Hemp Protein vs Whey – Which Is Better?

Green drink and fruit representing hemp protein vs whey.

Have you been trying to find a great protein?

Or are you trying to figure out which one might be best for you and feel left confused by all the options out there?

You’ve heard that whey protein is good, but also that there is something called hemp protein.

But which is better, hemp protein vs whey?

We get it, we’ve been there. Luckily, there‘s no need to look any further.

In this article, we will guide you through the pros and cons, so you can find the protein that’s best for you.

Let’s get reading!

What Is Protein?

Proteins are one of the most common substances in all living organisms.

They’re the building blocks of our cells and are important for communication, transportation, and fluid balance.

Structurally, proteins are large particles that are made up of smaller pieces called amino acids that are linked together in a chain.

Even though there are hundreds of amino acids in nature, only about 20 of them are needed to make proteins in humans.

Of those amino acids, nine are considered essential. Just like in the case of essential fatty acids, they have to be supplied by our food. 

Consequently, the non-essential amino acids can be made in the body as long as we have enough of a parts supply.

What Are Complete or High-Quality Proteins?

When proteins are made up of all nine essential amino acids, they’re considered complete high-quality proteins.

Examples of complete proteins include animal based protein sources like eggs and meat and plant-based sources like soy and hemp.

Furthermore, protein quality is sometimes based on the content of three of the essential amino acids, called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Most noteworthy, they can affect lean muscle mass and are important for muscle protein synthesis. It’s unclear, however, if they are safe and effective for cancer patients.

What Are Limiting Amino Acids?

When we eat proteins, they are broken down into amino acids and then rebuilt into the type of proteins that are needed by the body.

This is very important for normal functioning and things like muscle growth, repair, and maintenance.

But if one or more of the amino acids are missing or not sufficiently supplied by food, it’s called a limiting amino acid.

Worse yet, if those limiting amino acids are essential, and can’t be made in the body, you can develop a shortage.

So, if your diet is very restrictive and consistently low in one or more amino acids, you can develop a range of complications such as fatigue, weakness, and problems with your immune system.

Then, to make up the difference, the muscle in your body might have to be broken down.

This is not ideal because maintaining muscle mass is very important for health.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

Surprisingly, perhaps to some, your daily protein intake need is generally not that high!

You can easily calculate this by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiplying that number by 0.8.

For example: 140 pounds/2.2 = 63.3 kilograms, and 63.6 x 0.8 = 51 grams of protein per day.

In addition, research suggests that the body can use protein most efficiently when we eat it 3-4 times per day.

Can I Overdo Protein, Is There Such a Thing as Too Much?

Yes, you can overdo protein in some cases.

In the short term, overdoing protein could result in dehydration, constipation, and stress for the kidneys if you have kidney disease.

While in the long run, depending on the source of protein and how it was cooked, eating too much protein could result in an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

What Is Hemp Protein?

The hemp plant is an aromatic, multi-purpose plant that originated in China as early as 2000 BC.

Interestingly, it’s now commonly grown in Canada, France, and the US to make paper, clothes, fabric, animal feed, plastics, and food products including protein powder.

How Is It Made?

Hemp protein powders are minimally processed high-quality nutritious products made from the seeds of the hemp plant.

To bring out the protein, seeds are crushed to remove the hulls or outer layers, and cold-pressed to extract the seed oil. Then, they’re ground to a powder.  

Above all, this minimal processing maintains its nutty, earthy flavor, greenish color, and high nutrient value.

What Are Pros and Cons of Hemp Protein?

PROS

  • Minimally Processed The process doesn’t use chemicals or heat, which maintains more of its nutritional value. 
  • Complete Protein It contains the nine essential amino acids, but there is some disagreement regarding the exact amounts of each amino acid.
  • High Nutritional Value High in minerals, good fats (essential omega-3 fatty acids), and fiber.

CONS

What Is the Difference Between Hemp Protein and Regular Plant-Based Protein?

The difference is in the source.

That is, hemp protein products come from grinding hemp seeds, whereas other plant based proteins may come from brown rice, chia, coconut, peas, pumpkin, rice, soy, or sprouted grain blends.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is the cloudy liquid seen on top of yogurt and cottage cheese.

How Is It Made?

Whey protein powders are made by separating milk into solid curds and liquids using enzymes or lactic acid bacteria during the making of cheese and yogurt.

The solid part is high in fat and becomes cheese, while the liquid part is whey and becomes protein powder or liquid protein.

Then, whey is pasteurized, dried, filtrated, and purified with and without heat. This produces three main forms of whey protein; concentrate, hydrolysate, and isolate:

  • Concentrate: The amount of protein/serving varies, it has some lactose (milk sugar) and fat, and more nutrients than the other two forms. The cheapest, least processed, and most basic form of whey.
  • Hydrolysate: Partially digested making it quicker to absorb. More processed and more expensive.
  • Isolate: Highest amount of protein per serving and the least amount of lactose, fat, and nutrients. Most processed and expensive.

What Are Pros and Cons of Whey Protein Powder?

PROS

  • Complete Protein. Contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • Generally Easily Digested. For a protein whey protein is generally well-tolerated. Choose whey protein isolate if you have trouble tolerating milk (lactose intolerant).
  • Well Researched. Most data on safety and use.

CONS

  • Extra Ingredients. Can contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, and extra sugar. Look for whey as the only ingredient. 
  • Can Cause Upset Stomach Consumption of protein too fast or too much at one time can cause stomach upset.
  • Contaminants. Check the label for quality assurance (see references above).

What Is the Difference Between Whey Protein Powder and Regular Protein?

Firstly, it’s the source. Whey protein comes from milk that’s processed into a powder or liquid, while regular proteins are naturally present in eggs, milk, fish, meat, and plants such as soy and peas.

Secondly, it’s all about absorption. That is, whey is biologically bioavailable and well-tolerated, meaning absorbed as well as natural meat and egg proteins, but probably better than plant proteins.

Lastly, whey is complete like the proteins in meat, eggs, but also, soy and hemp.

Hemp Protein vs Whey – What Is the Difference?

All and all, there are some differences to consider when deciding about hemp protein or whey. Check out the table to learn what your protein powder contains and what might be best for you.

HEMP vs WHEY – THINGS TO CONSIDERHEMP PROTEIN POWDERSWHEY PROTEIN POWDERS
Adequate Protein Quality X X
Best Amino Acid Profile X X
Highest in Nutrients X 
Animal Based  X
Plant-Based X 
Best Tasting  X
Most Easily Digested  X
Highest in Protein  X
Least Processed X 
Least Additional Ingredients X 
Most Research Available  X
Hemp protein vs whey protein comparison.

Which One Is Best, Hemp Protein vs Whey?

To decide whether whey or hemp protein is better for you depends on your preferences, likes, and lifestyle. Whey protein hemp protein – which is better?

If you want a high-quality more natural plant based protein that’s gone through less processing and has more nutrients and fiber, maybe hemp is for you.

If you on the other hand want a product that’s higher in protein, digests more easily, and is well-researched, maybe whey is for you.

Furthermore, to answer the question “is hemp a complete protein”, although it’s considered complete, it’s a little lower in branched-chain amino acids than pea or soy.

So, all and all, if it’s going to be whey protein or hemp protein? It’s up to you.

Final Thoughts

Proteins are one of the most abundant molecules in all living organisms.

Both whey and hemp and whey are considered high-quality or complete proteins, because they have all essential amino acids in adequate proportions.

Remember, there may not be a better or worse protein, but different products may be better for different situations.

For instance, if you want a high-quality protein that is plant-based, minimally processed, and high in nutrients, hemp may be best for you.

If you on the other hand want a protein that digests more easily with a more neutral flavor and lots of research behind it, maybe whey is best for you.

Although branched chain amino acids can be good for building muscle mass, it’s best to be cautious with concentrated amounts if you’re fighting cancer.

In the end, choosing whether whey vs hemp protein powder is better for you, depends more on what you prefer, and what best fits your lifestyle.

WANT MORE ON PROTEIN?

Whey vs Plant Protein: Top 10 Things To Consider | Protein Powders for Cancer Patients

DISCLAIMER

These whey protein hemp based protein powders are general suggestions for hemp protein vs whey for educational purposes only. That is, don’t substitute content on this site for individual medical advice.

Please work with your health care practitioner to discuss the health benefits most important to you.

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