Collagen Peptides vs Whey Protein: An Epic Battle

collagen vs whey

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If you are an active person physically, whether you run triathlons, hit the gym or have a yoga practice, a protein supplement before or after your workout will help to build and repair muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons that you during during exercise. Which is better though collagen or whey protein? In this article, we'll duke it out between collagen peptides vs whey protein.

If you are a health-conscious woman, then what you put into your body matters. Check out these healthy and best tasting collagen protein bars available for pre- or post-workout, or a satisfying snack while you're on the go.

What Is The Function of Collagen?

The human body is made up of approximately 16% proteins with collagen making up around 30% of those proteins. Hence, it is the most abundant protein found in your body.

Scientifically speaking, collagen is a key structural protein within your connective tissues including your skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, arteries and bones.

It effectively works as a strong and flexible "glue" that holds and binds cells together.

It also sends out important signals that help repair damaged cells, as well as help reduce inflammation.

How Is Collagen Produced?

Collagen creation into a triple-helix protein is a complex process.

To produce collagen, certain amino acids, vitamin C, zinc and copper are required for syntheses.  

These 'ingredients' act as building blocks to produce the larger and more complicated collagen structure. ​

There are many types of collagen protein, with five of them being most common.

Unfortunately, as our bodies age, we naturally produce less and less collagen. This will usually start in our 30’s and accelerate in our 40’s.

Additionally, collagen production drops like a rock during and after menopause.

As a consequence of less collagen, your body will show signs of aging.

The clues are your skin starts to wrinkle and lose structure, hair starts to fall out, nails become brittle and joints start to ache--just to name a few.

As well as those clues, there are other signs of collagen deficiency. Some signs include heart artery collapse, weak bones, poor eyesight and a cranky gut.

What Are The Benefits Of Collagen?

It's not a surprise that collagen is often called the 'fountain of youth'. 

Admittedly, boosting our collagen consumption isn't going to take us back to when we were a teenager. However, anything we can do to hold off the sometimes severe effects of aging is worth it.

Here are the ways increasing collagen in your body can help retain your beauty and vitality as the years pass by :

  • Skin: Helps to keep your skin hydrated which smooths out fine lines and wrinkles. Also helps smooth out cellulite and lighten stretch marks.
  • Hair: Keeps our scalp in good shape so we can keep more of the hair we have and provide a healthy environment for new hair to appear.
  • Nails: Assists to keep nails strong and healthy. 
  • Joints: Supports cartilage between joints to avoid pain and the progression of osteoarthritis.
  • Heart: Help maintains a strong structure in our arteries.
  • Gut: The gastrointestinal tract, from beginning to end, is made of skin. A healthy gut barrier is crucial for good digestive health.
  • Muscles: Helps support lean muscle mass because it's a protein and contains crucial amino acids that help muscles stay strong.
  • Liver: Amino acids in collagen can facilitate the liver's detoxification process.
  • Bones: Bones are made up of 1/3 collagen. There is evidence collagen can assist with holding off the onset or progression of osteoporosis

What Are Collagen Peptides?

Collagen peptides, which are also known as hydrolyzed collagen and collagen hydrolysate, are created by breaking down the molecular bonds between collagen strands to leave small peptides and amino acids.

This process is called hydrolysis--hence, the term hydrolyzed collagen.

Collagen peptides serve as the bio available form of collagen, which means they are highly digestible and easily absorbed into your body. 

Where do these collagen strands come from originally?

They can originate in cows through their bones, joints and hide. Or through chicken bones and skin (ever heard of Jewish Penicillin?) Or from fish bones and scales.

There is even plant-based, vegan collagen protein and patented collagen formulas.

We want to point out that collagen peptides are generally tasteless. Moreover, today it's easy to ingest collagen in all different forms: powder, pills and drinks.

Healthy collagen protein drink

Is Collagen a Complete Protein?

When people say collagen is an incomplete protein, they are correct. Even so, it doesn't make it an unimportant component in our bodies.

So we're clear, let's define what complete and incomplete proteins are:

A 'complete protein' has all 9 of the essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

An 'incomplete protein' does not have all of the nine. Collagen is an incomplete protein as it's missing one of the essential amino acids--tryptophan is the missing amino acid.

For the most part, if you eat a healthy diet, you'll receive complete and incomplete proteins each day. Thus, it's not necessary to track each type specifically.

All the same, this is one of the main differences in the discussion collagen peptides vs whey protein--collagen is incomplete and whey is complete.

What Are The Downsides of Collagen?

Although collagen is considered to be generally safe, there are some potential downsides you'll want to consider.

First, collagen supplements can generally be made from fish, shellfish and eggs. If you have any allergies, make sure you read the labels carefully so as to avoid an allergic reaction.

Second, some users of collagen supplements report a bad taste in their mouth, a feeling of fullness or heartburn.

Finally, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, be mindful of sourcing of the collagen you are buying. Collagen from bovine sources means the collagen protein is sourced from cows.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein comes from dairy.

You know that liquid that sits on top of yogurt when you open the container? That's whey. It's the byproduct of curdled milk and what is strained when cheese is made.

Whey protein is the most common protein powder used today.

In fact, you probably see the most whey protein products offered at, and chugged by, weight-lifting enthusiasts at the gym.

What Are The Benefits Of Whey Protein?

So why is whey protein so popular among the gym-going or exercise enthusiasts? Here are the main reasons:

  • Whey contains all 9 essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein.
  • It's easily absorbed and digested by most people.
  • Studies have shown whey can increase metabolism, aid in performance recovery and help create lean body mass.
  • Whey may lower blood pressure and calm inflammation.

What Are The Downsides of Whey Protein?

First, although there is a small amount of lactose in whey protein, if you are sensitive to dairy, whey protein can cause the same problems for you as drinking cow's milk.

Second, whey protein doesn't taste good, it has a bitter taste.

Therefore, manufacturers add natural and artificial sugars to make it more drinkable.

With this in mind, read labels carefully to not undo all the work you've done at the gym.

In the argument between collagen peptides vs whey protein, taste and ingredients are crucial in deciding which is best for you.

Finally, some people can experience these side effects from whey: headache, loss of appetite, fatigue, swelling, cramps and increased bowel movements.

Collagen Peptides vs Whey Protein

In this epic battle between the two proteins, clearly collagen comes out slightly ahead. These are the reasons why:

  1. 1
    More Satisfying: A 2009 study showed having collagen peptides vs whey protein for breakfast led to less eating at lunch.
  2. 2
    Complete Body: Collagen is in every part of our body. Therefore, it provides head-to-toe benefits. In other words, you can get 'more bang for your buck' with collagen.
  3. 3
    Taste: During hydrolysis, all flavor is taken out of the collagen. In fact, collagen is also easy to add to foods since it has no taste. Compared to collagen, powdered whey supplements has a bitter taste so manufacturers add other ingredients (think added sugar for example) to people will use it.

Can I Mix Collagen With Whey Protein?

You may ask at this point: What if I mixed collagen and whey together? Wouldn't I get the best of both worlds?

In fact, there's no reason to not use both within your daily routine, together or separate.  For example, you could use collagen in food and whey as a shake.  

Also, you could also combine both into one drink, for example.

In any case, we recommend consulting with your physician before starting any new supplement. Especially if you have allergies. 

We also suggest when you start with any new supplement, your body might appreciate a slow start and work up to the recommended serving/dosage.


With the explosion of collagen protein onto the fitness and health scene, it brings up the debate: collagen peptides vs whey protein?

Even though both have their advantages and downsides, we believe collagen comes out ahead in the battle.

Collagen benefits our body in more and valuable ways than whey--collagen benefits your body head-to-toe.

There is no taste to collagen, so it can easily be mixed with liquids and added to food. With this in mind, additional sweeteners are not needed.

Collagen is more filling than whey and helps with weight loss and management.

Finally, if you like the thought of a complete protein, why not combine both collagen and whey into one supplement? There are no known downsides and you get the best of both worlds.