The fight is on: collagen vs whey protein. But which one is better for improving muscle development and overall health? What are the pros and cons of each? And how do you know which supplement is best for you? Read on to find out more about each of these popular protein powders.
The best protein powders can help you feel full longer, speed up your metabolism, and build lean muscle. Whey protein powder seems to have conquered the market of athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts, and its popularity will continue. Forecasters predict that the global whey protein market double to over $18 billion (opens in a new tab) in just six years, according to the data website Statista.
However, the new kid on the block, collagen powder, is gaining in popularity, with claims that it can help you build muscle, lose weight, reduce inflammation, and even improve your skin and hair. So what are the differences between these two supplements and which one might best meet his nutritional needs? Here is the truth.
What is collagen?
Collagen is an essential protein that the body needs to build and maintain the connective tissues in our muscles, skin, and bones. It improves flexibility, supports major organs, and increases skin elasticity. The body produces a lot of collagen, especially during childhood and in young adults.
Our body’s collagen levels deplete as we age, at an average rate of 1% to 1.5% per year, according to the magazine. Plastic and aesthetic research (opens in a new tab). Lifestyle choices, smoking, and exposure to UV rays from the sun can also lower these levels. The results include wrinkles and sagging skin, weak muscles and joints, and gastrointestinal problems.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese-making process that provides essential components to promote muscle growth, such as amino acids. According to the Mayo Clinic (opens in a new tab), whey protein may help speed muscle recovery after intense exercise and support weight gain in people who have trouble maintaining weight. It can also improve the healing of burns and wounds.
“Whey protein is high in the amino acid leucine, which triggers muscle protein synthesis after exercise, enhancing muscle growth,” says Julie Stefanski, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Adding whey protein improves wound healing and age-related muscle weakness.”
Julie Stefanski is a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and a Certified Sports Dietitian. Stefanski has a private practice focused on writing and social media, children with special needs, and athletes.
Whey protein contains more branched chain amino acids, such as leucine, than collagen. according to a study 2019 (opens in a new tab) in overweight women, these additional amino acids may contribute to the finding that whey protein was more effective in increasing women’s resting metabolic rate than collagen supplements.
Whey protein is widely known to be a fast-acting protein. In fact, according to a 2018 article in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (opens in a new tab)20g of whey protein can be absorbed by the body in just two hours.
Although research on collagen absorption is in its infancy, it appears that it is absorbed more slowly than whey protein. Hydrolyzed collagen breaks it down into smaller particles with a faster absorption rate. As a result, many supplements now contain hydrolyzed collagen.
The key ingredient here is again leucine, more of which is found in whey protein. Research (opens in a new tab) has shown that leucine can help increase muscle mass and strength, specifically in healthy older people.
“Leucine independently triggers muscle protein synthesis after exercise, which offers an additional boost to muscle growth,” says Stefanski.
Collagen tends to win on the digestion front. According to the Mayo Clinic, whey protein can cause gastrointestinal problems in some people, while collagen supplements are generally considered safe, with no known side effects.
The jury is out on this, despite claims that whey protein and collagen supplements can help control appetite. In 2021, a randomized double-blind study (opens in a new tab) found that neither whey protein nor collagen helped reduce appetite in healthy women. Nevertheless, in 2015 (opens in a new tab) The researchers found that adding whey protein to a regular diet could reduce appetite. So we need more research to be sure.
Whey vs Collagen: Which Should You Take?
We asked Stefanski to tell us whether collagen or a whey protein supplement would be better.
“While some studies have shown the benefits of collagen or gelatin supplementation in areas of osteoarthritis and aging skin, the evidence is quite weak, as many of the studies are small,” she says. “Many claims to support the use of collagen products remain unproven. When you delve into the published research on the effects of collagen on joint pain, the evidence does not support the claims or theories at this time.”
However, Stefanski is more optimistic about the beneficial effects of whey protein. “Extensive research supports the use of whey protein for muscle synthesis and skin damage repair. Additionally, research comparing the effects of collagen versus whey protein on muscle growth after exercise finds whey protein to be the clear winner,” she says.
Stefanski has a warning for anyone considering taking a supplement: “Research the company and make sure there have been no issues with contamination with heavy metals or other substances. look in the fda website (opens in a new tab) to see if the manufacturer has recalled any products.”
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer medical advice.