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. Diane Avatar

    Ive been using Vital Protien peptides for the last 4 years. I was introduced to it by you Katie. I also use the gelatin to make treats for kids/grandkids (of course with your recipies ?). My hair, nails and skin (joints and gut) all notice the improvement! Thanks Katie for all your work and research to bring us all the wealth of information you give! You’ve been a Godsend in regaining my health!!

  2. Sara Avatar

    I’m vegetarian but recognize the role animal proteins play in our health. Any guidance on how much collagen one needs in their diet? I’d like to incorporate the minimum amount necessary.

  3. Jess Avatar

    I use Great Lakes collagen in almost every snack & cake I make for the kids. From raw slices to grain-free cupcakes – we are eating it several times a day & nobody but myself knows it. I’ve noticed a huge change in my kids health & ability to digest foods they would normally struggle with & we can even get away with the rare naughty treat when we’re stuck out & about with no other option.

  4. Laura Avatar

    I have a severe allergy to all mammal meats. Can you recommend a source for non-mammal collagen?

  5. Bernadette Avatar

    I just started using a collagen supplement in addition to our homemade stock in our family, when my father in law mentioned that collagen supplements are usually extracted from the hide and not the bone, and are missing part of the complete protein. He said this can actually be harmful to your body. Have you heard anything about that or know what he was referencing? I couldn’t remember enough of the scientific terms he was using to look it up very well on my own! Thanks!

  6. Helen Avatar

    The link to the collagen powder you use would not work for me. Can you tell me which one it is? Thanks!

  7. Aneah Epshteyn Avatar
    Aneah Epshteyn

    I have looked into these powders, and they seem to be made from the skin of the animal. I don’t know of traditional methods of using the skin for food. What references do you have on skin being used for food? I’m all for bone broth, but I don’t see how eating the skin in this form would be natural.

  8. Mabel Avatar

    I sometimes take the dietary supplement Biocell Collagen. It contains gelatin. It was recommended to me as a remedy for hot flashes. I found that it was dehydrating. As if all the water in my body was flooding to sore joints and skin. Not sure about the hot flashes. Taking real food renal supplement for them now. Are you familiar with dehydration as a collagen side effect?

  9. Amy Avatar

    The Vital Proteins…I don’t see one with a blue lid, but I see 2 with blue labels? Can you clarify? Thanks!!

  10. Kyla Avatar

    I am loving your blog! You incorporate varied modalities to help heal & you use credible scientific sources to provide really simple (yet thorough) explanations! Thanks for sharing

  11. Charisse Avatar

    Hello..can I put the callogen mix into my black ciffee also using the butter? Any other onther suggestions??

    Thank you..

  12. linda Avatar

    i have a good deal of weight and have developed crepy,crapy,creppy skin. would the callagen work for that and adding protein to my body?

  13. Kathy Alford Avatar
    Kathy Alford

    I have been using collagen hydrolysate (about a heaping Tbsp) in my coffee for about two years. For about a year, it vastly improved my thin, brittle, peeling fingernails. But now, they are not as strong. I wonder if there could be something in my body that is leeching the keratin from them? About two weeks ago, I added boron to my daily supplements. I understand it should help my body absorb calcium.

  14. Julie Avatar

    Is it safe for kids to supplement with ollagen powder? My DD has very thing hair, but she’s only 6, so wasn’t sure! Thanks!

  15. Hannah Avatar

    Is it safe during pregnancy? I use the green label great lakes. Thanks!

  16. Julie Avatar

    I am thinking of getting the collagen powder for myself and family but I take a glucosamine chondroitin supplement that contains collagen in pill form for my knee. Can you have too much collagen?

  17. Dawn Avatar

    Under FAQ on the Vital site they stated that their Collagen Peptides were not in hydrolysate form….
    What is the brand you prefer/use for hydrolysate peptide consumption?

  18. gail metcalfe Avatar
    gail metcalfe

    I am currently doing a keto diet for reversing diabetes. I had used hydrolyzed collagen prior to beginning the diet, and am now wondering if I should be decreasing the amount of meat/food proteins now that I am using the collagen. Also, is it beneficial to spread the collagen out through the diet… I have been using 2 TBSPs in my coffee in the a.m. Thank you.

  19. Stephan Avatar

    In your link to the collagen you say “blue lid” but im seeing white and green lids? Could you share a direct link to the blue lid that you prefer? Thanks! And also thank you for your website!

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