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10 FAQs: Collagen Protein vs. Whey Protein
Whey has been a staple for athletes for decades, but the new kid on the block, collagen, has got people asking...
Should I take collagen? Should I take whey? Should I take both?
And we're here to break it down and give you the facts to help you make your own decisions.
Keep reading and learn whether or not you should take a collagen protein powder, whey protein powder, or possibly both.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of collagen protein vs. whey protein to help you decide which supplement.
Let's get into it.
- Collagen protein contains a unique amino acid profile that makes it good for supporting the health of joints and ligaments, as well as skin and digestive health.
- Whey protein is a complete protein high in BCAAs, making it ideal for building muscle and increasing lean protein intake.
- Whey protein and collagen protein are both beneficial for our health. One should not be substituted for the other, as both have unique properties and health benefits.
QUICK BACKGROUND LESSONS
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details, here’s a quick and dirty overview of collagen protein vs. whey protein.
Collagen protein supplements have been show to
The most abundant protein in our bodies, collagen is found in our muscles, bones, tendons, skin, teeth, arteries, and more.
It provides strength and structure, which is why it's known as "the glue" that holds our bodies together! Because without it, we'd turn into wrinkly, saggy, weak, aliens.
(Kidding about the aliens, but the rest is true.)
Our bodies naturally produce collagen. However, collagen production naturally slows at age 20 and steadily declines by about 1.0%-1.5% each year.
Factors like poor diet choices, excess alcohol consumption, exposure to the sun, and smoking can all accelerate collagen loss.
Collagen protein supplements come from the connective tissue of animals, including bovine, fish, chickens, and pigs.
While collagen is not a complete protein, it is uniquely high in three important amino acids — glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, which can influence collagen synthesis in tendons and ligaments.
Whey protein comes from whey, the liquid portion of milk that separates from the curds during cheese production and is a complete protein that contains a range of essential acids that your body can quickly absorb.
Whey protein powders are one of the most popular protein supplements on the market. They’re often used by athletes, bodybuilders, and other individuals who need a nutritional boost.
Studies suggest whey protein can increase fat loss while preserving lean body mass, improve strength and muscle mass, facilitate recovery after a workout, and more.
COLLAGEN VS. WHEY
Now that we’re familiar with collagen protein vs. whey protein powder, let’s put them head to head to find out which is better for your individual health goals.
One of the main differences between collagen and whey protein is their amino acid content.
Whey protein is a complete protein, containing 20 amino acids and all nine essential amino acids that your body needs to thrive. It also contains the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which play a vital role in repairing and building muscles.
Collagen, on the other hand, contains 19 total amino acids, eight of which are essential. Collagen is missing the essential amino acid tryptophan. Therefore it is not considered a complete protein.
That said, collagen is exceptionally high in the amino acids hydroxyproline, glycine, and proline. Hydroxyproline is an amino acid specific to collagen that isn't found in other proteins.
Whey protein is considered a “fast-acting protein” because it is easily broken down and absorbed by the body. Studies indicate that the typical absorption rate for whey protein is 10 grams per hour. This means it would take only two hours to fully absorb 20 grams of whey.
Most collagen supplements contain hydrolyzed collagen, which is broken down into smaller pieces for faster and more efficient absorption. Research suggests that the amino acids in collagen (proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine) peak 30-60 minutes after ingestion.
Collagen is an important component of skeletal muscle tissue. One 2019 study on 25 young men found that participants who consumed 15 grams of collagen within 60 minutes of resistance training experienced more significant improvements in body mass, fat-free mass, and muscle mass than those who did not take collagen supplements.
That said, collagen isn’t as effective at building muscle mass as whey protein. This is because it is not a complete protein and does not contain branched-chain amino acids.
In particular, whey protein contains the branched-chain amino acid leucine, which directly stimulates muscle protein synthesis by activating the mTOR signaling pathway.
Collagen makes up our connective tissues, muscles, bones, and tendons. This makes it essential for supporting bone and joint health and improving recovery time after injury.
Collagen protein powders also have high amounts of glycine may help promote recovery by reducing inflammation after an injury.
One 2019 study discovered that people who consumed 20 grams of collagen per day for seven days before and two days after exercise experienced reduced muscle soreness 48 hours post-exercise.
Furthermore, a 2021 review of 15 studies concluded that collagen supplements are most beneficial in improving joint functionality and reducing joint pain.
Whey protein is packed with all the amino acids required for muscle synthesis, which is vital for recovery. For example, one 2018 study found that whey protein can reduce symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and improve muscle function.
We know you've got questions, and we've got answers. Here are answers to ten of the top frequently asked questions about collagen and whey protein.
1) WHAT IS COLLAGEN GOOD FOR?
Collagen supplements are beneficial for injury recovery and prevention, improving bone density, and building muscle. Collagen is also good for supporting healthy skin, hair, nails, and joints.
2) WHAT IS WHEY GOOD FOR?
Whey is beneficial for increasing strength, building lean muscle mass, weight loss, shortening recovery, and decreasing body fat. Plus, it’s a great way to increase your lean protein intake without much effort.
3) WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE COLLAGEN?
When it comes to collagen supplements, consistency matters more than timing. As long as you’re consuming a well-balanced diet and taking collagen daily, you should be able to experience the full benefits.
4) WHEN SHOULD I TAKE WHEY?
Whey protein can be consumed at any time of the day as a high-protein snack, meal replacement, or post-workout shake.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, protein consumption up to two hours after training is ideal for building lean muscle mass.
5) CAN I TAKE COLLAGEN AND WHEY TOGETHER?
Yes! Consuming collagen and whey protein together can maximize the benefits of each. Not only will it provide your body with unique amino acids needed to make collagen, but it will also help you hit your protein goals and support muscle growth along with joint, skin, and bone health.
6) DO I NEED A COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENT?
As you age, your body naturally produces less collagen. This eventually leads to wrinkles, muscle aches, joint pain, and digestive issues.
Taking a high-quality collagen supplement can help replenish your levels of this important protein and reduce signs of aging.
7) DO I NEED A WHEY SUPPLEMENT?
It depends on your diet. A whey protein supplement may be unnecessary if you consume a well-balanced diet with enough protein and calories. However, many athletes struggle to hit their protein requirements and will benefit from a high-quality whey supplement.
8) HOW DO SUPPLEMENTS HELP ME?
In a perfect world, we would get all of the nutrients we need from our diet. But fitting in proper nutrition can be a challenge — especially for those of us with busy schedules. Supplements can help bridge nutrient gaps in your diet and provide the boost you need to meet your health and fitness goals.
9) WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN SUPPLEMENTS?
When buying a supplement, it is important to choose a safe, high-quality product that will deliver results. Look for supplements that have been third-party tested to confirm the accuracy of ingredients displayed on the Supplement Facts label.
Additionally, choose supplements that are free of artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, or artificial coloring so you can feel confident about what you're putting in your body.
10) WHERE TO BUY?
Our collagen supplement is made with 100% hydrolyzed collagen peptides sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows. You can purchase it here.
Our natural whey protein supplement, BUILD, is sourced from 100% grass-fed, pasture-raised U.S. cows. It is completely free of food dyes, gluten, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. You can purchase it here.
All of our products are produced in the United States in an FDA-approved facility following strict GMP guidelines. Each batch is third-party tested to ensure the highest quality and purity and tested for banned substances.
Whey protein and collagen protein are important for your health. Each plays a different role in the body and has unique properties. When it comes down to it, the best protein supplement for you depends on your health and wellness goals.
Whey protein is a superior choice if you are looking for a complete protein supplement to increase lean muscle mass and strength and promote long-term weight loss.
But if you are looking for a supplement to support the health of your hair, skin, and nails, as well as joint function, muscle health, and injury recovery, collagen is your best bet.
For best results, combine the two and pair them with a healthy diet and exercise.