Collagen and Gelatin : An Alternate Protein Powder

Eck, the word protein powder makes me think of those hug plastic tubs at GNC with a picture of a flexed bicep and lots of bro science.

I've been hesitant to recommend protein powders because most protein powders are full of fillers, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and goodness knows what else. Additionally, many people don't tolerate whey or casein-based protein powders; they experience bloating, digestive issues, and now they've tossed away 40 bucks.

But, many people are busy, or don't have appetites for breakfast in the morning, so protein powders can come in handy.

Enter a protein powder I can get behind -- collagen or gelatin


What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up 30% of protein in the body and 70% of the protein in the skin. Collagen is a key structural protein in connective tissues and helps maintain elasticity and moisture in the skin.

What are the benefits of collagen?

It’s the beauty protein powder! 

  • Skin health - Collagen promotes skin health, elasticity and moisture. In a double-blind placebo study, women who took collagen peptides regularly for 8 weeks saw a 20% reduction in wrinkles. 
  • Bone and joint health - Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass, and consuming collagen can improve bone metabolism and bone formation. 
  • Digestion - Supports a healthy digestive tract by repairing the lining of the small intestine. Collagen peptides are more quickly and easily digested than gelatin. If you're suffering from digestive distress, collagen can be a great source of protein.
  • Satiety - A convenient source of added protein. Perfect for those who have a hard time eating breakfast, yet want to have a protein-rich smoothie or bowl of oatmeal. 


How is collagen derived from an animal?

In traditional cooking techniques, like bone broth, collagen is broken down by heat and results in gelatin.

To make the powdered form of collagen and gelatin, bovine hides are treated in a solution of lime and water, then heated to a maximum of 190 degrees Fahrenheit.


What's the difference between gelatin and collagen peptides?



Gelatin (Vital Proteins Collagen Protein, Beef Gelatin or Great Lakes Beef Gelatin) gels in cold liquids and dissolves in hot liquids. Think of the jiggle in chilled bone broth. That's gelatin. Gelatin molecules are longer than that of collagen, resulting in slower absorption of the protein.

Collagen peptides

Collagen (Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides or Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate) dissolves in both hot and cold liquids. Collagen peptides are a further broken-down form of gelatin. After the treatment of the hide with lime and water and heat, enzymes further break down the gelatin, resulting in collagen hydrolysate. Collagen peptides are a smaller protein compared to gelatin, resulting in quicker and easier absorption of the protein.


Which amino acids are included in the gelatin and collagen peptides?

The amino acid profile of gelatin and collagen peptides are very similar. As outlined above, the main difference between gelatin and collagen is the length of the protein chain.

The amino acid profile consists mainly of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and glutamic acid.

A few benefits of glycine, the more abundant amino acid, as outlined by the Weston A. Price Foundation:

  • Involved in glucogenesis (manufacturing of glucose)
  • Enhances stomach acid secretion
  • Promotes healing of wounds


How should I cook with and use collagen and gelatin?

Remember, collagen peptides dissolve in both cold and hot liquids. Try adding to foods and beverages, like:

  • Smoothies or desserts
  • Water or other hot or cold beverages
  • Soups, sauces or


Gelatin dissolves in hot liquids and gels at room temperature. Try adding to foods and beverages, like:

  • Soups, stews or purees
  • Fruit gelatins or custards



When purchasing a collagen or gelatin powder, be sure the cows are pasture-raised and grass-fed.

Also be sure the container is BPA-free!

I enjoy Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides added to a soup or porridge on a weekly basis!