Nutrition is arguably the most important part of any training regimen and/or healthy lifestyle. Protein is one of the most important nutrients regarding muscle growth, so it is a heavy point of focus with most people working on their overall fitness.
The amount of protein obtained from eating meals is normally not enough, so protein powders are used to compensate for this. Regardless if the intention is bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit, or some other focus, there is no denying that protein supplementation plays a big role in most gym environments.
One of the most underrated types of protein supplement is hemp protein. This is made from the hearts (shelled seeds) of the hemp plant. The seeds are ground into a nutritious powder that is then used to make smoothies and shakes. The goal, as is the case with most protein powders, is to maintain the necessary protein levels to a nutrition plan. By enhancing the natural protein intake, it is possible to gain weight, reduce fat, and/or contribute to muscle growth.
Within this article is a brief description of the composition of hemp protein, its benefits, its side effects, and its recommended dosage.
Composition of Hemp Protein Powders
Unlike many other protein varieties, hemp can be consumed and added to pretty much any diet, worldwide (although always consult with your doctor or a certified nutritionist) Hemp protein, due to its origin, is lactose-free and has been deemed as a safe nutritional choice for those who are sensitive or have allergies to eggs, dairy, and legumes such as soybeans and peanuts. It is also gluten-free and suitable for those who are vegan or vegetarian.
Hemp protein is known as being a complete protein source. Proteins are comprised of amino acids that perform various roles in the body, such as muscle growth and recovery support. Some protein sources lack some amino acids, but not hemp protein! Hemp protein has a PDCAAS score of 0.61 (the limiting amino acid being lysine, with a digestibility of 94.9%) The total proportion of essential amino acids in hemp protein isolate is also significantly higher than that of soy protein isolate!
Though 20 amino acids contribute to the bodily functions, only nine are classified as being essential. These are valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, lysine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, and methionine. These amino acids are the only ones of the 20 that are not produced by the body and must be obtained from external sources.
Hemp protein is one of the few varieties that is composed of all nine. Note, however, that research has not yet conclusively identified the proportions of each amino acid available, so it is not recommended to rely on hemp as your sole source of protein.
Benefits of Incorporating Hemp Protein into Your Diet
Hemp protein is generally seen as a beneficial addition to most peoples diets, if even in small quantities.
First, there is the ease of digestion that is synonymous with hemp protein. No matter what the protein source and type is, the body is typically unable to fully digest and absorb the entirety of protein content. On average, the body can digest and incorporate higher percentages of animal proteins, but hemp breaks that mold as the body can digest as much as 98% of the protein provided by hemp seeds in their ground state. Furthermore, hemp protein contains 20% – 40% albumin and 60% – 80% edestin. These are two of the most highly digestible proteins in existence. These percentages translate to an increased digestive potential of hemp when compared to other plant and even animal proteins.
Second, hemp protein contains unsaturated fats. While the inclusion of fats in the diet can seem counterintuitive to most fitness goals, the source of said fats is an important variable to consider. If the fats in question are healthy (such as the unsaturated ones), then keeping carbohydrates low means that the body turns to using fat for energy, so it is burned in the process. The grinding process of hemp seeds removes about 90% of the natural oil content, and the fat that remains is mostly of the unsaturated variation. In addition to promoting fat burn, hemp’s omega-3 content has been linked to improved heart health.
Third, hemp is an excellent source of fiber. In fact, adding hemp protein to your diet can offset the lack of adequate fiber in the diet of average adults. Having the correct proportion of fiber in your diet allows for the following:
- Decreased levels of cholesterol
- Healthy blood sugar levels
- Achievement and maintenance of a healthy weight
- Promotes proper bowel movement and optimal stool quality
- Reduces the risk of conditions such as colon cancer
Though the amount of fiber in hemp can vary, hemp is generally considered a high fiber food.
Fourth, there is the mineral and antioxidant content of hemp seeds. In addition to proteins, fiber, and fat, hemp is also comprised of compounds such as zinc, iron, and calcium. Note that the actual proportions of these post grinding are yet to be concluded. Also, hemp possesses the ability to help shield your body from oxidative damage as it is known to contain lignanamides.
Finally, Hemp protein has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress in hypertensive rats,, along with anti-fatigue effects in mice.
How much hemp protein should you take?
Now that the advantages of using hemp have been covered, there is the question of how much hemp protein powder is an acceptable amount to incorporate into your diet.
The first point to note is that there is no universal dosage that can be applied to all adults. Applicable and recommended dosages are dependent on the weight and age of each individual and the frequency and the type of activity in which the person engages.
First, there are the sedentary individuals or those who do not see much activity and are under 50 years old. The recommended amount of total daily protein here is 0.36 grams per pound of bodyweight.
The second group of persons is those who are over 50 years old but are not getting more than the average amount of physical activity. The recommendation here is 0.5 grams of daily protein per pound of bodyweight.
The third group of persons consists of those who are under 50 years old and engage in a frequent amount of exercise. This does not include those who are attempting to reduce calories while engaging in frequent resistance training. The recommended daily protein intake is just 0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
The fourth group of persons is those who are under 50 years old and do engage in resistance training while trying to cut calories. The nutritional needs of these persons usually include a high volume of protein, so the recommendation is 1.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
The final group consists of those who are over 50 years old and do engage in regular exercise as is recommended at that age. The recommended daily protein intake is 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Note that the dosages above all account for the total accumulated from all protein sources and so the amount of hemp protein powder to be taken daily should total the recommendations above when combined with other protein sources. Therefore, if you fall into the second group, for example, and you weigh 150 lbs., your recommended protein intake for the day is 135 grams. If you gain 110 grams from regular meals, then you should be having 25 grams of hemp protein to complete the total of 135 grams.
Next are the potential side effects of incorporating hemp protein powder into your diet.
First, you may have an allergy to hemp or one of the components. If you are already aware of this or you notice allergic reactions whenever you consume hemp protein powder, you should not engage in the consumption of hemp protein.
Second, there is the possibility of hampering platelet formation due to the high essential fatty acid composition of hemp. This is not dangerous alone, but when combined with things such as anticoagulants, the combination can change platelet formation patterns for the worse. Check with your doctor about any medication interactions.
Third, the high fibrous content of hemp protein can result in some gastrointestinal discomfort and reveal itself in the form of diarrhea, gas, or loose stool. These effects are known to lessen over time in most cases.
Hemp is one of the most beneficial and nutritious protein types available and can be used by those with a variety of dietary restrictions; however, care should be taken in its use as rarely adverse reactions can occur. Hemp protein is an excellent nutritional choice for supplementation of your diet.
Hemp Protein Research and Citations: