Whey or Collagen - What's better for you?
Collagen or whey? What about both? We stacked up collagen vs. whey, and I’ll tell you now, the results were unexpected!
What you’ll learn:
- What is collagen good for?
- What is whey good for?
- Can you take collagen and whey at the same time?
What is collagen good for?
Collagen powder is a newly popular protein with research to back up its use for moisturizing skin, strengthening hair and nails, weight loss, joint pain, exercise, recovery, and more!
To take a bird’s eye view of supplementing with collagen: pretty much anything that has to do with your connective tissue can be improved with a collagen supplement. I know that’s a pretty grandiose statement, but hear me out - logically it makes sense and the research backs it up.
Collagen is essentially the “glue” that holds everything in your body together. So if you think about it, the health of your collagen has a lot to do with the health of you!
Collagen protein is different from other proteins because it has a higher content of certain amino acids. Glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline are the major amino acids in collagen, but most others (besides tryptophan) are there as well, just in smaller amounts.
Here’s a chart showing the amount of individual amino acids in Resync’s collagen protein. You can see that the collagen-supporting amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and hydroxylysine are very high in our collagen supplement.
Collagen protein is also pretty high in arginine, which has immune supporting and healing properties.
The benefits of collagen go beyond its individual amino acids though. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole in this case.
When you eat a hydrolyzed collagen protein, some of the collagen is broken down to amino acids and some of it stays in larger protein form. Although it’s hard to study what happens to those unique proteins, it appears that mammals can shuttle them to where they need to go - your joints and tendons, for example.
Besides providing the crucial building blocks, these small proteins also seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, specifically on your body’s collagen-making machinery. This is one reason why collagen peptides may be so great for reducing the painful symptoms of inflammatory joint issues.
No other protein powder has been shown to have these kinds of anti-inflammatory effects.
These specific amino acids and proteins - plus a good source of vitamin C, a bit of copper and a healthy amount of iron - are critical for your body to make collagen. But if your body can make all these amino acids itself, do you even have to supplement with them?
Technically, no, you don’t have to supplement with collagen to make collagen. But there are a few reasons you might want to look a bit closer:
Supplementing with collagen has been shown to increase the integrity of all of your connective tissue. So it’s up to you to keep your skin glowing and your joints and bones healthy as you age.
Some experts suggest that some of the chronic diseases we’re looking at nowadays may be caused, in part, by the lack of connective tissues in our diet. The amino acids glycine and proline have been highlighted for the possibility that they might be limiting factors in our overall health!
I mean, when was the last time you chewed on the end of a bone, or made bone broth for every meal during the winter months? Choose a quality collagen supplement and you won’t have to spend hours making your own bone broth.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Glycine - which is very high in collagen - might be helpful for that!
Do you have osteoarthritic joint pain? Study on study shows that collagen can help!
What about joint pain when you exercise? Supplementing with collagen can be helpful for that, too!
Wrinkles around your eyes? Dry skin? Brittle hair or nails? The research is still coming out, but so far, multiple studies have shown promising results!
So whether or not your body can make collagen on its own, or if we should or should not be eating more connective tissue, simply look at the science-backed benefits and tell me you don’t want to be optimizing your health with a collagen supplement!
I’ll rest my case: from research to clinical experience to logical reasoning, no matter how you slice it, collagen can be an important, and often lacking, piece of our diet.
What is whey good for?
Every protein supplement has different levels of amino acids, making them best for certain uses. Each is digested differently, meaning you have to pay attention to the timing of your protein shake.
It might seem complicated, but what you need to know about whey protein doesn’t have to be.
When milk is processed to make cheese, it separates into two major protein sources: casein and whey.
Whey protein is high in branched-chain amino acids that your muscles burn for as well as lysine, critical for muscle growth. The high levels of these amino acids is what makes whey an attractive choice for maximizing gains from your workout.
- Diabetes and high blood sugar
- Overweight and obesity
- High blood pressure
- Inflammation and oxidative stress
Just as collagen is ideal for supporting connective tissue, whey - being high in lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and valine - is ideal for supporting muscle tissue. Notably, whey is not very high in amino acids that support connective tissue health.
Two studies, one using whey, casein, or soy in healthy young men and another comparing whey to casein in older adults, show that, for muscle protein synthesis (the technical term for microscopic muscle growth) whey is better than soy, and soy is better than casein.
Zoom out to the macro level and you’ll see that whey doesn’t necessarily create any greater advantage in your average person who’s trying to get to the gym more.
One study showed that whether it’s leucine, soy, whey, or just plain calories from carbohydrates, the biggest part of gaining muscle is to get enough calories first. After you’ve got that base covered, then you might consider how whey protein can stimulate muscle cells more than other types of protein.
Most studies take advantage of the fast-digesting nature of whey by using it after a workout.
Since whey is digested quickly, that means that there may be better options for muscle support overnight (you’ll want to pick a slow digesting protein like casein.
So what is the best way to use whey? Some research shows that getting a large amount all at once may be better than spreading out your protein shake.
That being said, you can’t absorb more than about 20 grams of protein in a single sitting, so spread your protein throughout the day.
Or to be more technical, you can only absorb a max of about 0.4 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per meal. Depending on your weight, that might be 20 grams, or it could be around 30 grams. The takeaway here is to get adequate protein in every meal if you’re trying to maximize your benefits.
For muscle protein synthesis:
Whey > Soy > Casein
Consume whey protein throughout the day in 20 gram servings.
To gain the most strength and to be resilient against injury, though, you’re going to have to look beyond how your muscles look.
How are you supporting your entire musculoskeletal system?
Are you getting a protein supplement that’s specifically tailored to support the connective tissue, the collagen that connects your muscles to your bones?
In a similar way that whey is ideal for promoting muscle strength, collagen is ideal for supporting tendon, ligament, and joint strength.
To illustrate the difference between collagen and whey protein, take a look at this table. The amino acid content in Resync Your Joints - Collagen Blend is compared head-to-head with the amino acids in a typical whey protein (note that we got the tryptophan content from another source since it’s not typically reported).
Note that every batch of whey protein varies considerably! These numbers are representative, but probably don’t match up with the whey you might be taking.
Can you combine whey and collagen?
With whey being great for muscle building, and collagen being the go-to for joints and skin, can you combine them and get the benefits of both?
Let’s stack the graphs I showed you earlier to see what happens.
That’s more like it! You can see that the two protein sources complement each other nicely, giving you all the essential and nonessential amino acids you need for total body health:
- Glutamic acid (which your body uses to make glutamine) and arginine for supporting healing and recovery
- Glycine and tryptophan for cognitive support and sleep improvement
- Leucine, isoleucine, valine, and lysine for muscle growth
- Cysteine and methionine to boost your antioxidant system
- Proline, hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine, and glycine for optimal connective tissue health
- Plus a complete and balanced range of essential and non-essential amino acids.
Add in the unique biofunctional, anti-inflammatory properties of collagen to the mix and you’ve got a winning combination! There are a number of benefits shared by both, so you won’t be losing anything by mixing the two:
- Whey and collagen may help weight loss by making you feel full for longer.
- Whey and collagen have both been shown to help preserve your muscles when you’re training in the gym.
- Whey and collagen may both improve bone mineral density.
If both proteins have been shown to be so favorable for all kinds of issues, why not take them both and have all your bases covered?
The takeaways from this post:
- Collagen is high in amino acids that support joint and connective tissue health
- Whey is high in amino acids that support muscle growth
- Combining collagen and whey is a good strategy for total body health
- The differences in protein types aren’t evident until you’ve eaten enough calories, regardless of where they come from
If you want to dive deep into all the reasons why collagen is a must-have for your routine, try out a bottle of our collagen and we’ll give you a free copy of our ebooks: “The Best Strategies to Resync your Performance and Recovery with Collagen” and “7 Drinks To Change How You Feel, Look and Perform”.
If you want to know which collagen powder to buy, what different certifications mean, and what products return the best results, check out our buyers guide here:
But if you’re ready to do the work yourself, examining every product label in the supplement aisle, here’s our guide on how to choose the best collagen supplement:
You already know that Resync is one of the highest quality, most well-tested products out there, and now you know why Resync Collagen Blend is so good for looking good on the outside!
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