Is a gelatin supplement the key to preventing injury and enhancing recovery?

THERE ARE STRANGE-SOUNDING supps (Yohimbine and Horny Goat Weed, for instance) that boost your penis and overall sex life, even supp stacks to further your muscle gains. Now, there’s new research from the University of California, Davis that suggests you could be safeguarding your body from injury by something pretty mundane: a gelatin supplement.

If you only know about gelatin in the sense of eating jello, here’s a quick primer:

Gelatin is actually an animal byproduct; it’s made by boiling down the bones, connective tissues, and tendons of animals (yum!), per research published in Elsevier. Now, you might confuse gelatin with collagen (which is making a surge in the food scene, appearing in protein bars, for example), because collagen is the main protein present in the connective tissues of animals. In short, gelatin is made of collagen; or, rather, it’s a form of collagen that’s used in our foods. Because collagen is created by heat, its amino acids are broken down. Gelatin can be mixed with water and turn into a gel, while collagen can’t.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers had eight young, healthy men take a gelatin supplement supported with vitamin C (the reason being vitamin C helps produce new collagen in your body, strengthening tendons and ligaments). The supplement was taken as a drink, after which the men performed a five-minute bout of high-intensity exercise (i.e. skipping) one hour later.

Researchers also collected blood samples to test for the presence of amino acids that can help build up collagen, which can bolster your tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Ultimately, the gelatin supplement increased the amount of amino acids in the blood and boosted collagen synthesis. Now, in lieu of opening up a guy’s leg to see how the supp was influencing the ligaments, researchers also analyzed the gelatin and vitamin C supplement’s effect on lab-grown ligaments. The result was promising: It improved the tissue’s mechanics.

Why should you care? Whether you’re an elite-level athlete or just a guy trying to step up your fitness or drop some lbs, you want healthy connective tissue and you definitely don’t want any injuries to your tendons, ligaments, or bones. This is one way you can help prevent injury and enhance recovery so you can get in the gym more often.

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