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Is Hemp Protein Better Than Whey Protein?

Aug 07, 2017

Hemp Protein

In recent years, increased research has been performed on the benefits of hemp protein in comparison with other more traditional protein sources. Hemp protein is plant based and has the benefits of being a natural, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable source of protein suitable for human consumption.

Hemp protein is extracted from the seed of the hemp plant and is composed mainly of the easily digestible edestin and albumin forms of protein. The protein is part of the meal that remains after oils have been extracted from the seed and contains not only protein but also important unsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6, in addition to other beneficial nutrients.

Hemp protein contains most of the essential amino acids in suitable quantities and supporters claim that it is a high-quality protein with especially high levels of arginine, and, therefore, it is a better choice than whey protein.

Yet, despite the fact that it is a sustainable, vegetarian source of protein, there are other key factors that need to be considered.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a readily available and inexpensive protein supplement. Whey protein is usually extracted during the process of cheese production. It is commonly dried and grinded into a powered form for later use, such as a diet supplement. Whey protein contain all thr essential amino acids and it has a fast metabolic uptake in the body. Bodybuilders tend to favor whey protein over other forms of protein as it is particularly high in branch-chain amino acids with the best biological value as explained below.

The main drawback of whey protein is it being sourced from milk, making it unsuitable for some people with lactose intolerance even in it's purest form as whey isolates. It is also an animal product and thus unsuitable for people pursuing a vegan lifestyle.

Biological Value and PDCAAS

To measure the quality of a protein a scale called the biological value is often used. By calculating the nitrogen used for tissue formation divided by the nitrogen absorbed from food and then multipling by 100 we get a number that expresses the percentage of nitrogen utilized by the body. The biological value provides a measurement of how efficient the body utilizes protein consumed in the diet to build muscles. Therefore, the biological value of a protein is a key factor for bodybuilders and strength trainers.

The biological value however fails to take into account some key values concerning human digestion and the essential amino acids, therefore another scale called the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score or PDCAAS for short is now considered the gold standard in comparing the efficiency of proteins for overall health as it looks at a variable of factors such as the availability of essential amino acids for example.

The table below shows the biological factor and PDCAAS for several common sources of protein in addition to hemp protein and whey protein.

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