Guide to Hemp Protein – Benefits, Side Effects & Nutrition
Hemp has been one of the world’s best-kept secrets for decades – if not longer. Although the hemp plant has been used through history for a range of different functions, it is only relatively recently that it is becoming more widely accepted in society.
Most people know that hemp is a particular variety of the cannabis plant. It is particularly hardy and, contrary to popular belief, it definitely won’t make you high. This is because hemp has been specially cultivated to contain only very low levels of THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – the compound in the cannabis plant that will make you high.
As we are seeing a rise in the popularity of hemp around the world, we are learning more about it, and beginning to see the good that the plant really can do for people.
Hemp protein is one way that the hemp plant is doing its good work. As more and more people turn towards a more plant-based diet (although, in many cases, not entirely plant-based) it is likely that we are going to see hemp protein only gaining in popularity.
The Health Benefits of Hemp Protein
The best hemp protein is made from cold pressing hemp seeds and grinding them into a fine powder. This powder can then be added into your daily diet, giving you a whole host of health benefits.
Protein is an important part of our diet. It helps to build and repair muscle and is most commonly found in abundance in meat and dairy products. Which is why athletes and bodybuilders tend to stock up on protein, and vegetarians and vegans sometimes need to give their protein levels a boost.
Research conducted by Stuart Phillips in 2016 shows how valuable protein can be in changing muscle mass in humans.
Hemp protein powder not only gives you all of the nine essential amino acids that healthy humans need from food but is also bursting with fibre, minerals and healthy fats.
You can see more about the health benefits of hemp protein in this video.
It’s a great source of the protein that your body needs
There are nine essential amino acids which research tells us that our bodies need to stay happy and healthy. These can call be found in hemp protein, giving your protein a great all-round boost. This means that we can call it a “complete protein source”.
The essential amino acids histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine can all be found in hemp protein. These cannot be produced by the body on its own so must be taken either as part of our diet or through protein supplements.
You can find out more about the kinds of protein that the body needs here.
Hemp protein actually contains 20 different amino acids including edestin and albumin – two proteins which are vital for the body to be able to digest food properly.
It’s good for your heart
Hemp protein is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids like linolenic acid. This is great for helping to protect your heart against coronary heart disease and encourages good cardiovascular health. The fibre in hemp protein is also great for keeping cholesterol and blood pressure down.
Medics say that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids must be present in the correct ratio to be effective for the heart, and, well, you guessed it, hemp protein as them in just the right ratio (which is roughly 1:3).
According to experts a typical diet in the Western world supplies a ratio which is completely unbalanced – about 1:15 – which they believe is one of the reasons why we have so many heart problems.
There is more about the omega-3 and omega-6 ratios here.
Excellent Source of Fibre
Not having enough fibre in our diet is a very common problem amongst adults. A study into the dietary intake of adults in 1999 – 2012 by Rehm, Peñalvo, Afshin and Mozaffarian, shows that as little as 5% of US adults eat the recommended amount of fibre. Hemp protein contains higher levels of fibre than other plant-based protein powders.
Depending on whether your hemp powder is made from hulled or unhulled hemp seeds, it can have different levels of fibre in it. Some hemp protein powder processors also choose to add fibre to their powder to make even more of an impact.
Fibre can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stabilise blood sugar, reduce the risk of bowel cancer and promote healthy gut bacteria. There is more information about how important fibre is for us, in this article.
Rich in Minerals and Anti-Oxidants
Hemp protein is also rich in minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc and antioxidants which can help to protect your body from oxidative stress which doctors believe can cause chronic diseases.
By feeding your body with these essential and healthy minerals and anti-oxidants you can give your general health a boost as well as help to protect it from potential illnesses and diseases in the future.
This article will tell you more about anti-oxidants.
The Side Effects of Hemp Protein
For most people, as long as they take hemp protein in the correct quantities, the only effects that they will feel are beneficial, healthy ones. However, there are a few people who might have an allergy to hemp, as well as have problems if they take high doses of some minerals. It is important, therefore, to be aware of these potential health risks.
Although allergies to hemp protein are uncommon, they are not unheard of. If you notice any of the following after consuming hemp protein, you should not take any more and seek medical help if you feel it necessary:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal congestion
- Tingling or itchy mouth
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of tongue, lips, face, throat or other areas of the body
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light-headedness, dizziness or fainting
As we know, hemp protein is high in fibre, but the excess of fibre can cause gas, bloating, cramping and constipation.
Hemp Protein Powder is Safe to Take
As long as you are taking your hemp powder in accordance with the recommendations then you should have no problems – as long as you don’t have an allergy. It is important to remember, however, that there is still a lack of regulation of hemp and hemp protein so you should do what you can to ensure that you are getting a legitimate product.
It is important that you check the labelling on your hemp protein to ensure that you know exactly what you are taking – some people, for example, add sugar or artificial ingredients to it, some use hemp seeds from plants grown in contaminated soil.
Aside from scrutinising the labelling, it is recommended that you get hemp protein powder from recommendations or not be scared to change it if you don’t like it.
Hemp Protein is Good for Building Muscles
If you are looking to build muscles, taking extra protein after a workout is a great idea. The protein helps to repair and grow the muscles and hemp protein is the ideal solution. It means that you can get the extra protein without having to eat a lot of extra food.
Many bodybuilders traditionally use animal proteins such as whey to replenish and boost their protein. However, the good thing about hemp protein is that it is natural, and plant-based, suitable for those with dairy allergies and ideal for vegetarians and vegans.
Hemp protein has a lovely nutty flavour yet is suitable for people with a range of dietary requirements such as those who are allergic to nuts, egg, gluten, dairy and soy.
You Won’t Fail a Drug Test after Hemp Protein
Some people get worried that due to the fact that hemp seeds are a variety of cannabis seed, they might be able to fail a drug test from consuming hemp protein. Drugs tests don’t check for the presence of cannabis, they actually test for the presence of THC – the compound in cannabis which makes you high.
Hemp, by its very nature, has very low levels of THC in it. Although in most cases it is there on a ‘trace’ level, for a plant to be labelled as ‘hemp’ it must have a THC level of less than .3% in the USA 0.2% in the UK. Hemp flowers may contain these amounts of THC but Hemp seeds contain almost zero and you certainly will not fail a drug test due to hemp seeds.
Hemp Protein Won’t Increase Oestrogen
Some protein powders have been flagged up for raising levels of oestrogen in the body. Soy is one of these, but you can rest assured that there is no evidence of hemp protein having this effect.
Some people believe that it is the isoflavones that are present in soy protein that can raise the levels of oestrogen in the body. Although this hasn’t been scientifically proven, it is worth bearing in mind that there is no research to suggest that hemp protein can have this effect.
There is also no evidence to show that it can affect testosterone levels.
What are the 3 types of protein?
When it comes to taking protein powder, there are three main types – whey powder, plant-based powder like hemp and soy and Casein. They each have their pros and cons, but of course, plant-based protein powders are the only ones which can be vegan.
Whey powder is the most commonly known of the protein powders. It is a complete protein and digested very quickly – making it ideal for bodybuilders post-workout. It is, however, derived from milk and therefore not suitable for vegans or the lactose intolerant.
Plant-based protein powders like hemp protein are also complete proteins and ideal for vegans and people with allergies and intolerances. It is considered to be easy to digest and cholesterol and fat-free – in contrast to the other protein types.
Casein takes longer for the body to digest, which means that you get a slower release of protein. Many people take it before going to bed so that it can get to work whilst your body is resting.
Hemp protein contains BCAA
BCAA or branched-chain amino acids are a buzz word in the world of bodybuilding at the moment. They are the amino acids which are particularly useful for building muscle after a workout. The three BCAA’s are isoleucine, leucine and valine, and luckily, these are all present in hemp protein.
Isoleucine is great for balancing your blood sugar, leucine excellent for building muscles and valine is great for giving your energy levels a boost. Hemp protein contains these BCAA’s amongst all of the other nutrients that we’ve already shown.
This means that you get not only the three BCAA’s but also 17 other amino acids and a range of nutrients – a much better option than taking BCAA’s on their own.
What is the Healthiest Hemp Protein Powder?
There are many hemp protein powder products available and they all offer the full range of health benefits that come naturally in hemp protein. That doesn’t mean, however, that some aren’t better for your health than others.
It is important to read the label properly before you buy your hemp protein powder. Some of them are fortified (which you may or may not want) with vitamins or minerals and some also have other extra ingredients added in – such as sugar.
It is also a good idea to buy non-GMO and organic hemp protein as this is the best way to ensure that you are getting the best quality hemp product without the use of any nasty pesticides or chemicals.
Research also shows that if the hemp seeds are cold-pressed, they can be digested much easier than hemp seeds which have been exposed to higher levels of heat.
The Benefits of Hemp Protein for Skin
Hemp protein isn’t only useful for athletes and bodybuilders. It also has many other health benefits due to its range of nutrients and amino acids. One of the parts of the body which will thank you for taking hemp protein is your skin.
The hemp seed is bursting with vitamin E, and this is great for soothing skin conditions such as itchy scalps. It also means that it is great for soothing dry skin and eczema when it is consumed.
The fatty acids are also great for your skin, and the protein boost that it gives you will help to repair and produce new, healthy skin.
Hemp Protein has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation can cause many problems for the human body, including helping some chronic diseases to develop, as well as often being responsible for pain. Hemp protein is bursting with Omega-6 fatty acids which have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Thanks to its high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, hemp protein is great for helping to reduce inflammation. We are all aware of inflammation in terms of sports injuries or toothaches, for example, but scientists also believe that chronic inflammation can be responsible for a number of serious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Whilst we cannot claim that hemp protein will ensure that you don’t get any of these illnesses the Omega-6 fatty acids can be useful in helping to fight inflammation.
Is Hemp Protein Fast or Slow digesting?
Compared to proteins like whey, hemp protein is easily digested but at a slower pace. This means that it can be taken in a different way. Instead of taking it straight after a workout as people do with proteins like whey, hemp protein can be taken regularly at the same time every day – such as before going to bed.
Hemp protein takes longer to digest than some of the other proteins. Due to the abundance of fibre that is in the hemp seed, it can be digested without a problem, but as a slow-release protein.
Research carried out by House, Neufeld, and Leson in 2010 shows that up to 98% of the protein in hemp protein is digestible, which is a very impressive statistic.
Hemp Protein is more than Keto Friendly
The keto diet is gaining in popularity and works on the premise of eating a low carb, high protein and fat diet. This makes hemp protein ideal for those who are eating a keto diet as it is high in protein and has low carbohydrates.
One of the biggest problems for people who are on the keto diet is that the low carbohydrate factor means that there is no bread, pasta, rice or other fillers. Hemp protein is high in fibre and can, therefore, be used as a great keto alternative to fillers, not only filling you up, but also nourishing your body with all the nutritional benefits that it contains.
Hemp Protein Vs Whey Protein
Whey protein is probably the most well known of the powdered proteins that people take. It is made from milk and has a slightly different composition. Whey protein contains slightly fewer calories, but slightly more protein.
In addition, whey protein contains no fat (compared to a small amount in hemp protein) and a little calcium – although not as much as hemp. However, hemp also contains a wealth of other nutrients which whey does not.
Another difference is that hemp protein is plant-based meaning that it is suitable for vegans as well as being better for the environment. Whey protein is also digested very quickly – compared to hemp protein, meaning that it is best taken soon after a workout.
Hemp Protein Vs Pea Protein
Pea protein is one of the most popular plant-based proteins. It is, of course, another great option for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant. There are a few differences between the composition of hemp protein and pea protein.
Pea protein generally has slightly higher levels of protein and lower levels of fat and carbohydrates, but it also has more calories.
Pea protein isn’t classified as being a ‘complete’ protein, unlike hemp protein. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be good for you, but just won’t necessarily give you the same amount of nutrients as hemp protein will.
In terms of how you take it, pea protein is fine and pretty tasteless, making it a good option for mixing into foods and smoothies. Hemp protein has a nutty, earthier taste and it a good option to mix into yoghurt or sprinkle onto food.
The Best Hemp Proteins
Now that you know everything that there is to know about hemp protein, here are some products which, in our opinion, are the best hemp proteins on the market.
Onnit Hemp Protein
Onnit’s ‘Powerfood’ range offers you two products which are a mixture of Onnit hemp protein with other plant-based proteins and come in two flavours – the ‘Vitality’ which is vanilla and acai, mixing hemp seed with chia and flax. It also includes organic brown rice protein, pea protein and other natural flavours. One scoop will give you 5g of protein, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. You can buy a 30 serving container for $38.21.
The Powerfood ‘Active’ – with its ‘choco maca’ flavour is made from cocoa beans, hemp seeds and protein, pea protein, maca and red algae – along with other natural flavours. One scoop will give you 5g of protein, vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. You can buy a 30 serving container for $32.73.
One thing that we love about Onnit is that they give you recipe options of how to add your protein powder to your diet.
Nutiva Hemp Protein
Nutiva hemp protein is made from organic hemp and offers you pure hemp protein powder. You can get hemp protein powder with 15g of organic protein and 8g fibre for £16.99, or one with 11g of protein and 12g of fibre for the same price.
Both are completely vegan and packed full of all of the nutrients that you would expect to see in a natural hemp protein powder.
Whether you are looking to build your muscle tone, bulk up or are just looking for a healthy way to boost your protein intake, hemp protein powder is an excellent way to do this. If you take it in its purest form it is completely vegan, lactose-free and jam-packed with other nutrients that the body needs.
Hemp protein powder is plant-based and therefore usually better for the environment than some of the other proteins which rely on dairy.
If you think that you could benefit from a protein boost to your diet – why not give one of our hemp protein recommendations a try?
Aidan Lehane is an entrepreneur who has a lifelong passion for CBD, Hemp and allowing people to find an effective natural remedy to many of their pains and illnesses.
Aidan has been a constant advocate for cbd and hemp legalization for over 2 decades and is often found researching & creating blogs and videos about CBD, on the Great Hemp Youtube channel while testing and reviewing countless products for quality and effectiveness.