Collagen protein vs whey protein 

This article was written by Jack Schrupp.

Collagen protein vs whey protein: what is the difference? Learn more about protein supplements and how to best meet your protein needs. This article was written by Jack Schrupp.

Whey protein vs collagen protein

What is collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein found in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals. It is also the most abundant protein in humans, accounting for about 30% of our body’s total protein.

Most collagen protein supplements are made from bovine (cow) or marine (fish) collagen peptides. Collagen peptides have undergone hydrolysis, a process that breaks down the protein into smaller pieces that are easier to digest and absorb.

What is whey? 

Whey is a liquid byproduct of cheese and yogurt making. It has two main components: protein and lactose (sugar).

There are two types of whey protein supplements: whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Whey protein concentrate contains 70-80% protein. Whey protein isolate contains 90% protein.


Collagen vs whey protein

There are several methods used to determine the quality of a dietary protein in human nutrition. The preferred method is the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS), which takes into account amino acid composition and digestibility.

Amino acid composition: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 of them in the human body, 9 of which are essential, meaning we must get them from food. A dietary protein source with all 9 essential amino acids is considered a complete protein. The PDCAAS considers how much of each essential amino acid is in a dietary protein, and compares those values to the reference pattern established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which represents the ideal amino acid profile for human nutrition.

Protein digestibility: The PDCAAS also accounts for the digestibility of a dietary protein, as not all dietary proteins are digested and absorbed by the body in the same way. Dietary proteins that are more easily digested and absorbed have a higher PDCAAS.

Whey protein has a PDCAAS of 100, which is the highest score possible. Not only does whey protein contain high amounts of all the essential amino acids, but it is also easily digested and absorbed by the body.

Collagen protein, on the other hand, has a PDCAAS of 0 because it lacks one essential amino acid, tryptophan. This does not mean that collagen is not a good source of protein, however, it is simply a reminder that the PDCAAS is an imperfect method of assessment. The PDCAAs is biased towards a protein’s “completeness,” and ignores its nutritional value as part of an overall diet.

Research shows that including collagen peptides at up to 36% of total daily dietary protein intake maintains an overall PDCAAS of 100. In other words, as long as you are getting your dietary protein intake from a variety of sources, collagen is as good a protein source as any. The idea that whey is better than collagen, or any other dietary protein source for that matter, is thus misleading. Whey does have the highest PDCAAS possible, but that is not an advantage for someone eating a balanced diet.

Keep in mind that the PDCAAS of your dietary protein intake should not exceed 100 – fulfill more than 100% of your essential amino acid requirements. This is because your metabolic needs include both essential and non-essential amino acids. It follows that if one or more of the essential amino acids are present in excess, the diet becomes limited in essential amino acids, and thus unbalanced even though the PDCAAS remains equal to 100.

In other words, incorporating an incomplete dietary protein like collagen protein into your diet without compromising your essential amino acid intake can add nutritional value, whereas adding a complete protein like whey can do more harm than good if you do not need the additional essential amino acids.

Given the reduced benefits of whey protein supplementation compared to collagen protein supplementation for someone eating a balanced diet, it is probably in your best interest to consider the drawback of each dietary protein source. This is where whey protein becomes considerably less appealing.

Digestive issues: Because it is a derivative of milk, whey protein is not suitable for people with dairy allergies. Most whey protein supplements are not suitable for people with lactose intolerance either. If you are lactose intolerant – two thirds of adults are – consuming whey protein can cause digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea.

Side effects: Dairy consumption also stimulates the production of insulin and insulin-like growth factor, both of which have been linked to acne development. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor regulate sebum production, an oily substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands which can clog pores and result in pimples. 

Collagen protein powder, on the contrary, is both easy to digest and good for your skin. Research shows that collagen protein supplementation supports the health of bones, joints, and nails too. So, if you want a protein supplement that will help you boost your protein intake without upsetting your stomach or causing you to breakout, I highly recommend choosing collagen protein over whey protein.


What is the best collagen protein powder?

Not all collagen protein powders are created equal. Many options, especially flavored ones, contain added junk that can cause painful side effects and long term health issues. Here are the top ingredients to avoid when buying collagen protein powder, or any protein powder for that matter:

Avoid food additives

Many collagen protein powders are made with a cocktail of additives. Additives can upset your stomach and alter the composition and function of your gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. This can lead to gut dysbiosis, or an imbalance in your gut microbiota, which contributes to wide range of chronic diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, type 1 diabetes, and colorectal cancer.

Avoid artificial sweeteners 

Of all the food additives to avoid, artificial sweeteners like sucralose are at the top of the list. Several studies have shown they can increase cravings toward sugary and sweet foods, leading to binging and feelings of withdrawal. Research has also linked artificial sweeteners to a higher risk of glucose intolerance, which is a precursor for pre-diabetes and diabetes. If you are trying to lose weight or improve your health, you are probably better off just eating sugar.

In summary, the best collagen protein powder is free from food additives, especially artificial sweeteners. As a rule of thumb, just look for a short list of simple ingredients – the shorter and the simpler the better. Keep reading to learn more.

drink wholesome is the best collagen protein powder

drink wholesome is additive-free

One of the reasons why we make the best collagen protein powder is that we do not use any food additives whatsoever. 

our ingredients: 

collagen, coconut, vanilla, monk fruit

the alternative:

Whey Protein Isolate, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Malic Acid, Sucralose, Polysorbate 80, Sunflower Lecithin, Citric Acid, Beet Root Extract (Color), Reb A (Stevia), Silicone (Anti-Foaming Agent)

In addition to being linked to long term health problems, food additives are hard to digest and feed your gut bacteria, which release gas as they eat. As you might imagine, too much intestinal gas can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach pain.

Partially digested food additives also cause your colon to absorb too much water, which can lead to diarrhea. Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia fiber, acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, ascorbic acid, aspartame, calcium carbonate, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dicalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, ‘natural’ flavors, rice bran extract, rice dextrin, rice hulls, rosemary extract, silica, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, soluble corn fiber, soy lecithin, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, xylitol, zinc oxide

Made with a short list of simple ingredients, our collagen protein powders are easy to digest and delicious. They are a great way to boost your protein intake, and can support your bone, joint, nail and skin health at the same time. Order samples to see for yourself.

In conclusion, I hope that this article has answered some, if not all, of your questions about collagen vs whey protein. For most people, collagen protein is the better option. It is easier on the stomach, less likely to cause acne, and even more versatile; you can add collagen protein powder to almost any recipe for an easy protein boost.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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