Collagen peptides and gelatin are both proteins derived from the collagen protein molecule found in the connective tissues of animals and both have similar nutritional properties. Because of the difference in processing however, gelatin and collagen peptides have different culinary and nutritional applications. While collagen peptides dissolve easily into liquids at any temperature, gelatin’s longer molecular structure requires heat for it to dissolve, and when it cools, it “gelatinizes” into a form most commonly associated with the product Jell-O.
In this article, you will learn:
- How Collagen Peptides and Gelatin are the same
- How they are different
- Gelatin’s usefulness and limitations
- The advantages of using collagen peptides
- A simple, everyday method for upping your collagen or gelatin intake
There is a lot of confusion around collagen peptides and gelatin because they are actually two different forms of the same thing.
Both collagen peptides and gelatin begin their journey as an important organic protein that is simply called collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a tough, elastic, and versatile structural protein. It is found in nearly all tissues, but is especially concentrated in the skin, joints, and connective tissues like ligaments and tendons.
Good collagen production is essential to health, and without proper collagen protein function, we would literally fall apart and die!
Collagen Fact: The seafarer’s disease scurvy is actually a disorder of collagen production brought on by a vitamin C deficiency!
Our cells assemble collagen proteins from the smaller amino acids proline, glycine, arginine, and hydroxyproline.
We get some of these amino acids from regular dietary protein sources, but others, specifically hydroxyproline, is found almost exclusively in collagen itself.
In other words, in order to make enough collagen, you have to eat some as well!
Gelatin: The Basic Dietary Collagen
Although it would actually be a good source of collagen, most people don’t snack on raw animal hides or hooves.
Unlike other animals, we like to cook, so we tend to bake, boil, and roast our food, and when we cook meat, we begin the process that converts collagen into gelatin.
During long, slow heating, collagen proteins gradually start to unwind, and much in the same way that a beaten egg can never go back into an egg, the collagen proteins change shape in a process called denaturing.
Collagen protein that is irreversibly denatured becomes liquid gelatin, and when this gelatin cools, it becomes wiggly and jiggly.
In other words, when collagen is heated and then cooled, it turns into Jell-O.
Gelatin gives home-made soups and stews their luscious mouth-feel, and is widely used recipes that required its special qualities.
In addition to its culinary utility, gelatin is a good source of the amino acids your body needs to make collagen protein, so regularly consuming gelatin confers all the benefits attributed to collagen supplementation, such as improved gut health, stronger hair and nails, and improved skin elasticity.
We could stop right here, but some of the things that make gelatin so useful also hold it back.
If you ever made Jell-O growing up, you know that you have to boil a pot of water before pouring in the little packet of powder.
This is because gelatin needs hot water in order to dissolve completely.
If you try to add it to cold or even lukewarm water, gelatin will clump, and even if you got it to dissolve, it would form a gelatinous blob as soon as it cooled down.
Collagen peptides are small fractions of collagen protein that have been broken down even more completely than collagen.
This allows them to dissolve easily and completely in a wide variety of foods and beverages, including smoothies, shakes, coffee, and even baked goods.
Like gelatin, collagen peptides contain all the important amino acids needed for proper collagen function and health and their regular use can help promote more youthful, elastic skin, stronger hair and nails, improved gut health, and decreased joint pain.
An easy way to ensure that you get adequate collagen protein in your diet is to simply add it to your morning coffee or tea.
Since we know that gelatin requires hot liquids in order to dissolve, it would be best suited for hot coffee and freshly brewed teas.
For cold brew coffee or iced tea, easy mixing collagen peptides would be the better choice.
(To get the best results we recommend using a frother like this one.)
1-2tsp (5-10 grams) of either gelatin protein or collagen peptides per 8oz of coffee or tea is a good starting point.
Go Beyond with Natural Force
Some unscrupulous, bargain brands of collagen peptides source their ingredients from factory farmed, industrially produced animals.
They rightfully tout the benefits of collagen supplementation on their bottles, but they don’t say anything about where their collagen comes from.
We on the other hand are proud of our sourcing and stand behind our products from the field to your body.
Our Collagen Peptides comes from pasture raised cows who spend their entire lives grazing on lush green grass and our Marine Collagen Peptides are sustainably produced from wild-caught crimson red snapper.
They are both completely unflavored and mix better and more completely than other brands.
Want to learn more about collagen? You might be interested in this article, “Collagen: Nature’s Most Abundant Protein You’re Not Getting Enough Of”.
Editors Note: This post was originally posted January 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Also published on Medium.