Protein needs no introduction. You already know it as one of the three primary macronutrients that make up your diet (the other two being fat and carbohydrates). Protein is considered the building block of life and is found in every cell of the body. Protein is made up of amino acids that are attached in long chains. There are hundreds of products from supplements to energy bars designed to make it easy to get your protein fix. There are even entire diets based on upping your protein intakes, such as the Atkins diet or the paleo diet.
The 7 Best Types of Protein Available
Protein comes from a variety of sources and is available in several formulations. People use them to increase muscle mass, improve overall body composition and help meet their protein needs. The different types of protein are as follows;
- Whey Protein
- Casein Protein
- Egg Protein
- Pea Protein
- Hemp Protein
- Brown Rice Protein
- Mixed Plant Proteins
What is hemp protein?
Protein powders are popular nutritional supplements used by athletes, bodybuilders and those trying to gain weight or increase muscle mass. Hemp protein powder is one of the more popular varieties, made by grinding pressed hemp seeds into a fine powder. It has an earthy, nutty taste and is often added to shakes or smoothies to boost protein intake. Hemp is a high-quality vegan protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, plus fibre, healthy fats, and minerals.
Nutritional Forms of Hemp
Hemp is so versatile it can be added to your diet in four separate ways.
- Whole hemp Seeds – hemp seeds have been illegal in some countries (due to their relation to marijuana), so they’re often sold as sterilized seeds. While sterilizing does damage some of the hemp seed oil, it doesn’t affect the fibre and protein content. Speaking of fibre, you know how whole grain bread is better for you and have more fibre than processed white flour bread? Well, the same can be said for hemp seeds. Hemp seeds in their hard shells are crunchy sources of insoluble fibre. If you’re looking to add more delicious fibre to your diet, crunch on hemp seeds in their shells.
- Shelled Hemp Seeds – you should prefer shelled hemp seeds not only because they taste better, but because they have higher protein levels than their unshelled version. One ounce of hemp seeds contains 10 g of protein! Hemp seeds without their shells go by names such as hulled hemp seed, hemp hearts, shelled hemp, and even hemp nut. The hemp heart is a soft seed with a delicate, nutty flavour similar to pine nuts. A popular way to eat them is sprinkled in Greek yoghurt parfaits, topping overnight oats, and added to almond butter dipped apples.
- Hemp Seed Oil – Oil made from pressed hemp seeds is high in EFAs. These “good fats” come from long-chain polyunsaturated fats. However, these polyunsaturated fats have relatively low smoke points, which means they can oxidize at high temperatures – something you don’t want. You shouldn’t cook with hemp seed oil, but it makes a delicious nutty oil for salad dressings. Ensure you keep your hemp seed oil in the fridge to prevent oxidation.
- Hemp Protein Powder / Flour – If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you probably know all about hemp protein. Hemp protein is made from the leftovers of hemp seed oil pressings. If there’s less than 35% protein listed on your powdered hemp product, it constitutes hemp flour instead of hemp protein because there’s more fibre than protein. Anything over 35% is considered hemp protein, which is what you want because hemp is a complete protein that contains all of your essential amino acids. Unlike whey, there are absolutely no animal products or lactose in hemp protein, which makes it a decent option for vegans.
How to add hemp protein to your diet?
Try incorporating hemp seeds into the diet by:
- Sprinkling whole or ground seeds on cereal or yoghurt.
- Adding the seeds to smoothies.
- Baking with hemp seeds and others rich in omega-3s.
- Making hemp milk at home using whole seeds.
- Sprinkling hemp seeds, along with other seeds or nuts, on a salad.
- People can find hemp seeds in some supermarkets, health food stores, and online.
- Online stores also offer other hemp products, such as hemp milk, which may be fortified with extra nutrients, and hemp protein powder, which is a plant-based alternative to whey protein powder.
- More information can be found here.
Things to Consider when Buying hemp Protein
It can be confusing on what hemp protein to buy just by browsing online. Here are the general guidelines to consider when making your purchase.
- Protein Amount – The protein amount offered per serving is different per product. The protein amount can vary from 11g to 20g per serving. There seem to be two trends. If it is a Protein + Fibre product, the portion of protein is less a portion of fibre increases.
- Flavour – In the current marketplace, there are not many brands that offer flavoured options. Only a few offer Chocolate and Vanilla flavours. All other brands offer the Original flavour, which essentially means there’s no flavour added mixed in. These original hemp protein powders have a bit of a nutty taste.
- Organic – Most hemp protein brands advertise on their packaging or nutrition label if they offer Organic Hemp. About half of hemp products on the market are organic options. Even without being organic, most hemp proteins is non-GMO, non-irradiated, and chemical free. Most brands also do not add or mix any artificial ingredients in their protein.
- Reviews – Even the hemp protein market is getting flooded with various brands claiming they offer the best quality or value. It’s quite difficult for a customer to compare the different products to see which one provides the highest amount of protein or the lowest price. To help with your purchase, read an unbiased review that analyses the quality, price, flavour and overall value of hemp protein powders.
Benefits of consuming hemp Protein
Consider these 15 incredible benefits of hemp protein
- Boosts Immune System – Consuming hemp protein is a simple yet highly effective way to supply the body with a nutritious boost. Hemp contains the globular proteins – edestin and albumin which make up the fluid in a portion of the blood plasma. Hence hemp protein is essential to support a healthy immune system.
- Increases Energy Levels – Swap your daily dose of caffeine for hemp protein and see how energetic your body feels. Hemp protein powder contains fatty acids which when ingested, produce twice as much energy as carbohydrates. In addition, proteins take longer to break down in the body. Which, in turn, causes energy to be released much slower. Not only does hemp increase energy levels but also sustains the energy throughout the day.
- Strengthens Hair – An ultra-high concentration of healthy fats helps promote healthy hair growth. hemp protein is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and omega-9 fatty acids. Research suggests omega-3 fatty acids are shown to reverse hair loss. Also, omega-3 fatty acids also add sheen and lustre to the hair.
- Reduces Inflammation – A recent study shows that ingesting the GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) protein in hemp alleviated arthritis symptoms by 20%. It intervenes with the body’s ability to produce pro-inflammatory molecules and reduces chronic inflammation.
- Improves Digestion – Although many protein producers claim their products contain minimal levels of lactose, conventional protein powders like whey are loaded with lactose. For those who are lactose intolerant even a small amount can cause a chain reaction resulting in bloating, gassiness, and other internal distress from consuming lactose. On the other hand, hemp protein aids in digestion. Due to the high concentration of soluble and insoluble fibre, hemp protein puts the digestive tract at ease.
- Repairs Muscle – Protein is key to building muscle, hence when it comes to restoring muscle tissue, bodybuilders and athletes turn to protein powders. However, what many people are not aware of is that hemp is a complete protein source. Better yet, as a plant-based protein, hemp protein powder supplies the body with sufficient protein but is also hypoallergenic and suitable for people with soy, gluten, egg, or dairy sensitivities. Hemp protein contains all essential amino acids that help repair body muscle and tissue.
- Conditions Scalp – hemp protein naturally conditions the scalp, because hemp seeds contain Vitamin E, as well as a high concentration of essential fatty acids, hence hemp, is excellent for soothing the scalp. Hemp protein can be consumed in tablet or powder form.
- Fight Heart Disease – Consumption of hemp protein has shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is loaded with fibre, healthy fats, and other vital nutrients. Additionally, hemp protein also contains high amounts of amino acids arginine, which is used for the production of nitric oxide. This gaseous substance in the body causes the blood vessels to expand, which in turn leads to lowered levels of blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Builds Lean Muscle – Not only does hemp offer a complete amino acid profile, but it also includes all muscle-building amino acids such as BCAA (branched chain amino acids). No wonder hemp protein is considered to be one of nature’s Superfood. BCAA increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis, simultaneously preventing loss of muscle tissue. Hemp also contains globulins albumin and edestin – two of the most abundant proteins in the human body.
- Curbs Hunger Cravings – hemp protein powder helps curb hunger cravings and makes you feel fuller for a more extended period. The secret? Hemp is rich in fibre. Fibre not only promotes a healthy digestive system but also helps you feel fuller for longer. Also, fibre has also shown to reduce cravings and sustain weight loss. The higher fibre content of hemp is believed to help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer
- Relieves Eczema – The essential fatty acids jampacked in hemp protein act as an internal moisturizer. As a result, hemp protein combats the dry and cracking skin by reducing irritation.
- Reduces Osteoporosis Risk – There are some factors that influence the onset of osteoporosis. However, studies suggest that people who have a deficit in essential fatty acids are more likely to experience bone loss. Hemp protein is crammed with these essential fatty acids that reduce the risk of Osteoporosis.
- Cleanses the Colon – hemp protein can reduce constipation and remove toxins from the body. Hemp is easily absorbed by the body due to its high fibre content as it contains both insoluble and soluble fibre. Hence it naturally cleanses the Colon. Additionally, it also lowers your risk of developing diarrhoea or haemorrhoids.
- Boosts Metabolism – Protein intake is vital to our health, hence supporting healthy protein levels boosts the metabolism as well as increases the fat-burning potential. Thus, hemp which is a high protein source prevents protein deficiency in the body.
- Regulates Cholesterol Levels – hemp seeds are loaded with healthy fats our bodies do not produce. Hence if you need to lower or control your cholesterol levels, hemp protein powder is a fantastic source. The essential fatty acids in hemp help reduce levels of unhealthy fats, they also decrease the build of plaque in the arteries. Thus, the easy to incorporate in drinks or meals, hemp protein can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels for maximum health.
Check out this video for more benefits of hemp protein
The disadvantage of consuming hemp Protein
There are several drawbacks associated with the consumption of hemp protein
- High-Fat Content – hemp protein is known to contain a high amount of fat which is considered to be a high amount as compared to other protein sources such as whey and casein. Though hemp protein includes a good amount of healthy fats, it has been reported that a high amount of fat slows down the process of nutrient absorption after workouts.
- Low Protein Content – hemp protein provides you with around 15 grams of protein per serving. However, it is much less as compared to other protein sources such as whey and casein. According to research, it has been observed that consuming around 20-25 grams of protein is necessary to promote muscle recovery and growth.
- High Carbohydrate Content – hemp protein powders are known to possess a high amount of carbohydrates as compared to other protein sources such as whey and casein. Hence if your goal is to lose weight, it is advisable that you consume less hemp protein and consume whey protein regularly.
- High fibre Content – hemp protein contains a high amount of fibre. So, if you aim to gain muscle mass, it is advisable that you avoid consuming hemp protein as its high fibre content causes you to feel full, thereby preventing you from eating enough to promote muscle growth.
- Low Protein Quality – hemp protein is known to possess low-quality protein as compared to other protein sources. Low protein quality indicates that only some of the protein present in hemp protein is absorbed into the body.
- Low in Vitamin and Minerals – hemp protein is known to contain a meagre number of essential vitamins and minerals, which are required by the body for optimal functioning.
The Bottom Line is that hemp protein powder is a complete protein that packs antioxidants, minerals, fibre, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats. It’s a good choice, especially for vegans, but may be less nutritious than other plant-based proteins such as soy. While it’s generally safe, it can cause side effects or adverse reactions in some people. More research is needed to determine the quality of hemp protein powder, but it is an excellent choice for those looking for a nutritious protein powder with fibre and healthy fats.