Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Dear Mark: Collagen vs Whey Follow-Up

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering questions from last week’s Collagen vs Whey post. You guys had a lot of questions, mostly about collagen, and I’m here to answer them. Can collagen help with plantar fasciitis? Should you take collagen and whey together in the same smoothie, or do they cancel each other out? If a person can’t have whey, is there an equivalent protein powder source? Is glycine a good replacement for collagen? What about liquid whey from raw milk—how does it compare to powdered whey? If I wanted to get my glycine from foods, what would I need to eat and how much of it?

Let’s find out:

Is there any evidence that collagen supplements can help with plantar fasciitis? Suffering from this recently and the stretching from MDA has helped but looking to get that last 10% of healing so there is no pain.

Fascia is basically pure collagen. If collagen supplementation has been shown to improve pain in other parts of the body made of collagen, like the knees or tendons, and improve collagen synthesis in collagenous tissues like skin and joints, I see no reason it shouldn’t also improve the fascia. Boosting collagen synthesis is boosting collagen synthesis, and supplemental collagen does it.

A good thing to try is eat 20-30 grams of collagen with 200 mg of vitamin C 30 minutes before a workout that you know targets your plantar fascia.

Hey Mark,

Is there any benefit to having them at the same time? Or do they cancel each other out?
I’m a big fan of stirring collagen into any foods I make that have sauce.
What about a 50/50 smoothie of whey and collagen?
Thanks for any insight!

I’m unaware of any unique benefit.

When you think about how collagen appears in the natural world, it’s usually alongside muscle meat.

Entire culinary traditions revolve around the consumption of collagen and muscle meat together. Think Vietnamese pho (bone broth and meat). Think French (reduced broth-based sauce poured over meat). Think Mexican (bone broth-infused rice served with meat). Hell, go all the way back to the Pleistocene and humans were boiling smashed bone fragments in stomach casings.

No reason to separate them.

It is possible for a person to be allergic to casein and I don’t think it’s possible to have fully casein free whey protein except maybe the isolate. However, if the person is allergic it wouldn’t be safe. What’s the next best complete protein if a person can’t use whey, and wants the convenience of a powder? I’ve seen beef protein before, but have no idea of the quality.

I’d say go for egg white protein. Extremely complete, tasteless, and blends seamlessly into anything.

Is it true that collagen doesn’t work/assimilate without vitamin C? I try to take mine with some cherries or lemons.

It seems to work better. The recent study that found pre-workout collagen improved tendons also included vitamin C.

I sometimes buy raw A2 milk from Jersey cows, and make my own whey. Wondering how that compares to powdered whey?

That’s awesome. The liquid whey will have a broader range of nutrients, but the powdered whey will be more concentrated and far higher in protein. Remember that whey protein is basically dehydrated liquid whey and you’ll get a picture of how much liquid whey goes into whey powder.

My interest in this has led me to start studying biology because I would like to know more about nutrition and digestion. Because the way that my nails changed seems incredible to me and it really makes me wonder what else collagen is doing.

You make a good point. I often use improvements in one area of health as assurance that other areas of health are also improving. I’m sure that’s not always true, but I think that’s a pretty safe assumption most of the time.

My question to you Mark would be to echo the same question others have posed, ie are there any downsides to me taking whey, collagen and glycine simultaneously in my pre-workout shake? Otherwise I have a real dilemma, as it appears that there is very good science to support having both collagen/ glycine as well as rapidly digested essential aminos (from whey) in your system before undertaking a ‘fasted’ workout.. A tough question I know but any insight you have would be much appreciated!

There’s no reason to avoid it. Do it. Should be good for both your connective tissue and your gains.

Would glycine supplements have a similar effect as collagen? Glycine supplementation would be way less expensive than collagen:
• 30 grams of collagen (=~10 grams glycine) from Great Lakes = 5 tablespoons, costs =~$1.13 if you buy the 8 pound bag.
• 10 grams of glycine from Bulk Supplements =~$0.18 if you buy the 5 kilogram bag.

Pure glycine is great for things like balancing your intake of methionine. As I wrote in the original post, muscle meat is high in an amino acid called methionine. Methionine metabolism depletes glycine, so the more meat you eat, the more glycine-rich connective tissue, bone broth, and collagen supplements you should be eating to balance out the amino acids. This is the basic foundation for eating all that collagen I recommend.

But balancing methionine for longevity and health isn’t the only reason we’re eating collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, providing tensile strength to our bones, teeth, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It’s an important structural component of the skin, lungs, intestines, and heart. And as far as the evidence so far available suggests, eating the amino acids that make up collagen separately doesn’t have the same effect on those collagenous tissues as eating them together in a collagenous matrix.

In one study, rats with osteoporosis ate collagen hydrolysate that scientists had marked with a radioactive signature to allow them to track its course through the body. It survived the digestive tract intact, made it into the blood, and accumulated in the kidneys. By day 14, the rats’ thigh bones had gotten stronger and denser with more organic matter and less water content.

Another study found similar results, this time for cartilage of the knee. Mice who ate radioactive collagen hydrolysate showed increased radioactivity in the knee joint.

When you feed people collagen derived from pork skin, chicken feet, and cartilage, many different collagenous peptides appear in the blood. You don’t get any of those from isolated glycine.

All that said, pure glycine can be a helpful supplement. As mentioned, it’s great for balancing out methionine intake from muscle meat consumption. It’s also been used in several studies to improve multiple markers of sleep quality. And glycine is probably the most important component, if you had to choose just one, of collagen.

Collagen is ideal, but glycine isn’t a bad option. In fact, I’d argue that perhaps collagen plus supplementary glycine could offer the best bang for your buck.

Mark, can you please do a post examining the different amounts of glycine in actual foods, i.e. pork rinds, chicken skin, connective tissue rich cuts of meats, etc? I’d really like to get my collagen and glycine from food sources and know how much of the foods I would have to eat in order to get the 10g you mention.

I’ll do a quick answer.

An ounce of pork rinds gives you 3.38 grams of glycine.

An ounce of roasted chicken skin gives you 1 gram of glycine.

A pork tail of about 4 ounces will give you almost 3 grams of glycine. Oxtail should be about the same.

So getting your glycine from food alone is entirely doable, but you’ll probably have an easier time if you like chicharrones/pork rinds and animal tails. There are some higher quality pork rinds out there these days, like the Epic brand ones.

Hi Mark – thank you for all of your great information!!!
I make homemade Greek yogurt at home – I strain it in a fine mesh strainer and get an incredible about if whey as a result. I generally mix about 1/4 cup back into the yogurt to get the right consistency. I throw the rest out. Is this consumable as whey for the diet?

It is consumable. But keep in mind that liquid whey isn’t as protein-dense as whey powder. It’s still good to eat and a great source of probiotics.

Thanks for your questions, everyone. Take care!



Figueres juher T, Basés pérez E. [An overview of the beneficial effects of hydrolysed collagen intake on joint and bone health and on skin ageing]. Nutr Hosp. 2015;32 Suppl 1:62-6.

Shaw G, Lee-barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(1):136-143.

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5 Habits I’m Changing

a quote about habits

Atomic Habits

My mom recently read James Clear’s Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Since then, habits are her favorite topic! She wrote a blog post about her quest to change her everyday habits, and at the time she had 43 she was working on. Lest you think she has that many bad habits, she has broken some bigger ones down into several layers, so she’s tackling one at a time. (She is so nuts about the book she is giving away two copies so go over to her blog and enter!)

Your Daily Habits Matter Most

I have always lived under the mantra that the things you do everyday are what make or break your health. Having a giant piece of cake or 3 glasses of wine every other week isn’t going to make much of a difference in your overall health, but stopping for a daily grande Starbucks drink or drinking 3 glasses of wine a day will have a big impact. So with that in mind, your daily habits are really quite important. Since mom and I have been talking about habits so much, I decided there were a few that I could work on as well.

Here Are Five Habits I’m Working On

1 // Taking my supplements

I admit I am the worst at remembering to take my supplements. I have tried morning routines and evening routines yet I still forget to take my multivitamin, probiotic and vitamin D more often than not.

The change: I set a reminder on my phone that goes off every day at 9am. It’s really annoying, which means that I am eager to make it go away ASAP. Needless to say I haven’t missed a day since creating the reminder.

2 // Having something sweet after lunch

Many of the habit research says that you can’t just delete a habit and expect to just will the craving away. Because it’s easier to add than subtract. I know that the #1 reason I reach for sweets after lunch (or dinner) is to cleanse my palate. Sometimes going straight to toothpaste or gum is a bit too harsh of a palate cleanser though. I can’t really explain why.

The change: I’m having fruit instead! Cherries, a strawberry, citrus, watermelon. Summer is the season of wonderful fruit, and fruit makes an excellent palate cleanser.

3 // Reading more

This one comes as no surprise because I decided to write a whole post about it! I really liked many of your suggestions in the post’s comments.

The change: M-Th nights after putting the kids to bed we read. Weekends are for shows and movies.

4 // Chip Overload

I have a habit of pulling out a bag of chips (I’m looking at you Stacy’s Pita Chips!!) and munching on them while I’m making lunch. This is usually because I’m starving and can’t make my lunch fast enough! Snacking at the counter directly from the bag is never a good idea!

The change: Of course I can have chips with my lunch if I want some, but the bag can’t come out until I’m ready to sit down.

5 // Just do it

And an emotional one for mom! I never wait to the last minute to complete a project because I do not work well under pressure. BUT I do procrastinate in general. Sometimes I’ll bump a task down my to-do list all week because I’m avoiding it. I’ll wait for the perfect uninterrupted block of time to start something when if I had just chipped away at it I could have finished it in 4 smaller time blocks. This post is a good example!

The change: Learning to chip away! For a blog post, for example, I’ll tell myself I don’t have to do the focused writing part, but I just need to do the title, photos, and a quick heading outline of the post. Just doing that much makes the writing part so much easier when I do have some quiet time to write.

What is your best habit? What is one you’d like to change?

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Review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida

I can’t wait to share this review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida!

A little backstory first…

We had originally planned a family vacation to the Punta Cana location of Club Med, but with all of the craziness happening there, we decided to switch our trip to Sandpiper Bay, Florida. Thankfully, Club Med was very accommodating and switched our lodging with just a small penalty. The airline, however, was not so accommodating. Whomp whomp. Mal and I joke that we took the most expensive trip EVER to Florida. We had a great time, but, whoa, it was expensive. (FYI: This vacation was not sponsored in anyway; I’ve had no contact with Club Med’s influencer/media team.)

Instead of my usual vacation blog recap, I decided to go a different route with a video review. I had a lot to say about our vacation and wanted to make sure that I gave you guys a full review of everything. We absolutely loved our time at Club Med Sandpiper Bay and highly recommend it, especially if you have kids. We really had THE BEST time!! You’ll definitely see my enthusiasm come through in this video review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida! 🙂

Review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida

Following the video, I included some photos from our vacation as well as details about what we did each day. The video recaps pros and cons of our trip as well as details on the activities mentioned below. Of course, if you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I hope you enjoy this review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida!

Review of Club Med in Sandpiper Bay, Florida

Day 1:

  • Quinn was PUMPED about the bunk bed + tv in his room!
  • He was also psyched about all of the lizards and birds around the resort
  • Quinn learned how to do a backwards flip underwater
  • Part of Quinn’s dinner included a mug of white chocolate from a fountain at dinner
  • We went late-night swimming, which was definitely one of our favorite activities!
  • Quinn ate shrimp for the first time! 🙂

I brought 2 pairs of sunglasses on my trip. Both are the HALE from Kohv. You can save 10% of any pair of Kohv sunglasses with code carrotsncake!

Day 2:

  • Mal and I participated in AquaFit (water aerobics)
  • We spent almost the whole day in the pool
  • Our happy hour included a round of pina coladas and Go Fish
  • Quinn participated in a Mini Club performance. He was Pikachu (his favorite Pokemon), and I cried when I saw him dressed up and dancing on stage. We were so proud of him, and he did such a great job!

My rainbow hat is from the RUN PROUD line at Brooks.

Day 3:

  • Mal, Quinn, and I went paddle boarding!
  • Then, we spent the rest of the day at the pool
  • Quinn swung on the trapeze!
  • It was tropical night!
  • During dinner, a lizard landed on Quinn’s shoulder and hilarity ensued!

My romper and sandals are both from thredUP.

Day 4:

  • Mal and I went to the driving range and then took a golf lesson
  • We visited the adults-only pool and celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary
  • We also went out to a fancy dinner while Quinn was at Mini Club

Day 5:

  • Mal and I took a bootcamp class followed by spinning
  • It was Bastille Day, so there were tons of fun activities, including Quinn getting to flour the king and queen!
  • Mal went wake boarding
  • Mal and I tried trapeze
  • Happy hour included some intense games of Jenga!

Day 6:

  • Mal and Quinn went paddle boarding while I took out a kayak on the river
  • Quinn participated in a super fun pirate treasure hunt!
  • That night, we watched The Incredibles 2 in the pool
  • We were really sad that it was our last night at Club Med (photo below)

Day 7:

  • We ate breakfast, packed up, and headed home

Looking for more family vacation recommendations?

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How To Make Oatmeal

Wondering how to make oatmeal properly? It’s not rocket science, but it does help to know which oats to use to get your desired results, and how to cook them properly to get those expected… Read more →

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