8 Reasons Collagen Is the Best Dairy-Free Protein

Cyclist racing ahead of the cycling competition — one of the benefits of collagen dairy-free protein for athletes


Dairy-free protein options are gaining traction among athletes seeking optimal performance. But what are the best dairy-free protein options? And is whey protein dairy-free? 

Exploring the origins of whey protein and how it affects exercise performance may shed light on the benefits of alternatives such as dairy-free collagen protein and vegan protein options.

So why should someone switch to dairy-free protein? And what is the best dairy-free protein for athletes? 

Today, we will explain why dairy-free protein is a better option for a growing number of athletes and why we think collagen is the best dairy-free protein – hands down. 

But before we talk about your dairy-free protein options, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: whey protein. 

Athlete holding a scoop of whey protein

Is whey protein dairy-free? 

Whey protein is still the most popular choice of protein supplement among athletes. But is it really serving your body the best? 

If you want to achieve peak performance, and feel your best during your workouts, games, or races, whey protein may not be the best option.

Why is that?

Well, for starters, whey is derived from milk products. It is the liquid that remains after cheese curds have been made. For people who are lactose intolerant, this can spell disaster. 

Unpasteurized milk is heated and combined with any of several chemical compounds, most commonly rennet. The rennet acts as a binder for the milk proteins, causing them to separate into curds of cheese. Whey is the yellowish, watery liquid leftover from this process. 

So, is whey protein dairy-free?? Definitely not. 

I repeat: Whey is not a dairy-free protein

Since whey still contains lactose, whey protein isn’t dairy-free and isn’t a good protein powder for sensitive stomachs

That being said, whey protein is so inexpensive and readily available that many people with dairy sensitivities incorporate it into their supplement regimen – even though whey protein isn’t dairy-free. 

Part of whey’s power is in its versatility. Whey can taste sweet or acidic, easily mixes into liquids, and can be dried into a light powder that’s easy to ship (and buy) in bulk. 

The question is, how does it stack up to its competitors? And regardless of whether you have a dairy sensitivity, is it the best protein option available?

Digestion of whey protein 

Whey is best taken after a workout, since its molecules are too large to easily digest, even in hydrolysate form. This means that if you take your whey before a workout, the protein won’t be bioavailable until the very end of your workout, if it’s available at all. 

Whey can take so long to digest that a majority of it often passes through your system before you’ve had a chance to absorb it. This slow absorption can also be the cause of a “too much protein” stomach ache.

So, if you’re really looking to see the benefits of your protein powder in your workout (which I assume you are), whey protein may not be the best option, whether or not whey protein is dairy-free. 

Instead, you may want to consider collagen protein or other dairy-free alternatives. 

Athlete drinking dairy-free protein

Why switch to a dairy-free protein?

It is estimated that 68% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, which means there is a good chance that you are too. (Even if you don’t realize it.) What’s more, many people develop lactose intolerance as they age. So even if you could digest it easily before, that doesn’t mean you can now.

Have you ever gotten bloating or stomach upset from your protein supplement? That’s a good sign that you should examine your diet and switch to dairy-free protein shakes.

Even if you aren’t lactose intolerant, when you compare collagen protein vs whey protein, whey is much harder for your stomach to digest. So, if you have a sensitive stomach at all, whey protein could be causing you indigestion. 

Lastly, more and more athletes are switching to dairy-free protein because they are taking up vegetarian or vegan diets. If you have a plant-based diet, then switching to a dairy-free protein is a no-brainer for you.

Unfortunately, most plant-based proteins are even harder to digest than whey, and the majority of them aren’t even complete proteins. This means you aren’t getting as much out of your protein supplement. So what should you do? 

Female athlete putting a scoop of dairy-free protein into her shaker cup

What is the best vegan protein supplement?

As we said above, we think collagen is the very best dairy-free protein. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as vegan collagen. That’s because collagen comes from the connective tissues of animals. 

It’s really important for you to get enough collagen in your diet, because our natural collagen stores deplete as we age – starting in our mid-20s. This is why we get more wrinkles, get injured more easily, take longer to heal, and get more aches and pains in our joints. 

You can thank your collagen deficiency. 

But if you are vegan and you are opposed to taking collagen, what are you supposed to do? 

The best thing you can do for your body (besides taking a collagen supplement) is to ensure you are getting ample vitamins and minerals that can boost your natural collagen synthesis. 

Some vegan collagen boosters include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Silica
  • Proline
  • Glycine
  • Lysine
  • Arginine 

You also need to consider if your dairy-free protein supplement is truly helping your performance as much as it should. It’s important to see if your supplement options are complete vs incomplete proteins, as most plant-based proteins are incomplete.

This means you will need to supplement with the missing amino acids in order to help your body function to its fullest potential. 

If you aren’t getting the results you want, you may decide that it’s worth it to you to add a collagen supplement into your routine. If you do, there are so many benefits that you will open yourself up to.

Professional boxer fueled by dairy-free protein hits his opponent with a jab

8 reasons why collagen is the best dairy-free protein 

There are so many collagen benefits for men and women alike that other protein supplements simply don’t provide. Here are 8 reasons to choose collagen for your dairy-free protein: 

1. Collagen may aid in injury prevention 

One of the very best reasons to choose collagen as your dairy-free protein of choice is that collagen can aid in injury prevention.


Collagen fibers make up a large percentage of your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, and other tissues. When you take a collagen supplement, you are actively giving your body the building blocks it needs to make new tissue fibers in any of these areas of your body. 

So, if you have a partially torn ligament, or a muscle that is super fatigued, your body can send the amino acids from your collagen supplement straight to the site to repair it. Not only that, your body can use its collagen stores for general upkeep and strengthening. 

One of the greatest things about collagen is its tensile strength. Collagen fibers are just as elastic as they are strong, which means that tissues with ample collagen levels are more likely to stretch instead of tear when exposed to trauma or sudden forces. 

Tendon and ligament tears are some of the most common sports injuries, but taking a daily collagen supplement may help prevent some of these tears by making your connective tissues more strong and flexible. 

2. Collagen can speed up wound healing

Collagen plays a vital role in your body’s natural healing process. When you sustain an injury or undergo surgery, it’s collagen protein that is used to create new tissue cells and knit your body back together again. 

Collagen is used in medical facilities across the nation to aid in the healing process. Whether it's through a collagen wound dressing, or oral collagen supplements, doctors regularly use collagen to speed up healing

If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, and you want to get back on the track, field, or gym floor as soon as possible, a regular collagen supplement can help you to do that. That’s not something all protein supplements can say!

3. Collagen can improve joint health 

As we get older, our joints don’t work quite like they used to. We may start feeling more aches and pains, and even develop dreaded osteoarthritis. But even arthritis doesn’t need to be a death sentence for your athletic career. Not with the help of collagen. 

If you make collagen your dairy-free protein of choice, your joints will thank you. Collagen is one of the very few supplements that have actually been shown to regrow cartilage. That’s because 60% of the dry weight of cartilage is made up of (you guessed it) collagen. 

Collagen is crucial to the health of your cartilage, and cartilage is notoriously difficult to heal since it doesn’t really contain the blood vessels necessary to transport healing nutrients. 

A collagen supplement may be able to drastically reduce arthritis symptoms of stiffness, inflammation, and pain. And, as we already mentioned, it can keep the tendons and ligaments in your joints healthy too. 

4. Collagen can reduce recovery times 

We rotate upper body and leg days for a reason – our muscles need time to recover in between hard workouts. But did you know you can drastically reduce your recovery time with a simple collagen supplement? 

As we mentioned above, collagen is critical in the body’s healing process, and that includes healing the micro-tears created in your muscles during exercise. 

Studies have found that people who supplement with collagen experience far less muscle soreness after 48 hours than people who don’t take collagen, and that they are able to bounce back more quickly after exercise. 

5. Collagen may increase endurance 

There is a reason why collagen is one of the most popular supplements for endurance athletes. An easy-to-digest collagen supplement is convenient to take before, during, or after endurance events like marathons. 

In fact, Frog Fuel offers single-serving protein shots that you can carry in your pocket and toss back during events or big games to give you a much-needed boost of nutrients and energy. Having easy access to collagen allows you to work harder for longer. 

6. Collagen can strengthen bones 

Studies have found that collagen can improve bone density and other bone markers – turning back the clock on osteoporosis and helping to protect your bones against trauma. 

Bone health is important for athletes, especially if you are partaking in high-impact activities or heavy lifting. Taking a collagen supplement can set your bones up for success in your sport or workout routine. 

7. Collagen may improve gut health 

Collagen may just be the best protein powder for sensitive stomachs. Not only are high-quality collagen supplements super easy to digest, they can even improve the health of your digestive tract. 

One study found that 93% of people taking a daily collagen supplement saw a reduction in bloating and other digestion issues. Collagen has been shown to help leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other problems with digestion. 

8. Collagen can boost muscle mass

Last but not least, collagen protein has been shown to be effective in building muscle. Using collagen alongside your workouts can improve muscle strength and size. That means it can benefit you just as well as popular whey protein – without the digestive side effects. 

So, if you’ve been taking a protein powder to bulk up, collagen can help you do that AND give you all the other benefits on this list. Making collagen the stand-out star in the protein supplement world. 

Of course, not all supplements are the same, and you want to make sure you truly are taking the best dairy-free protein supplement. So let’s discuss what to look for when choosing your collagen supplement. 

Athletes holding Frog Fuel dairy-free protein collagen supplement

The most effective collagen supplement 

The very top dairy-free protein is a hydrolyzed collagen supplement. 

What is hydrolyzed collagen

Also known as “collagen peptides,” hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that has gone through a chemical process called hydrolysis that breaks the protein molecules down into easily digestible pieces. 

This is really important, not just for issues with digestion, but for getting the most out of your supplement too. If your protein supplement has molecules that are too large to fit through your stomach pores, then it doesn’t matter how many grams of protein you’re trying to take – a lot of it will simply pass through your digestive system without being absorbed.

That’s why you want to look for a hydrolyzed (or better yet, nano-hydrolyzed) collagen supplement that is easier to digest. 

You also want to ensure that your collagen supplement doesn’t contain any sugars or harmful additives, since the majority of supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, and don’t need to back up claims.

Frog Fuel liquid collagen shots are made from nano-hydrolyzed collagen that is proven to digest fully in just 15 minutes. Our dairy-free protein supplement is fortified with tryptophan to make our collagen a complete protein supplement. The reviews don’t lie - this hydrolyzed collagen protein is the best dairy-free protein supplement for athletes on the market.

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