If you’ve noticed an uptick of beauty gurus and fitness buffs talking about collagen supplements, you’re not alone. Collagen has become a popular supplement among these groups because it supports many parts of the body. Now, though, people are wondering if collagen protein can be used in place of whey protein.
The Difference Between Collagen and Whey Protein
Collagen is a natural, fibrous and structural protein that binds cell and tissue together, helping them maintain their integrity and shape. It makes up much of the body’s connective tissue, including the:
- Skin, and
Whey protein is a by-product of cheese making and not produced by the body. It is, however, a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.
Both proteins contain essential amino acids, which are building blocks essential to building protein in the body, but because these proteins are sourced differently, their amino acid profiles differ. These varying structures give each protein a different function in the body.
How Whey Protein Works
Whey protein is a complete protein that supports muscle maintenance. It absorbs quickly into the body and contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are essential for the body to build muscle mass and are naturally found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
The Function of Collagen Protein
Collagen, contrarily, is high in three amino acids that are lacking from whey protein. These are proline, lysine and glycine. Consuming collagen provides your body with supplemental amino acids that it needs to properly build its own collagen.
It’s important to note that the body can’t effectively absorb and utilize collagen in its native state. It must first be broken down into smaller units during a process known as hydrolysis. The resulting product is commonly referred to as collagen peptides or hydrolyzed collagen. These peptides are typically sold as the collagen powder seen in stores.
Collagen and Beauty
As early as our mid-to-late 20s, we begin losing collagen. This is one reason that older adults experience more joint paint, wrinkling skin and weaker hair and nails. Many people turn to collagen to supplement the body’s decreasing collagen production rate to enhance their beauty from within the body.
Which Is Best?
The simple answer is neither one is “better” than the other. Because the two have different amino acid profiles, they simply have different functions in the body.
Collagen and whey protein aren’t the only supplemental protein options available. Click here for even more options.
Do you use whey protein or collagen protein powder or supplements? Which do you prefer?
- Avila Rodríguez MI, Rodríguez Barroso LG, Sánchez ML. Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):20-26. Epub 2017 Nov 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29144022
- Clark, K. L et al. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 May;24(5):1485-96. Epub 2008 Apr 15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885