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Collagen Protein vs. Whey Protein and Why You Need Them


If your diet or fitness regimen includes daily vitamins and supplements, you’re likely familiar with the benefits of collagen peptides and whey proteins.

While both are beneficial to your joint and muscle health, many people often wonder: what exactly is the difference between collagen protein vs. whey protein?

The main difference between collagen and whey lies in the amino acid profile. Each contains different levels of essential amino acids, meaning you will receive different benefits depending on which one you take.

Let’s take a look at collagen protein and whey protein, their benefits, and their specific differences.

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Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up around 30 percent of your total body protein and 70 to 80 percent of your skin. It helps your body form the connective tissue found in your skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. Collagen helps these body parts stay strong—without it, they lose elasticity and the ability to function properly.

Collagen protein, which is naturally produced by the body, is made up of 18 beneficial amino acids—the molecules that combine to form proteins. The reason they are so important? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which your body needs to maintain functionality and good health. 

Types of Collagen

While there are around 28 different types of collagen, supplement options are typically comprised of three main types:

Type I Collagen: Makes up 90 percent of your body’s collagen and helps maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
Type II Collagen: A main component of elastic cartilage that helps maintain healthy joints.
Type III Collagen: Benefits your muscles, organs, and arteries.

Collagen Peptides

Along these lines, you may be wondering—what are collagen peptides? Collagen peptides are basically collagen protein in a more broken-down form. They are small pieces of animal collagen that are more easily digestible. Often, the two phrases “collagen peptides” and “collagen proteins” are used interchangeably. 

Collagen Loss

Collagen production starts declining around the age of 25 and continues to decline as you age. A decrease in collagen can lead to wrinkled or sagging skin, hollowing of the eyes, weakened muscles, stiffer joints, digestive issues, and problems with blood flow. 

This is why so many people turn to collagen supplements to help maintain younger-looking skin and healthy joints.

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Research shows collagen supplements may improve skin elasticity and joint mobility, and also decrease joint pain in athletes and those with conditions like osteoarthritis.

You will typically see collagen types I and III packaged together in supplements, focusing on your skin health, hair, nails, and bone health.

Type I collagen is known for keeping skin supple and firm, while type III may benefit your gut, muscles, blood vessels, and uterus and prevent inflammation. Bovine (or cattle) products are the most common sources of type III collagen.
Type II collagen, on the other hand, supports your cartilage and joint health. It may aid in reducing popping knees, while also supporting your jaw and back. Many assume that joint pain, popping knees, and weakened cartilage is an unavoidable part of the aging process—but it’s actually a lack of type II collagen, which can be improved through a healthy diet and the right collagen supplements.
Collagen peptides are known for improving aging skin and osteoarthritis and repairing damaged collagen. Research suggests collagen peptides may also help reduce the risk of heart conditions by keeping your arteries healthy, prevent the loss of muscle mass, and help keep your skin hydrated and flexible.

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Milk is comprised of two proteins: whey and casein. Whey is the liquid left behind during the cheese-making process. It is extracted and concentrated into a powder, which can be found in protein supplements such as shakes, drinks, powders, gels, and energy bars.

Whey is a fast-absorbing protein that contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to maintain good health, including building muscle, repairing tissue, and boosting your immune system. It also offers the highest concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) of any protein supplement, which are important for muscle growth and maintaining lean muscle tissue. These include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Types of Whey Protein

The two most common types of whey protein include whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. It is often said that isolate is easier to digest, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference. 

Whey isolate is further processed to remove most lactose, so it is typically the best option for those with lactose intolerance.

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Whey protein powder has always been a popular choice among people who work out regularly. The benefits of taking a whey protein supplement include:

Muscle building (thanks to those BCAAs we mentioned earlier)
Wound healing
Boosting overall nutrition
Aiding in muscle recovery and repair.
Whey protein is best used within two hours after completing a workout. 

A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism suggests that whey protein may even aid in weight loss, as participants lost more body fat and sustained more lean muscle compared to those who did not use whey.

Other research indicates whey protein may help lower cholesterol, improve asthma symptoms in children, and reduce blood pressure. 

Collagen Protein vs. Whey Protein: The Main Differences

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Both collagen protein and whey protein offer substantial benefits, but the main difference between the two comes down to their amino acid profiles. Check out the example above (remember that 1,000 milligrams are equivalent to 1 gram).

In the slide example:

Vital Proteins Collagen (left) contains a high value of glutamic acid (2.2 grams), hydroxyproline (2 grams), and proline (2 grams). These particular amino acids primarily benefit your hair, skin, and nails.
Garden of Life Whey Protein (right) contains a high value of isoleucine (1.33 grams), leucine (2.24 grams), and valine (1.14 grams) which are very beneficial for muscle recovery.

Additionally, collagen contains eight out of the nine essential amino acids, as opposed to whey protein, which contains all nine. 

Overall, collagen and whey proteins both offer great health benefits, and whichever one you choose should be based on your own personal needs.

If your focus is to boost muscle growth and help muscle recovery after a workout, whey is the best option.
If you’re looking to ease joint pain or improve your skin, hair, and nails, collagen is a great choice. 

The good news? You can take collagen and whey protein simultaneously to maximize their combined muscle and joint benefits while boosting your overall health and nutrition.

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Blue Zone foods promote longevity while giving you serious health benefits in daily life.

How do we know? The truth is in the numbers! The longest living social circles of people use healthy habits mixed with the Blue Zones diet.

The following nine foods are found in the diets of people who are outliving the rest of us.

9 Blue Zone Foods to Increase Longevity

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It’s hard to find the best way to quit sugar when it’s in so many of our foods! That’s why it’s important to cut back in a smart, sustainable way since doing it cold turkey can be pretty jarring for your body.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the sugar basics, why you crave it, and how to quit sugar without making yourself totally miserable.

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