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If you haven’t already jumped onto the collagen bandwagon, you might be hearing all about its anti-aging properties and value as a source of protein in your diet, and wondering how to go about using it.
So, how do you properly mix collagen? The best way to take collagen is to fully dissolve it in warm water before adding it to any other liquid, such as milk, coffee, or juice. Collagen can also be mixed with food (oatmeal, yogurt, or eggs) and other vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, or magnesium) to enhance its effectiveness.
To make sure that you’re getting the most out of your collagen, I’ll share everything that you need to know about how to take it properly in this article, including:
- What you can mix with collagen (both liquids and other foods)
- What supplements are good to take with collagen
- How to stop collagen from clumping
- How to make collagen taste better
Should You Add Collagen To Your Diet?
Yes, you should add collagen to your diet. Studies show its beneficial impacts for strong nails & hair, wrinkle-free skin, and healthy joints & bones. There are also preliminary studies showing collagen supplements can help reduce obesity.
Unfortunately, most modern diets in industrialized nations are low in natural sources of collagen. Unlike previous generations, we are far less likely to eat meat on the bone or cook with bones to make our own broths for soups and stews.
The good news is that supplement companies are aware of this gap, and they have stepped up with a wide range of collagen supplements. But, with so many to choose from, it’s hard to know what to pick and what to avoid.
What You Can Mix With Collagen Powder
If you’re buying a collagen powder supplement to mix into liquids yourself, the good news is that you can mix it with virtually any liquid. Here’s my guide to pros, cons, and what you should consider before mixing.
Water is the simplest and most straightforward choice for mixing your collagen powder.
You can use cold, warm, or hot water. A high-quality hydrolyzed collagen powder will dissolve easily at any temperature, but if you’re using partially hydrolyzed collagen powder, warm or hot water is your friend.
The biggest complaint about water is that it doesn’t mask the “blah” taste of plain collagen powder. You can use flavored water, or look for a flavored collagen powder. I’ll link some of my favorites later in this article.
Mixing collagen with milk is a great way to get even more bone-boosting benefits than from collagen alone, from the calcium and vitamin D in milk. Plus, you’ll get the creamy taste and texture of milk, rather than the bland or downright unpleasant taste of plain collagen powder.
The only downside is that you’ll also get the calories from the milk on top of the calories from the collagen, which can be a concern if you are trying to reduce your calorie intake.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Milk?
If you’re a habitual tea drinker, adding collagen to your tea makes for an easy way to add this supplement so that you can be consistent with it.
As a bonus, you will get the taste of the tea and the benefits of the tea itself.
For example, certain teas (green & black) are high in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation in the body, which helps to improve recovery and reduce soreness after exercise.
Other teas are known for helping digestion (peppermint) or relaxation (chamomile).
As long as you don’t add any milk, sugar, or honey to your tea, this is also a noncaloric choice (like water or black coffee) for mixing your collagen powder.
The only possible downside is the caffeine content of the tea (if green or black tea) – be sure you’re not drinking it too late in the day or you could negatively impact your sleep quality.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Tea?
Collagen in coffee is quite possibly the most popular choice, which is not surprising given that caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, and most people are getting their hit in the form of a daily cup (or cups) of coffee.
Coffee giant Nestlé even trialed Body Partner 3-in-1 Collagen Instant Coffee packets in Asian markets (the product was later discontinued, though).
Coffee is perfect for mixing collagen powder because the hot (or at least warm) temperature readily dissolves the powder, and there is no taste. Using a small frother can actually create a collagen latte.
Plus, since coffee is a natural source of caffeine, it can give you an energy boost for your workout without needing to take an expensive pre-workout supplement.
Don’t go overboard, though – keep your daily caffeine intake below the recommended limit of 400mg (the average cup of coffee has about 100mg).
Another option for mixing collagen powder is juice. The sweet taste perfectly covers the collagen, and this liquid source of quick-digesting carbohydrates (sugars) is a great choice for an energy boost before a workout or to speed recovery afterwards.
Orange juice in particular is a good choice because of its vitamin C content, which also helps skin health by boosting your own natural collagen production and boosts your immune system, keeping you healthy for your training.
The sugar and calorie content of juice can be a drawback, though, if you’re trying to maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss. If that’s the case, consider one of the noncaloric options like water, tea, or coffee, instead.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Orange Juice?
If you’re an active individual, a sports drink like Gatorade is a natural choice for mixing in collagen powder. You’ll get the sugar and electrolytes from Gatorade to keep you energized and hydrated while working out, and you’ll get the benefits of collagen at the same time.
This is great news for athletes and people with a high training load or physically demanding job.
But, if you’re less active, then the added sugar in Gatorade won’t help you to stay within the American Heart Association’s guidelines for added sugar (no more than 25g per day for women and 36g for men).
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Gatorade?
Kombucha is actually a great choice for mixing in collagen powder. Kombucha provides beneficial probiotics to support your gut health, and it’s a relatively low-calorie choice compared to milk, juice, Gatorade, or soda.
Of course, if you don’t like the taste of kombucha (not everyone loves it as I do), then it doesn’t make sense to choose it for your collagen supplement.
The biggest challenge with kombucha is mixing in the collagen without having it clump up. The solution is to mix your collagen into ¼-½ cup of room temperature water to dissolve it first, and then add the kombucha (and some ice, if desired, to cool it down).
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Kombucha?
If you’re going to mix collagen with soda, it’s the option I’m least likely to recommend (except for alcohol). You can mix collagen powder with soda without interfering with the benefits of the collagen, but you won’t be gaining any additional health benefits from the soda.
The additional calories will provide energy for a workout, but they can also really add up and that can be a problem if you’re not trying for a calorie surplus.
Even if you are bulking, it’s best to get most of your calories from minimally-processed whole food choices that come along with fiber and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Diet soda can remove the calories, but the sweeteners used in diet soda can cause digestive distress and negatively impact your gut health.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Soda?
Can You Take Collagen Powder With Food?
Yes, you can take collagen powder with food.
If you’re tired of mixing collagen powder into drinks, or you don’t like the taste or texture when you do, try mixing it into your main meals in these foods.
Eggs are a great choice because they are a complete source of protein with all nine essential amino acids, whereas collagen is not a complete protein source. Putting the two together is part of your daily protein intake to help you build and maintain muscle.
Scrambled eggs or omelets are definitely the easiest because you can just mix the collagen powder into the liquid eggs when you crack them into the bowl.
This high-protein combination is a great meal choice to keep you feeling full for hours. That’s a benefit when you are looking to lose weight.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Eggs?
Oatmeal is a popular breakfast choice for bodybuilders and for active individuals because it provides a long-lasting source of energy from complex carbohydrates and fiber. It’s also got the perfect texture and taste to seamlessly blend in collagen powder.
All you have to do is stir the collagen powder into the oatmeal in the last few minutes of cooking on the stove. If you’re making it in the microwave, I wait until the microwave is done and then stir it in. Then, you can add toppings or other ingredients as per usual.
The only downside to oatmeal is if you’re only using it as a way to get your collagen. It can add significant calories and carbs to your daily intake, which might not be what you want if all you are looking for is a palatable way to take your collagen. If that’s the case, try to find a food that is part of your normal daily intake already, or look at my list of liquids for new inspiration.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Oatmeal?
Similar to milk, yogurt is a great choice for mixing with collagen powder because its calcium content can also contribute to bone health. You get a delicious, creamy concoction that is a complete protein source.
I recommend picking a high-protein yogurt that is unsweetened (so you avoid added sugars), and adding fresh berries like strawberries or blueberries for flavor. These berries are also a source of vitamin C to boost your body’s collagen, and fiber for your digestive health.
My one warning is that you do need to use enough yogurt (½ – 1 cup) for your collagen powder, or else you risk ending up with a gritty, dry, chalk-like consistency if you try stirring the powder into a very small serving of yogurt.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Yogurt?
Mac & Cheese
No one is going to complain about the taste when you combine collagen with the classic comfort food of macaroni and cheese. Cheese (like milk and yogurt) is a complete protein source to combine with collagen, and the creamy sauce is just right for dissolving collagen powder.
If you’re making the regular version from a box, just stir the collagen in at the same time as the cheese powder and milk. Or, if you’re making our healthier homemade mac and cheese, stir in the collagen as the last ingredient before the mixture goes in a baking dish.
In fact, pretty much any pasta dish with sauce is an easy choice for collagen because you can easily stir the collagen powder into the sauce.
Just keep an eye on your serving size, as certain pasta dishes can be very high in calories.
Potatoes got a bad rap for a while because they were viewed as a fattening food, when in fact they are naturally low in fat and an excellent source of slow-digesting complex carbohydrates and fiber. Just don’t drown them in butter if you don’t want the calories to pile up.
Pairing potatoes with collagen also add a protein source so that the dish is not just carbs. I find it easiest to add collagen when I am mashing the potatoes. I use a little bit of chicken broth for flavor without adding any fat, and my top secret trick for creamy mashed potatoes is to add a few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt, which we already saw also pairs perfectly with collagen powder.
If you’re already in the habit of having a protein smoothie before or after your workout, adding a scoop of collagen powder along with your whey protein powder is an easy and effective way to add this supplement.
Just one serving of collagen powder will usually add 7-10g of protein, so adding that to a scoop of whey protein powder with an average of 25g of protein can really make it easy to achieve your daily protein target.
Plus, whey protein is a complete protein, so it’s a good choice to pair with the incomplete protein in collagen. This combination provides all of the essential amino acids needed to build and repair muscle tissue.
However, you can run into problems if too much of your daily protein comes from powders (like whey and collagen) and not from whole foods. In the long term, you run the risk of certain micronutrient deficiencies when you’re not eating whole foods.
Plus, whole food protein sources are more filling, so you might feel extra hungry if the majority of your daily protein intake comes from supplements.
I recommend that no more than 20-33% (maximum one-third) of your daily protein intake comes from protein powders, and that includes collagen powder.
- Related Article: Can You Mix Whey Protein With Collagen?
Soups & Stews & Chilis
If you’re feeling under the weather, soups, stews & chilis are easy to swallow and digest, and you can include lots of vegetables to give you nutrients to get better. Collagen is an easier source of protein if you’re not feeling up to cooking and eating a chicken breast or a steak.
Even if you’re feeling great, soups, stews & chilis are still a nutritious choice. You can either just stir your serving into your bowl, or add as many scoops as you like to the pot. The warm liquid will easily dissolve the powder.
Just keep in mind that since collagen is not a complete protein source, you’ll want to look for other sources of protein to complement it. Stews often have tender stew meat, and chilis feature ground meat and/or legumes. I stir in yogurt for a thicker, creamier soup, and you could also add some beans to the soup (like black beans, kidney beans or chickpeas), or sprinkle cheese on top.
My final recommendation for food to mix with collagen powder is a stir fry. Stir fries are a perfect choice for building healthy meals and using up leftovers in your fridge.
You get to pick your protein source (my go-to choices are chicken breast or shrimp), your vegetables (carrots, broccoli, and bok choy are popular in my household) and your seasonings and sauce – and this is the stage where you can easily add collagen powder.
Just whisk the collagen into your stir fry sauce. I make my own using low-sodium soy sauce, a touch of honey, and chili flakes (or you can use a store-bought stir fry sauce).
As long as you keep track of how much of each ingredient you are using, you can stay on track with your nutrition goals.
Can You Bake With Collagen Powder?
Yes, you can bake with collagen powder.
Just like how you can bake with protein powder, collagen powder is another option for creating high-protein baked goods that give you the health benefits of collagen.
Other Supplements That Enhance Collagen When Taken Together
With more and more research going into collagen and how it works in the body, studies are starting to uncover other substances that support collagen production for healthy skin, hair, joints, and bones. Many of these substances are also available in supplement form, and I’ll cover the most promising ones, below.
Vitamin A supplementation helps prompt the body to make more collagen, which makes it a valuable addition to collagen powder. You’ll see it sold as beta-carotene, or you can also eat whole food sources of vitamin A like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, or berries.
Vitamin C supports collagen synthesis in the body, and some studies show that taking a hydrolyzed collagen supplement enriched with vitamin C pre-workout can improve collagen synthesis during training.
Look for a collagen supplement with added vitamin C (which might appear as ascorbic acid on the label), like the Momentous collagen products I already mentioned, or eat foods that are rich in vitamin C (think citrus fruits like oranges, as well as strawberries or even broccoli) along with your collagen.
Magnesium is a potent partner for collagen because magnesium helps your body to make hyaluronic acid. You’ll see lotions and serums up and down the beauty aisle with hyaluronic acid because it helps with skin regeneration and collagen stimulation.
Whey Protein Powder
Collagen protein is not a complete protein – that means it doesn’t contain all nine essential amino acids.
That makes it a great choice to pair with a protein powder that is a complete protein, like whey protein powder – see my tips for combining the two in smoothies, above.
Zinc is especially important for bone health, and getting enough zinc is linked to higher bone collagen content. This makes zinc a natural pair with collagen powder.
Prevent Collagen Powder From Clumping
If you’re having trouble with your collagen powder clumping, definitely check out my other article, How To Mix Collagen Powder Without Clumping for all the details.
But, in a nutshell, here are the 6 tips:
- Use warm (but not boiling hot) liquid to mix your collagen powder.
- Use the right equipment for mixing such as a portable blender, blender, shaker cup, cup and fork or a handheld milk frother to mix your collagen powder.
- Mix your collagen powder with ¼ cup of hot (or at least room temperature) water first, before adding to a cold drink.
- Mix for longer (30-60 seconds).
- Add the powder slowly (½ a scoop at a time).
- Use a high-quality collagen powder with minimal fillers. Fillers = clumps.
How To Add Flavor To Collagen Powder
If you don’t like the taste of plain collagen powder, there are several options to make it taste better.
Use Flavored Liquid
The easiest way to add flavor to collagen powder is to mix it with a flavored liquid like juice, soda, kombucha, coffee, tea, milk or (my personal favorite) hot chocolate.
Similar to a shake with protein powder, you can also make a shake with collagen powder that has fruit, vegetables, or other ingredients like peanut butter blended in to create whatever flavors you like best.
Or, if you have a protein powder that you like, you can use my suggestion to make a smoothie that has both protein powder and collagen, to get the flavor of the protein powder. The best flavored protein powder, according to our recent protein powder reviews, is Ghost Whey Protein.
If you’d like to mix collagen powder with water to avoid added calories, you can still add flavor with options like Crystal Light packets, Mio drops, liquid stevia drops, or simply infuse your water with chopped fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs (I like chopped strawberry and mint leaves).
Buy Flavored Collagen Powder
Originally, most collagen peptides supplements were unflavored, but manufacturers are starting to realize how much people don’t like the taste. They are responding with flavored options like dark chocolate, vanilla, berry, and even strawberry-lemonade.
Does How You Mix Collagen Powder Affect Its Absorption?
How you mix your collagen powder does not affect its absorption. What does matter is the form of the collagen. The body cannot absorb collagen in its whole form. The collagen protein has to be broken down into small chains of amino acids called peptides or hydrolysates. Look for collagen supplements with these names.
Processing of Collagen
You’ll see the word “hydrolyzed” on many collagen supplements. Hydrolysis is the process of breaking the whole form of collagen down into smaller amino acid chains (peptides). You’ll also know your collagen was hydrolyzed if you see the word “peptides.” This form of collagen is easily absorbed into your body.
On the other hand, if you see “partially hydrolyzed collagen,” that’s actually gelatin. If you’ve ever made Jell-o at home, you’ll know that gelatin only dissolves in hot liquids, and when it cools you get a jiggly solid.
You can actually use partially hydrolyzed collagen to make collagen gummies, or as a nutritious thickener for protein pudding, custards and soups.
You can still get the same amino acids from gelatin, but your body has to do more work to complete the process of breaking down the amino acid chains into forms that it can absorb. T
This means that partially hydrolyzed collagen (gelatin) is slower to absorb than fully hydrolyzed collagen (collagen peptides).
This is similar to how whey protein isolate is faster and easier for your body to digest than casein protein.
Timing of Collagen
A key difference between whey protein and collagen protein is that because collagen is an incomplete protein source, it does not contribute to building new muscle (muscle protein synthesis) on its own.
So, while we recommend a slow-digesting protein like casein (a complete protein) at night before bed to reduce muscle protein breakdown while sleeping, supplementing with gelatin (the slower-digesting form of collagen) at night does not have the same effects.
Unlike whey protein powder, there aren’t strong reasons to recommend faster-digesting collagen (peptides) at certain times of the day (e.g. post-workout) and slower-digesting collagen (gelatin) at others (e.g. before bed).
It’s a matter of personal preference. Take collagen at the time that is most consistent for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Mix Collagen Powder With Any Drink?
Yes, you can mix collagen with any drink if it is fully hydrolyzed, although we don’t recommend using alcohol or soda daily. A partially hydrolyzed collagen powder will only dissolve in a hot liquid like tea, coffee, warm milk or another heated liquid.
Should You Take Collagen In The Morning Or Night?
It doesn’t matter whether you take collagen in the morning or at night, as long as you are consistent in taking it every day. If your morning routine like a daily cup of coffee makes it easier to remember, take it then. On the other hand, if your night routine is more consistent, take it then. Just be sure to take it.
Does Adding Caffeine To Collagen Destroy It?
No, adding caffeine to collagen does not destroy the collagen. The average cup of coffee does not get hot enough to negatively impact the collagen (this happens at a temperature of 302 degrees C / 576 degrees F). Caffeine does inhibit the production of collagen in your body, and it does not impact collagen supplements.
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.