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Collagen Protein vs. Whey: What’s The Difference?

jar of white powder with sealing bottle and jar beside it

If you ever go to the gym, you are probably used to seeing people carry around big containers of protein, and chances are the protein powder they are using is made of either collagen or whey. 

Anyone looking to build muscle or recover from a particularly grueling workout may see the benefits of protein powder, but do not get it twisted: protein powder can benefit you whether you are looking to be a bodybuilder or just trying to supplement your diet with something nutritious and filling. 

Of course, with so many different protein powders on the market, how do you know which one is the best to choose? 

Your two most abundant options will be whey and collagen peptides, and both have their own benefits and drawbacks. This article will describe each type of protein in detail, and then help you decide which protein is best for you, depending on what you want to get out of your supplement. 

It will also help you discover some delicious smoothie and snack recipes that incorporate protein powder so that you can get excited about taking your new supplement! 

What Is Protein?

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, is one of three macronutrients that are essential to the body. In fact, without these three macronutrients, it would be impossible to survive. Thus, it is crucial that we are giving our bodies an adequate amount of protein every day.

Protein is one of the most abundant components in most of the body’s cells and therefore gives the body its structure and strength. We are literally built on protein. Our arteries, skin, bones, tissue, teeth, even our organs are constructed from protein. 

Our body can produce some of the amino acids needed to build protein, but there are nine that we can get from diet alone. Good protein sources include meat, seafood, poultry, dairy products, beans, whole grains, and nuts/seeds. Protein supplements, like collagen peptides and whey protein, are also good sources of protein, though they should never be used as replacements for the protein you get from your regular diet. 

Because the production of amino acids decreases and becomes less efficient with age, a protein supplement can be a great option for someone trying to maintain their strength and protein stores. Protein supplements are also appealing to those who need extra protein in their diet (those trying to gain muscle mass) or those who want to achieve satiety (fullness) using a healthy source. 

What Is Whey?

Whey is one of the most popular types of protein powder, and is present especially in dairy products. The liquid that lies on top of Greek yogurt, before it is all mixed together, is an example of whey. 

Whey is special because it is considered a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all nine amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own. 

Advantages Of Whey

One advantage of whey is that it is both easy to digest and absorb into the bloodstream. When one of the biggest tests of a supplement is how effective it is, efficient digestion and absorption go a long way in showing whey’s value.

Additionally, studies show that whey is effective in improving metabolism and recovery from physical activity. Whey can improve and create lean body mass, reduce the effects of oxidative stress (damage to the cells), and even work to lower blood pressure. 

Disadvantages Of Whey

The biggest downside of whey is its natural taste, which is slightly bitter. As a result, whey protein supplements are often flavored with sugars and/or artificial sweeteners that counteract what you are trying to accomplish by taking a protein supplement in the first place. Sugar prevents weight loss and lowers energy levels, among many other drawbacks. 

Because whey is derived from dairy products, it should be avoided by people who have extreme lactose intolerance or do not eat dairy for other reasons. There is only a pretty small amount of lactose in whey, though, so it is not necessarily dangerous even to those with slight lactose intolerance.

What Is Collagen?

Collagen represents about one-third of the body’s protein composition, meaning it is the most abundant protein in the body. It is present in and provides structure to the bones, skin, blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, connective tissue, teeth, hair, muscles, organs, and the intestinal lining. If that sounds like a lot, that is because it is!

Collagen is mainly derived from either fish or meat sources. 

Advantages Of Collagen

An increase in collagen will help strengthen all of the body parts listed above, such as the cartilage, connective tissue, and blood vessels, so its potential benefits move beyond improved muscle mass and strength.

Collagen builds and repairs tissue, benefits circulation by keeping the blood vessels structured, and reduces the risk for digestive issues by strengthening the intestinal wall. It can also soothe joint irritation by maintaining healthy cartilage. 

Collagen supplements also have cosmetic benefits. Because collagen is responsible for keeping our skin supple and strong, free of any signs of aging, as well as strengthening our hair and nails, a collagen supplement can help improve our overall appearance. Oral supplementation has even been shown to be more cosmetically effective than topical supplementation (for example, collagen creams). 

Disadvantages Of Collagen

Collagen is either marine-based (derived from fish sources) or bovine-based (derived from meat sources), so it is not vegetarian- or vegan-friendly. Otherwise, it has shown to have few, if any, adverse side effects. 

How To Get More Collagen

Since collagen is produced in the body, its levels naturally decline as a result of aging. 

Bone broth, seafood, and eggs are all foods that are high in collagen. Collagen production relies on vitamin C, copper, and zinc, so eating foods high in these vitamins/minerals will also aid collagen production. Finally, collagen supplements are of course an excellent source of collagen. 

In addition to age, other factors like smoking, UV radiation, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars may impair/slow collagen production.

Which One Is Better: Whey Or Collagen?

Whey and collagen supplements both help increase the body’s protein stores and can improve muscle mass, especially when paired with resistance training and other types of exercise. They also both have very few side effects/risks. However, in terms of overall wellness, collagen supplements prove to be superior. 

For one, collagen is the most abundant protein, and therefore supports the greatest portion of the body. It is also present in almost every structural piece of the body, and so promotes not only better recovery and athletic performance, but also general health, both internal and external. Collagen addresses everything from joint irritation to skin aging to digestion.

Everyone’s production of collagen slows over time, so eventually, everyone can benefit from a collagen supplement. 

Secondly, collagen is better than whey at making the body feel full. One study shows that collagen was up to 40% more filling than whey, and reduced participants’ intake in later meals by up to 20%, which could help promote healthy weight loss and muscle gain. 

Last, but certainly not least, collagen is naturally unflavored, unlike whey, and therefore does not need to be artificially flavored, nor does it take anything away from the foods/drinks it is added to. A better, less intrusive taste will make you more likely to keep using your collagen supplement. It is also easier to add to a variety of foods and drinks, making the experience of consuming more enjoyable! 

The Best Supplement For You

There are a lot of different collagen supplements on the market, but Livingood Daily Collagen + Multi stands out beyond the rest. This supplement offers an ultra-clean source of protein and will not spike your blood sugar. It supports joint, muscle, digestive, immune, and skin health. 

Livingood Daily Collagen is made from hydrolyzed collagen, meaning it is broken down into a form that is easier for the body to digest and absorb. More specifically, it is sourced from non-GMO, grass-fed cows based in the USA. 

Additional beneficial ingredients include biotin, for better skin health; B vitamins, for improved metabolism, energy, immune health, and cognitive function; and milk thistle, whose active ingredient silymarin is a soothing antioxidant, promoting better liver health. 

You can easily add a scoop of Livingood Daily Collagen to any smoothie recipe, such as this blueberry almond milk smoothie, or you can add it to snacks and baked goods. Consider making these nutrient-rich energy balls, or keeping a supply of these delicious almond bar cookies at work or in your car for a quick, healthy, and filling snack!

In Conclusion 

Collagen and whey protein supplements both improve muscle mass and athletic performance and recovery, but collagen has the most overall, full-body benefits. 

Livingood Daily Collagen + Multi is a great-tasting, easy-to-use collagen supplement that contains all the positive effects of collagen on the body. To build a stronger, more resilient body, add your collagen supplement to smoothies, coffee, and even baked goods!


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