Collagen vs. Whey Protein: How Are They Different and Why Do We Need Both?

If you’re interested in dietary supplements and consider using them as an addition to your training and diet, you’ve probably heard about protein supplements. Whey has been used for years, and it’s been known as a staple product for muscle building and recovery. Collagen is a fairly new addition to the supplement family, but it’s already showing promising results, and it’s becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts.

But what exactly is the difference between collagen and whey protein? Are they similar in any way? This article will give you the answers to these questions and shed a little light on some of the issues regarding these popular types of protein supplements. If you want to learn more, keep on reading!


What Is Collagen?

Collagen is a fibrous protein that’s derived from the bovine hide. It’s rich with four amino acids: glycine, arginine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids are known for their beneficial effects on connective tissue, skin, hair, and nails. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, providing it with the shape, strength, and structure of tendons, ligaments, and skin.

As a supplement, collagen is made from beef bone and hide, but there are also more vegetarian-friendly options available, such as marine algae collagen. You can easily buy it online, but we recommend purchasing any dietary supplements from reputable shops. Sites like Primalharvest have a good variety if you don’t feel like doing a lot of research. Only by using the services of a reliable source can you expect positive effects and high-quality products.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a combination of proteins derived from whey, which is a watery byproduct of cheese. It contains 20 amino acids, including all the 9 essential amino acids, which must be obtained from the diet as the human body can’t produce them. These amino acids, such as histidine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, aid the immune system, support collagen production, strengthen connective tissue, help regulate mood, sleep, and appetite, as well as stimulate muscle regeneration and growth.

Whey protein comes in both a concentrate and an isolated form when it’s sold as a dietary supplement. High-quality whey protein powders have a slightly milky taste. They can be mixed with other ingredients and, because they’re low in fat and lactose, they’re a perfect choice for people who are sensitive to regular dairy products or actively monitor their fat intake.

Collagen and Whey Protein: Key Benefits

Professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts often use collagen and whey protein supplements because both of them can reduce the appetite, support the organism during and after exercise, and come with a wide range of benefits specific to their amino acid profiles. Both types of protein improve muscle growth and recovery. What’s more, their absorption rate is similar, especially when they’re taken with digestive enzymes. Keep in mind, though, that you should implement any form of supplementation responsibly. Before that, you should first come up with a plan for a healthy diet.

Collagen and whey protein can be used separately. However, experts advise against using them interchangeably because combined supplementation proved to have the best effects. This way, you can get the most out of the proteins’ unique composition.

Collagen vs. Whey Protein: How Are They Different?

Collagen and whey protein differ when it comes to the following issues:

  • Amino acid profiles. Whey protein is a complete protein source because it consists of 20 amino acids and all of the 9 essential amino acids. On the other hand, collagen includes 19 amino acids and 8 of the 9 essential amino acids.
  • Sourcing. As we mentioned before, collagen is derived from bovine hide while whey is derived from milk, or, more specifically, it’s a byproduct of the cheese-making process.
  • Muscle building properties. Both whey and collagen aid you in muscle building, especially after strength training. However, whey protein stimulates protein synthesis better, which may be due to the higher concentration of leucine.
  • Help in injury recovery and pain relief. Collagen proved to have anti-inflammatory effects on injuries and can even speed up the recovery process in conditions affecting joints and tendons. Whey protein, on the other hand, seems to enhance the inflammatory response in certain conditions.
  • Effects on bone density. Studies haven’t confirmed that whey protein improves skeletal health. However, they proved that collagen, especially in its hydrolyzed form, supports bone formation and prevents age-related bone degradation.

Why Is Collagen So Important for Adults?

As our bodies grow, they undergo various processes and changes. In people in their 20s, collagen production slows down and decreases by about 1% every year after they reach the age of 20. As such, collagen has been extensively studied in the context of its potential anti-ageing properties and effects on skin, hair, and joints. Some studies also show that collagen may reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and even accelerate healing in the case of digestive problems and exercise-related conditions.

Additionally, collagen is a protein that’s occurring naturally in the human body. In fact, collagen molecules makeup about 30% of all protein in the human organism and over half of all the proteins in bones, tendons, and ligaments. As collagen production decreases with age, taking it in the form of supplements is more than advisable.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, both proteins are extremely important to your health, can improve your well-being, and support your organism during the treatment of various conditions. There are some similarities between them, but the differences make it impossible to replace one with another. That’s why if you want to get the best results, you should consider combining them, especially if you engage in regular physical activity.

Protein supplements are easy to buy. However, you’ll achieve optimal effects if you start taking them as an addition to an already healthy diet. Proper nutrition and a reasonable training plan, along with collagen and whey proteins, can help you reach your fitness goals, improve your gut and joint health, and positively influence your appearance. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the results may differ depending on the body type, personal goals, health routine, and budget.

Content supplied by Maciej Grzymkowski – a nutrition specialist with particular expertise in the area of sports nutrition. Having spent multiple years designing meal plans and supplement regimes for professional and amateur athletes, I’ve recently shifted my focus towards writing about the importance of fitness and nutrition in our daily lives as a means of spreading awareness of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. Apart from supplementation and healthy dietary habits, I’m also a strong believer in outdoor gyms, as I think everybody should have full, uninhibited access to basic exercise equipment.

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