I’m product-testing & tasting my way through the army of protein powders, one can at a time.
For this review article I bought the unflavored version of Bulletproof Collagen Protein powder.
In my review I’ll discuss:
- Bulletproof® Collagen’s ingredients & nutritional profile,
- its taste & mix-ability, and
- share any product sourcing info I can dig up.
I’ll also compare it head-to-head with another popular collagen peptide powder I’m real familiar with, Vital Proteins.
Bulletproof Collagen Protein review summary:
It’s a pure hydrolyzed collagen peptides product, without any extra nonsense, and has a nice protein boost of 18 grams per serving.
The nutritional quality in Bulletproof Collagen is as good or better than the best-selling collagen peptides powders from Vital Proteins & Sports Research, and it currently costs a little more per ounce than them.
Science resources included
As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science and medical resources, clinical studies, & nutritional data used in this article.
Before the Bulletproof® review I’d like to provide a brief overview of what the collagen powder supplement is & what benefits it may provide you, in case this product is new territory for you.
If you want a more thorough walk-through on how collagen protein is different than other protein powders, my article Collagen vs. Whey has got you covered.
Collagen protein powder primer
Here are a few key facts on collagen protein powder.
What is collagen protein?
Science has found collagen protein to be the “most abundant protein in the animal kingdom.” (1)
Turns out our bodies have more collagen protein in them than any other kind of protein too. (2)
It’s a big part of what our skin, muscles, & ligaments are made of, and what helps keeps all these body parts strong & well-connected.
Taking collagen protein as a supplement is based on the science that our collagen improves when we take in collagen-rich foods. (3)
What’s collagen protein powder made of?
A pure* collagen protein powder product consists of only one ingredient: hydrolyzed collagen peptides.
All three of the powders I reference in this article — those from Bulletproof, Sports Research, & Vital Proteins — have only this one single ingredient.
*pure – Some supplement makers of lower quality add all kinds of things to their collagen products in an effort to hype them up; you may want to steer clear of them.
What does hydrolyzed collagen mean?
Anything described as hydrolyzed simply means that whatever it is has been broken down using water.
hydro – Greek for water
lysis – Greek for break (4)
What’s a collagen peptide?
It’s collagen protein that has been broken down.
In the case of our collagen protein powder, it’s been broken down by getting hydrolyzed by the manufacturing process.
The purpose of this step is to make the collagen protein much easier for our bodies to digest & absorb. (5)
Where does collagen powder come from?
Collagen protein powders come from the skin & bones of cattle or chicken, or from the scales of fish. (6)
So you can see that bone broth we can make on the stove also has collagen in it (though the amount isn’t as robust as what’s in these powders).
All of the most popular & mass-produced collagen peptide powders you see these days use the cattle by-products.
My guess would be that cattle is used is because it’s the cheapest to produce.
And a quick peek I just did into Amazon proves that.
Compare these two Vital Proteins collagen protein powder product pages:
Chicken collagen powder is 250% more expensive, and is currently just under $80 a pound.
Is it the same as other protein powders?
(Like egg white or whey?)
No, mainly because collagen protein powder is considered an incomplete protein. (7)
This is because it is lacking the EAA (essential amino acid) tryptophan. (8)
Any proteins that lack one of the 9 EAAs get the incomplete tag.
The term essential means our bodies can’t create it on their own, and so we have to get it from our diet. (9)
Collagen protein powder benefits
Here’s a list of potential benefits that have been observed in the small but growing body of nutrition science research studying collagen protein supplementation.
First though, just my subjective opinion:
Collagen protein as a supplement shows promise as something that can provide benefits to our body, but I think it needs a lot more research.
Independent research, specifically.
Several of the early studies that were published and that are still routinely quoted on prominent health & medical websites were funded by the companies that make collagen supplements.
On the bright side, current research is being done by science with no corporate ties.
And as I mentioned earlier, the benefits of collagen supplementation that have been demonstrated there are definitely encouraging.
Collagen supplements’ potential benefits include:
* Reduces wrinkles (10)
* Improve skin texture & elasticity (11)
* Reduces joint inflammation /osteoarthritis (12)
* Slows bone loss (13)
* Strengthens nails (14)
Other areas where collagen supplement research is looking good, though the work is still very much in the infant stage, include:
- heart health;
- brain health;
- gut health. (15)
Bulletproof Collagen Protein Review
OK, review time.
What is in Bulletproof Collagen Protein?
One ingredient: hydrolyzed collagen peptides that come from bovine (cattle) by-products.
I’ll admit that back when I first heard there was a Bulletproof product with collagen powder, the first thing I thought of was “Does that really have butter or coconut oil in it?”
All good now, I got that squared up.
The word Bulletproof stands for a company and a brand selling all sorts of products, and they’re probably most known for their popular & keto-friendly Bulletproof Coffee product.
Bulletproof Collagen Protein nutrition info
All of the numbers on the Supplement Facts panel look good when lined up against the other pure hydrolyzed collagen peptide products on the market, as far as the amounts of:
- & hydrolyzed collagen go.
A serving of Bulletproof Collagen gives your body a nice protein boost of 18 grams, which is similar to other powders with protein in them, whether whey or from vegan sources.
Better sodium numbers vs. Vital Proteins & Sports Research
For the same single serving of 2 scoops/4 Tbsp/20 grams, Bulletproof Collagen Protein has about half as much sodium as Sports Research & Vital Protein have in theirs.
Bulletproof Collagen has a better amino acids profile
Bulletproof Collagen Protein also has a better amino acids profile than these two other top brands, especially vs. Vital Proteins.
Specifically, Bulletproof has higher amounts of:
This is notable, because these are the 3 amino acids that make up the majority (about 60%) of what all animal collagen (including our own) is made of. (16)
Bulletproof Collagen Protein sourcing
Their cattle by-products come from Brazil.
Bulletproof collagen peptides personal feedback
Disclaimer: I believe we each have our own unique set of sense perception preferences, since your body & my body are not the same body.
Meaning that just because I like or dislike the taste, smell, texture, or even the way something looks doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same way.
So my opinion doesn’t really matter. 😄
With that said, here’s 2 cents’ worth of my subjective opinion drawn from my experiences taking Bulletproof® Collagen Protein.
Smell – I detected no smell at all, either from in the can or after I mixed it in water.
Taste – Absolutely no taste either, even in water.
Mix-ability – The Bulletproof Collagen powder mixes completely after just a few half-hearted shakes, and I definitely didn’t have to bump it up to vigorous level shaker action.
Texture – There was no grit sloshing around in my mouth from anything I mixed by hand in the shaker bottle. I even experimented a little and found I could get away using very little water and still be grit-free.
Bottom line on Bulletproof’s drinkability:
This is a great powder to add to drinks of any kind: coffee, smoothies, coconut water, almond milk, whatever..given that it is basically undetectable.
There aren’t many protein things that have good nutrition and potential health benefits in them that can say that.
Bulletproof collagen vs. Vital Proteins Peptides
Here’s a comparison of their unflavored collagen protein powder products.
These two collagen products are similar to one another, though if I think about it, that’s no big revelation I suppose.
After all, their ingredients are the same, or should I say ingredient: hydrolyzed collagen peptides.
I know Vital Protein collagen powder real well, since I took it for several months (I drink Orgain’s collagen now, due primarily to its lower price.)
They’re the same regarding taste, smell, texture, etc.
All of the qualities I just mentioned about Bulletproof Collagen Protein powder apply to Vital Proteins too:
- no taste;
- no smell;
- not sandy, no chunks;
- mixing is a breeze.
Though their nutrition profiles are similar, Bulletproof wins
As mentioned earlier, a serving of Bulletproof collagen delivers more of the amino acids responsible for collagen’s benefits:
- 27% more glycine
- 9% more hydroxyproline
- 31% more proline
And again, Bulletproof has 40% less sodium per serving than Vital Proteins.
To compare them easily, here are their respective nutrition labels.
Both source their beef by-products from Brazil
The similarities between Bulletproof & Vital Proteins extend even to their sourcing.
Both companies get their cattle products from Brazil, and both label their products as grass-fed & pasture-raised.
Here’s a short (2 1/2 minute) video from Vital Proteins on the sourcing of their collagen:
(Down below I share a perspective from Yale University that’s a little different than Vital Proteins’ regarding grass-fed beef products from Brazil…)
Bulletproof costs a little more than Vital Proteins
(Bearing in mind that prices change all the time online of course…)
In the time I’ve been checking them, Bulletproof Collagen Protein has been running on average 12 cents an ounce more than Vital Proteins on Amazon.
This comes out to being a little less than 2 bucks per pound more expensive (16 oz. x 12¢ = $1.92).
This comparison is using their 18 oz. & 20 oz. containers’ regular price (not their Subscribe & Save prices).
Costco has been selling Vital Proteins by the pallet load for awhile now, and their in-store price for VP is usually less than Amazon’s.
Collagen protein FAQ
Here are answers to a few of the random questions often asked about collagen peptides.
What is grass-fed collagen?
The term “grass-fed” is a term that when applied to collagen, indicates that it’s made from cattle that eat grass throughout their lives.
Note though that where the cattle are while eating that grass isn’t specified under the USDA’s definition of “grass-fed”. (24)
What is pasture-raised?
In order for an animal to be considered pasture-raised under USDA regulations, it has to be able to be outdoors for a minimum of 120 days per year.
CertifiedHumane.org reports that enforcement of this minimum requirement only needs to be verified by a USDA audit done from its office, not in-person on the livestock farm.
If you watched the Vital Proteins video above, you certainly heard its CEO reiterating the point that the cows they use in Brazil are outdoors all the time.
From the Keepin’ It Real Dept.
Before us collagen drinkers award ourselves a green star for being so environmentally conscious with our grass-fed/pasture-raised this or that, here are a couple of things to be aware of:
* All of the major sellers of collagen protein powder — Vital Proteins, Sports Research, Bulletproof, Orgain, etc. — source some if not all of their beef by-products from Brazil.
* According to Yale University, the Amazon forest is being destroyed and replaced with grass for Brazil’s worldwide beef exports at a dangerous rate.
* Yale attributes 80% of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest to the cattle industry, who burn the forest to force new grass to grow for the cattle. (21)
(The majority of that cattle isn’t being used for collagen production obviously.)
Is collagen vegan?
No, since it comes from the skin & bones of cattle, chickens, or fish.
From the website of Vital Proteins, the makers of the best-selling collagen peptide protein powder these days:
“In short, the collagen in our products is not vegan. We have not yet found a plant-based collagen source that meets the standards of our current product lineup.” (17)
Vegan collagen on the horizon?
In 2019 Healthline published an article outlining the methods & challenges associated with producing a plant-based collagen supplement for the masses. (18)
From the sound of it, I’d guess they’re a ways away from simply creating a product cheap enough to bring to market.
On top of that, how effective will it be if it comes from plants?
Are our bodies similar to a plant?
Current animal-based collagen supplements have demonstrated benefits in part because of the structural similarities between animal collagen and our own. (19)
But how similar are our muscles & skin to a plant?
In the meantime, there are vegan collagen builders
Healthline suggests vegans consider taking the new supplements known as collagen builders. (20)
My Amazon search for vegan collagen turned up this page of products, and I see several vegan collagen “builders” & “boosters” sprinkled in there.
Scanning their supplement facts & ingredients lists, I found NO collagen, though notice how the word Collagen is prominently displayed on a lot of their packaging. 😉
What are the side effects of taking collagen?
On this topic, respected medical publisher Healthline notes:
“There are not many known risks associated with taking collagen supplements.” (22)
While digging through the collagen hydrolysate research at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, I found very few incidents of side effects.
And those that were mentioned were insignificant & without medical issue.
Here’s a sample comment on side effects from researchers who had reviewed dozens of collagen supplement clinical studies:
“(Collagen) use is associated with minimal adverse effects, mainly gastrointestinal, characterized by fullness or unpleasant taste.” (23)
That just sounds like something many people might say after a large, protein-centered meal, doesn’t it?
Related collagen protein articles here on heydayDo
I hope that my review of Bulletproof Collagen Protein powder is useful to you, and that the additional info on collagen protein & its benefits are helpful too.