collagen vs. gelatin nutrition faceoff

Ever since posting Gelatine:: The Other Superfood I have gotten a lot of emails and requests for more information on the differences between hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin  (Great Lakes is the brand of choice thus far!).   Many of you were confused about which can to use when and if there were nutritional differences with them.

Before we go forward let’s go back a bit and talk about why I rave about collagen and gelatin and bone broth as a vehicle for healing the gut, balancing the hormones and thyroid and calming the adrenals.  

One of the big reasons bone broth, collagen and gelatin are so good for you is the anti-inflammatory qualities of the amino acid profile which is, primarily glycine, proline, glutamic acid (not to be confused with monosodium glutamate), arginine and alanine. These all help build lean muscle and also aid in calcium (and magnesium) absorption.  Although the body can manufacture these amino acids by the nutrients consumed (mainly proteins) those with damaged metabolisms (basically anyone with inflammatory or degenerative disorders, hormonal or thyroid imbalances, blood sugar dysfunction, or adrenal insufficiency) or anyone with livers that are over-stressed and not functioning (detoxing) properly have a difficult time manufacturing these amino acids therefore ingesting them takes a great deal of stress off the body.

Incidentally, because, as a society we have adopted a more sterile food system we have abandoned our “nose-to-tail” way of eating where we ate gelatin-rich cartilage and mineral rich organ meats.  Instead, we cut away every part of the meat including bone, sinew, and, in some cases, every trace of fat which leaves muscle meats with imbalanced inflammatory amino acid profiles.  Bone broth, collagen and gelatin (as well as other protein sources like eggs, fish, and dairy) help balance out the incomplete amino acids.  The Argentinians have it right when they serve an egg on top of their filet mignon!

Of course boiling your own bones for homemade bone broth is the best source of collagen, there are times, I am aware when you either don’t have access to high quality bones or meat, you don’t have three hours to boil the bones, or you simply just can’t face a day in the kitchen or another mug of broth.  (I’ve been there.)   This is where collagen and gelatin come in.

How do I use it and how much do I take?

 For very stressed digestion and those with weakened metabolism recovering from illness starting with a cup of  bone broth (and even a cut of meat like oxtail to make a combination meat/bone broth for the weakest of digestions) is going to be your best bet.

 For those with stronger digestion, adding in up to 2 tablespoons of hydrolyzed collagen a day is best.  If you experience bloating, skin irritation or other detox symptoms, starting with 1 tablespoon or even 1/2 tablespoon and working up 1/2 tablespoon every few weeks will help heal without nasty detox symptoms. Symptoms such as these indicate that there is something weakened in the detoxification pathways in the liver and the amino acids are inducing those pathways to work harder but more is not better in this case.  It’s better to start slowly and build.)  

If you are one of the lucky ones who have strong digestion OR once you are able to do both bone broth and hydrolyzed collagen with no bloating or other digestion issues then you can introduce gelatin and the goodies you make from them.   By then you could be using collagen and gelatin to make up about 30 to 40% of your protein intake.  (Think of all the marshmallows you could be eating in the name of getting protein!!)

The upside to collagen and gelatin is your hair, skin, and nails will thank you as well.  It is a great way to give your dermatologist the finger when he suggests you need a top up of Botox because collagen plumps the skin and even reduces wrinkle depth!  

Nice bonus, no?



6 replies
  1. Incorrect Science
    Incorrect Science says:

    Hydrolysed collagen and gelatin are the same. No differences between them. Hydrolysed collagen has been denatured and so is gelatin. It’s all a marketing facade!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      They are NOT the same! Hydrolyzed collagen HAS been broken down and dissolves in cold water while gelatin does NOT. NOT the same thing and not just a marketing facade. People that need to follow a low histamine diet cannot tolerate gelatin but can tolerate hydrolyzed collagen. Not so smart for a donkey, eh?

  2. ann
    ann says:

    I am histamine intolerant and have CBS gene which adds to the intolerance and mast cell problems. Are you stating a person with high histamine can take hydrolyzed collagen. What is hydr. collagen made from and if it is from animal, isn’t it slow cooked bones which can add to histamine problems? I hope I am asking my question properly. Will the hydo. collagen heal my gut? Will it add to my intake of protein for the day, for that is what I need , more protein which is not animal.

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      You are asking the question exactly right. First off, you may very well not be following a histamine intolerant diet properly. Hydrolyzed collagen is LESS problematic for histamine intolerant but, depending on how you are methylating in the first place, over or under, can determine whether collagen would be good for you. Ultimately, collagen alone cannot heal your gut. It’s a good addition but there are very specific protocols for healing your gut so that your histamine intolerance is balanced properly. By the way, you must be careful that you aren’t assuming that most other protein sources that are not animal protein are metabolized in the body. For example, quinoa is extremely high in protein for a plant but is not as digestible as, say, glycine rich bone in slow braised meats and can actually make leaky gut worse due to its fiber content.


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