The Difference Between Collagen Protein and Gelatin

By: Dave Asprey
May 12, 2016

The Difference Between Collagen Protein and Gelatin

  • Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and gives structure to your skin, bones, muscles, and all other connective tissue.
  • Collagen peptides and gelatin are often confused, but the two behave differently in food.
  • Both collagen and gelatin can improve skin texture and quality, joints, sleep, and help heal your gut lining.
  • To boost your collagen stores, eat foods like bone broth and stir collagen peptides powder into your smoothie or Bulletproof Coffee.
  • Always take your collagen and gelatin with vitamin C.

A lot of people have been asking me about the difference between collagen protein and gelatin. Both are great ways to upgrade the appearance of your skin and improve joints, flexibility, sleep, and recovery. I’ll explore all that below. First, here’s a quick primer on the differences between collagen and gelatin. Despite similar names and ingredients, they behave quite differently in food.

Is gelatin the same as collagen?

Collagen mixes easily

Collagen consists of collagen peptides, which dissolve into hot and cold liquids completely. It’s heat-stable and pretty much flavorless so you can mix it into just about anything to get more bioavailable amino acids into your diet. Collagen is perfect to add to coffee, tea, smoothies, salad dressings, and sauces.

Gelatin will gel

Upgraded Collagelatin is a more Bulletproof form of gelatin –  a mix of collagen and gelatin. True to its name, it gels. Collagelatin works just like the gelatin packets you can find in any grocery store, except it’s made from better ingredients and it guaranteed to have the amino acids you need to build more collagen in your body.

Use Collagelatin if you’re making gummies, puddings, marshmallows, Bulletproof pumpkin pie, or anything else you want to hold together. A small amount will also give amazing chewiness to brownies or thicken up a curry or sauce (just don’t add too much). Collagelatin is a versatile tool in the kitchen. Just don’t add any to your coffee…unless you want to chew it.

The benefits of collagen and gelatin

When it comes to benefits, collagen and gelatin are more or less the same. Both contain glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, the three amino acids your body uses to make new collagen to support joint health, skin health, and a robust gut lining. These amino acids are hard to come by unless you’re eating lots of organ meat and connective tissue (if you’re not on the organ meat train because you can’t get over the taste, here’s a good place to start).

But what does the science say about the benefits of collagen and gelatin? Here are four science-backed reasons to add more collagen and gelatin to your diet:

1) Smoother, more hydrated skin

Your skin and connective tissue contain special cells called fibroblasts that manufacture collagen. They can crank it out as long as they have plenty of glycine, proline, hydroxyproline. The best way to get those amino acids is hydrolyzed collagen, which has been broken down so it’s more bioavailable. Hydrolyzed collagen also goes by “collagen hydrolysate” and “collagen peptides.” Upgraded Collagen and CollaGelatin are both hydrolyzed.

Hydrolyzed collagen does several things for your skin. It:

  • Improves skin elasticity[1]
  • Decreases skin cracking[2]
  • Removes wrinkles[3]
  • Increases fibroblast density, a marker of healthy, elastic skin[4]
  • Increases skin moisture[5]

In a nutshell, collagen will make your skin younger, more elastic, and more hydrated. Participants in all the studies above used between 2 and 10 grams daily. That’s a good dose.

2) Stronger joints

Collagen can also strengthen your joints, increasing their resilience to injury and pain. Several studies have found that taking hydrolyzed collagen decreases joint pain[6][7] and increases the density of your cartilage, making your joints more flexible.[8] This becomes important as you age because your body starts producing less collagen.

Collagen is also a great supplement for athletes, particularly if your preferred exercise is tough on your joints. Long-distance running is the worst offender. Most sports take their toll, as can heavy lifting if you aren’t vigilant about your form. If any of those apply to you, collagen may save you an injury or two.

3) Faster recovery

If you do end up getting injured, collagen can help with that too. It’s the main protein your body recruits to heal everything from acne to a torn Achilles tendon; it works well for several reasons:

  • Collagen forms a flexible matrix, covering damaged tissue while still allowing it to move. It acts as a sort of scaffold that holds everything together so other cells can rebuild.
  • It fights off bacteria, which helps to keep wounds sterile.[9]
  • It can assimilate with surrounding tissue, helping to close a wound.

In one study, hydrolyzed collagen sped up ulcer healing by about 200%.[10] Your gut bacteria break collagen down into short-chain fatty acids that the cells lining your intestinal wall can use for fuel, so collagen can help you with gut issues and stave off leaky gut syndrome. And while there haven’t been specific studies on collagen and acne, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help with that as well.

Your body’s collagen needs go up when you’re injured. If you’re recovering from something, try taking 10g of collagen or collagelatin 2-3 times per day.

4) Better sleep

Collagen has been one of my top sleep hacks for years. I take it about an hour before bed most nights and almost always when I’m traveling. It doesn’t disappoint.

Collagen’s sleep-promoting qualities may be thanks to its high glycine content. People with trouble sleeping nodded off more quickly, got into deep sleep faster, and reported less daytime sleepiness the following day when they took glycine before bed.[11] They also did better on a memory task, which is another indicator that they were more rested.

In another study, participants who took glycine before bed reported less fatigue and a clearer head the next day,[12] and a third study found that glycine doesn’t contribute to daytime sleepiness, even if you take it during the day[13] – so you don’t have to worry about adding collagen to your morning coffee and crashing a few hours later.

How to get more collagen and gelatin in your diet

The most convenient sources of collagen’s building blocks are Upgraded Collagen and/or Collagelatin. A single scoop of collagen and a few homemade gummies will give you a dose of the critical amino acids you need to increase collagen synthesis in your body. If that’s not your style, here are a few other good sources:

  • Tendon, tripe, cartilage, neck, marrow, oxtail, knuckle, and other non-steak cuts of meat (I promise they’re easier to cook than it sounds)
  • Bone broth
  • Pork skin, salmon skin, and chicken skin
  • Pastured eggs
  • Collagen Bars
  • Collagen Protein Bites
  • One of my favorites: Bulletproof pumpkin pie

Pair collagen and gelatin with vitamin C

For hundreds of years, sailors had to worry about scurvy. After months at sea without any fresh vegetables, their teeth and hair would begin to fall out, their joints would deteriorate, and their skin would start to break down.

The problem wasn’t lack of collagen; it was lack of vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to collagen synthesis. Scurvy is not Bulletproof, so be sure you eat plenty of raw or lightly cooked vegetables so your body has vitamin C to work with. You can also take an extended-release vitamin C supplement like this one. To get the most out of your collagen, always pair it with a source of vitamin C.

Collagen is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your diet. Plus, it’s an excuse to make pumpkin pie. How can you go wrong?

For way more information about upgrading your skin, plus preventing and eliminating stretch marks, check out this ebook.

READ NEXT: How to Get More Collagen and Why Your Skin Needs it to Stay Young

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