Mini Pause #19: Eating High Protein? Add Collagen to Balance Amino Acids

Keep an Eye on Methionine and Glycine; They Affect Body Composition & Emotional Well-Being

TL;DR

Higher protein consumption is essential as we move through perimenopause and menopause. We should be mindful, however, of balancing the amino acids we take in through a variety of protein sources. Specifically, we want to think about our methionine-to-glycine ratio

Today, I discuss these amino acids, where they are abundant, and the products you can take to keep them in balance. 

WHY

Methionine and glycine are two amino acids that profoundly impact your body composition and emotional well-being. These two changes are inexplicably intertwined and exacerbated in perimenopause. Methionine and glycine are crucial in maintaining your muscles, joints, and connective tissues, and to help you heal when you’re injured. They’ve both been shown to help with type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke–all of which are diseases of aging and poor metabolic health.

Striking the right balance will help keep your hair lustrous, build muscle, regulate blood sugar, help quell anxiety, and keep your faculties sharp.

WHAT

Methionine is an abundant amino acid in meat, eggs, chicken, and fish. We typically associate these foods with “high protein.” Methionine also is implicated in several metabolic processes including endogenous creatine synthesis, glutathione synthesis (the master antioxidant in the body), and DNA methylation. 

However, consuming only foods high in methionine can deplete your glycine levels.

Glycine has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels, keep your hair shiny and thick, and promote collagen and elastin production in the skin. All things we would like to continue to have in our 40s and 50s, thank you very much!

You want adequate levels of BOTH methionine (derived largely from an animal’s muscle) and glycine (derived largely from an animal’s skin, bones, and connective tissue). 

So, how much of each should we be aiming for?

If you want to build muscle and are actively lifting weights in the ways I’ve described in previous newsletters, consume approximately 1g of protein (in this case, methionine-rich foods) per ideal pound of body weight. This is a good place to start. The 1g of protein can be considered your muscle meats (aka the methionine-containing products) and you will most certainly consume adequate amounts of methionine.

The question then becomes: “What about glycine?”

HOW 

We know our ancestors, through nose-to-tail consumption of animals, consumed way more glycine than we do now in modern life. 

The “meat” we consume today is often just the muscle of the meat, and we often discard the bones, the fat, and the organs. I’m guilty of this too. I can make a pretty mean stock from chicken bones and a great bone marrow, but that is the extent of my organ-making skills. I consume liverwurst as my “organ” because I just can’t stomach eating the actual liver, heart, kidneys, and other things that are in liverwurst. 

  • If you are eating an animal-based diet, for every 10 grams of animal (muscle) protein you consume, you can add 1 gram of glycine in the form of collagen protein, bone broth, or glycine supplements. This would be a 10:1 ratio. For example: If you’re eating 150g of animal (muscle)–based protein daily, you want to consume 15g of collagen protein. 
  • If you are eating a plant-based diet, your glycine intake is already naturally higher, as plant-based proteins tend to have more glycine. I recommend adhering to the 10:1 ratio here, as well.

The best sources of glycine are going to be bone broth, hydrolyzed collagen powder, glycine supplements, gelatin, and even edible bones (like in your can of sardines). 

My main source of glycine comes from collagen powder: I use mindbodygreen’s Beauty & Gut Collagen powder or Equip Foods’ Grass-Fed Collagen. The benefit of collagen powder is that it is superior to collagen synthesis than taking a pure glycine supplement. So I always opt for collagen powder or bone broth over taking a glycine supplement. 

NOW

  • Ensure you are balancing your methionine intake with glycine by supplementing with 1g of glycine for every gram of methionine intake
  • Pick up a bag of hydrolyzed collagen powder like Equip Foods or mindbodygreen. Or, you can make or buy bone broth, or glycine powder. (If you try Equip or mbg, click the links and use code DRSTEPHANIE for a discount.
  • I add one scoop of collagen powder to my workout drink–it’s flavorless and dissolves completely in water.

Question of the Week

Q: Do you prefer to work out alone or with your partner? 

Thanks to Lazgrrl on IG for asking this question. The short answer? I think it depends on what I am working on! 

On leg days, I usually work out by myself simply because my husband doesn’t train glutes in the same way I do. I’m doing large volumes of glute training, and we often are not using the same machines. I also need to dig deep psychologically for leg day, which means I need my music, and I don’t want to talk. 

On back days, I love to train with my hubs because we work the same muscle groups in similar volumes. The same goes for shoulders! 

Cardio is the absolute hardest thing for me to get in consistently and I’m inclined to skip it, so I like to have a cardio partner. My husband is particularly gifted with sprinting! It’s a challenge for me to try and keep up with him (I don’t). 

What I Recommend: CollaGenius

There’s a new collagen product that I tried and I have to say, I’m wholly impressed with CollaGenius. It differs from other formulations because it combines hyper-concentrated forms of Lion’s mane, Chaga, cordyceps, and reishi mushrooms with the collagen. Then, in a brilliant taste move, adds Peruvian cacao!

This formula targets your brain for maximum energy, focus, and performance. It also improves skin elasticity and helps alleviate stress. I like to mix it with my morning cappuccino to transform it into a mochaccino with benefits. It’s also great in smoothies and even just with water.

After each serving of CollaGenius, you’ll feel calm and energized. I noticed a difference right away. You get antioxidants, mood support, and improved brain function. It’s a good fit for my Bettys struggling with peri & meno symptoms like brain fog.

Go to nootopia.com/bettergenius and use code BETTER to get 10% off. (Note: It’s soy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, and GMO-free.

How Peptides Combat Collagen Loss

As if we didn’t have enough to deal with managing low energy, mood swings, and brain fog, within the first five years after menopause, we can expect to lose 30% of our skin’s collagen — and collagen production continues to drop another 2% every year for the next two decades!

Even if you aren’t concerned about the aesthetic impact of collagen loss (namely lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin), there’s a health component involved, which I explain in more detail below.

But what triggers these changes? Just like other symptoms common in perimenopause and menopause, it’s due to shifts in estrogen and progesterone.

The Role of Estrogen and Progesterone on Skin

  • Skin Barrier: Estrogen stimulates the production of several key proteins in the skin, keeping your skin barrier healthy and strong. However, as estrogen levels decrease, your skin can become thinner over time [*], which puts you at greater risk for moisture loss, infections, and UV damage.
  • Oil Production: Declining levels of progesterone can lead to skin that’s drier and more sensitive since this hormone is involved in the skin’s oil production.
  • Free Radicals: As estrogen levels drop, the body’s natural defense [*] against free radicals becomes less effective, leading to accelerated skin aging.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Estrogen also stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid. Without a strong skin barrier and the estrogen-stimulated production of hyaluronic acid, the skin will feel more dehydrated [*].
  • Sun Sensitivity: When estrogen levels decrease, so does melanin, the pigment that helps protect skin from UV rays. This means, you might notice that your skin becomes lighter and that you’re more sensitive to sun damage [*].

How I Keep My Skin Healthy After 40

In addition to eating foods rich in antioxidants, using broad spectrum sunscreen, and getting quality sleep — which can all affect the health of your skin — I recently found a skincare line developed by a team of female scientists.

The company is called OneSkin. And their products, called “topical supplements,” are powered by their proprietary OS-01 peptide which is scientifically proven to counteract some of the factors caused by estrogen decline during menopause.

In lab studies, they found that OS-01 increased collagen and hyaluronic acid production in skin (1), improving firmness, elasticity, and hydration and strengthening the skin barrier (2). Not only that, their peptide is proven to reduce cellular senescence (3), one of the hallmarks of skin aging, so your skin stays younger and healthier as you age

I’ve shared with my Bettys that I’m completely up-leveling my skin this year. I’d love for you to consider how you can do the same. My absolute go-to product from the OneSkin line is OS-01 SHIELD Protect + Repair SPF 30+. This mineral-based sunscreen comes in both tinted and clear. If the science of peptide skin care intrigues you, visit oneskin.co. (Use code DRSTEPHANIE at checkout to save 15%.)

1) Shown in lab studies on human skin samples by measuring collagen production biomarker, COL1A1, and hyaluronic acid production biomarker, HAS2. Treatment with the OS-01 peptide displayed a significant increase compared to no treatment. (Zonari, A., et al. npj Aging, 2023)

2) Shown in a clinical study performed by a third party research organization. Skin barrier and hydration measured by a vapometer. Elasticity and firmness analyzed via double-blind expert clinical grader evaluation. Significant improvements were observed on skin treated with OS-01 FACE for 12 weeks versus baseline. (Zonari, A., et al. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2024)

3) Shown in lab studies on human skin samples and/or cells by measuring the number of senescent cells via SA-Bgal staining, senescence biomarkers (CDKN2A/P16, CDKN1A, H2A.J), and SASP biomarkers (CXCL8 and IL-6).  Treatment with the OS-01 peptide displayed a significant decrease in all mentioned markers compared to no treatment. (Zonari, A., et al. npj Aging, 2023)

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