You may have been wondering what the difference is between collagen and whey protein and if you can use collagen as a protein powder…
- Collagen powder comes from the connective tissues of animals- including bones, skin and hide.
- Whey protein powder is derived from milk.
Collagen and Whey protein contain a different ratio of amino acids as they are derived from different sources. Whey protein is quick digesting, with a full amino acid profile- ideal for use before or after exercise as it contains a high amount of branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) which are the amino acids your body breaks down during exercise, and are required for muscle synthesis. Foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy and well rounded plant based diets will provide a full range of BCAA’s so if you are eating a varied and balanced diet you should be getting enough without the use of a protein powder. If you are time crunched or on-the-go then protein powder can be a convenient way to increase your protein intake.
Collagen powder has a different amino acid profile to whey protein and muscle meats, in that it contains much higher levels of the anti-inflammatory amino acids- glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These amino acids are required to build collagen within the body. Collagen is particularly important as we age and our collagen production declines, for structure and maintenance in our body, so a collagen supplement can be valuable to support your hair, skin and nails, gut health, and keep your bones and joints healthy. Collagen is hard to come by in the diet, unless you are making and consuming bone broth on a regular basis- and let’s be honest, who has time for that these days?!
Whey protein is often seen as an essential sport performance supplement, but collagen supplements can be as beneficial if not more so than whey for exercise performance and recovery. Collagen powder has been shown to help the healing of joints, muscles and ligaments following injury. It is also ideal post-workout as it contains 18 amino acids, and good amounts of glycine and arginine which are key amino acids used to synthesise creatine- which helps with muscle building, strength and performance. Glycine in collagen powder, also combines with glutamine and cysteine to create glutathione- our master antioxidant helping to protect and defend the body against cellular damage and free radicals which we produce in high amounts when exercising intensely.
One of the advantages Collagen protein powder has over Whey is that it is tasteless and odourless, and blends smoothly into anything including tea/coffee, smoothies and baking. You can use collagen and whey protein interchangeably in recipes, but whey protein can have a strong chalky flavour, and tends to take over whatever you add it to, and that’s before we look at all the additional flavourings, sweeteners and fillers that whey protein powders tend to be packed with.
Whey protein has a good amino acid profile for muscle synthesis, it is also absorbed quickly into the gut, however it can cause digestive issues in those sensitive to lactose or dairy products. Collagen and whey protein share many benefits but collagen supplements additionally help to support gut health, hair, skin and nails and injury prevention and recovery. At between 91-93% pure protein for bovine and marine sources of collagen, it is one of the highest sources of pure protein around, making it the perfect pre or post workout supplement. If you are training a lot then by all means take whey protein for it’s muscle building benefits, but if you want that and a whole lot more then get some collagen powder in your life.