Can jelly be useful for sports injury recovery?

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There’s a lot of talk about Jelly in gyms, so why are power lifters so interested in dessert? Well, gelatin of course! New research has shown how gelatin can help your joints. Like all gym stories there’s some truth in the jelly myth, but the truth isn’t as simple as eating jelly, although we all wish it was!

Gelatin is high in amino acids the building blocks of protein and collagen. Collagen is the substance in the body that provide elasticity and strength to soft tissue like tendons and ligaments.

In athletes that are experiencing high training loads like runners, cyclists and power lifters sometimes find they have sore joints from constant impact on knees, shoulders and elbows. Over 50% of injuries in sports that can be bunched into the category of sprains, strains, rupture or breaks. Now there’s a diet supplement that athletes can use to recover faster from injury.

In a recent Australian study, researchers supplemented 8 male athletes with gelatin one hour before exercise whilst they recovered from soft tissue injury. What they found was supplementing 15g of gelatin can improve joint mechanics and reduce joint pain in athletes. Researchers are now thinking this can also be extended and used in the elderly also suffering from joint pain or footballers recovering from ACL surgical repair.

Where do you get gelatin from?

For the dessert lovers you’ll be surprised to know that it’s the same gelatin power or strips you use to make jelly or glaze cakes. Gelatin can be found in the cake aisle of your local supermarket.

How to take it?

Take 15g of Gelatin one hour before exercise with water or juice. If you have any gut upset use a ramped protocol: Start with 5g one day then the next day increase this to 10g, then 15g. You can do this ramp slower if you need to. Mix the gelatin powder in water or juice and guzzle it down immediately so it doesn’t set.

Is eating jelly good enough?

In short- no. Jelly only contains about 10% protein, which means it has even less collagen. In order for this supplement to work you need to take a therapeutic dose. Sure you can eat Jelly, but your joints won’t feel any different. And if you’re tempted to make Jelly from scratch using more gelatin that normal, think again… seriously, have you ever tasted hard Jelly? YUCK!

*Added APD and Sports Dietitian Chris Fonda made a great comment below. In the study Ribena juice was used because of its high vitamin C content and it makes better tasting to drink. Thanks Chris!

Reference

G.Shaw, A.Lee-Barthel, K.Baar, M.Ross. 2016. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Gabby, great read. I wouldn’t suggest people consume gelatin with water. 1. It doesn’t taste great, 2. The study protocol consumed gelatin with Ribena Light (a source of Vitamin C, approx. 48mg).

    • Yes I thought it would taste gross. I saw the recipe for jelly lollies, I might post that up as an idea too. Thanks for the comment 🙂