Whether you’re a meat-eater, a vegetarian or a vegan, incorporating additional healthy protein into your diet makes for a great nutritional supplement suitable for many purposes. Plant-based proteins are particularly helpful for vegans looking to increase their protein intake that they’re struggling to get from their daily nuts, lentils and beans. However, even meat-eaters who want extra protein, perhaps to help build muscle and recover post-workout, can benefit from regular additional protein consumption.
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There are many choices when it comes to protein. You can get different nutritional benefits depending on the source of the protein and ‘whey’-ing your options, pun intended, can be tricky. Your choice is constantly growing. Even if whey – which is dairy-based – is ruled out because you’re vegan or dairy-free, there’s still pea, soy, hemp, rice or a blend.
Today though, we’re gonna talk about one of my favorites – and maybe your favorite too by the time you’ve finished reading this – HEMP protein. So what is hemp protein? The protein in hemp is found in the seeds; and powders are created by grinding these seeds up very finely. It is of course, vegan, as it is produced from the cannabis plant. Don’t worry, though, there’s no THC in hemp seeds (the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants) so your post-workout drink won’t have you seeing leprechauns on the way home from the gym.
This wonderful plant has a diverse range of applications that civilizations have been using for thousands of years – from clothing to medicine. And now, it is growing in popularity as a high-protein, nutritious, vegan food supplement.
I’ve discovered hemp protein as one of the beneficial ingredients in Skinny Protein by Your Super. You can learn more about Skinny Protein here. Hemp protein is also an excellent source of protein containing all amino acids – including the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on its own. It’s also packed with micronutrients that help with muscle recovery!
What are the Benefits of Hemp Protein?
Hemp protein is a very complete protein. This means it contains all nine amino acids. This makes it similar in quality to animal-based protein products like eggs, beef, and chicken.
Even better, research suggests it is highly digestible, meaning that your body can easily break down the protein and put all these amino acids to good use. Keep an eye out for cold-pressed hemp seed powders, which are extra quick and easy to digest.
Hemp protein is a fantastic source of fiber. Having sufficient fiber in your diet will reduce your risk of colon cancer, heart disease and stroke. In 30 grams of hemp, you will find 7 to 8 grams of fiber. Since most adults are below the recommended daily intake, this little extra could really help.
Hemp protein is mineral rich. Hemp seeds contain many of the essential minerals our bodies and brains need to function optimally. You will see phosphorus, iron, calcium, manganese,copper, zinc and magnesium listed on the back of the protein powder packaging in hefty amounts. So you wouldn’t be wrong to toss those multivitamins if you started incorporating hemp into your diet.
Is Hemp Protein Better Than Whey Protein?
If you’re not vegan, lactose-free or trying to reduce your dairy intake, you may still be considering a whey protein, which is produced from cow’s milk.
As mentioned, hemp is a very complete protein, meaning it contains all nine amino acids. However, some research has shown it contains less of the amino acid Lysine. Lysine is particularly present in whey protein. So on this count, whey wins. Whey packs more protein per gram. In 30 grams of hemp powder, about half of that is protein at 15 grams, whereas whey is usually at least 90% protein. This means you have to consume much less of it to get the same amount of protein.
Lastly, whey has been used as protein powder for far longer. This doesn’t mean it’s better, but it’s far more tested and researched. We know whey does the job, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better, healthier alternatives. While whey has these benefits, almost none of the benefits of hemp listed above can be said of whey: it’s very digestible, rich in minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants, and high in fiber. Not to mention it’s cruelty free!
Is Hemp Protein Better Than Pea Protein?
Hemp is far less refined than the popular plant-based alternative protein, pea. In fact, many people just eat the whole seeds and get many of the benefits listed here. On the other hand, pea protein has a more complex extraction process and may also contain high levels of pesticides. These can increase risk of cancer and disrupt hormone regulation. Hemp is likely the more organic option.
Pea protein is exceptionally high in iron content. Many adults are low on iron and need to get all they can from various sources. If this is you, you may consider using pea protein to help get your iron levels up.
As mentioned, Hemp powder contains only about 50% protein. While this is by no means low, it is less than soy and pea, which is usually closer to 90%.
What are the side effects of Hemp Protein?
More good news for hemp – there are almost no common side-effects.
One downside to having such a substantial fibre content is that if you already get a lot of fiber in your diet, which most people don’t, you could get some digestive issues. Too much hemp protein too fast could end up in bloating and gas.
Needless to say, if you have a hemp allergy, you should stay away also. You may not know if you have a hemp allergy so always try a small amount first before having a whole scoop.
So whether you’re mixing your hemp powder into your smoothies, sprinkling it on your salad or cereal, you can rest assured that the rich nutty-tasting hemp is helping your body in a bunch of different ways.
Whether you go with hemp, pea or whey is entirely up to you and your preferences, but I think that you can’t really go wrong with hemp. I hope you’ve learned now what is hemp protein so you can make an informed healthy decision.