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Peptides vs Proteins – What’s The Difference?

Peptides vs Proteins

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Peptides vs Proteins – What’s The Difference?

When researching peptide products, customers may come across various unfamiliar terms. One term is peptide itself, along with others like proteins, polypeptides, and amino acids. Below, we’ll explain some of these key terms along with how they relate to one another to help customers better understand peptide products.

What Are Amino Acids?

To fully appreciate the difference between proteins vs peptides, it’s important to first understand amino acids. Amino acids are the molecules that combine to form proteins. They’re organic compounds, mostly comprised of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. Amino acids are one of the building blocks of life; the human body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function.

peptides vs proteins

Each amino acid contains an amino group and a carboxylic acid group. There are also side-chain structures that vary depending on the specific amino acid. Despite there being hundreds of different amino acids, only 20 combine into peptides. There are different functional groups within amino acids. When the functional groups amine and carboxylic acid join, they form amide bonds, which in turn create a peptide.

What Are Peptides?

As amino acids begin to combine, they form short chains. These short chains are known as peptides. The term peptide generally refers to any compound with two or more amino acids. However, peptides can also be classified further, either as polypeptides or oligopeptides. Oligopeptides denote any compound that typically has less than 10 amino acids, while polypeptides have more than 10 amino acids.

Scientists commonly use peptides in research, as they aim to better understand their effects on humans. As a result, there are now many peptide products available. These products can have a range of effects, such as muscle growth, anti-aging, or improved health. Before taking these products, it can be helpful to know exactly what peptides are. They are essentially small chains of amino acids, which already exist in the human body. Peptide products aim to copy these natural peptides to provide different benefits. 

What Are Proteins?

A protein is a type of polypeptide. Scientists generally classify any compound with more than 50 amino acids as a protein. However, since a polypeptide is any compound with more than 10 amino acids, a compound with over 50 amino acids is both a protein and a polypeptide. While these terms are often used interchangeably as a result, a good practice for researchers is to refer to long and structurally fixed amino chains as proteins and the smaller chains as polypeptides.

What Is the Difference Between Peptides vs Proteins?

The main difference between peptides and proteins is their size. A peptide is a short chain of amino bonds. To form a peptide, there only needs to be two amino acids within a compound. Compounds with larger amounts of amino acids, typically more than 50, are referred to as proteins. Therefore, all proteins are technically peptides but not all peptides are proteins.

What Is the Difference Between Peptides vs Polypeptides?

Peptide is the overarching classification for amino acid compounds. They are short chains of amino acids that have been linked by an amide, or peptide, bond. The term peptide refers to any compound made up of two or more amino acids. However, scientists can further classify these compounds based on the number of amino acids present. If there are more than 10 amino acids within the compound, scientists classify this as a polypeptide. This means that all polypeptides are technically peptides but not all peptides are necessarily polypeptides.

What Is the Difference Between Proteins and Polypeptides?

Peptide is the overarching classification for amino acid compounds. They are short chains of amino acids that have been linked by an amide, or peptide, bond. The term peptide refers to any compound made up of two or more amino acids. However, scientists can further classify these compounds based on the number of amino acids present. If there are more than 10 amino acids within the compound, scientists classify this as a polypeptide. This means that all polypeptides are technically peptides but not all peptides are necessarily polypeptides.

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