Collagen powder and protein powder have become staples of well-being because of the amino acids they contain and their benefits to our brain, muscles, joints, skin and hair. Sometimes, however, it may be difficult to decide which one to use or if combining them is the best choice. We tell you all you need to know about protein powder and collagen.
What is protein powder?
Proteins help build, maintain and repair our muscles, are at the core of neurotransmitters and hormones, can influence the appetite, help the heart function smoothly and support the health of our gut. Although protein can be taken from food, sometimes it is not enough, and protein powder can supplement the needed amount of this macronutrient.
Protein powder is made from plant or animal-based sources like peas, soy, rice, cow milk, whey and eggs. The manufacturing process involves removing some elements like minerals, carbohydrates, fibre and fats and adding others like herbs, supplementary nutrients and sometimes sweetening agents.
Not all protein powders are alike. The ones with the highest value for the functioning of our body are the ones containing the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Usually, animal-originated sources contain all these nutrients, while plant-based sources do not.
Protein powders that contain a full range of amino acids are called complete protein powders. One example is whey protein powder, a water-soluble powder derived from cheese production and easier to digest than other powders.
How much protein do you need?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) – the amount of protein recommended to healthy adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram. For example, weighing 68 kg, you will need around 55 grams of protein daily.
But this amount is influenced by your age, state of health and if and how much you exercise daily. For instance, certain categories of athletes who perform intense training can consume even twice the Recommended Dietary Allowance.
Some research indicates that older people could consume one-and-a-half more protein than RDA to increase the muscle mass that tends to decrease as we age.
You should adapt the amount of protein you consume to your body and lifestyle. And it would be best if you discussed this with a specialist in nutrition before increasing this amount.
What is collagen powder?
Collagen counts for about a quarter of the protein in our body, and it resides mainly in bones, tissues, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and skin. Its roles in the body are significant: collagen strengthens tendons, connects the tissues to the skeleton, provides elasticity to our skin and supports the proper functioning of our organs. Although an incomplete protein, collagen is rich in four amino acids: glycine, hydroxyproline, proline and arginine. Glycine joins two other amino acids – glutamine and cysteine – and results in Glutathione, the most efficient antioxidant in the body.
Collagen powder is a supplement that can help boost collagen levels in the body. It is made from animal tissues like fish scales, egg shells and bones and the skin of pigs and cattle, so it’s not suited for vegetarians.
The manufacturing process of collagen powder involves turning the proteins obtained from these animal-based sources into gelatin and then transforming it into the collagen powder we buy from stores.
Do you need protein powder if you take collagen?
Protein powder and collagen do not replace one another but complement each other, as they have different amino acid profiles.
Combining these two supplements allows you to enjoy a complete set of benefits for your muscles, immunity, joints, metabolism, hair and skin. They can be mixed into various drinks and get digested easily.
Is it better to take collagen powder or protein powder?
Taken individually, they can serve different purposes. For example, protein powder is a good choice for those looking to increase their muscle mass. Those who want to strengthen their immune system with the help of antioxidants often choose collagen powder.
These powders contain different ingredients and have different nutrition profiles. To know which powder is better for you to take, check the list below with the benefits provided by each of them.
Benefits of collagen powder
One study has indicated that postmenopausal women who take collagen supplements present an improved mineral density that prevents bone breakdown compared to women who take calcium supplements.
Collagen powder can help alleviate joint pain, increase the resistance of bones and muscle mass, provide more hydrated, young-looking skin and increase the strength of those who exercise intensively.
The issue with collagen supplements, some experts say, is that you cannot direct them to go to an area of your choosing. If you take collagen powder for cosmetic reasons, but there are areas in your body that do not have enough of this nutrient, chances are the powder will go to the zone where those levels need to increase.
The important thing to remember is that taking collagen powder prompts the body to naturally produce more collagen, providing the body with the beneficial amino acids it contains.
Benefits of protein powder
Protein powder can help you achieve several goals:
- Keep your weight under control – protein powder helps us feel fuller for longer, hence decreasing the size of food portions and the probability of eating unhealthy snacks between meals;
- Improve your muscle mass – according to an analysis of studies published in 2018, taking protein supplements improves the size and strength of muscles in adults practising intensive exercise like weight lifting;
- Boost your immune system- Glutathione amino acid protects the body’s cells against damaging elements like free radicals, toxins and pollution. Consuming whey protein powder containing Glutathione helps boost your immune system. The proteins Lactoferrin and immunoglobulins, also found in whey protein powder, help enhance the immune function of our body.
Does collagen make you gain weight?
When consumed alone, collagen doesn’t lead to weight gain.
Collagen is a protein that makes us feel full faster when eating and keeps us away from between-meals snacking. Consuming these macronutrients causes our metabolism to work harder to absorb and digest them, as opposed to consuming fats.
Moreover, collagen helps increase leptin levels, a hormone that signals the brain when we are full.
Before including protein powder and collagen into your diet, I recommend speaking to your doctor to ensure these supplements do not interfere with any food allergies or medical conditions you are affected by or with any medicines you might take.
Remember that not all protein and collagen powders are equal and that you should choose the ones that fit the objectives you want to reach.