What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)

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What is collagen protein and how to use it
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)

I’ve been a big fan of gelatin since our family went on the GAPS diet and it helped my son be able to tolerate dairy again. I’ve also seen huge benefits with my skin, hair, and nails since I started incorporating more gelatin and collagen into my diet.

What Is Collagen?

In short, collagen is an insoluble protein that accounts for 1/3 of the protein in our bodies and 70% of the protein in our skin. Many people are familiar with its role in the skin, which is why it is in so many beauty products. What many people don’t realize is collagen is so much more than just a beauty remedy. (More on that later.)

The collagen molecule is a complex protein made up of over 1,000 amino acids, the main ones being proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline (in a unique triple helix configuration of three polypeptide subunits. (Sorry, science nerd moment!)

But what does this mean on a practical level?

Why We Need Collagen

It means collagen is incredibly strong. In fact, type I collagen (a type found in the human body) is stronger than steel gram for gram. It is fundamental to healthy cell reproduction, joints, connective tissue, and more.

The particular amino acids in collagen and gelatin are said to be especially beneficial in the body for:

The important thing to know is that these amino acids come from bones and cartilege (usually from cows) and are not present in muscle meats. As we trade traditional cooking methods like making homemade bone broth for modern convenience, we are getting less and less collagen and gelatin in our diets.

More in a bit on how to make up the gap, but first:

How to Boost Collagen Protein (From the Inside Out)

Here’s the thing. All of those beauty products that contain collagen won’t do much for your skin. This is because collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed through the skin. That doesn’t mean collagen isn’t really beneficial though… just that we have to get it from the inside out.

So how to get it? There are a few ways:

Natural Sources of Gelatin

Collagen (and gelatin, its cooked counterpart) is naturally found in high quality broth and in cuts of meat that contain skin or bone. If you’ve ever made bone broth and had it “gel” when it cooled, this is due to the collagen naturally present in the bones and connective tissue, which becomes gelatin when cooked.

There are also gelatin powders like this that contain 6 grams of protein per tablespoon and are relatively odorless and tasteless. This makes them easy to mix into warm drinks or recipes for an extra boost of quality protein,

Natural Sources of Collagen

Collagen has many of the same properties as gelatin and is the form actually found in the body. When we lack collagen due to diet or aging, we need a way to get it from the inside out.

Collagen and gelatin aren’t interchangeable, but they both do have their advantages. Some people, especially those with severe digestive issues, won’t handle pure gelatin protein well until they address their digestive problems. Bone broth is a great option in this case, but another good option is collagen peptides (another name for hydrolyzed collagen/collagen hydrolysate), which is essentially a cold-water soluble and more easily digestible form of gelatin.

Because of the unique way hydrolyzed collagen is prepared, it has higher amounts of the amino acids that support healthy cell growth and reproduction especially in connective tissues, hair, skin tissue, cartilage, ligaments and so on. It also absorbs more quickly due to a lower molecular rate.

How to Use Collagen Hydrolysate and Gelatin Powders

What is collagen hydrolysate and how to use it

My absolute favorite source of gelatin and collagen is homemade bone broth (or a high quality grass-fed bone broth like this one), but it isn’t always possible to have access to homemade broth.

As much as I love broth, there are also times (like a scorching August) when a cup of hot broth is not very appealing, so I prefer a different option instead.

Gelatin powder and collagen powder are great options that we use often instead of broth.

Gelatin Powder Uses

Gelatin is great not only due to its benefits but because of its ability to “gel” in recipes. It works really well in jellos, marshmallows, and other recipes for this reason.We use gelatin for making a lot of different gut-healthy recipes like:

This is the grass-fed gelatin that we use.

The one downside to gelatin powder… it only mixes into warm/hot liquids and clumps up in cold drinks because of its ability to gel. Enter collagen!

Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder Uses

Collagen powder won’t gel like regular gelatin, but it dissolves easily both in cold drinks (like smoothies) and hot drinks. I use it almost daily for protein and healthy fats added to:

Bonus: It’s not only good for you but adds a delicious creaminess and froth! We use collagen from both Bulletproof as well as Jigsaw Health. While the majority of collagen comes from bovine, there is marine collagen for anyone that needs the sourcing to come from fish or other marine life.

What We Do

We still drink bone broth regularly (either homemade or this brand). I also still use regular grass-fed gelatin in anything we need to “gel.” I’ve found that everyone in our family seems to digest the collagen hydrolysate/peptides form more easily, so now we use that most of the time for a quick boost of protein.

I’m curious- have you ever tried gelatin or collagen hydrolysate? How did it work for you? Share below!

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Collagen Hydrolysate is an easier to digest form of gelatin that does not gel but that contains essential amino acids like proline and glycine.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


492 responses to “What Is Collagen Powder (& How to Use It)”

  1. Sydney Avatar

    Hi, thanks for this article. I am wondering if you can recommend collagen sourced from fish? The two recommendations above are sourced from cows. Thanks

  2. Debbie Avatar

    I add 10 grams of gelatin in my morning oats to thicken it and add the additional health benefits to my diet. I also enjoy a greens and collagen drink loaded with stevia and cocoa powder in the afternoon for a delicious nutritious treat.

  3. Lexi Avatar

    When I put collagen into my coffee it creates a foam on top. Do you know if there is collagen in that? I only ask because it tends to stick to the side of the cup as I drink and I want to make sure I don’t end up wasting valuable collagen. Sometimes I scoop it out with a spoon.

  4. Ann Avatar

    Dear Katie,
    Under the section of ‘Gelatin Powder Uses’ and referring to the ‘downside of gelatin powder’ – I found the easiest and quickest way to dissolve gelatin is to place your amount of powder in a small amount of cold water, wait till the grains swell, (not long) and then add the required warm to hot fluid. Cuts dissolving time dramatically.
    An alternative to using (gelatin) is AgarAgar which is made from sea plants. One has to cook it though for about 10 minutes but the big advantage is it sets without needing refrigeration. However some foods such as pineapple and kiwi fruit must be cooked first before setting with AgarAgar. Where I live it costs near $20 for a 25G/1 ounce packet from a Pharmacy, but only about $3 from an Asian grocery store. A little goes a long way. Medical use for AgarAgar is what a lot of cultures are grown in. I am not sure of the health benefits compared to Bone broth/animal gelatin.
    Thank you for all you do.

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