytime with the help of a glucose monitor (see our recommendation below).

Because after all, if a few scoops of multi-collagen for breakfast keeps you from eating a bagel or cereal, that’s a big victory.

Recommended Glucose Level Monitors

If you want an absolute answer to “Does Collagen Break a Fast?”, strap on a glucose level monitor, sip away, and find out.

Here are two devices you can use to monitor your blood sugar to confirm if collagen in your coffee pulls you out of a fasted state. Both push data to your smartphone for easy readings:

Have a thought? Let's discuss!

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Board-certified, 20+ year M.D., Biochemist. Author of Deep Nutrition & Fatburn Fix

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