Is Whey Protein or Collagen Powder Best for You?

Is Whey Protein or Collagen Powder Best for You?

Is there a difference between collagen powder and whey protein powder, and how do you choose which is the best for you? Though protein and collagen powder are both made up of amino acids they can serve different purposes in the body.

Protein is made up of amino acids building blocks with different amino acids having different uses in the body. Whey protein powder is derived from milk using a technique to extract the protein from milk as collagen powder is derived from the skin, bones and cartilage of animals. As protein and collagen are derived from different sources, they contain different amino acid profiles, with different amino acids having different functions in the body.

Factors which may affect an individual’s protein intake include having a busy lifestyle, increased stress load resulting in quicker protein break down, inadequate dietary intake of incomplete protein sources in diets such as vegetarian/ vegan diets which can make it hard for people to reach their protein intake. Most people who have a well-balanced diet will get enough protein daily, but timing, the amount and quality of protein are important factors to take into consideration. Our body has the ability to absorb approximately 20-25 grams of protein each meal, meaning the spacing of protein over each meal in a day is important when wanting to maximise the absorption & get the most out of our protein intake.

Collagen

Collagen powder is not a complete protein containing only 8 of the 9 essential amino acid, but is particularly high in three amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. These amino acids form a three-chain triple helix bond which gives collagen its strength and structure. Collagen is the fibrous protein that provides the strength and structure the body, making up about 30 % of the overall protein in the body. This particular amino acid combination is found in bones, skin, blood vessels, nails, tendons and the digestive tract helping to hold and give structure to the body. The body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age causing skin to sag and loose elasticity, joint and cartilage lubrication declines and bones start to weaken. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and high sun light exposure can also accelerate the depletion of collagen.

Benefits of Collagen:

  • Supports skin & hair health
  • Joint lubrication
  • Tendon & ligament health
  • Optimise bone composition
  • Support healthy, strong gut lining
  • Muscle mass synthesis
  • Strong nail health  
  • Liver health & supporting detoxification processes

Whey protein

Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is a complete protein meaning it contains all 9 essential and 11 non-essential amino acids, making it great to support the growth of lean muscle mass as this is providing all the amino acids needed to build muscle. WPC is a fast-digesting in the body, making it a great post training option to support the synthesis of muscle growth, recovery and repair of muscle fibres. Food sources which contain a complete source of protein include meat, fish, eggs and dairy along with plant-based sources such as soy (tofu & tempeh), hemp and quinoa.  The Speedfit whey protein is a natural formula, made from grass fed organic protein with no extra additives, making it a great convenient on the go snack or addition to meals.

Benefits of Whey Protein:

  • Support muscle mass growth
  • Fast digesting/ absorbing
  • Complete protein source
  • Support muscle recovery & repair
  • Improve physical performance
  • Support steady energy levels

Is collagen or whey protein powder best for you?

The inclusion of collagen is a good choice if you are suffering from digestive issues and sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, food intolerances, skin conditions, muscle and joint degradation or are just looking to better optimise and strengthen your skin, nails and hair. While collagen isn’t a complete protein it contains higher amounts of the three amino acid building blocks to help enhance the production of collagen in the body. Collagen powder is flavourless, with no extra ingredients added to it making it easy to add into cooking such as smoothies, coffees, casseroles, baking, bolognaises and sauces. The hydrolysed collagen powder is straight collagen powder making it easily tolerated and digested in certain individuals who have trouble digesting whey protein, giving a good quality source of the 8 essential amino acids. As whey is a complete, fast digesting protein the inclusion of whey protein over collagen post resistance exercise would be more beneficial due to the amino acid profile. The benefits of a fast digesting protein mean the body can absorb the whole 21g of protein within a 2-hour window. Eating a food source of protein post work is beneficial but the body has to first break down the food source then extract the amino acids which takes a longer period of time to be fully absorbed and utilised in the body.

Can you take both collagen and whey protein powder together?

Yes, absolutely! The key to get the most out of both collagen & whey concentrate protein is timing and how include them in your diet. Aim to use whey protein concentrate within 20 minutes to a 1-hour post resistance training, as a protein rich snack or as part of a meal to help support adequate protein intake and ensure you are getting the complete range of amino acids to support quality muscle growth. The addition of collagen to meals will provide a higher intake of those specific amino acids needed to make collagen in the body and not only help hit your protein intake but support and strengthen fibrous protein in the body. As collagen powder is so versatile, it can be used in conjunction with whey protein especially if you struggle to reach your protein intake daily or just want to support lean muscle mass synthesis along with joint/ bone and skin health.

References:

https://www.bulletproof.com/products/collagen-protein-16oz?refSrc=1498142212131&nosto=productpage-nosto-2_variant

Choi FD, Sung CT, Juhasz ML, Mesinkovsk NA. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):9-16. PubMed PMID: 30681787.

Schoenfeld, B.J., & Aragon, A.A. (2018). How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Y, Koyama. (2016). Effects of Collagen Ingestion and their Biological Significance. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences. 06. 10.4172/2155-9600.1000504.