Want to boost your workout routine or just need some extra protein? Try using protein supplements. Protein supplements are on the rise and they come in different forms, however, not all proteins are made equally. Some types proteins could be one’s holy grail, while others might prefer a different type of protein supplement. With a myriad of protein supplements, some of them stand out; these proteins include whey, pea, and more recently, hemp.

Protein is essential for your body. It provides some of the most important macromolecules, amino acids which are essential for bodily function. Particularly for those who partake in physical activity, protein and amino acids are essential for muscle growth and maintenance [1].

One of the more popular forms of protein that athletes and other individuals use whey protein. Whey protein is a power protein containing all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs), the amino acids that we have to consume as our bodies cannot make them [2].

These amino acids also include sulfur amino acids like cysteine that can be a powerful antioxidant, important for bodily function and cell/tissue protection from environmental damage [2]. Other amino like leucine, isoleucine and valine also provide benefits like lipid metabolism, tissue growth, and weight control [2]. The protein is also antibacterial and antiviral, and also contained branch-chained amino acids (BCAAs), important for muscle repair [2].

Protein Molecule on HempFederation

However, one of the main issues with whey protein is that it is not vegan-friendly. Whey protein is a type of milk protein, which can pose an issue for those not only looking for a vegan option but those who are lactose intolerant [2]. Luckily, there are other protein options.

Pea protein is one of the main vegan-friendly proteins. 20-35% of the composition of peas is protein, making it a suitable choice as a protein supplement. Much similar to whey proteins, pea proteins contain BCAAs, and other amino acids like lysine that can provide benefits from wound healing, and boosting mineral uptake [3].

Hemp Protein on Hemp Federation

It is also quite hypoallergenic as pea protein is not derived from commonly allergenic foods [4]. It also contains other key nutrients like iron [4]. However, one of the main issues with pea protein is its quality of protein and low absorption rate [4]. Pea protein, unlike whey protein, is not a complete protein and is missing some amino acids like methionine, an important antioxidant, which protects cells from damage [5].

One protein option that has been gaining traction lately is hemp protein, another vegan-friendly option. Hemp protein is derived from hemp seeds, where it is a source of essential amino acids as it is a complete protein [6]. With hemp protein, the protein and its subsequent amino acids are very digestible compared to other proteins and even has shown to have antioxidant capabilities [6] [7]. Hemp protein also contains many nutrients from fiber to minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc [8].

So which protein is suited for you? If you want the most protein for your physical needs, whey protein seems to be the most ideal. However, if you are a looking for a complete protein solution, hemp protein could be the right option for you!


References

[1] Tipton, K. D., & Wolfe, R. R. (2004) Protein and amino acids for athletes. Journal of sports sciences 22, 65-79.

[2] Solak, B. B., & Akin, N. (2012) Health benefits of whey protein: a review. Journal of Food Science and Engineering 2, 129.

[3] Lu, Z. X., He, J. F., Zhang, Y. C., & Bing, D. J. (2020) Composition, physicochemical properties of pea protein and its application in functional foods. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 60, 2593-2605.

[4] Krefting, J. (2017) The appeal of pea protein. Journal of Renal Nutrition 27, e31-e33.

[5] Stadtman, E. R., Moskovitz, J., Berlett, B. S., & Levine, R. L. (2002) Cyclic oxidation and reduction of protein methionine residues is an important antioxidant mechanism. Oxygen/Nitrogen Radicals: Cell Injury and Disease, 3-9.

[6] Gorissen, S. H., Crombag, J. J., Senden, J. M., Waterval, W. H., Bierau, J., Verdijk, L. B., & van Loon, L. J. (2018) Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates. Amino acids 50, 1685-1695.

[7] Rodriguez-Martin, N. M., Montserrat-de la Paz, S., Toscano, R., Grao-Cruces, E., Villanueva, A., Pedroche, J., … & Millan-Linares, M. C. (2020) Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) protein hydrolysates promote anti-inflammatory response in primary human monocytes. Biomolecules 10, 803.

[8] Wang, Q., & Xiong, Y. L. (2019) Processing, nutrition, and functionality of hempseed protein: A review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 18, 936-952.