What is Hemp Protein Powder?

Hemp protein powder sits on a countertop

Hemp protein powder is currently one of the most popular varieties of nutritional supplements used by bodybuilders, athletes, and those trying to gain weight or increase muscle mass. This product comes from the cannabis plant seeds, and it is an excellent source of plant-based protein. 

Moreover, hemp protein powder doesn’t contain the psychoactive compound THC, which you can find in marijuana. For this reason, it is a totally safe option if you are looking for plant-based protein. In this article, we will walk you through all the basics of hemp protein powder.

What is Hemp Protein Powder Made Out Of?

Hemp protein powder is a high-quality vegan protein made by grinding pressed hemp seeds into fine powder. Similar to quinoa, hemp seeds are a complete source of nutrients, containing all 9 essential amino acids that you can get from food. This is very rare for a plant-based protein, since most lack the amino acid lysine. 

Protein is crucial for developing, growing, and maintaining muscles, tissues, and vital organs. It also helps boost metabolism and increases fat burning. A 2004 study found the amino acid profile of hemp protein similar to egg whites and soy, two other high-quality protein sources. For this reason, users like to add hemp protein powder to shakes or smoothies to boost their protein intake.

What is Hemp Protein Powder Good For?

With a nutty, earthy taste, hemp protein powder has a plethora of benefits that will boost your immune system and help you stay healthy when taken frequently.

  • A complete lean protein: If you are trying to lower your meat intake, hemp protein powder is a lean source of plant-based protein, making it a great supplement to a plant-based diet. About 25% of each hemp seed is protein, and the seeds are quite low in fat. For instance, three tablespoons of hemp protein powder contain around 90 calories and 3 grams of fat while packing in 15 grams of protein. Eating lean proteins boosts metabolism, benefits digestion, and promotes lean body mass. 
  • Unsaturated fat source: A 30 gram portion of hemp protein powder has around 3 grams of total fat, most of which is unsaturated and excellent for heart health. This is because hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds that have been pressed to remove their oils. Despite this process, hemp protein powder still contains roughly 10% of the original fat content. 

It has been proven that consuming foods that have lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratios can help improve heart health by correcting the imbalance present in many regular western diets, which tends to have an unbalanced 15:1 ratio of these fats. This is directly related to many chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Since hemp protein powder is a little less refined than other protein isolate powders, it contains more fat than the majority of them. As a result, the fat content present in hemp protein powder can be good for people who want to add some more unsaturated fats to their diets, but it may not be the right choice for those who are looking for a low calorie protein powder. 

  • Rich in amino acids: Hemp is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. Hemp protein powder is a high-quality plant-based protein that contains 20 of the amino acids needed to build the blocks of protein. This makes it a great substitute for animal products, especially since your body cannot produce many of these amino acids by itself. In consequence, hemp protein will create a synergetic effect within the human body that helps repair muscle cells, regulating the nervous system and brain functions.
  • A great source of minerals and antioxidants: Antioxidants are known for protecting your body from oxidative damage, which is highly associated with chronic illnesses such diabetes and heart disease. Hemp can be a great tool against this. Studies showed that hemp seeds contain a compound called lignanamides, which has strong antioxidant properties. In addition to this, hemp seeds are also a great source of different types of minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper. However, there is no verified research on how processing hemp seeds into protein powder affects the levels of these nutrients in the resulting product. Still, nutrition fact labels on many brands of hemp protein powder products are marked to contain up to 80% of the RDI for magnesium and 52% for iron per portion.
  • Rich in dietary fiber: Hemp protein powders can contain different amounts of fiber depending on whether they were made from hulled or unhulled hemp seeds, and whether additional fiber was added to the mix. High fiber diets have been associated with a better blood sugar level, a healthier gut bacteria and a lower risk of bowel cancer. This would make hemp protein powder a better option to add both protein and fiber to your diet than other plant-based protein powders such as soy, peas, and rice, which are highly refined and contain very little fiber. 
  • Good for your heart: Scientists believe that a diet high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 can increase inflammation in the body. This is a really important thing to know due to a majority of diseases, including heart disease, being associated with chronic inflammation. As we mentioned before, hemp seeds contain the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3. 

Omega-6s are considered pro-inflammatory while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. Consuming foods with lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratios, such as hemp protein powder, can help correct the imbalance while reducing inflammation in the body, thus improving the heart’s wellbeing. This is because hemp seeds contain high amounts of arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide, a compound that signals the arteries to relax, promoting that way a normal blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.

  • Build and repair muscles: Added to the fact of hemp being a very complete protein, hemp protein powder also contains branched chain amino acids or BCAAs. Research has shown BCAAs can stimulate muscle protein synthesis or muscle growth, and speed up post-workout recovery by reducing muscle soreness. Hemp protein contains 6.8% leucine, 4.5% isoleucine and 5.6% valine, which are three of the nine essential amino acids that make up the BCAAs. 
  • Diminishes sugar cravings: In contrast to cannabis that contains elevated THC rates, causing a false sense of hunger popularly called the “munchies”, hemp protein powder has the opposite effect. This protein is rich in dietary fiber compared to soy or rice protein, which are highly refined and contain little fiber. This means it can help you regulate your blood glucose levels and also help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. 
  • Improves digestion: Hemp seeds contain 80% soluble fiber and 20% insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers slow down digestion by attracting water to create a gel-like substance in your gut. Soluble fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut and binds to substances like cholesterol and sugar, preventing or slowing their absorption into the blood system. This can help you regulate cholesterol levels and prevent blood sugar peaks. Insoluble fiber, as the name indicates, doesn’t dissolve in water. It essentially adds bulk to your stool and helps keep you regular by preventing constipation. Since hemp protein powder is very rich in fiber content, it naturally cleanses the colon by reducing constipation and removing toxins from the body. 

How Much Hemp Protein Powder Should I Take?

A normal adult needs at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound or 0.8 grams per kg of bodyweight every day. While whole foods should make up the bulk of the protein in your diet, supplementing with protein powder can be a good additional protein source. 

A serving of 5 to 7 tablespoons of hemp protein powder is really effective for muscle building. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that people who regularly exercise should eat 0.64–0.9 grams per pound or 1.4 to 2.0 grams per kg of bodyweight per day. Furthermore, people who do resistance training while cutting calories, such as bodybuilders and fitness competitors, may need up to 1.4 grams per pound or an equivalent 3.1 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.

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