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      Hemp Protein vs Whey: Which is Better? (Dietitian’s Opinion)

      Buying protein powder used to be pretty straightforward, with only a few options occupying the shelves. But now, there are countless options to choose from. So who’s the winner? Let’s compare hemp protein vs whey protein to see who reigns supreme.

      hemp protein vs whey

      How much protein do you need daily?

      Protein needs vary greatly depending on the individual. The average adult should aim for 10-35% of their daily calories to come from protein, with a minimum of 46-56 grams per day. But, the need for protein will increase if you are more active, an older adult, pregnant or breastfeeding, sick or recovering from injury or trying to lose weight.

      Athletes and older adults require about 1.2-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. This would be about 82-136 grams of protein daily for an 150 pound adult. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need at least 71 grams of protein daily and those with mild to moderate illness require 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily.

      For those trying to lose weight, high protein diets aren’t required, but can help maintain muscle mass and avoid decreased metabolism as the weight comes off. While the definition of “high protein” varies depending on the study, it seems that 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight seems to be a good range. 

      Are protein powders and supplements necessary?

      To put it plainly, no. Protein powders and supplements are not necessary to meet your protein goals. If you consume a diet that includes foods like poultry, red meat, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, beans and dairy, you can likely meet your protein requirements.

      But, for those with increased protein needs (as discussed in the previous section), supplementing with protein can be helpful when it comes to meeting your goals. Adding a protein shake or bar to your daily diet can make meeting your protein requirement easier.

      Along with this, if you are vegetarian, vegan or must avoid certain protein rich foods due to religious or medical needs, protein supplements can be helpful. Just ensure that the supplement you are consuming fits your dietary restrictions.

      hemp protein vs whey

      Is there a difference between plant based and animal protein?

      Animal protein and plant protein are unfortunately not made equal. While one gram of protein is one gram of protein, some proteins do not absorb as well as others. This means that 20 grams of protein from steak may be a “better” source of protein compared to 20 grams of protein from lentils.

      Protein quality is measured through a metric called Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). The higher the PDCAAS score, the better quality protein. On this scale, red meat scores a 92 while black beans score a 75. 

      So, does this mean you should avoid plant protein and only consume animal protein? Well, no. While animal proteins may be better absorbed, foods high in plant protein tend to provide many health benefits due to increased fiber and micronutrients. They also tend to contain healthy unsaturated fats while animal protein is higher in less healthy saturated fats.

      Along with this, there are some plant proteins that rank high on the PDCAAS score, including soy protein isolate (100), pea protein concentrate (89).

      What’s the difference: Hemp Protein vs Whey Protein

      The main differences between whey and hemp protein include the amount of protein per serving, flavor and texture, price and supporting evidence for health benefits.

      Amount of protein

      Protein amount differs depending on the brand, but typically one scoop of whey protein powder contains about 18-30 grams of protein while hemp protein powder contains about 12 grams of protein per scoop.

      To check how much protein is a scoop of protein powder, fill the bottle over and read the nutrition label. You can see how many grams of protein are in each serving this way. Always be sure to check this before purchasing a protein powder.

      Flavor and texture

      Whey protein powder is typically smoother and creamier than hemp protein powder. Considering that whey protein comes from milk, this makes sense. It has a light flavor, similar to milk and can easily blend into smoothies or baked goods undetected.

      Hemp protein powder is more gritty and earthy compared to whey. It’s derived from hemp seeds, so it’s more nutty and fibrous compared to whey protein. Because of this, the flavor is more distinct compared to whey.

      Nutritional value

      A quarter cup of hemp protein powder contains about 100 calories, 12 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. It’s an excellent source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

      The same amount of whey protein powder contains about 115 calories, 24 grams of protein and 0 grams of fiber. It’s a good source of calcium and phosphorus.

      Price difference

      Price will vary greatly depending on the brand, size and flavor of a protein powder. This being said, whey protein typically ranges from about $0.59 to $2.42 an ounce while hemp protein ranges from $0.44 to $2.12 per ounce.

      This being said, hemp seems to be a bit cheaper compared to whey, but it really does depend on the brand. If you choose whey over hemp, you can always choose the cheaper alternatives!

      Supporting evidence

      Whey protein is very well studied and has strong evidence to support its use. When searching “whey protein” in PubMed, 20,941 results pop up. When you search “hemp protein” only 2,778 results pop up. Plus, many of these results are studying Cannabis, not the hemp seeds. 

      This being said, hemp is still a good quality and safe source of protein and shouldn’t be avoided just because whey has been more thoroughly studied. 

      hemp protein vs whey

      Frequently asked questions

      Is hemp protein well absorbed?

      Hemp seed meal has a PDCAAS score of 46-51 while whey has a score of 100. This being said, it is not as well absorbed as whey protein. 

      Does hemp protein have any side effects?

      Although hemp seeds come from the same plant as marijuana, you won’t get any of the intoxicating effects of THC from consuming hemp protein powder. 

      Does hemp protein spike insulin or blood sugar?

      While there isn’t too much research on the effect of hemp protein on insulin and blood sugar, the current research suggests that hemp protein can help lower post meal blood sugar compared to a carbohydrate control. 

      Is hemp protein anti-inflammatory?

      The research is currently mixed when it comes to inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods. What really matters is your overall diet and lifestyle. A nutrient rich diet low in saturated fat and added sugar can help lower inflammation and hemp protein can absolutely be included in this.

      hemp protein vs whey

      The winner: Hemp Protein vs Whey Protein

      When it comes to protein quality and strength of evidence, whey protein is the clear winner. But, hemp protein provides some additional benefits including high fiber and micronutrient content and cheaper price. There really is no right or wrong protein powder. Consider your personal needs and goals when choosing which protein powder is “better” or “worse”. 

      The best whey and hemp protein powders

      Most Popular Whey: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder
      Most Popular Hemp: Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder
      Best Budget Whey: MuscleTech Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder
      Best Budget Hemp: Just Hemp Foods Hemp Protein Powder
      Best Grass-Fed Whey: Garden of Life Sport Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder
      Best Organic Hemp: Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Yeah! Hemp Protein Powder
      Best Bulk Whey: BulkSupplements Whey Protein Concentrate
      Links in the above table are Amazon Affiliate links. I do make a small commission if you purchase any of these items through these links.

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      ABOUT ME

      tia glover rd

      My name is Tia and I am a registered dietitian and content creator.

      My goal is to help young people learn how to eat a nutritious, balanced diet without restriction or giving up cultural foods. 💛

      Hapa/Japanese American 🇺🇸🇯🇵

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