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Understanding Differences between Whey Protein & Collagen

Please take note! The title of this blog calls out the ‘differences between’ Whey Protein and Collagen’ and not ‘Whey Protein ‘versus’ Collagen’. That is pretty instrumental take-away. Whey Protein and Collagen are indeed both proteins but they don’t necessarily have to be pitted against each other and in reality, they can be used to complement one another in a nutrition regimen! The goal of this piece and supplementary videos is to breakdown the characteristics of these different proteins and help you understand when to take them, how much and why. 


Origin & Amino Acid Profiles 


Collagen is typically made via bone hide from beef cows however there are vegetarian-friendly versions such as marine collagen. Collagen is primarily heavy in three amino acids - glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Generally speaking, these amino acids have properties that aid in the health of connective tissue, skin, hair nails.

Whey Protein on the other hand is a protein derived from milk – a nutrient dense complete source. Whey protein isolate also goes through an advanced purification process that filters out fat, lactose, sugar and carbohydrates for an incredibly healthy protein source.Whey Protein is considered to be a complete protein which is defined as containing all 9 Essential Amino Acids (EAAs). Other proteins which are aimed at being an alternative to Whey Protein — such as plant proteins — will often have to be supplemented in order to achieve the same all-in-one balance. Of recognition is Whey Protein’s high levels of BCAAs (valine, leucine and isoleucine). These Amino Acids are highly functional components for muscle recovery & retention. 

The Amino Acid profile is the essential differentiatorbetween Whey Protein & Collagen. When it comes to Amino Acids, a few key things are important to understand before we dive in and you review the visuals.

  1. Amino Acid chains are how a protein is created and they are the root of protein’s nutritional benefits
  2. 1000mg equals 1g
  3. Each amino acid contributes different body functionalities or qualities


BiPro’s Typical Whey Protein Amino Acid Profile


Typical Marine Collagen Amino Acid Profile


Key Benefits

As noted above, the amino acid profiles of Whey Protein and Collagen are the drivers of their functional benefits. And as shown in the Amino Acid Profile visuals above, Collagen and Whey Protein have very distinctive profiles therefore the benefits they bring about are quite different. 

To begin, Collagen is a protein that is naturally occurring in our bodies but as we age, this inherent production starts to slow and may need supplementation. In addition to Collagen playing a role in the health of hair, skin and nails, it also has a significant role in the connective tissuessuch as bones, ligaments, tendons, and the skeletal muscles. 

While Whey Protein’s status as a complete protein means it contains all 9 Essential Amino Acids, its notoriety exists with its exceptionally high levels of leucine (BiPro® ELITE Whey Protein Isolate has 2.5g). Leucine has a unique ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Dr Mike Rousell, Ph.D., author of The Meta Shred Dietdescribes leucine as being essential to the body’s ability to 'turn on' muscle building at a cellular level. Whey Protein can be a powerful tool to achieve a number of fitness and wellness goals such as muscle gains, weight management, therapeutic recovery, sarcopenia management and more. In addition to offering an appealing low calorie, low carb nutritional profile, utilizing a pure, clean label Whey Protein Isolate like BiPro® is also typically gluten free and lactose free. This means Whey Protein Isolate can be easy on digestion systems even when individuals have a sensitivity to other dairy products.  


When to Take & How Much


To go back to our first take-away, when it comes to Whey Protein versus Collagen, you don’t have to pick and choose. Both proteins can be used in a complementary fashion on a daily basis. As we know, protein supplements are extremely adaptable and can be built in conveniently during the day. If you’re interested to see recommended daily protein requirements, check out BiPro’s Protein Calculator. Below are two expert insights, from Reilly Brown and Chris Freytag, on Whey Protein and Collagen consumption:

  • Reilly Brown, member of BiPro’s ProTeam and Sports Nutritionist gave us her take on how and when collagen should be taken for people actively training. Her recommendations: 
    • Approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour before a training session, Reilly recommends taking in about 15g of Collagen protein paired with Vitamin C. Think about mixing some Collagen in with orange juice for a combo that will help maximize tendon and ligament health.
    • Post training is the time to prioritize recovery. This is Whey Protein’s time to shine, Reilly’s recommendation is to take in about 20g of clean label Whey Protein as a workout follow-up and pairing it with a 3-to-1 carb ratio for optimal functionality. If you’re actively competing she suggests ensuring you’re investing in a NSF Certified for Sportproduct like BiPro ELITE. 

View Reilly’s Video Take Here.


  • Wellness Influencer Chris Freytag finds that the combo of Whey Protein and Collagen help her achieve what she needs regarding fitness and recovery as well as her skin and joints. While she’s seen a broad range of recommendations for daily consumption of protein, generally speaking she gets a good portion of her daily requirements from whole foods and takes 10-20g of Collagen via supplementation and 20-30 grams of Whey Protein via supplementation. Depending on her day’s activities, Chris will take her Whey Protein via shake, smoothie or Protein Water throughout the day or after a good workout for recovery. She then pairs that with Collagen in powder form – sometimes mixing it in her coffee or protein shake or alternatively, occasionally she will defer to taking Collagen via capsule form at bedtime.

View Chris’s full video breakdown of Whey Protein and Collagen Here.

As always, what products are right for you will depend on your body, goals, preferences and budget and you should always consult healthcare professionals if you’re serious about finding a more exact right balance for you. We offer these insights to help you explore your wellness behaviors and inspire you to make big moves in your fitness journey! 




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