Formulating weight management solutions with collagen proteins

Innovation is key to success in the dynamic food and beverage sector, and collagen proteins offer various ways to make new products a reality in the competitive weight management market

Overweight, obesity and related diseases are the unfortunate and highly visible consequences of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity. Taking in fewer calories and expending more energy would be a simple way to free humanity from this modern scourge. But, even though this formula is no secret, and even though governments spend millions on nutritional education campaigns, consumer behaviour isn’t really changing; on the contrary, the problem is growing as quickly as our waistlines.

One of the main reasons why we find it so hard to keep our weight in check is that eating isn’t just about supplying the body’s basic energy and nutrient requirements. It is so much more. It has social and cultural aspects, it can be solace as well as compensation, and it can be rewarding.

It can fill gaps, it can fill time, it demonstrates status and wealth, it reflects tradition and, above all, it belongs to a very complex system of fulfilling personal needs. The multidimensional nature of food explains why expert advice and weight management programmes tend to fall on deaf ears. We do not want to change our lifestyles. We want indulgence, treats and comfort. This simple fact explains why 'low and light' as well as functional products have gained huge market share.

GELITA, the leading manufacturer of collagen proteins, enables manufacturers to take two different approaches that ensure taste, quality and efficacy: first, by developing products that have a lower energy density than their traditional counterparts but still are tasty and indulgent; and secondly, using ingredients that support body toning by improving body composition.

Maintaining volume with gelatin

Simply reducing sugar and fat does not produce satisfying results. Although the industry has provided acceptable solutions for sugar substitution, fat reduction is much more complicated. However, the natural ingredient gelatin provides a simple as well as satisfying solution: the use of gelatin enables air or water to be incorporated into a product. This means that the same product volume can have significantly fewer calories and far less fat. This simple method does not affect taste or texture, and the resulting mouthfeel is excellent.

With GELITA gelatin, there’s no need for the consumer to compromise on taste — or eat half as much as he or she used to.

Gelatin: one of the most versatile ingredients

Collagen proteins are highly purified proteins that can act as fat replacer, as well as a gelling, binding and whipping agent, stabiliser and emulsifier, and a film and foam former. Importantly, these ingredients not only help to improve a product’s texture, but they also boost its nutritional profile.

GELITA gelatin is derived from natural sources. Primarily produced by collagen hydrolysis, it is a pure protein; and, with only 3.3kcal/g, gelatin has significantly fewer calories than fat, which has around 9.3kcal/g. Gelatin is able to build thermo-reversible gels with different gelling powers in aqueous systems.

It is ideal for replacing a significant percentage of a product’s fat content as it is able to bind with large amounts of water. Gelatin also scores points by being able to create a fat-like matrix in emulsions that exhibit shear-thinning properties and creaminess that are similar to fat. Thus, the addition of gelatin results in a smooth, creamy texture and mouthfeel.

Although it is not possible to replace all of the fat in a recipe because of its multiple properties, especially its flavour impact, gelatin can mimic all of the other sensory properties of a food, including mouthfeel, texture, structure and appearance. Owing to its foam-building properties, gelatin can also be used to incorporate air into a wide range of products, from desserts to cheese preparations and even spreadable meat products.

What these products share is that they are multi-phase emulsions of air, oil and water. Gelatin decreases the surface tension of the water, enabling foam to be generated by mechanical whipping or by the injection of gas. It then stabilises the foam. So, large amounts of air can be incorporated into and maintained in the product, with different bubble sizes able to produce textures ranging from creamy to fluffy. And, because of gelatin’s gelling and stabilising properties, product texture remains the same, even during prolonged storage times.

More muscle, less fat

As collagen is the most abundant protein found in humans, and collagen peptides effectively support metabolic turnover, they are an ideal source of protein to maintain the health of the body’s connective tissue, bones, joints, skin, ligaments and tendons.

Increasingly well understood and scientifically proven, these nutritional and physiological advantages have been demonstrated in numerous scientific studies and trials. New research also confirms a positive effect (increase) on muscle mass with a loss of fat when combined with resistance training. This knowledge not only helps to increase quality of life in the elderly, it also offers great opportunities for weight management applications.

New study raises hope

A new study has investigated the effects of collagen peptide supplementation on the body composition of older men suffering from sarcopenia. Using BODYBALANCE bioactive collagen peptides from GELITA, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was done at the Institute of Sports and Sports Science, University of Freiburg, Germany. Including 60 sarcopenic men aged 65 and older (mean age = 72), researchers examined the effects of collagen peptides on body composition and muscle strength.

In two groups, the participants took part in a guided programme of resistance training on fitness devices; one group received a daily dose of BODYBALANCE collagen peptides (15g), whereas the control group was given a placebo. The results were impressive. Compared with the control group, the collagen-supplemented subjects showed a significant increase in fat-free mass and muscle strength, as well as a statistically significant reduction in fat mass.

Health at any age

Beyond healthy ageing, pure, natural and non-allergenic BODYBALANCE also has applications in body toning and body composition among every other age group. Providing access to a market with high growth potential, the food industry can use these Bioactive Collagen Peptides to develop innovative products such as beverages and shakes, bars, gels and all kinds of instant foods that contribute to healthy weight management nutrition.

Modern nutrition and clean label trends

GELITA gelatin and collagen peptides have no taste of their own. They are also odourless, so have no negative impact on the sensorial impression of an end product. An important technological consideration is that these collagen proteins are easy to combine with almost any other ingredient and can thus be incorporated into any formulation.

Importantly, collagen proteins are easy to digest and extremely well tolerated. Their low allergenic potential gives them a considerable advantage compared with other ingredients, given the growing number of food intolerances among today’s consumers. Being free from preservatives, fat, carbohydrates, purine and cholesterol, collagenous proteins contribute to overall health and well-being. They also fit in with today’s trend for clean labels.

As a natural foodstuff, rather than a food additive, their use is neither limited nor restricted, and they do not have an E-number. Thus, these collagen proteins do not have to be declared as an additive on an end product’s label.

Choosing the right partner

As collagen proteins are derived from natural materials, they are subject to natural variation — and for food manufacturers, this is an important point. To be able to ensure end product quality and consistency, manufacturers need to be certain that the type of collagen protein used has unwavering and constant properties.

They need to be confident that their supplier will always provide products with exactly the same properties – from consistent bloom value and viscosity to precisely the same particle size, gelling time and setting/melting temperature. Any change in any of these parameters will alter the end product and involve complicated and time-intensive alterations to the production process. To ensure that its customers don’t have these problems, GELITA pledges to supply products that always display exactly the same properties and high quality.

This consistency is the result of more than 140 years of experience and expertise. The global supplier also supports its clients at all stages of the production process — from product concept to formulation design and manufacturing technology.


Modern and tasty food products that contribute to weight management and are, above all, 'fun' can be produced with GELITA gelatins, thanks to their technological ability to increase the volume and water content of foods. Additionally, Bioactive Collagen Peptides can support body toning by helping to turn fat into muscle mass more efficiently. New study results underline that combining resistance training and specific collagen peptide supplementation is well suited to strengthening muscular power while losing fat mass.