Last updated: August 30, 2021

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Hemp protein is an excellent supplement, and it is especially popular with vegans. It contains 9 essential amino acids and has very good digestibility. Unlike other vegetable proteins, hemp seed is subjected to less refinement to make protein powder and, therefore, this product also provides significant amounts of fiber and unsaturated fats.

As with all protein powders, they are popular with athletes. However, hemp protein also provides other health benefits, which go beyond promoting the development of muscle mass. Read on to know more!




The best Hemp Protein Powder: Our Picks

Unlike other nutritional supplements that come in different forms, hemp protein is only marketed as a powder. But, they are not all the same. The flavor, texture and composition can change from one brand to another.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Hemp Protein

Hemp protein is an excellent supplement for vegan athletes. However, its health benefits are not just limited to improving protein intake and supporting increased muscle mass. Did you know there are many other advantages of consuming hemp protein? In this section we will go over all of the different benefits of hemp protein.

woman with supplements in hand

Hemp protein provides all the essential amino acids for humans, and has high digestibility.
(Source: Belchonock: 98218075/ 123rf.com)

What is hemp protein?

Hemp protein is a supplement that comes in the form of a powder and is made from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp protein supplements are not as refined as other protein powders (soy, pea, Whey, casein). Its protein contribution is around 50%, while that of other proteins is around 90% (1, 2).

During processing, the seeds are cold pressed to extract the oil. [/ su_pullquote] The resulting mass (without the oil) is crushed until obtaining a fine powder, rich in proteins. However, since the bark of the seed is not removed, the final product also provides dietary fiber, unsaturated fats and minerals (2).

Hemp seed is a very good source of complete protein, as it contains all the essential amino acids. The processing that the seeds undergo when the powder supplement is made concentrates the proteins and increases their digestibility. The latter means that the amino acids that make up the proteins are better assimilated (1, 2).

What nutritional differences are there between hemp seeds and protein powder?

When hemp seeds are processed to obtain the powder, not only is the amount of protein concentrated, but it also increases the rest of the nutrients (Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats, minerals, antioxidants). The whole and raw seed has anti-nutrients, which do not allow the assimilation of many of its nutritional compounds (3, 4).

Whole hemp seed Hemp protein
% protein 31% to 33%. 46% to 50%.
% of dietary fiber 4% to 7%. (Whole hemp seeds are usually marketed peeled and lose much of their fiber) 15% to 22%.
% fat (mostly Omega 3 and Omega 6) 44% to 50% . 9% to 10%.
% carbohydrates 5.3% to 12%. 7% to 7.5%.
Iron (mg / 100g) 14 mg 20 mg
Magnesium (mg / 100 g) 483 mg. 530 mg.
Potassium (mg / 100 g) 860 mg. 1300 mg.

What are the benefits of consuming hemp protein?

Hemp protein powder is primarily designed to help vegetarian and vegan athletes meet their protein needs. However, there are other benefits of hemp protein for your health that are almost unknown, such as:

  • It is a complete protein and of high biological value: hemp contains the 9 essential amino acids, that is, those that our bodies cannot synthesize on their own. In addition, the proteins in the supplement have a high digestibility, which means that they are almost completely assimilated. It is useless to consume a lot of protein if your digestibility is not complete (1).
  • It is a simple way to reinforce protein intake in vegan athletes and enrich their diet: hemp protein comes in powder form, which can be dissolved in any liquid (water, vegetable drink, smoothie, juice, milk) or can even be incorporated to (vegan) burgers, croquettes, and sauces.
  • It acts as an antihypertensive and protects the heart: arginine (non-essential amino acid) is a precursor to nitric oxide, a compound that has a vasodilatory effect. As a result, blood pressure is reduced and the risk of heart problems is reduced (1.5).
  • It is an excellent source of Omega 6 GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and has anti-inflammatory properties: GLA is capable of reducing inflammation and preventing numerous conditions in which the inflammatory response is decisive, for example, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease (4, 6).
  • Provides antioxidants: phytochemical provitamin A and vitamin E in hemp have antioxidant activity and help fight free radicals that cause oxidative damage (1).
  • Provides magnesium, phosphorus and potassium: these minerals are essential for muscle function and athletic performance (7).
  • It contains a large amount of iron, a critical nutrient for the vegan population: a 30 g serving of hemp protein powder can provide between 6 and 7 mg of iron, equivalent to a 200-gram serving of meat. However, to take advantage of this vegetable iron it is important to combine it with vitamin C (citrus, tomato, parsley, kiwi, strawberry) (8).
  • Increases the satiety value of your diet: the hemp protein powder also contains fiber in its composition. Fiber helps to delay digestion and prolong satiety after taking the supplement (9).
  • Helps regulate intestinal transit: dietary fiber is also essential for maintaining intestinal health and preventing constipation (9).

hemp protein on wooden table

Hemp protein supplements are marketed in powder form. They can be 100% hemp or consist of a mixture of different plant proteins.
(Source: Schweitzer: 55678033/ 123rf.com)

What kinds of protein powders are there?

To make hemp protein, most of the oil contained in the seed is extracted. The remainder (protein, fiber, minerals and also a small fraction of fats and carbohydrates) is crushed to a fine powder. However, when buying hemp protein powder, you can find different types:

  • Pure hemp protein: These products consist of 100% hemp seed, without any other compound. They offer all the essential amino acids, as the hemp protein is complete. Its flavor is natural, similar to walnuts.
  • Hemp protein mixed with other vegetable proteins or functional ingredients: the most common combination is hemp and pea, as the latter enriches the lysine content of the supplement. They can also contain Maca, cocoa, turmeric, cinnamon, among other ingredients.

What differences are there between soy protein and hemp protein?

Soy protein is one of the best protein sources in the plant kingdom. Its supplements are sold in powder form and there are isolates and protein concentrates. When comparing these soy products with hemp protein, there are differences in their nutritional composition and in their organoleptic attributes, which are shown in the following table (10):

Hemp protein Soy protein
Final texture (when dissolved in the liquid) Slightly gritty, can form lumps if not mixed very well. Foamy, smooth. Soy protein isolate has excellent solubility.
Flavor Available in natural or artificial flavor (vanilla, banana, cocoa). Available in natural, neutral or artificial flavor (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate).
% protein 46% to 50%. 70% and 90%.
Contribution of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) per serving of 30 grams of powder Approximately 4.5 grams. Approximately 5 grams.

How should athletes use hemp protein?

Most protein supplements are indicated for post-workout recovery. Instead, hemp protein should be consumed away from physical activity. It is advisable to take it during breakfast, lunch, or at least 2 hours before physical activity to allow sufficient time for digestion.

Hemp protein is also not recommended as a post-workout snack because assimilation of its nutrients takes longer than that of other protein supplements. This is due to the presence of dietary fiber that slows down digestion. As for the hemp protein ration, manufacturers recommend 30 to 40 grams daily.

Does hemp and marijuana come from the same plant?

You could say that hemp and marijuana belong to the same plant family, but they are very different when it comes to the content of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the compound in marijuana responsible for its psychoactive effects. Hemp authorized for human consumption must have less than 0.3% THC.

hemp protein in wooden spoon

Hemp protein is an excellent supplement for vegan athletes.
(Source: Uliasz: 54299621/ 123rf.com)

Are there any adverse effects of hemp protein?

Hemp seed and protein are considered generally safe. They can cause flatulence and abdominal bloating if consumed in excess due to its richness in dietary fiber. Regarding contraindications, this product should only be avoided by those allergic to hemp or suffering from chronic diarrhea (11).

Buyer's Guide

Fortunately, most of the hemp protein supplements on the market are pure and made from raw, organic, and cold-processed seeds to preserve their nutrients. However, every responsible consumer must be aware of certain basic purchasing criteria, such as:

Flavor

The natural flavor of hemp seed is pleasant, nutty and somewhat earthy. Most consumers take protein powder diluted in water or shakes. There are also commercial brands that use artificial flavorings to improve the taste of hemp protein and achieve greater acceptance by customers.

To make hemp protein, most of the oil contained in the seed is extracted.
(Source: Belchonock: 109566105/ 123rf.com)

Dissolving capacity

Hemp protein has a lower solubility than soy protein isolate or pea protein. This is because it is a very natural product, not very refined. It is important to mix the protein dissolved in the liquid very well to avoid the formation of lumps and a sandy texture.

Composition

As we explained in the previous section, hemp protein can be pure or mixed with other vegetable proteins (pea, rice, soy) or natural ingredients (Maca, cocoa, turmeric, cinnamon). No product is better than another, it all depends on the needs and preferences of the consumer.

Protein Percentage

Hemp protein supplements have a protein content that ranges from 46% to 50%. Of course, the ideal is to opt for those products with more protein. When hemp is combined with pea or soy, it improves its amino acid profile because the supply of lysine increases, an amino acid that is usually scarce in hemp.

Presence of Allergens

Hemp is naturally gluten-free, but cross contamination can occur during processing. For this reason, people with celiac disease should look for the seal that confirms that it is a suitable product. In the case of allergies to soy, nuts, eggs or milk, it is important to read the list of ingredients to rule out the presence of the allergen.

Summary

Hemp protein is a very nutritious and safe supplement. Although it is intended for vegan athletes, it offers other additional benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihypertensive and vasodilatory properties. It is a source of Omega 6 (GLA), minerals (iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium) and dietary fiber.

Hemp protein supplements are marketed in powder form. Before consumption, it is important to dissolve the protein in a liquid and shake very well to avoid lumps or a sandy texture. Its natural flavor is pleasant and is generally accepted by most consumers.

If you liked our guide on hemp protein, leave us a comment or share it on your social networks!

(Source of featured image: Serezniy: 112182777/ 123rf.com)

References (11)

1. Aluko R. Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Proteins: Composition, Structure, Enzymatic Modification, and Functional or Bioactive Properties [Internet]. Sustainable Protein Sources. 2017.
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2. Wang Q, Xiong Y. Processing, Nutrition, and Functionality of Hempseed Protein: A Review [Internet]. 2019.
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3. Mattila P et al. Contents of phytochemicals and antinutritional factors in commercial protein-rich plant products [Internet]. 2018.
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4. Callaway J. Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview [Internet]. 2004.
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5. Girgih A et al. Preventive and treatment effects of a hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) meal protein hydrolysate against high blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats [Internet]. European Journal of Nutrition. 2013.
Source

6. Kapoor R, Huang Y. Gamma Linolenic Acid: An Antiinflammatory Omega-6 Fatty Acid [Internet]. 2006.
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7. Clarkson P. Minerals: Exercise performance and supplementation in athletes [Internet]. 2007.
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8. Waldmann A, Koschizke J, Leitzmann C, Hahn A. Dietary Iron Intake and Iron Status of German Female Vegans: Results of the German Vegan Study [Internet]. 2004.
Source

9. Marlett J, McBurney M, Slavin J. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber [Internet]. 2002.
Source

10. Hughes G, Ryan D, Mukherjea R, Schasteen C. Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Scores (PDCAAS) for Soy Protein Isolates and Concentrate: Criteria for Evaluation [Internet]. 2011.
Source

11. Sánchez M. The Safety and the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Status of the Proposed Use of Hemp Protein Powder in Human Food [Internet]. 2018.
Source

Artículo científico
Aluko R. Hemp Seed (Cannabis sativa L.) Proteins: Composition, Structure, Enzymatic Modification, and Functional or Bioactive Properties [Internet]. Sustainable Protein Sources. 2017.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Wang Q, Xiong Y. Processing, Nutrition, and Functionality of Hempseed Protein: A Review [Internet]. 2019.
Go to source
Artículo académico
Mattila P et al. Contents of phytochemicals and antinutritional factors in commercial protein-rich plant products [Internet]. 2018.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Callaway J. Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview [Internet]. 2004.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Girgih A et al. Preventive and treatment effects of a hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) meal protein hydrolysate against high blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats [Internet]. European Journal of Nutrition. 2013.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Kapoor R, Huang Y. Gamma Linolenic Acid: An Antiinflammatory Omega-6 Fatty Acid [Internet]. 2006.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Clarkson P. Minerals: Exercise performance and supplementation in athletes [Internet]. 2007.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Waldmann A, Koschizke J, Leitzmann C, Hahn A. Dietary Iron Intake and Iron Status of German Female Vegans: Results of the German Vegan Study [Internet]. 2004.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Marlett J, McBurney M, Slavin J. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber [Internet]. 2002.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Hughes G, Ryan D, Mukherjea R, Schasteen C. Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Scores (PDCAAS) for Soy Protein Isolates and Concentrate: Criteria for Evaluation [Internet]. 2011.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Sánchez M. The Safety and the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Status of the Proposed Use of Hemp Protein Powder in Human Food [Internet]. 2018.
Go to source
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