Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Review

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Jennifer Hughes, MD

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Primal Kitchen's Collagen Fuel earns high marks for its high-quality collagen peptides and delicious flavor, but the price is high in comparison with similar collagen powders.

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Our Rating:

A-

» Rating Methodology

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Our Rating Methodology

We determined this rating by evaluating the following factors:

  • Ingredient Quality: A+
  • Supporting Research: A-
  • Reported Side Effects: B+
  • Brand Experience: A
  • Value: B
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Welcome to our Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel Review!

A vital constituent of healthy skin, hair, and nails and the most abundant protein in the body, collagen is gaining speed in the supplement industry for good reason.

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is a prominent player in this movement, offering a no-sugar-added, keto-friendly, paleo way to get your collagen in without worrying about questionable preservatives.

But is collagen really all it’s cracked up to be, and is Primal Kitchen’s version any better than the dozens of other options out there?

With research, sampling, and an interview with Primal Kitchen personnel over Zoom, our review team came to an overall grade of A- for Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel.

Primal Kitchen Chocolate Collagen Fuel
  • Description

    Chocolate Coconut gets our vote, but whichever flavor you choose, we found Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel to be a fitting addition to any wellness routine.

  • Ingredients

    Bovine Collagen Peptides, Coconut Milk Powder (Adds a negligible amount of sugar), Organic Fair-Trade Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Monk Fruit Extract, Konjac Root Gum, Sea Salt

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Collagen in peptide form (better absorption)
  • No sugar added
  • Great taste (chocolate and vanilla)
  • Cons
  • Some ingredients need more research
  • Bovine collagen is less sustainable

Ingredient Quality

Summary:

Grade: A+

Alongside the obvious—collagen peptides—an upstanding cast of naturally derived, organic, and fair-trade sweeteners makes for a top-tier ingredient list.

Here is the ingredient list for Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel:

Bovine Collagen Peptides, Coconut Milk Powder (Adds a negligible amount of sugar), Organic Fair-Trade Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Monk Fruit Extract, Konjac Root Gum, Sea Salt

As you can explore in greater detail in this beginner-friendly article on collagen, this vitally important protein is referred to as a “structural protein,” acting as a building block for skin, connective tissues, bone, muscle, and more.

This is why bodybuilders and beauticians alike have formed an appreciation for collagen; it can clear up your skin and support deeper connective tissues at the same time. 

Considering this importance, it’s no surprise that the human body manufactures its own collagen, but endogenous (internal) collagen production begins to drop off as we age past our late 20s. 

As for the type of collagen used in Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel and its reflection on ingredient quality, bovine collagen has various benefits over marine collagen, though not without drawbacks:

Pros

  • Generally cheaper than marine collagen
  • Less likely to cause/exacerbate intestinal distress
  • Safer than marine collagen for people with shellfish allergies

Cons

  • Less sustainable than marine collagen
  • Usually not as “clean” as marine collagen

Every other ingredient in Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is used for flavoring and/or texture (versus function), but seeing as these are the categories where we often find sub-par ingredients, we’re weighing them just as heavily as the collagen in our review.

Coconut milk powder provides a potentially thick base (depending on the volume of water added) while offering virtually sugar-free access to several heart-healthy antioxidants and nutrients.

Fair-trade cocoa powder contains some antioxidants as well, albeit a smaller amount, and though alkali processing may sound harsh, this illuminating breakdown by Virginia Tech explains how it can actually “enhance cocoa’s health properties, through the formation of new, potentially bioactive high molecular weight compounds.”

Regarding monk fruit, say what you will about the taste—the jury is split—but it has achieved generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status, and contains a class of antioxidants known as mogrosides.

Konjac root gum, used commonly as a thickener, is named after the konjac plant, an East Asian root vegetable that contains crude protein, several amino acids, and a type of dietary fiber called glucomannan.

While konjac root gum is also widely considered safe, its propensity to expand when mixed with water can pose a choking risk if this expansion occurs before konjac has made it beyond the esophagus, a scenario that requires excessive consumption to occur.

Overall, we found ourselves once again poring over an inarguably clean and effective ingredient list, earning Primal Kitchen an A+ for this category. 

Supporting Research

Summary:

Grade: A-

Collagen peptide supplements have been proven to absorb fairly efficiently, and research-verified benefits include enhanced bone formation, skin and connective tissue health, and more.

There’s virtually no room to debate the importance of the structural protein collagen for people of any age or gender, but this doesn’t allow for the presumption that exogenous collagen peptide products will be effectively absorbed and utilized by the body—or that the collagen itself is of a high enough quality for any given supplement.

Thankfully, various studies have found that exogenous collagen—as derived from food or supplements—can indeed facilitate improvements in bone, skin, and connective tissue health, among other benefits.

For example, this study from PLA No. 306 Hospital in Beijing found that bovine collagen peptides significantly improved the spread of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts (in this case, MC3T3-E1 cells) in mice.

Another study from German research institute Dermatest GmbH found that collagen peptides “significantly improved skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, and density” in human participants, although the drinkable nutraceutical in the study did contain acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, biotin, and vitamin E in addition to the collagen.

Most of the studies yielding clear data on bioavailability of ingested collagen takes place on rats—like this Jiangsu University of China study reporting a 49.6% bioavailability—but there have been several human studies that at least report significant blood concentrations of collagen following ingestion as secondary observations. 

In summary, we know with a fairly high degree of certainty that ingested collagen supports the same functions as endogenous collagen, and we suspect that the bioavailability is at least average.

With no other functional/active ingredients in Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel to inspect from a research standpoint, we’re giving the supplement an A- in this category for its use of objectively supported bovine collagen. 

Reported Side Effects

Summary:

Grade: B+

Silence isn’t always golden when looking for safety data, which is why we’re optimistic, but still cautious around scantily researched monk fruit and konjac root gum.

An ingredient doesn’t have to be classified as active to cause adverse effects, so we took a survey of research-supported safety data for collagen, monk fruit extract, and konjac root to provide a more comprehensive picture for the safety profile of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel.

Collagen use in studies is very rarely associated with adverse events, but studies that do report side effects usually cite a less than 5% incidence of bloating and unpleasant taste.

Interestingly, these researchers from Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan found that collagen can be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) without increasing risk of COVID-19 infection, which is an issue associated with proton pump inhibitor drugs, another GERD treatment. 

Monk fruit extract and other plant-based sugar alternatives can’t seem to shake the popular stigma that they supposedly cause cancer, but findings like this one from the EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavorings points to different potential issues.

Namely, monk fruit needs more research (especially on long-term effects) for a safety profile to be confidently established, but the study above does determine that “no effects on parental, reproductive or development toxicity were observed in a reproductive and developmental screening study at 1,200mg mogroside [antioxidants in monk fruit] V/kg body weight per day in rats.”

Finally, konjac root gum is another agent that requires more in vivo studies for a clearer safety picture (of toxic potential especially), but the European Food Safety Authority found that “Konjac gum and konjac glucomannan [fiber] were of no concern with respect to genotoxicity,” and “after a daily dosage of 3,000mg in adults for 12 weeks, several individuals experienced abdominal discomfort including diarrhea and constipation.”

To summarize, Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is not trying to sneak in any cheaply manufactured sweeteners or additives known to be harmful, but the downside of using newly popularized (or at least recently re-emergent) ingredients like konjac root gum and monk fruit extract is a lack of in-depth safety research.

Balancing the generally favorable adverse event reports for these ingredients with the need for more safety data, we’ve arrived at a grade of B+ for safety in our Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel review. 

Brand Experience

Summary:

Grade: A

Primal Kitchen supports their Collagen Fuel product with high-quality customer support services, informative website copy, a fluid shopping experience, and more.

This is where we take a step back from the reviewed product itself to factor in how well Primal Kitchen supports your browsing, purchasing, and other experiences, which encompasses the following points at a minimum:

  • Quality and accessibility of beginner-friendly website content
  • Online shopping experience
  • Customer service quality
  • Shipping and return policies
  • And more

We had no reason to reach out to customer service throughout our Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel review, but as we explain in our Primal Kitchen Brand Review, both their available services and their responses were above average.

Primal Kitchen has phone, live messenger, and email support channels, and when testing them, we received very quick and helpful responses.

The site content was equally informative and accommodating—thanks to a series of blog posts and podcast episodes—but the information is not clearly consolidated, so you have to click around a bit to get a sense of things.

Online shopping is made simple despite Primal Kitchen’s large (80+) product catalog, thanks to intuitive drop-down product categories and well-designed, yet concise product pages.

You’re on the hook for shipping costs if you decide to make a return, but Primal Kitchen does offer a free shipping threshold at $50 for subscribers and $25 for non-subscribers.

Balancing the positive aspects of the brand experience with the areas for improvement we identified, we’re left with a decidedly pro-consumer impression, earning Primal Kitchen an A for brand experience. 

Value 

Summary:

Grade: B

Primal Kitchen’s premium is less justified than usual in this case, as the simplistic ingredient list of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel (and most other collagen supplements) leaves little room for embellishment.

Primal Kitchen charges $39.99 for their 13.89oz container of (flavored) Collagen Fuel, which reduces to $2.87/oz.

By comparison, Vital Proteins Unflavored Collagen is $2.70/oz, and on the other end of the spectrum, Orgain Grass-Fed Pasture Raised Collagen Peptides cost $1.42/oz.

Despite the brand reputation and consistent formulation quality of Primal Kitchen and all their collagen products, there’s no getting around this premium.

Like many Primal Kitchen products, this price point is at the level that excludes collagen newbies who are sampling around and/or more casual shoppers, but those committed collagen users who can discern the difference between high-tier (like Vital Proteins) and top-tier (like Primal Kitchen) may still be willing to pay extra.

Primal’s brand reputation also helps tip the value equation in their favor, so after factoring that in, we’re awarding them a B for value. 

Our Experience

Our review team has sampled both the Chocolate Coconut and Vanilla Coconut flavors of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel.

When blended into smoothies, the Vanilla Coconut added a subtle and very tasty accent without causing any disturbances whatsoever in the texture.

The Chocolate Coconut flavor—which we just mixed into water—was extremely tasty (that’s real cocoa powder for you), but we did run into that all-too-common issue of the product not fully dissolving, resulting in some clumps.

We won’t pretend to have a highly acute sense of just how effective Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel was for two reasons: we likely didn’t take it for long enough, and some of us were consuming collagen supplements beforehand.

That said, we have no reason to believe that this product would be any less effective than other collagen supplements we’ve had success with, since the ingredient lists are all fairly close.

Overall, the taste was definitively above average in both cases (chocolate and vanilla), leaving the clumping issue as our single complaint.

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel FAQs

Is Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel hydrolyzed?

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is not advertised as a hydrolyzed collagen product.

Does Primal Kitchen Collagen have protein?

Collagen itself is a form of protein. Each serving of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel contains 10g of protein in the form of collagen. 

What type of collagen is in Primal Kitchen?

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel uses bovine collagen. 

What does Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel do for you?

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel supports healthy skin, hair, nails, bones, and other tissues. 

Do collagen powders really work?

Everyone’s experience will vary, but research findings and personal testimonials alike demonstrate the effectiveness of collagen powders.

Our Verdict

Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel delivers an optimized form of bovine collagen alongside high-quality, naturally derived sweeteners and thickening agents. 

Though we need to see more safety data on monk fruit and konjac root gum, the overall safety profile of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel is well-established enough to avoid any major health concerns.

This isn’t one of Primal Kitchen’s more competitively priced products, as the lack of formulation variety inherent to the product gives them less room than usual to justify a premium over cheaper competitors, but it isn’t among the most expensive collagen products on the market either. 

Our review team thoroughly enjoyed both the Chocolate Coconut and Vanilla Coconut flavors of Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel, and though the product clumps when mixed with water alone, this certainly isn’t a rare problem.

Overall, we’re pleased with Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel, which earned an overall score of A- in our review, and will recommend it to anyone old enough to have owned a walkman (remember, you have until your 30s).

Primal Kitchen Chocolate Collagen Fuel
  • Description

    Chocolate Coconut gets our vote, but whichever flavor you choose, we found Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel to be a fitting addition to any wellness routine.

  • Ingredients

    Bovine Collagen Peptides, Coconut Milk Powder (Adds a negligible amount of sugar), Organic Fair-Trade Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Monk Fruit Extract, Konjac Root Gum, Sea Salt

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