The food you eat contains varying amounts of the three macronutrients – carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Where carbs and fat are sources of energy, protein has other roles to play. All three are important, and you need them all to survive and thrive. That said, you can do without carbs because your body can use fat and even protein for energy.
However, it could be argued that, of the three macros, protein is the most important. In fact, the word protein comes from the Greek word for first or primary – proteus. Unlike carbs, your body cannot make protein, and if you don’t eat enough, it will start scavenging it from your muscles, bones, and organs. That’s why dietary protein is so important.
In an effort to get sufficient protein, a lot of people turn to protein supplements, and there are many different types to choose from. Protein supplements are made from several base ingredients, including soy, eggs, beef, pea, and hemp.
In this article, we’re going to look at collagen protein vs. whey protein so you can see which one is best for your needs. Hint: they’re both valuable, and you may benefit from using both of these popular protein supplements.
Collagen Protein vs. Whey Protein
What Is Collagen Protein?
Collagen protein is the newest supplement on the block. It’s only been available for ten years or so and has only gained real popularity in the last five years. Despite this recent development, collagen is actually the most abundant protein in the human body.
Unlike whey, collagen is not made from milk. Instead, it comes from animals. It’s the building blocks of skin, bones, hair, nails, cartilage, and just about every other structure in your body.
The original source of collagen protein was bone broth, which is just what it sounds like – a broth made by boiling bones for many hours. While bone broth is still available, and you can make it yourself, a lot of people prefer the convenience of collagen protein powder.
Collagen protein tends to be more expensive than other protein supplements, including whey. It’s mainly used as a holistic health product rather than a sports supplement, although it may have some sports applications.
Collagen Protein Benefits
Collagen protein is a holistic health product and, as such, has several noteworthy benefits. The top benefits of using collagen protein include:
Improved Skin Health
Using collagen protein may make your skin more elastic and prevent the formation of lines and wrinkles.
It may even reduce existing wrinkles by increasing skin hydration. Taking collagen may also help speed up wound healing and reduce scarring.
Less Joint Pain
A lot of joint pain is caused by damaged hyaline cartilage. This results in roughened articular surfaces. Hyaline cartilage tends to thin with age and is subject to wear and tear. Collagen protein supplements may help repair cartilage, reduce degradation, and reduce joint pain.
Better Gut Health
Collagen protein supplementation may help prevent and treat leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome, both of which cause various unpleasant stomach symptoms.
Improved Heart Health
Collagen may help reduce the risk of several heart-related conditions, including atherosclerosis, artery stiffness, heart attack, and stroke. It may also lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol.
While collagen is largely healthy and safe to use, there are a few drawbacks to consider before you start using this supplement:
Not Suitable For Vegetarians or Vegans
All collagen protein supplements are made from animal bones. As such, it is not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.
Some collagen supplements also contain fish, shellfish, and eggs. As such, they may cause allergies in some people. While collagen is free from lactose, it’s not 100% free from potential allergens.
Some users report that collagen protein causes heartburn and indigestion. It may also cause bloating in some people.
Collagen protein powder is usually unflavored or naturally flavored. For some users, the taste may be unpleasant.
Collagen protein is more expensive than other types of protein powder.
However, to gain benefit from it, you’ll need to take it both regularly and for an extended time. The price may make this impossible. Because of the cost, whey protein supplement doses tend to be relatively small – such as 5-10 grams per serving.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is made from milk. There are several different types of whey protein, including whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey protein, and whey protein blends.
Milk Contains Two Types of Protein
Whey and casein, with whey making up 20% of the total.
Whey was traditionally used in cheese manufacture and used in animal feeds before becoming a popular protein supplement.
Whey protein is arguably the most widely used type of protein supplement, and it’s very popular with athletes, bodybuilders, and dieters.
While it is available unflavored, most whey protein products are flavored, and varieties include the usual chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and more exotic flavors like salted caramel, birthday cake, and cookie dough.
Whey Protein Is Usually Used In Quite Large Servings
20-30 grams being typical. Most users take 1-3 servings per day to make sure they’re getting enough protein.
Whey protein is one of the most studied supplements around, and its benefits include:
Promotes Muscle Growth
Whey protein has a real affinity with muscle tissue, and consuming it alongside a regular strength training regimen may enhance muscle growth. Taking whey after training also promotes faster recovery.
Lower Blood Pressure
Whey protein may help lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Lower blood pressure is linked to a lower risk of heart and kidney disease.
More Stable Blood Glucose
Using whey protein may help lower and stabilize blood glucose, reducing the risk of type II diabetes.
Whey is sometimes used in the treatment of diabetes, too.
Despite being low in calories, whey protein is very satiating and could help you lose weight. Consuming a whey protein shake instead of eating a higher calorie meal could create the calorie deficit that leads to fat burning and weight loss.
Also, things like chocolate and cheesecake-flavored whey protein shakes could help alleviate sweet cravings.
Whey protein contains cysteine, which increases glutathione reductase production. Glutathione reductase is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants provide protection against free radicals, which are molecules that can damage cells and DNA. Free radicals are linked to cancer and other serious diseases.
Whey protein is a well-researched and widely used supplement, so it’s reasonable to say that it’s safe. That said, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before using whey protein supplements:
Whey is low in lactose but may still contain enough to cause allergies in some people. If you are allergic to dairy products, you may also be allergic to whey.
Even if you aren’t allergic to whey, it could still cause stomach upsets if you are sensitive to the effect of dairy foods or you consume too much. Some people experience bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and flatulence after consuming whey protein.
Alot of whey protein supplements contain artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, especially those with more exotic tastes.
While these substances are considered GRAS by the FDA (generally regarded as safe), some people prefer to avoid them, and they may even cause issues for sensitive people. Read the ingredients list to see what’s in your whey protein product.
Whey protein is made from milk, which means this protein supplement is not suitable for vegans, although lacto-vegetarians can still use it.
Most people need somewhere between 0.5 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Consuming too little can lead to muscle breakdown, slow recovery from exercise, weak hair, nails, and bones, and a condition called protein deficiency.
While it is entirely possible to get enough protein from your diet, it’s not always easy, which is why a lot of people turn to protein supplements. However, all protein supplements were not made equal, and there are lots of different types of protein to choose from.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and taking supplemental protein has many health benefits. It may even be good for your hair, skin, and joints. However, because it’s usually used in small amounts, it’s not so good for things like muscle growth and recovery from exercise, although it can help there too.
In contrast, whey protein is cheaper than collagen, so serving sizes are usually bigger. Because of this, whey is better for things like muscle growth and workout recovery. It also has some health-boosting benefits, but that’s not why most people use whey protein powder.
Which one is best? That’s like comparing apples and oranges! Both whey and collagen can be beneficial, but they do different things in your body. In simple terms, if you want to boost your health, collagen is probably your best choice. But if you want to build muscle or recover faster from exercise, whey is probably the one to choose.
Of course, there is nothing to stop you from using both whey AND collagen protein supplements, so you can enjoy all the benefits these different products deliver.