Gelatin and Collagen Hydrolysate: What’s the Difference?

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

Gelatin and collagen hydrolysate

By Catherine Crow, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at Butter Nutrition

Gelatin (also known as cooked collagen) is a wonder food with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging qualities, as it helps to fill in the missing amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in the standard American diet.

According to Ray Peat, PhD, “The degenerative and inflammatory diseases can often be corrected by the use of gelatin-rich foods” (source).

One of the greatest benefits of using gelatin is to help balance our amino acid intake. Because collagen makes up approximately 50% of the whole animal, gelatin can be used to help create a more complete protein balance in our diet. The standard American diet tends to be very high in muscle meats (such as beef, chicken, lamb and turkey), which when not balanced by other proteins (such as eggs, fish, dairy, shellfish, organ meats) can contribute to inflammation over time (source).

Gelatin has a unique and very non-inflammatory amino acid profile, primarily consisting of glycine, glutamic acid, proline, and alanine (tryptophan and several other amino acids are completely missing).  Although these are non-essential amino acids (meaning your body can make them), many malnourished and over-stressed livers are not able to manufacture all the non-essential amino acids in the amounts demanded by the body. The liver needs an abundance of these proteins to keep functioning optimally, particularly to fuel phase 2 detoxification. This helps your body “take out the trash” in our toxic world, reducing inflammation!

Gelatin versus Collagen Hydrolysate

Collagen hydrolysate and gelatinAlthough the most nutrient dense source of gelatin is homemade bone broth (since it contains minerals as well), powdered versions offer a more convenient way to consistently get it into your diet.

The Difference is Processing

I spoke personally with the president of Great Lakes Gelatin to get the low down on exactly how collagen hydrolysate and gelatin are processed.

According to Bob Busscher, they carefully source grass-fed beef hides for the raw material for their bovine products. The split hides (under the hair where the collagen lies) are put into an alkaline solution and held for a number of days where the material is broken down into smaller pieces of skin.

Next it’s acid back washed and pumped into cooking kettles which separate tallow, skin, and collagen. The collagen is then filtered and put through a vacuum evaporator at 212 degrees F (a very delicate process). After evaporation is complete there is a four second sanitation process at 240F degrees that kills any unwanted bacteria. At this stage it is classified as pure collagen.

Collagen hydrolysate: The collagen is stored in a holding tank at a higher temperature to reduce the molecular weight cleaving the amino acid bonds. This process is called hydrolysis. At the appropriate time it is then introduced to the spray dryer whereas the product is made into a dry powder.

Gelatin: The collagen is sent to a votator, chilled and solidified, pumped onto a drying belt, and is now considered gelatin. It is dried to under 12% moisture, milled to a granular specification and packaged.

How to Best Use Each Type of Collagen

Collagen hydrolysate – The hydrolysis process described above renders the gelatin powder more easily digestible and appropriate for those with digestive weakness and sensitivity. I find this type of gelatin best used as a protein powder with careful dosing (see Important Note below).

Mix collagen hydrolysate in drinks, shakes, smoothies, ice cream, or add a tablespoon to your favorite recipe to give it an anti-inflammatory protein boost.  It will dissolve in cold liquids easily.

Having collagen hydrolysate with a meal that contains muscle meat can help balance the amino acid profile that enters your blood stream. “If a person eats a large serving of meat, it’s probably helpful to have 5 or 10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time, so that the amino acids enter the blood stream in balance.” Ray Peat, PhD (source).

Gelatin – Regular gelatin is only hot water soluble and best used to create foods that gel (fruit snacks, healthy jello, homemade marshmallows, desserts, etc).

How Much Do You Need?

Individual needs will vary, but most people can start off with about ½ -1 tablespoon per day of collagen hydrolysate, and increase by 1 tablespoon every two weeks or so as tolerated. According to Ray Peat PhD, gelatin can make up about 30% of total protein intake, which for the typical person is about 3-6 TBL of gelatin per day (1 tablespoon of gelatin is 6 grams of protein).

Important Note: Remember not to get too carried away with gelatin. Adding too much too quickly can cause digestive issues: bloating, loss of appetite, stomach ache are just a few side effects.

It’s important to remember that more gelatin is not always better, especially if you are adding it to your diet for the first time. Gelatin should be used in addition to a nutrient dense diet and not to replace real food like homemade bone broths and grassfed meats.

More Information

The Reason You Need More Gelatin in Your Diet
The Benefits of Gelatin and How to Get More in Your Stock
5 Reasons Your Stock Won’t Gel
How Bulletproof Coffee Shoots You in the Foot


Collagen FAQ by Great Lakes
Gelatin, stress, longevity by Ray Peat
Hydrolyzed collagen by Wikipedia
Metabolic Blueprint by Josh & Jeanne Rubin
Personal Interview with Bob Busscher, President of Great Lakes Gelatin.

About the Author

meet_catherine_croppedCatherine Crow is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner at Butter Nutrition where she loves helping people create nutritional wealth!

She lives in Seattle where she enjoys cooking, gardening, and teaching her clients how to re-connect with their inner food intelligence. Connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.


Comments (66)

  1. Pingback: Take the 100-Day Gelatin Challenge! | two sisters gluten free

  2. Scleroderma is an autoimmune condition where I’m making to much collagen. Digestion is also affected and I want to have bone broths for that. What’s your view on it affecting my collagen In a negative way?

  3. Started using Collagen Peptides by Vital Proteins about 2 mos. ago. After about 2 weeks started feeling
    very positive affects such as increased energy and improved feeling from my teeth, hair and vision. After using 2/20 oz. containers my knee became swollen and very painful. Also my leg became swollen from my knee to my ankle. This followed by a gout attack in my toe joint in the other leg. After seeing my DR. and taking meds I am feeling much better. Was wondering if taking a Marine Collagen could possibly help to avoid the reaction I had from a bovine product made in Brazil or maybe you could suggest something else. Would like to continue the initial positive affects I experienced. Your feed back would be appreciated.

  4. Pingback: Change in diet having an effect on your hair? - Page 3 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 3

  5. Ditto Angie! Do not eat anything that roaches have access to, they carry so many germs. An air tight container is another remedy, but I’d move too.

  6. I just made my first bone broth from chicken feet I got from US Wellness. It doesn’t take all that ‘chicken-y’ but it gelled up really really well. Do I need to have other bones as well for a chicken flavor or are my taste buds fried from years of what I THOUGHT was chicken flavored but probably had no actual chicken in it? I am finding it hard to drink. I heated it back up and added carrots, celery and chicken from a rotisserie chicken I bought at Fresh Market, but I is still kind of bland. Any suggestions on what I can add to it?? Thanks so much!

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      We always season ours with a good quality sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Makes a world of difference!

      • Hello. Thanks for this information. I just bought Great Lakes Collagen and am looking forward to positive results. We grow our own root parsley and root celery and have always added this to all soups- the whole plant, and it really adds amazing flavor to all soups. I recommend: for organic, non gmo, heirloom seeds.

        Also sold in stores as parsnips, I believe. enjoy!

    • Salt and pepper, for sure. Try cooking minced garlic in olive oil until it starts to turn light brown, add salt, and drizzle over the broth.

      Also, thanks for this post, Catharine! Very informative.

  7. Thanks for this article. I bought collagen but thought I ordered gelatin. So when I realized it I looked it up and found this.

    Would the collagen even gel or no?

    Also, I made some bone broth from lamb bones that even included some of the joints and I used a few chicken feet. But it is not gelling when refrigerated. Do lamb bones not gel? I’m thinking also I may have used too much water. Could that prevent it from gelling also?

  8. I would like to make home made broth, but its impossible to find a grass fed meat in NYC.
    All i can see is grain feed. WHat to do?

  9. Hello,

    Whenever I consume my homemade bone broth, I get diarrhea. I’m not sure what causes this. Do you think taking a supplement like the Great Lakes gelatin or a collagen supplement will affect me the same way. I don’t want to invest in another product that I can’t return. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • You can try cooking the broth for a shorter time. I used to get diarrhea and headaches from a long cooked bone broth. After I cut back the cooking time to 3-4 hours I was able to drink it

    • you can also try making broth with just the meat, not the bones. Also try starting with only 1/4 cup a day and working your way up slowly. Same with the gleatin if you try it – start with 1/4 tsp and work up.

  10. Pingback: The ULTIMATE and COOLEST gelatin thread EVER MADE. - Page 19 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 19

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  13. I don’t yet eat animal proteins (trying to heal my gut a bit first in order to digest them better) but have recently started to use collagen. Is this ok to use without eating meat/eggs or will this case an amino acid imbalance? For someone not eating meat, do I need to eat more or less collagen?

    Are there any side effects for someone in my scenario?

  14. Pingback: Grain-Free Sandwich Wraps | Real Food OutlawsReal Food Outlaws

  15. Pingback: Blueberry Protein Pancakes with Great Lakes Hydrolysed Collagen {Recipe} - ZOMT

  16. I have been taking Gelatin powder for 2 weeks. I instantly felt different, clearer vision, clearer mind and even noticed my skin had started to changed.

    I read several sites regarding how to take gelatin, most of which recommended eating as much gelatin as possible. I was taking 2-3 tablespoons per day. After a few days, I started to noticed severe bloating!!! My stomach has taken on a full & uncomfortable shape (I did have a flat stomach before).

    I don’t want to stop taking the gelatin (the benefits have been outstanding) but after reading your recomendations I think I just took too much too soon.

    I have since reduced it to one teaspoon in the morning and one teaspoon before bed (3 days ago).

    The bloating is still present.

    Do you know how I can get rid of the bloating? I am only able to take the powdered form of gelatin, as I don’t have access to kitchen facilities to cook bone broth (I’m traveling!).

    Thank you so much.

  17. Aloha Catherine, I’m trying to sign up for your news letter and the button under where I place my email just goes straight to mail chimp.
    Thank you for the great info. :)

  18. You mentioned in the article that the “The collagen is stored in a holding tank at a higher temperature to reduce the molecular weight cleaving the amino acid bonds,” is there any chance that you know what is being cleaved from the collagen? I.e. the amino acid bond. What I mean is that if a a bond is being separated, with the collagen still in tact, won’t there be something that is being lost/left behind?

  19. Gelatin is a very hot topic for me right now. I’ve just discovered in the past few months how wonderful it is. My favorite way to have it is as bone broth, but hydrolysate is my next favorite as it goes into just about anything!

    • I think that homemade organic bone broths are some of the richest sources of gelatin. My family has made a chicken broth from a whole chicken before (neck and feet not intact) and it was very fragrant and tasty, for the exception of being very greasy, which I’m guessing is a side effect of the natural oils and fats from the bones, skin and meat. But I found this site that might address the issue of the broth being too oily or cloudy: —-The comments are especially helpful. :)
      P.S. You can also try beef, bison or lamb in your homemade stocks. I hear they are just as good.
      I most definitely prefer bone broths as my source of gelatin, but I read that head cheese, pig’s feet and ox tails are also good sources of gelatin. So whatever you think would work best for you. :) Well, hope that helped. :)

  20. Hi, Could anyone advise me on what to do with my bone stock I just simmered for 20 hours, only to find a piece of saran wrap from the packaging when straining the stock, which simmered with the bones the entire time? Would you toss the stock? Thanks so much for any replies.

  21. I’ve read that gelatin is contraindicated for herpes sufferers because of the arginine to lysine imbalance. Do you know if the same is true for collagen hydrolysate? I have not been able to find any statistics. Thanks.

    • My husband and I have been consuming the collagen hydrolystate for about 6 months and he, a herpes sufferer, has not had a breakout since. Not saying it cured it, but it definitely hasn’t caused more breakouts. Hope this helps.

      • Thanks Sherry. I tried the collagen hydrolysate this winter. I worked the dose of up slowly and by the time I got to 1 TBS per day, I had an outbreak. Could have been a coincidence so I backed off for a week and tried again. I ended up with three outbreaks inside of about six to eight weeks. In looking at the nutritional facts on the canister, if I take a 500 mg of lysine with each TSB of CH, that should balance the lysine to arginine though I haven’t been brave enough to test it out yet.

        • Go to the Great Lakes or Vital Proteins websites. I mention these two companies as they are the only companies I know of selling grass-fed, pastured gelatin. Both companies list the exact amino acid breakdown of their products from which you can determine the arginine to lysine ratio of each of their products. Hopefully this helps you troubleshoot your issue.

  22. My son, now 16, has tested positive for gelatin allergy after an anaphylactic reaction to MMR vaccine at 15 mon. (Wish I knew then what I know now…) So are there risks to taking this form of gelatin or collagen hydrolysate in foods when you have been “diagnosed” with an allergy to gelatin?

    • i thnk you should ”bless” your child with more government ”care”… this is what you want? this is what you get! sheep.

      • Joel…Wow…really?? I said in my post I wish I knew then what I know now. Thst was 15 years ago. Have you learned anything in 15 years or were you always so smart? @ss. Thank you for such a helpful reply.

      • The kind of person who goes around labeling another person whom he knows absolutely nothing about is what I would refer to as a “sheep.” You’re using your health knowledge in order to feel superior and it has turned into the same kind of dogma that religious wars are based on. Some perspective and compassion would do you some good.

        • I agree with you Dawn in regards to what you said to Joel, but really, most “religious” wars are not what we are taught in our modern revisionist history. People need to look into the type of belief system those who adhere to Islam actually have and not what political spin is being put on them now and in the semi-recent past by Bill Clinton.

          Christians have been demonized by those in our current culture for political benefit, of which there is not enough space here to make my case and point. When you actually look into what happened in the crusades, if that is what you mean by religious wars, then you can see it was in self defense that Christians acted.

          I have read the modern accounts of those who have escaped Islam, I have looked into the belief system for a few years now, and it is anything but what it appears at face value. They are taught to lie to those of us that are without. They are extremely violent and intolerant of anyone that does not agree with them, they are good at playing the victim until they are the majority and then heaven help anyone that does not agree with them.

          I think more people would do well to look more into this.

          The Christian Think Tank has many articles explaining the “atrocities” in the Old Testament Bible. The first link gives a good refutation on what people think they know about the crusades.

          • sandy, your comment is really out of place to this thread. it seemed to be a response to feeling that people of faith were under attack.

            secondly you are proving the poster’s point.

  23. As one of gelatin’s primary amino acids is glutamic acid, is there any concern for those who are especially sensitive to MSG? In some of my research I have come across suggestions to avoid gelatin if one is sensitive to MSG. Any thoughts on this? Is there a difference between the naturally-occurring glutamic acid in collagen and the glutamic acid (as MSG and other additives) in processed foods?

    • Hi. Yes gelatins do have some naturally occurring glutamic acid. There is a brand that safely removes it from the gelatin called Bernard Jensen, and it’s made from healthy cows. You can purchase it from the Radiant Life Company, one of the healthy home economist’s sponsors.

    • Glutamic acid is not MSG. MSG is monosodium glutamate. Your body makes glutamic acid, so it isn’t the intake of GA that’s the problem so much as perhaps an overdose of it as compared to your intake of other amino acids.

      Best way to find out if it really bothers you is to try it.

      • Yes, our bodies produce glutamic acid, but the amount is precisely controlled. Consuming glutamate in our food has exactly the same effect as consuming MSG – it artificially increases the amount of glutamate in our cells, which causes excitotoxicity (basically exciting brain – and other – cells to death and causing inflammation, as well as inflammation related disease). This information has been painstakingly researched and reported by Dr. Russell Blaylock, renowned neurosurgeon, author, and lecturer, who serves on the editorial staff of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association. Incidentally, Dr. Blaylock was recently awarded the Integrity in Science award by the Westin A. Price Foundation.

  24. Edger Cayce said, back in the 1930’s – 1940’s to use gelatin (meat derived) as a lunch every day, with raw, grated vegies. –locally grown, of course…….

  25. Is Collagen Hydrolysate safe? It seems to be that what is being described is a very denatured product. Denatured protein is what makes protein powders so bad- so why is Collagen Hydrolysate being promoted as good?

  26. I just discovered the Bulletproof coffee and read that some people are adding Great Lakes gelatin in their coffee. I’ll try that tomorrow morning.

  27. Pingback: Gelatin and Collagen Hydrolysate- What’s the Difference?

    • Are you kidding? It’s not normal to have cockroaches.. you should move if your place is infested. Cockroaches carry salmonella on their undersides so you may want to think twice before eating something they have crawled on.

  28. Yay! Thanks for this info! I was just looking to buy gelatin for the first time and wasn’t sure which to get. Perfect timing!


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