If you want to build muscle, or even simply maintain your existing muscle mass for that matter, it’s vital that you ensure that you consume enough protein on a daily basis. Protein is essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, which is why bodybuilders consume such vast quantities of this potent macronutrient. Some of the most common examples of protein sources are animal-based products like eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. Getting enough protein in your diet is hard enough if you’re a vegetarian, but if you’re a vegan it’s even more challenging. Luckily there are plenty of quality plant-based protein sources out there, with hemp protein proving particularly beneficial and popular as of late. But what precisely is hemp protein powder, why is it such a popular protein in the vegan fitness community, and why should you be using it yourself? All of these questions will soon be answered, as we take a definitive look at hemp protein powder.
First off, we’ll begin as we mean to go on by looking at what hemp protein powder is. Normally when people think of protein powder, they think of whey protein, and why wouldn’t they? After all, whey protein is indeed the world’s most popular sports supplement. As whey is derived from cow’s milk however, it is not suitable for vegan lifestyles, so what can you do if you want to ensure you’re getting enough protein? Well, you could consider a hemp protein powder supplement instead. Hemp protein powder is derived from hemp seeds. It therefore comes from hemp plants and is a member of the cannabis sativa family. And no, before you begin worrying, hemp protein is completely free of mind-altering THC, so it is not the same as marijuana. Hemp protein, and hemp seeds for that matter, will NOT get you high. Hemp protein is made by taking hemp seeds, extracting the oils, and then grinding the seeds into a fine powder. It can then be combined with flavourings, or sold flavourless and can be used as a high protein supplement that’s ideal for people adhering to plant-based diets and vegan lifestyles.
There are a number of key benefits associated with hemp protein powder, these include, but are not limited to the following:
Complete protein source – One of the greatest benefits of using hemp protein is the fact that it is classed as a complete protein source. What does that mean in basic terms? Well, it means that it provides all 9 essential amino acids required by the human body. Essential amino acids are required by us, but our bodies cannot naturally produce them. Non-essential amino acids are amino acids that our bodies can naturally produce. In total, hemp protein contains 20 amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids needed by the human body. As amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules, and as protein is used to build muscle, amino acids are basically the building blocks for muscle tissue.
Rich in healthy fats – Although the majority of hemp oil is extracted from the seeds before they are processed into protein powder, some of the healthy fats still remain. Hemp protein therefore, is a great source of beneficial, non-saturated fats. Hemp protein contains roughly 10% of the initial healthy oil content after it has been processed. These fats are primarily omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which promote cognitive health and well-being, as well as cardiovascular health. This therefore makes hemp protein great for the brain, and for the heart.
Very nutritious – Some protein supplements are enriched with additional vitamins and minerals during the processing process. Hemp protein however, is naturally nutritious which means that the nutrients in this protein exist before and after the processing. In particular, hemp seeds are packed full of iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus. These minerals help to promote immunity, they help improve red blood cell counts, they boost the metabolism, they help to lift your mood, they can help warm off fatigue, and they can help keep your major organs healthy in the process. As if that wasn’t enough, hemp protein is also rich in antioxidants known as lignanamides, which help to protect your cells against oxidative stress and damage.
Convenient – One of the main unique selling points of protein supplements is the fact that they’re convenient. We know that supplements should not be used in place of a whole food source, but for emergencies when you don’t have access to whole foods, or for times between meals, they’re extremely useful. What’s more, if you do need some quality protein and you are in a rush, drinking a protein shake is much easier than cooking and eating a whole food meal. For vegans or people dealing with food allergies and intolerances, it is also very useful. For starters, as it is plant-based it’s a great source of protein that will help ensure you reach your daily macro requirements for protein. On top of that, as it is hypoallergenic, it’s fantastic for people that suffer with common allergies and intolerances such as lactose intolerance.
Rich in fiber – When people talk about the benefits of hemp protein, they often forget how packed full of fiber this protein is. Soluble fiber is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system as it improves nutrient absorption, it regulates blood glucose levels, it maintains optimal levels of healthy bacteria in the gut, and it even helps to fight and prevent inflammation. Insoluble fiber is also very important as this helps to add bulk to your stools, which again keeps your digestive tract ticking over as it should, and it helps to keep you regular.