Comparing collagen to whey is like comparing apples and oranges. Of course, apples and oranges are both fruits, but they obviously come from different sources and provide different nutrients to the body. The same goes for when you think about whey vs collagen. When considering the two comparison’s sake, it’s important to first know that they’re both a form of protein. However, one of the key differences is that they don’t come from the same protein sources.
In this article, we’ll explore how whey and collagen differ, how they can both support your health goals, and more.
Whey protein is different from collagen in many ways, including its sources. Whey protein comes from milk, which is actually made up of two types of protein.
Casein is the most prevalent, and it makes up about 80% of milk. The second type is whey, which you may recognize more easily as the watery substance you sometimes see on the top of yogurt. Whey supplement producers separate the two proteins (casein and whey) and then process the whey into protein powder.
As for collagen, manufacturers of what is known as "regular" collagen create their supplements from the skin, muscle, hide, and other parts of cattle, water buffalo, bison, and similar mammals. One reason regular collagen peptides are so popular is that collagen from bovine is similar to what’s found in the human body (which relies heavily on Type I, Type II, and Type III).
Some collagen supplement producers also make marine collagen. To create these products, they use the skin, connective tissues, bones, and blood vessels of starfish, jellyfish, sharks, wild-caught North Atlantic fish, including cod, pollock, and haddock, and sea sponges. Those concerned about the environment may choose marine collagen because it uses parts that would otherwise go to waste.
Remember that the different protein sources give whey a different amino acid profile from collagen, too. That means that the two supplements work differently in the body.
Whey is a healthy protein supplement for the body. It is very easy for the body to digest, which means its nutrients are quickly absorbed.
Scientists that study whey protein supplements report preliminary findings that it is effective against certain conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and that it boosts the immune system. Again, though, those findings are not definitive.
You're likely more familiar with the claims that whey protein helps with muscle building. And the thing is, this isn’t just important for athletes but for everyone. Muscles weaken and decline as we age. While not conclusive, preliminary studies suggest that strength training combined with high-protein foods and supplements can slow or even reverse muscle loss. This is because whey contains the amino acid leucine, which is considered one of the best amino acids to help promote muscle growth.
Those with milk allergies or who are lactose intolerant may want to avoid whey protein. Although whey protein is relatively safe, high doses can cause various digestive distress, including nausea, stomach pain, and cramps. Loss of appetite, headache, and fatigue are other reported side effects, as well as acne.
Like whey, collagen supplements are very easy to digest and may greatly benefit the human body. Your body naturally produces collagen, which makes up about one-third of its overall protein. Many people liken collagen to scaffolding or glue in the body.
Your body's collagen—and any collagen supplements you take—may play many roles, including building healthy nails, teeth, and hair, helping to repair leaky gut, reducing joint pain, and creating muscle mass.
Like studies on whey protein, the research about collagen supplements is in its infancy. Anecdotal evidence abounds, but there are no definitive scientific studies about the positive health results from collagen protein powders.
Yet, medical research into the benefits of collagen peptides is promising. Early studies show that collagen promises to increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. That translates into reduced wrinkles and other signs of aging. Other studies show collagen supplementation supports joint health, wound healing, and the pain of osteoarthritis. And for those who ask, "Does collagen build muscle?” Early studies show that it likely does.
Another benefit to collagen powder, especially over whey powder, is that it’s tasteless. That means you can stir it into a smoothie, tea, or coffee, sprinkle it on foods, and otherwise enjoy it without the unpleasant taste of many whey supplements. If a whey protein powder is tasty, however, it may have added sugar, thickeners, and artificial flavors to help boost its palatability. That's just one reason it's essential to read product labels to ensure you choose the best supplement for you.
One reason so many people rely on collagen, besides its natural qualities and promising health benefits, is that it is generally considered to be very safe. There are no published reports of major side effects from collagen supplements. Those who do report side effects point to mild diarrhea, upset stomach, and mild rashes.
When you consider dietary supplements, it's important to remember they are just that—a way to supplement a healthy diet. There are many natural foods that you can eat to boost the protein, including collagen, in your body.
Medical experts have many suggestions of protein- and collagen-rich foods, including fish, chicken, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries, red and yellow vegetables, leafy greens, citrus, berries, bell peppers, and bone broth.
The body uses essential amino acids from food to make up to 10,000 different proteins in your body, including collagen. However, our bodies don't store amino acids, so it's essential to refuel with food as often as is healthy.
When you choose any dietary supplement—whether it’s whey, collagen, or something else entirely—it's always wise to first speak with your doctor. There is no "one size fits all" supplement for everyone.
Yes, collagen supplements are safe, and manufacturers list recommended dosages on their labels. However, it’s important to consider your individual health profile before you start to take any supplement. In fact, your doctor may want you to combine some, like whey and collagen to ensure you have a complete protein profile.
When you choose Brightcore's Revive®, you'll be pleased to find that our high-quality, multi-collagen protein powder is made from wild-caught fish, cage-free chickens, grass-fed hydrolyzed bovine, and eggshell, and other premium ingredients. It's even infused with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to help support the health of your skin, joints, hair, and more. Plus, it's tasteless, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and it has no binders, fillers, and colors.