Collagen Vs Whey: Which is The Better Protein?
For years, whey has been the gold standard amongst all protein sources. And for good reason- whey is very effective at what it does, is readily available, and can be obtained at a fairly affordable price.
Collagen has been making a mark in recent years, but many people still need convincing that it’s worth the investment. So, which is better- collagen or whey?
When it comes to protein, both whey and collagen have a lot to offer. In this article, we investigate the pros and cons of each in order to help you decide which is the best protein source for you.
Whey is a dairy based protein powder and is considered possibly the best muscle-building protein powder available today. It’s a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids needed for muscle growth and repair.
Casein also gives whey a run for its money when it comes to overall muscle building potential, but that's a topic for another day.
Whey is also very rapidly absorbed by the body, which makes it ideal for post-workout recovery. The whey protein is quickly broken down into peptides and absorbed into the bloodstream, where it can be used by the muscles for repair and growth.
- Very effective at building muscle
- Rapidly absorbed by the body
- Complete protein source
- Fairly affordable
- Can cause bloating and gas in some people
- May not be suitable for those with dairy allergies
Notable Benefits Of Whey Protein Consumption
Supports Cardiovascular Function
Not many people appreciate how important cardiovascular function is for overall health. A healthy heart is the key to a long and prosperous life, but the standard American diet takes a toll on cardiovascular function.
Whey protein has been shown to help support cardiovascular function in a few ways. First, whey can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol while simultaneously raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that can build up on the walls of your arteries and has been linked to heart disease. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, helps remove LDL cholesterol from the body and is thus considered protective against heart disease (the good cholesterol).
But that's not all it does. Whey can also improve blood pressure control, which is another important factor in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Then there's the benefit of vascular flexibility, which allows the body to tolerate changes in blood pressure.
Whey's ability to promote weight loss is considered controversial by some, but there is actually a fair amount of evidence to support its use for this purpose.
A number of studies have shown that whey protein can help promote weight loss by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness) and reducing calorie intake.
Metabolic rate is also increased above baseline thanks to the thermic effect of protein- the body has to use more energy to digest and metabolize protein than it does for other nutrients like carbs or fat.
So, while whey may not be a “miracle weight loss supplement”, it can certainly help you lose weight if that's your goal.
Help For Diabetics
Whey protein causes a brief increase in post-prandial insulin levels, which is beneficial for diabetics.
This, of course, means that increased blood glucose levels can be reduced more efficiently than without whey protein.
Improves GI Health
The gastrointestinal system plays an integral role in digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste from the body.
Unfortunately, the GI tract is also susceptible to a number of problems, including inflammation, infection, and leaky gut syndrome.
Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the lining of the intestines becomes damaged, allowing bacteria and toxins to “leak” through into the bloodstream. This can lead to a whole host of problems, including food sensitivities, inflammation, and even autoimmune disease.
Whey protein can reduce gut inflammation, along with symptoms of leaky gut, and thanks to the presence of glutamine and its ability to help restore mucin, exert a significant protective action on the stomach wall lining.
Last but not least, whey protein is an extremely effective muscle building supplement.
This should come as no surprise given that whey is a complete protein source, and thus contains all the essential amino acids needed to support muscle growth.
Not only that, but whey is also very rapidly absorbed by the body, which makes it ideal for post-workout nutrition.
In fact, whey protein has been shown to be more effective than other types of protein at promoting muscle growth. So, if you're looking to build some muscle, whey is definitely the way to go.
There is a big misconception that proteins are interchangeable. This is only partially true. Proteins are made up of different amino acids that interact with each other in specific ways. In terms of muscle hypertrophy, you can get away *for the most part* with swapping out various proteins.
However, collagen is different- really different.
So different, that some experts, such as Mark Sisson, have suggested that it be classified as a food (macro) group by itself, in addition to the usual protein, carbs, and fats.
Historically, our early ancestors ate the entirety of their hunt- from head to toe (excluding bone). The organs and entrails helped offer supple collagen, and as fire was discovered, and cooking followed, the use of bone in the making of broth further strengthened the amount of collagen available for dietary consumption.
To this day, bone broth remains an excellent source of collagen and gelatin, though not the most convenient way to consume yours.
Collagen is essential to the maintenance of the many supporting structures in the body, including joint tissue, tendons, ligaments, and the skin to name a few.
The usual "meat" or vegan proteins don't necessarily have the amino acid profile in the amount needed to even supplement the natural synthesis of this protein.
This is particularly the case as it relates to the amino acid glycine.
In fact, most American adults are likely deficient in this amino acid, as current recommendations stand at about 10g (and up to 16g according to some studies). Still, most people only get about 6g (from a combination of natural production by the body and from diet).
Plus, it might just be that glycine is in fact responsible for many of the benefits obtained from collagen supplementation.
This is something that needs further study, but the current evidence does support this claim to some extent.
-Can improve gut health
-Supports joint tissue
-Protects the skin
-Not a complete protein source (lacks some essential amino acids)
Notable Benefits Of Collagen Protein Consumption
Supports Joint Health
Approximately 1 in 5 Americans deals with some sort of joint pain or arthritis, and resort to using prescription and non-prescription drugs to find relief.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.
This degenerative process can be extremely painful and make everyday activities quite difficult.
What many people don't realize is that collagen plays a vital role in the health of their joints.
In fact, cartilage is made up of about 80% collagen.
So, it stands to reason that the simple interventional step of consuming more collagen, such as Radiance could help to slow down or even reverse the progression of osteoarthritis.
Supports The Health Of The Gut
As we age, the cells that line our gut become less effective at producing mucus.
This mucus forms a barrier between the contents of our gut and the lining of our intestines.
Mucus production is vital to gut health as it protects us from harmful bacteria, toxins, and other potentially damaging substances.
Not only that, but mucus also plays a role in nutrient absorption.
Therefore, a decrease in mucus production can lead to a whole host of gut-related problems.
Fortunately, collagen is able to help restore mucin, exerting a significant protective action on the stomach wall lining.
It can also exert an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut, which is beneficial for those with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. The glycine content is generally beneficial for promoting the healing of conditions such as leaky gut syndrome as well.
Be honest- how many hours of sleep do you get daily? Today, the average person gets around just 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep each night.
While this might be enough for some people, the majority of people would benefit from getting more sleep.
If you're among those who struggle to get a good night's sleep, collagen could help.
The glycine in collagen has been shown to improve sleep quality, as well as reduce daytime fatigue.
Glycine functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain as well, which initiates the natural "shutdown" our brain needs to signal the entry of a state of rest.
Then, there's the added benefit of glycine in collagen promoting the absorption of magnesium, which is another nutrient that plays a role in sleep quality (and which many people are deficient in).
While collagen isn't the first protein that comes to mind when it comes to muscle growth, it actually plays a vital role in this process.
Collagen is a major component of tendons, which are the "ropes" that attach muscle to bone.
In order for muscles to grow, they need to be able to exert force against resistance.
The force produced by the muscles is transmitted through the tendons to the bone.
If the tendons are weak, they won't be able to effectively transmit this force, and muscle growth will be inhibited.
Therefore, it's important to make sure that you're getting enough collagen to support healthy tendon function and muscle growth.
And yes- there is anabolic potential of collagen itself. The leucine content might not match whey, but you will see growth as well.
So What's The Verdict?
The verdict is- it depends. The fact is, that far more people are deficient in collagen than they are in whey protein. You don't technically even need to use whey to stimulate muscle growth.
This is due to the fact that the majority of people don't eat enough of the foods that are rich in collagen, such as bone broth and organ meats.
Additionally, the cooking methods used these days destroy a lot of the collagen content in food.
You will build muscle mass under most circumstances when there is an adequate protein intake. So, if you are eating enough protein from other sources, collagen is definitely the way to go.
Additionally, at any opportune chance, still, try to consume bone broth- it is one of the richest sources of collagen available.