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Whey Protein Vs. Collagen Protein : Why Collagen Is The Best Protein Supplement

By Tyler Woodward

Whey protein lines the shelves of vitamin stores, supermarkets, and gyms, but is it really the be-all end-all of protein supplements? Does Whey Protein truly beat Collagen?

To get to the bottom of this question, we’ve got to start at the root. 

Contents:

What’s The Point Of A Supplement?:

What's The Point Of A Supplement?

Dietary supplements are substances that are designed to “supplement” your diet, meaning fill in the gaps of any missing nutrients that you’re not consuming through food. By viewing supplements in this light, you can determine which supplements will provide you with the biggest bang for your buck and thereby make better decisions to suit your needs.

What Is Whey?:

What Is Whey? 

Whey protein is a form of protein that naturally exists in dairy and makes up about 20% of the protein in milk.  Whey protein is mainly a byproduct of the dairy industry that naturally occurs when producing cheese. Whey protein came into existence as a means of selling what had previously been a waste product of cheese production. 

 Read More: Why You Should Stop Eating Whey Protein

The Proclaimed Benefits Of Whey:

Proclaimed Benefits Of Whey

1. Whey Is A Complete Protein  - 

Whey protein is a complete protein meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. While many argue this as one of the primary benefits of whey compared to other forms of protein, I’d argue that it's also one of its weaknesses. If the purpose of supplements are to fill in the gaps of your diet, then you would want a protein that accomplishes this. While whey does contain all 9 essential amino acids, so do meat, eggs & dairy, all of which contain numerous amounts of vitamins and minerals that are not found in a protein supplement. 

Collagen protein on the other hand is mostly composed of glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. These key amino acids are largely missing from our diet today because most people only consume muscle meats. Muscle meats have a very similar amino acid profile to whey protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids and are particularly high in tryptophan and methionine (just like whey). Collagenous tissue like animal skin, joints and certain organs are much richer in glycine, proline and hydroxyproline and help to balance out the amino acids from muscle meat.

Technically, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are technically non-essential amino acids because your body is capable of producing them if it has adequate energy and supply of  the essential amino acids. Yet, even if these conditions are met your body does not naturally produce enough glycine or proline to meet its requirements, so we must also consume some in our diet. Our ancestors likely ate a “nose-to-tail” diet meaning they consumed every part of the animal. This is extremely beneficial from a nutritional standpoint because animals as a whole have a balanced nutritional profile, a range of all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. When you only consume one part of the animal you’re setting yourself up for a dietary imbalance in certain nutrients, too much of some nutrients and not enough of others. If you’re not going to start consuming a nose-to-tail diet, then a collagen supplement is your next best bet for balancing out your amino acids.

2. Whey Is Better For Building Muscle - 

Whey protein has been touted by bodybuilders for years as a holy grail for building muscle, but does this actually hold true? Whey protein is a fast-absorbing protein, meaning it's digested very quickly and reaches the bloodstream relatively fast compared to other proteins. Because of this whey protein is more insulinogenic, as it causes  a larger amount of insulin to be released. After a workout your body is extremely sensitive, meaning it needs less insulin to shuttle more carbs and amino acids (protein) into the cell to be used as energy. Since whey causes a larger amount of insulin to be released, it negates the benefit of the post-workout insulin sensitivity. 

The biggest benefit of whey for muscle-building is its high quantity of the BCAAs (Branch-Chain Amino Acids) which are necessary for muscle building and for signaling to the body to begin muscle protein synthesis. This is where collagen protein lacks in regards to muscle building, but casein protein (the other 80% of protein in milk) is also a great source of the BCAA’s and the other essential amino acids. Casein has the added benefit of being a slow-absorbing protein, so it has a relatively slower release of insulin compared to Whey. Although whey is absorbed faster the overall muscle building benefits compared casein protein have been shown to be the same

Because collagen lacks these specific amino acids that are necessary for building muscle, whey and casein technically reign superior in this regard, but why not just consume them all?

Remember, both casein and whey protein are in milk, so when you consume milk post-workout you’re getting a bit of both the fast-absorbing whey, the slow-absorbing casein protein. Instead of adding in a whey or casein protein supplement and doubling down, adding in a collagen supplement helps to balance out the amino acids from milk. Glycine, the predominant amino acid in collagen, also has a number of additional benefits in relation to muscle-building including:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increases Insulin Sensitivity (allowing the cell to take in more carbs and protein to create more energy)
  • Precursor To Creatine 
  • May be Anti-Catabolic (potentially helping to inhibit further protein breakdown post-workout)
  • Provides Nutrients Required To Rebuild Your Joints  (Collagenous Tissue)

For these reasons, my post-workout of choice is the Thermo Chocolate Milk recipe. Combining all of the benefits of the whey and casein in milk, resupplying your body with the sugar that it burned mid-workout with the added benefits of both glycine and magnesium.

Read More: Glycine: The Amino Acid That Keeps On Giving

The Benefits Of Collagen:

No article comparing whey & collagen would be complete without mentioning all of the benefits of collagen. Collagen and glycine consumption have been associated with:

ZuCollagenzuCollagen is UMZU's premier Grass-Fed, Organic Collagen Supplement and contains all 5 different types of Collagen found in the body. With high quantities of the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, zuCollagen is the perfect supplement to balance out your diet! Click here to try zuCollagen risk-free today!

Conclusion:

My goal in writing this article, as always, is to provide you with logically-based principles that you can use to form your own conclusions regarding any information you may come across within this subject. I really hope you found this article interesting and if you have anything to add to this article, or any comments or criticism, feel free to reach out to me on our facebook groups or on Instagram @tylerwoodward_fit. Also, please feel free to share this article with anyone that might be interested.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time… be good

~Tyler Woodward