Collagen or Gelatin Powder: Which One to Get?

You might have heard the terms collagen and gelatin used interchangeably. But while both proteins have many similar properties, they are still different from each other in terms of their structure and use. So, it is important not to confuse one from another and to choose the right one for your required application.

Both collagen and gelatin have unique structural properties and nutritional profiles that make them beneficial for your health. Read on to learn more about collagen and gelatin powders, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our body. It makes up more than 30% of our body and is found in bones, skin, muscles, tendons, cartilage, and other structures. There are over 16 different kinds of collagen found in the body that are grouped in different categories. Each type of collagen is found in different structures in the body and performs different functions.

For example, Type 1 collagen, the most abundant collagen found in the body, is a large part of your skin and bones. This type of collagen is responsible for keeping your skin firm and youthful. Type 2 collagen forms a major part of the cartilage in bones and it affects strength and compressibility. Type 3 collagen is found in your skin alongside Type 1 collagen and is also a part of your blood vessels, muscles, and intestines. 

Our bodies produce collagen naturally and we can also get collagen by including protein-rich foods in our diet. But as we age, the amount of collagen in our body starts declining which leads to the formation of wrinkles and lines on our skin, aching in our joints and bones, and other health issues. Some environmental factors like spending a lot of time in the sun can also cause the collagen in your skin to weaken.

Hence, it is important to include collagen-rich foods in your diet or take high-quality collagen supplements that will help your body get all the collagen it needs. 

What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?

Raw collagen that hasn’t been processed yet is called Native Collagen. It is generally very hard to digest and insoluble. But when collagen is heated to 60 degrees C, the protein in collagen breaks down into its individual constituents. At this stage, the collagen is called ‘denatured collagen’, but more on that later. 

Denatured collagen then goes through another process called hydrolysis, which breaks down the protein into even smaller amino acid chains or peptides. This process creates pre-dissolved collagen called hydrolyzed collagen, collagen hydrolysate, or collagen peptides (all three terms are used interchangeably). 

Hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides dissolve easily in both hot and cold water and don’t gel. Most commercial collagen powders available in the market are actually hydrolyzed polypeptides that have already gone through this process. For example, the collagen powder you add to your morning coffee is actually a collagen hydrolysate. 

What is Gelatin?

Remember we talked about ‘denatured collagen’ in the last section? Well, when collagen is heated and it breaks down into smaller chains, those smaller chains form a substance called ‘gelatin’.

Gelatin is essentially denatured or partially-hydrolyzed collagen. It is made by heating collagen until it breaks down into smaller chains. As the gelatin cools some of the chains partially reassemble forming a gel-like structure. 

Gelatin resembles the same protein properties as bone broth. Both of them are rich sources of essential proteins and amino acids needed by your body. 

How are Gelatin Powders Made?

Commercial gelatin powders go through a series of steps to become what they are. First, cleaned and washed animal hides, bones, and tissues are soaked in hot water and roasted at 212 °F for 30 minutes. This starts off the process of denaturing collagen. Next, the pieces are soaked in an acidic or alkaline solution for up to five days to facilitate collagen release. This process also disinfects and demineralizes the solution. 

After that, the solution goes through multiple machines where liquid gelatin is extracted, sterilized, deodorized, decolorized, and purified. The liquid is then heated again to evaporate all the water, the remaining gelatin is pressed into sheets and then ground into a powder.

Key Differences Between Collagen Powder and Gelatin Powder

In essence, both collagen and gelatin are made from the same kinds of proteins but they have some key differences. Here is a table explaining them in detail.

Collagen Powder

Gelatin Powder

Structure

Fully-Hydrolyzed Polypeptides

Partially-Hydrolyzed Protein Chains

Dissolvability

Dissolvable in both hot and cold liquids

Dissolvable only in hot liquids

Digestibility

Very easy to digest

Easy to digest

Consistency

Doesn’t change the consistency of liquids it is added to

Changes the consistency of liquids it is added to by making them gel-like

Taste

Flavorless 

Flavorless

Forms Available

Powder, Liquid, Capsules

Powder, Sheets

Applications

Mostly used as a collagen supplement

Mostly used as a thickening agent

 

Benefits of Collagen and Gelatin 

While both collagen and gelatin may have some differences, they are both beneficial for your health. Here are some of the ways collagen and gelatin can help you.

Skin Health: Both collagen and gelatin are great for improving the texture and elasticity of your skin. For example, regularly using Zen Principle Beef Gelatin Powder can help reduce the signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles and make your skin look supple and youthful (our customers regularly comment on this).

Bone Health: Regularly taking the required amount of collagen is known to improve bone strength and joint mobility. Collagen supplements like Zen Principle Marine Collagen Peptide Powder are known to improve bone health and reduce the risk of joint deterioration.

Energy and Metabolism: Collagen contains amino acids like glycine that help boost your metabolism and give you a burst of energy. For example, regularly taking Zen Principle Beef Collagen Powder is a great way to stay active and healthy.

Weight Loss: Both collagen and gelatin feature prominently in Bulletproof, Paleo, Primal, GAPS, Whole 30, and Ketogenic (Keto) meal plans since they have amazing weight loss properties. 

Collagen Powder or Gelatin Powder; Which One is Best for You?

The decision of which is better for you, collagen powder or gelatin, depends on a number of factors. For example, if you were looking for a thickening agent for your soups and sauces that also gives you an extra boost of protein then gelatin powder is an easy pick.

On the other hand, if you were looking to add a collagen supplement to your diet that doesn’t change the consistency of the liquid or food you are adding it to then you’re better off with collagen peptide powders. 

 

Ultimately, collagen peptide powders are a better source of collagen purely because they are meant to be consumed primarily as a collagen supplement while gelatin is primarily used for its gelling properties. However, the ultimate decision of which form of protein to pick is up to you. 

Leave your comment
Comments
Created on: September 14, 2021
Tanya at Zen Principle

Hi Martha,

We apologize for the confusion.

The terminology can really be confusing.

In this article, when the term “Collagen” was used, it referred to the raw collagen.

It can be confusing as some people do say “collagen” but actually mean hydrolyzed collagen (or collagen hydrolysate, or collagen peptides).

To clarify, gelatin is the result of partially hydrolyzing collagen (raw collagen). Collagen peptides (collagen hydrolysate, hydrolyzed collagen), on the other hand has underwent complete hydrolysis or has been broken down further.

Gelatin and hydrolyzed collagen does not differ much in terms of nutritional profile as they are both “collagen” but in different forms.

I hope this helps.

Created on: September 14, 2021
Martha

This confuses me more. I thought collagen was more processed than gelatin. The text suggests that first you get collagen, then you get gelatin. But your table suggests first you get gelatin (partially hydrolyzed) then you get collagen (fully hydrolyzed). Plus, you never answer the key question: are the nutrient profiles of the two the same? Are the only difference being digestabiity and gelling ability?

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