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Collagen vs Gelatin – Which is better? And should you use it on Keto?

Louise | October 18
Collagen vs Gelatin - #keto

Collagen? Gelatin?

What are they? How are they different?

And should you be using them on Keto since they’re proteins?? Will collagen and gelatin kick you out of ketosis?

I used to be really confused about this topic as well, so please read on for the answers…

What is Collagen?

In our bodies, collagen is the most abundant type of protein (it’s composed of the amino acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine). And it makes up a lot of our skin, tendons, and bones.

Dr. Bill Rawls, M.D. explains, “Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It is what holds you together.”

He adds, “Collagen fibers come together to form the tendons and ligaments that provide support for the entire skeleton. Cartilage in joints is made of collagen. Collagen is also present in muscles and and bones for added support. Without collagen, you would be a pile of bones on the floor.”

Up to 70% of the protein in your skin is collagen, which is why you’ll find it in face creams and skin care lotions.

In food, we typically find collagen in the tendon and skins of animals. But since we don’t eat much of those “unseemly” bits of the animal anymore, most of us have to supplement to ensure our skin and joints remain healthy.

And the type of collagen supplement we take is called “hydrolyzed collagen.”

Bottom Line:

Collagen is a protein that is present in our skin, tendons, and bones.

What is Hydrolyzed Collagen?

It doesn’t sound very appetizing to eat a large plate of tendons for lunch…

Hence why it’s much easier to supplement with hydrolyzed collagen.

Hydrolyzed collagen is created by a process called hydrolysis, where the protein molecules are broken down through various methods. The collagen is then extracted and then dehydrated to create a white powder we can add into smoothies and drinks.

what is collagen

This makes the collagen more digestible than regular food sources of collagen and easier to use.

Bottom Line:

Hydrolyzed collagen is processed form of collagen that makes it easy to digest and use.

What’s the Difference Between Collagen and Gelatin?

Collagen and gelatin are very similar.

In fact, they both contain exactly the same amino acids (which are the building blocks of protein).

The difference is how these amino acids are packaged (aka their chemical structure). And an easy way to think about the difference is:

Gelatin is the cooked form of collagen.

The cooking/heating of collagen changes the chemical structure of collagen so that it behaves very differently to gelatin.

And this chemical structure difference between gelatin and collagen means that they are used differently (gelatin can be used to form jello/jelly and whereas collagen doesn’t have that gel effect). More about that below.

Bottom Line:

Gelatin is the cooked version of collagen and has a different chemical structure.

Collagen vs Gelatin – Which is Better For You?

Since the main benefits from both collagen and gelatin are the amino acids (and they have the same amino acids), you would think either is fantastic to use.

And for the most part, you’re correct. There is one exception, however, that makes hydrolyzed collagen better…

Hydrolyzed Collagen is better because it tends to be easier than gelatin for people to digest!

Bottom Line:

Both gelatin and collagen are excellent for you but hydrolyzed collagen tends to be easier to digest.

Collagen and Gelatin have Different Uses

Another huge difference between collagen and gelatin is how they are used.

Collagen dissolves in cold water and doesn’t form a gel.

But gelatin only dissolves in warm water and can be used to form gels.

This means that they are used in cooking differently:

Gelatin is good for…

  • Thickening soups and sauces
  • Using in baking to bind ingredients together
  • Making your own jello desserts, gummies, and homemade marshmallows

Collagen is good for…

  • Blending into coffee, smoothies or protein shakes

Stirring into sauces and soup.

gelatin gummy bears

Bottom Line:

Use gelatin where you need something to form a gel. Collagen doesn’t for a gel, but can be added to hot or cold drinks.

The Benefits Of Hydrolyzed Collagen

As I mentioned above, collagen is really good for you (and a lot of parts of your body is made from collagen). So, add hydrolyzed collagen powder into your keto diet if you want:

One of the most popular reasons to use collagen is improved skin texture and appearance. Registered Dietician Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, CDN, says, “If your main concern are wrinkles and fine lines, add in collagen peptides to your daily routine.” Getting more in your diet is a great way to counter the effects of age, sun exposure, and stress.

Collagen can also be a great tool for reversing chronic illness.  Dr. Amy Myers, M.D., uses collagen in her private practice to help her clients repair leaky gut, a root cause of autoimmune disease.  She explains, “When you have a leaky gut, toxins, food particles, and infections can pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream, causing inflammation, and over time this chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmunity.”

“Therefore,” she adds, “if you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or thyroid condition (the vast majority of which is autoimmune) then you likely have a leaky gut and you would benefit from adding collagen into your diet.”

Bottom Line:

Collagen has long been used in skincare products, but it has many other potential health benefits including helping you get stronger nails, fewer wrinkles, and improving joint health and overall wellness.

Will Taking Collagen Kick You Out Of Ketosis?

A lot of people mistakenly think that because collagen is a protein, they can’t use them on a Keto diet for fear that it’ll kick them out of ketosis.

First, for many of us, high ketone levels is not the goal of our keto diet (weight loss or energy gain is the goal!). So ensuring you get the nutrients you need to succeed is highly important. And collagen (because of its amino acids and other potential health benefits) is one of those nutrients.

Plus, if you are concerned about ketone levels, you can boost them in other ways!)

Second, if you get Keto Collagen, which was specially designed for Keto dieters, then you can get the benefits of collagen and MCT powder at the same time – and the MCT powder will help keep you in ketosis.

Their collagen comes from 100% grass-fed beef collagen and the MCT powder is derived from coconuts. Their product is so clean that if you get the unflavored version, those are the only 2 ingredients. If you prefer a chocolate flavor, then that one comes with unsweetened cocoa powder and stevia to create a chocolate milk drink!

If you want to give Keto Collagen a try, you can find it here.

Bottom Line:

Supplementing with collagen can be beneficial to your keto diet, especially if you use a brand that has MCT added to it.

4 Ways To Add Collagen Into Your Keto Diet

You can definitely start adding more “other” parts of the animal into your diet. Make sure to eat your chicken skin and beef tendons!

Another way to add collagen into your diet is by using hydrolyzed collagen powder as a supplement. There are various ways you can use hydrolyzed collagen powder:

1. Add Into Your Morning Smoothie

Because collagen dissolves in both hot and cold water, you can just add some to your morning smoothie. Add a bit of MCT oil or coconut oil to your smoothie too to boost your energy even more.

It also works well after workouts as a completely non-dairy protein shake 🙂

2. Add Into your tea or coffee

If you’re a tea or coffee drinker, then it’s super easy. Add some into your daily cuppa. If you get unflavored collagen, then you won’t even know it’s in there! Or get the chocolate flavored one if you want a mocha flavored drink.

3. Add Into soups, broths, and stews

Registered Nurse Lou Ann Binkley, RN says, “Making or drinking a cup of real bone broth each day will add to your collagen reserves. You can consume bone broth on its own or use it in all sorts of recipes.”

No time to cook?  No problem.  Add a scoop of unflavored hydrolyzed collagen into your soup or stew or broth.  It’ll have the same effect!

4. Just mix with water and drink

This method isn’t for everyone, but I mix 1/2 a scoop of CoBionic Indulgence Collagen with 1 scoop of greens powder. Add water, stir, and drink. Keto Collagen already has the MCT in it, so it’s even easier 🙂

It takes 60 seconds for me to make and drink this.

How Much Collagen Do You Add?

There’s no set amount. I personally started with a small amount of collagen powder and then increased it over time:

  • Half a scoop per day is a good amount to begin with
  • Most folks take between 0 and 3 scoops per day

The right amount for you depends on lifestyle factors like:

  • Like how much exercise you do
  • Or if you’re using collagen as a meal replacement while traveling

Bottom Line:

Start with a smaller amount and add more in as needed for your body’s protein needs.

What Else Should You Supplement With On Keto?

We get asked about various supplements to take on Keto a lot. And while supplements are most definitely not necessary for Keto, they can be a great tool for optimizing your health further and ensuring you don’t get deficient in anything.

That’s why Jeremy and Chris recorded a video and PDF guide on what supplements to use on Keto…

They created that for the Keto Summit, but you can still access it here.


Louise co-founded Louise's Foods, Paleo Living Magazine, Nourishing Brands, & CoBionic. She has considerable research experience but enjoys creating products and articles that help move people just a little bit closer toward a healthy life they love.