Hemp protein vs whey. Why the controversy? Whey protein powder has long been a favorite among athletes and exercise enthusiasts. In fact, this market was worth more than $10 billion in 2018.
Recently, a new trend has emerged in the fitness community as more customers seek dairy-free alternatives to whey, such as hemp protein powder.
But what is the difference between hemp protein & whey, and which offers the most nutrition?
Hemp protein powder is higher in fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids compared to whey.
Whey protein at a glance
This type of protein is prized for its high nutritional value and easy digestibility. It also comes in various forms, such as whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and hydrolyzed whey. Each has a different absorption rate and varying amounts of lactose.
According to USAID, whey concentrate is 40 to 80 percent protein by weight, while isolate is more than 90 percent protein; hydrolyzed whey is the lowest in allergens and the easiest to digest.
Whey provides all nine essential amino acids, including the three branched-chain amino acids leucine, valine, and isoleucine. Its nutritional value, however, varies from one brand to another. In general, one scoop of whey protein powder contains:
- 100 calories
- 20 grams of carbohydrates
- 20 grams of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 9 percent of the recommended daily calcium allowance
Some brands, such as Gold Standard 100% Whey, are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
This product, for example, provides 24 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fat, and 120 calories per serving.
What are the benefits?
Without a doubt, whey protein is one of the most widely researched supplements on the market. According to a 2015 review article published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, this food product can suppress appetite, promote lean muscle growth, protect against oxidative stress and improve glycemic control.
Athletes and dieters often use it as a meal replacement or weight loss aid and natural performance enhancement…
A 2014 clinical trial presented in Nutrition Research indicates that whey protein is more effective at regulating appetite and improving body composition, known as the muscle-to-fat ratio, compared to soy protein.
Another study published in the journal Food & Function in 2017 found that whey stimulates healthy gut bacteria growth and may provide relief from digestive disorders. Besides, it has been shown to be effective against obesity.
Is hemp protein powder healthy?
Vegans and people who are allergic to milk or suffer from lactose intolerance can opt for plant-based protein formulas. Hemp protein powder, for example, is made from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant.
You may want to read: How to make CBD essential oil
According to a 2018 article published in Today’s Dietitian, these tiny seeds are rich in fiber, phytosterols, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fatty acids; Protein accounts for 20 to 25 percent of their content…
Research shows that hemp seeds promote cardiovascular health due to their ability to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. The same research notes that its amino acid profile is similar to that of egg whites and soybeans.
Hemp appears to be an excellent source of cysteine, methionine, arginine, and other amino acids that support physical performance and overall well-being.
Depending on the brand, one scoop provides the following nutrients in varying amounts:
- 113 calories
- 12.6 grams of protein
- 7 grams of carbohydrates
- 4.8 grams of fiber
- 3.4 grams of fat
- 15 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium
- 23 percent of the RDA for iron
Like whey, hemp contains all nine essential amino acids. As far as the digestion of hemp protein is concerned, this supplement is slowly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and nourishes the body for several hours.
Therefore, you can consume it between meals or before bedtime to provide your muscles with a steady supply of protein. It is important to note, however, that hemp has a lower biological value compared to whey.
Potential health benefits of hemp
From creams and facial soaps to veggie burgers, hemp is used in a wide range of products. Some sources say it has more than 20,000 industrial applications.
However, research on this plant has only been legal since 2014, so its health benefits are still under study. Most of the clinical trials involved hemp seeds, not hemp protein.
According to a 2015 research article published in the Journal of Food Processing, the functional properties of hemp protein isolate are poorer than those of soy protein isolate.
Hemp, however, contains bioactive peptides and other natural compounds that scavenge free radicals. Besides, this plant is rich in fiber and omega-3. Diets rich in fiber promote digestive health, lower cholesterol levels and help keep blood sugar within normal limits.
Other studies note that hemp protein isolate is unlikely to cause allergic reactions because all known hemp allergens are removed during processing.
The essential fatty acids in hemp protein may help prevent and alleviate inflammation, improve cardiovascular function and protect against cognitive decline and age-related brain disorders.
Hemp protein vs whey protein
It’s hard to pick a winner in the hemp protein vs whey debate. Hemp is lower in protein than whey but contains more fiber, calcium, iron, and healthy fats. Plus, it’s packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that you can’t get from milk and dairy.
Whey protein powder, on the other hand, has proven health benefits.
Thousands of studies confirm its ability to reduce body fat, improve blood lipids and stimulate muscle growth. Some formulas are lactose-free, so lactose-intolerant people can safely consume them.
At the end of the day, the choice is up to you. If you don’t eat animal foods or have trouble digesting milk, consider using hemp protein powder.
It’s a simple and effective way to increase your daily protein intake, get more fiber in your diet and fill up on omega-3s.
Whey is lower in antioxidants and contains no fiber, but it has a faster absorption rate and delivers more protein per serving.
9 Additional sources of vegetable protein
1. Nuts & seeds
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, almonds… all these foods are rich in proteins and minerals.
Some have a creamier taste, such as sesame seeds and cashews, and others have a more earthy taste, such as pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts.
- in your salads
- as a topping for your vegetable creams
- to prepare vegan cheeses
- to prepare seed butter such as tahini (sesame paste)
Nutritional value: 40 grams of seeds and/or nuts provide between 8-9 grams of protein.
2. Lentils & other legumes
Legumes are a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. Lentils are considered a source of starches while being very rich in vegetable amino acids.
Other legumes have similar characteristics.
You can make:
- stews with vegetables and spices such as turmeric or cumin
- lentil salads with seasonal vegetables
- vegan lentil burgers with vegetables
- lentil hummus
Nutritional value: 1 cup of cooked lentils has about 18 g of protein.
Quinoa is a gluten-free pseudo-cereal (technically a seed). It provides complex carbohydrates as well as protein and fiber.
You can make:
- quinoa salads with seasonal vegetables
- quinoa with wok vegetables
- use it as a cereal with your preferred milk
Nutritional value: 90 grams of boiled quinoa provides us with 8 g of protein.
This blue-green microalgae is one of the few vegan sources of mostly (and dry) protein (60-70%).
Mix it with:
- juices and green smoothies
- in energy ball
- in desserts and raw vegan muses
Nutritional value: 2 tablespoons of spirulina have 8 grams of protein.
5. Hemp seeds
Again, these seeds not only provide all the essential amino acids for a complete protein, but they are also very rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
They have a subtle sweet and creamy flavor and are as small as sesame seeds.
You can incorporate them in:
- vegetable creams and soups as a topping
- in your juices or green smoothies
- to prepare vegetable milk
Nutritional value: 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 g of protein.
6. Chia seeds
Chia seeds have been used for centuries by the indigenous tribes of South America. They have the ability to absorb water and increase up to 9 times their size.
This attribute makes it very useful for thickening dishes while providing a large amount of fiber, complete protein, and healthy fats.
You can use them for:
- chia puddings
- as topping in porridge oats
- decorate and enrich your juices and green smoothies
Nutritional value: 2 tablespoons provide 4 grams of protein.
7. Nutritional yeast (nooch)
It is a prevalent food in the vegan diet because of its cheese-like taste. It has large amounts of B vitamins and protein and does not contain active yeast.
Nooch can be found in powder or flakes, and when mixed with liquids, it creates a paste that can be used to prepare creamy sauces without dairy products.
- prepare dressings and sauces by mixing them with water or vegetable milk
- sprinkle on salads, creams, and vegetable soups
- as a substitute for grated cheese in pasta dishes
Nutritional value: 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast provide us with 12 grams of protein.
8. Organic tempeh
It is a fermented food derived from soybeans that provide high-quality complete protein, fiber, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Of all the soybean derivatives, this one is the healthiest since it provides probiotics derived from soybean fermentation.
- as if it were legumes
- as a topping in your salads
- to sauté with wok vegetables
Nutritional value: 100 grams of tempeh provide us with 19 g of protein.
9. Green leafy vegetables and mushrooms
Green leafy vegetables provide more nutrients than any other food in your diet.
They contain high-quality amino acids that are easy to assimilate (enough to build the muscles of your herbivorous cousin, the gorilla, the strongest animal on the planet).
- prepare salads
- drink your juices and green smoothies
- prepare delicious vegetable cream soups
Nutritional value: 100 grams of green leafy vegetables provide 2-5 grams of protein.
Hemp protein vs whey: Conclusion
Whey provides a complete protein dose at the amino acid level, while plant protein tends to be deficient in some amino acids. No plant can give the same nutritional value as meat, so that you will need variety.
Now, the decision is yours, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of hemp protein vs whey. Both are perfect for recovering and gaining muscle, so try them both and see which one your body reacts better to.