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Collagen vs Gelatin: What's the Difference?

collagen v. gelatin

Looking to boost your protein intake with other potential benefits like joint support, skin health maintenance and more? Look beyond the standard whey protein and consider collagen, gelatin and collagen hydrolysate!

There are numerous health benefits associated with these amino acid powerhouses, but you’re probably wondering what the differences are and how they’re related. Don’t worry. This post will clear up any confusion.

Collagen & Gelatin

To understand gelatin, we have to start with collagen. Collagen is the primary protein in connective tissue, skin and bones. Actually, you have more collagen in your body than any other type of protein—it makes up 25-35% of the whole-body protein content! Lack of collagen can cause a wide range of problems as you age, from wrinkles to decreased joint elasticity.

Collagen is a potent source of amino acids. While it’s not a complete protein source, collagen does contain an impressive profile of essential amino acids, providing 18 of the 20 amino acids your body needs to create protein.

Unfortunately, we typically throw away the parts of food that contain collagen: the skin, tendons, membranes and other connective tissues in meat. So instead, to get collagen, we can eat gelatin.

Gelatin is simply the cooked form of collagen, and it’s one of the best and most convenient ways to ingest the important amino acids in collagen.

But What About Collagen Hydrolysate?

Collagen hydrolysate (sometimes called hydrolyzed collagen) is simply gelatin that’s been processed more intensively to break up the proteins into smaller bits. They have the same amino acid profiles and come from the same source, but react differently to liquids. Basically, the only major difference between the two is how you use them in the kitchen. Because the proteins in collagen hydrolysate are smaller, some people may find it easier to digest.

 

Gelatin

Collagen Hydrolysate

Source

Bones, skin and scales of animals

Amino Acid Profile

Identical

Dissolves In

True gelatin only dissolves in hot water

Dissolves in both hot and cold water

How It Reacts to Liquid

Causes liquids to gel

No reaction

 

You may be wondering – does it matter if your gelatin is sourced from chicken, pork, beef or fish? Yes, the amino acid profiles are slightly different, but not by much. If you’re looking for a higher dose of a specific amino acid, check labels to compare. But if there isn’t a particular amino acid you’re seeking out, don’t stress over it!

What Are the Benefits of Collagen, Gelatin & Collagen Hydrolysate?

Benefits of Collagen, Gelatin & Collagen HydrolysateAs mentioned earlier, collagen is the most prevalent type of protein in your body, so there are many benefits.

  • Helps maintain skin elasticity and can help prevent skin aging and roughness
  • Promotes bone health
  • Promotes joint health and mobility
  • Supports strong, healthy hair
  • Supports nail growth and strength
  • May shorten exercise recovery

Both gelatin and collagen hydrolysate will provide these benefits!

Using Gelatin & Collagen Hydrolysate

There are many ways to use collagen and gelatin to get your dose of those beneficial amino acids. Gelatin and collagen hydrolysate are flavorless, so they are very versatile!

However, they can’t be used interchangeably. Collagen hydrolysate will not gel like gelatin, so it cannot be used for making marshmallows, puddings, jello or fruit snacks. Unlike gelatin, though, collagen hydrolysate will dissolve in cold or hot liquids, so you can add it to almost anything!

collagen and gelatin uses

 

How to Use Gelatin

How to Use Collagen Hydrolysate

Make your own fruit snacks or Jell-o® style dessert

Add to hot or cold coffee

Make your own marshmallows

Add to smoothies

Add it to sauces and soups as a thickener

Add to soups and sauces

Blend it into your coffee (with coconut oil for an added boost)

Stir into water or a protein shake

Use it in baking as a binder

Stir into oatmeal or cereal

 

gelatin needs to bloomAre There Other Ways to Get Collagen?

Directly from the Source

There are other ways to reap the benefits of gelatin and collagen! Gelatin comes from the bones and cartilage of animals, right? So bone broth, which is made from simmering animal bones, is a way to get the benefits of gelatin without buying the powder. Bone broth can then be sipped on its own, used as a base for soups and stews or anywhere else you would use broth.

Collagen Supplements

You're not confined to the kitchen! You can get the benefits of collagen through supplements as well.

If you browse for collagen supplements you'll notice that many brands specify the type of collagen used in their product. So what’s the difference?

There are many, many types of collagen (28 have been identified), but Type I, II and III are the most common. The chart below will show you the differences.

Collagen Type I

Collagen Type II

Collagen Type III

Most abundant

Less abundant

Second most abundant

Found in skin, tendons, ligaments, bone, teeth, scar tissue

Found in cartilage and the eyes

Found in muscles, blood vessels, intestinal walls and with collagen type I

Used to support skin elasticity, joint health and bone health.

Used to support skin elasticity and reduce signs of aging

Used to support muscle, skin and bone health

 

If you’re buying pure gelatin or collagen hydrolysate, you don’t have to worry about collagen types. Collagen Types I, II, III and beyond refer to the different uses within the body, all drawn from the basic collagen you ingest.

There you have it—a thorough look into collagen, gelatin and collagen hydrolysate. Hopefully that clears up any confusion you may have!

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