What’s the story with hemp protein? Will it help me lose weight or gain muscle?
Hemp is an interesting vegetarian complete protein source. Hemp also contains many other protective nutrients, such as essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. Hemp is also a source of chlorophyll, which aids in detoxification and proper acid-base balance in the body. Hemp has a slightly nutty flavor and a smooth texture.
In addition, hemp has a few unique qualities that make a good choice if you are in the market for a vegetarian protein powder or dairy-milk alternative.
Research has shown that branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) support the immune system and aid in exercise recovery, and therefore runners may benefit from incorporating BCAA into their exercise recovery regimen. Dairy products provide BCAA, but many runners have allergies to dairy or preferences for a dairy-free diet. Interestingly, hemp has a uniquely high amount of BCAAs compared to other vegetarian protein sources. Based on it’s BCAA content, hemp milk or hemp protein powder would be a great addition to a post-workout smoothie. Try this delicious Cherry-Hemp Smoothie after your next workout.
Hemp is also an earth-friendly food. Whereas soy protein and whey protein (dairy) are environmentally draining, hemp grows quickly and easy without pervasive use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Hemp is best known for its essential fatty acid content. It has been well established that a low ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is ideal for good health, building muscle mass and running performance, and hemp has the perfect balance of omega-6 to omega 3-fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, whereas omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. Hemp also provides gamma linoleic acid (GLA), another anti-inflammatory fatty acid, which is rarely found in foods.
Hemp protein powder won’t do much of anything for your waistline or the size of your biceps, unless it is thoughtfully added to your diet. Stay tuned for how hemp, and protein powders in general, affect weight loss and muscle gain
Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD is an open-minded, progressive dietitian that blends evidence based nutritional science with the principals of intuitive eating and cutting-edge functional medicine. Hana specializes in sport nutrition, digestive health, fertility, hormonal health and eating disorders.
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