What’s the difference between collagen and whey?

Table of Contents

Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process. The liquid that remains after milk straining is a type of protein which is called whey.

Collagen, on the other hand, is the most plentiful protein in our body. Bones, skin, hair, cartilage and generally connective tissues are made of collagen.

Collagen and whey just like other proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids. Collagen contains joint-building amino acids found in bones and connective tissues. Whey contains muscle-building amino acids which are found in dairy products, fish and egg.

What’s the difference between collagen and whey?

But what are the differences and similarities between collagen and whey? Can we take both at the same time?

In this article you will have answered the questions above and even more. Do not miss the post!

Content table

  • Similarities between collagen and whey
  • Differences between collagen and whey
  • Which one is a complete protein?

Similarities between collagen and whey

Both collagen and whey are proteins meaning that they contain amino acids. They come from animal sources and our body can easily absorb them. They both are found in powders and many people take them to lose weight. 

Differences between collagen and whey

Although whey and collagen both are proteins, their functions are different from benefits in our body to solubility in water. In the following, we are going to review a few number of such differences:

Benefits

Thanks to special amino acids that stimulate the cells to produce new ones, whey benefits us by improving the growth of our muscles. In fact, whey is a muscle-building protein. 

Studies show that taking whey makes people feel satiated. This may be very helpful for those who are looking for ways for weight loss. Furthermore, Whey plays a key role in reducing inflammation. 

On the other hand, collagen makes connective tissues strong, enhances hair and skin and promotes heart. In addition, taking collagen can help those who are suffering from digestive issues. 

Moreover, not only can collagen help our liver detox alcohol, but also strengthens our bones and enhances muscle mass.

How are collagen and whey supplements made?

The recipe that companies follow to produce whey supplements is explained below:

First of all, fresh milk must be collected and transported to the factories where through the cheese-making process, liquid whey is extracted from milk as a byproduct. Then in order to remove fat and water, the liquid is filtered. Finally, through a combination of a drying process and multi-step filtering, whey comes in powder format.

On the other hand, to make supplemental collagen, we will have two steps:

  • Gathering the materials we need such as skin, bone, eggshell membrane, etc.

To produce multi collagen supplements including all five types of collagen, a wide range of animals from fish to chicken must be used.

  • Breaking down collagen molecules to help the body easily absorb them

Through a process which is called hydrolysis, we can get collagen from bone, skin and other sources. 

How are collagen and whey supplements made?

The point here you need to take into account is the sources that collagen is extracted from must be as natural as possible. For instance, wild-caught fish instead of farm-raised ones, cage-free chickens, grass-fed cows and so forth.

After completing the mentioned steps, to turn collagen into powder, it is dried and evaporated through some special techniques.

Collagen sources vs. Whey sources: What’s the difference?

We consume supplements to help our body, so it is important to know what we eat. Casein and whey that are the two main proteins in milk account for 80 percent and 20 percent respectively. During the process of cheese-making, whey is left behind.

Whey contains amino acids which are necessary and dairy products are rich in this type of protein.

As mentioned above, both collagen and whey are sourced from animals. However, unlike whey which is found in dairy products, you can find collagen in animals’ bones, skin, cartilage, heart, etc. 

Additionally, egg is considered a collagen-rich food, especially eggshell membrane which is so highly rich in collagen that is used to get collagen from for supplements!

How chemically are whey and collagen different?

We know that both whey and collagen are made up of amino acids. However, the molecules making up these two types of protein are different in size.

Collagen is a massive molecule and needs to be hydrolyzed before consumption. The process through which this huge molecule is broken down into small parts is called hydrolysis. Without having collagen hydrolyzed, we are not able to take collagen powder because we can’t easily stir it into our coffee or tea. 

The term hydrolyzed is used for those collagen supplements that provide the customers with collagen broken down into small units which are easily and immediately absorbed by the body. Hydrolyzed collagen which is also known as collagen peptide is dissolvable and you can safely add it to your tea or coffee with no worries from clumping.

On the other hand, the molecules of whey are small compared with collagen ones and do not need to be broken down. They are so called “beverage-friendly” meaning that you can easily stir them into your coffee.

Nonetheless, companies producing whey powder tend to hydrolyze it just like collagen! This is mainly because through this process, whey protein turns into a hypo-allergenic form of whey and would be suitable for those who are allergic to intact whey.

Which one is a complete protein? Collagen or whey?

20 amino acids make up a protein structure. Naturally, our body makes 11 of them but for good health we have to obtain the remaining 9 amino acids from what we eat. These 9 amino acids are essential for us. We call a food “complete protein” when it has all these 9 necessary amino acids.

Animal proteins such as meat, fish and egg are mostly complete even though some plant proteins including soy and buckwheat are also considered complete.

Now back to the question above about collagen and whey. Whey contains 20 amino acids which includes 9 essential ones. So we can call it a complete protein.

But what about collagen? Is collagen a complete protein too? Collagen lacks one of the most important amino acids called “Tryptophan”. Tryptophan is one of the 9 essential amino acids; so we can’t name it a complete protein based on definition. 

However, even though collagen is missing the Tryptophan amino acid, it offers us two unique amino acids that whey does not contain.

Which one is a complete protein? Collagen or whey?

Summary

Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process which contains muscle-building amino acids. Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the body containing joint-building amino acids. 

Taking whey can help you lose weight because it makes you feel full. Consuming collagen enhances hair and skin and promotes heart as well as healing digestive issues.

Liquid whey is extracted from milk and through a complex multi-step process, whey comes in powder format as we know.

To make collagen supplements, after gathering the materials like bone and eggshell, through a process called hydrolysis, a beverage-friendly collagen is made.

Both collagen and whey are sourced from animals; whey is found in dairy products and collagen is found in animals’ bone, skin, cartilage, heart, etc.

Collagen and whey are different chemically. Collagen is a massive molecule and needs to be hydrolyzed before consumption. The molecules of whey are small compared with collagen ones and do not need to be broken down.

Whey is a complete protein that contains 20 amino acids including all 9 essential ones we need but collagen is not a complete protein because it lacks Tryptophan which is one of the 9 essential amino acids.

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