Collagen Protein vs Whey Protein – Which is Right for Me?

When it comes to losing weight and getting the sculpted, lean body you’ve been working for, you simply can’t ignore the impact of protein. Protein is prioritized by the body before and after exercise to build lean muscle, and a diet with adequate protein has been shown to help keep muscles toned and burn body fat, with myriad other benefits for health and wellbeing[1].

 

But when it comes to protein, not all protein sources are created equal. Whey protein has earned great recognition as a complete source of essential amino acids with numerous health benefits. It’s ideal for replenishing the body after exercise, as well as increasing feelings of fullness, and supporting weight loss[2].

 

But another protein is taking the health, fitness, and beauty industries by storm, and that protein is collagen. From celebrities and influencers sipping collagen-rich bone broth, to older adults looking for a natural way to repair joints, collagen protein seems like the holy grail of vitality, beauty, and well-being[3].

 

But which protein is best for your fitness, health, and beauty goals and needs? Here we weigh up the pros and cons of whey protein and collagen protein, so you can choose the best protein source for you. 

 

Whey Protein Pros

Whey protein has a number of benefits that have made it a favorite with body builders, athletes, and gym junkies alike.

 

• Complete Protein
Whey protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and they’re called essential because our body can’t produce them itself. We need to eat these amino acids in our food to be healthy, and especially to build muscle. Three of the essential amino acids found in whey protein—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—are known as the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), and they are especially important for building muscle.
 
• Whey Protein Increases Muscle
When taken after a workout, whey protein has been scientifically shown to increase muscle mass. Thanks to the complete source of protein and the BCAAs that whey protein contains, whey protein is effective at repairing and building muscles post-workout.
 
• Health Benefits
When used as a supplement for weight loss and as part of a healthy diet whey protein can help to reduce fat mass, and improve other markers of lifestyle health like waist circumference, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol. Some studies have even shown the benefits of whey protein for cancer treatment, although more research is needed[4]. It’s clear that as part of a balanced diet, whey protein has numerous health benefits.


 

Whey Protein Cons

Despite it’s many benefits, there are some drawbacks to whey protein.
 
• Digestive Problems
High doses of whey protein have been known to cause stomach pains, cramps, reduced appetite, nausea, headache, fatigue and even acne. Some people may be allergic to whey or dairy (where whey protein is derived from) and so this can prevent whey protein being a viable option.
 
• Highly Processed
While whey protein is naturally derived from dairy, it isn’t found naturally in nature.  Whey protein is highly refined, and some people don’t like this. That’s why it’s important to choose a reliable brand for your whey protein to ensure a high quality product, not just the cheapest option. 
 
• Excess Protein Risks
Just as you need sufficient protein for optimal health, you can have too much of a good thing.  Excess protein can cause a number of problems, including kidney damage.
 

 

Collagen Protein Pros


• Huge Array of Benefits
The number of benefits of collagen protein are so huge, it’s easy to think of it as a miracle elixir. Collagen is not only a rich source of protein containing 8 out of 9 of the essential amino acids, it benefits so many different parts of the body. Collagen strengthens the digestive system, tightens sagging skin and smooths wrinkles, reduces joint pain, strengthens blood vessels, builds healthy teeth, nails, hair and bones, and improves injury recovery.
 
• Good for Health and Beauty
Unlike whey protein, collagen isn’t only good for your insides, it’s good for your outside too. Collagen helps to build and repair muscles after a workout, but it also helps skin look younger and more glowing. This provides a great balance of benefits for both health and beauty that have made collagen a buzz word for celebrities and influencers alike!
 
• Essential for the Body
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that’s essential for health—in fact collagen makes up 25-35% of all the protein in your body, and yet we often don’t consume huge collagen in our diets.
 
• Ideal for Ageing
Collagen is naturally lost with age, so it’s important to include this essential nutrient in our diets. Collagen is especially good for ageing as it supports younger looking skin, healthy joints and bones, and strong muscles.
 

 

Collagen Protein Cons

 
• Made from Animals
Collagen is a natural part of human bodies, and it is also a natural component of animal bodies. This makes animal derivatives, particularly the skin, bones, and cartilage of animals and fish. This can be a drawback for vegans, vegetarians, and others who want to avoid animal products or have allergies.
 
• Not Complete
Although collagen contains 8 out of the 9 essential amino acids, it is not a complete protein like whey protein. Other protein sources need to be included in the diet to receive the full spectrum of amino acids.
 
• It Takes Time
Collagen boasts many benefits for health and beauty, but you’re not going to see them overnight. Including collagen as a regular supplement every day is the only shortcut to experiencing the benefits of this miracle supplement.
 

 

[1] https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/81/6/1298/4648756

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Birsen_BULUT_SOLAK/publication/259570207_Health_Benefits_of_Whey_Protein_A_Review/links/552d66e00cf29b22c9c4f436.pdf

[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen-benefits

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11205219

 

About the Author

Cara Dibdin is a Dietician & Exercise Scientist and a writer, originally from Sydney, Australia. Specializing in health, nutrition, behaviour change and meditation, Cara is passionate about finding innovative ways to nourish mind and body.

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