Hemp protein is fast gaining notoriety in the health and fitness industry as a superior plant based protein. In this post I will explain why hemp protein comes out on top as one of the best plant based protein’s compared to other popular protein’s such as pea, soy, and rice, and why you should consider its addition into your diet, whether you are in training or not.
NATURE’S SUPERIOR PROTEIN
Hemp truly is a gift from nature – containing 20 amino acid’s (including 9 essential amino acid’s), hemp is considered a complete protein. Essential amino acid’s need to be added into the diet for the simple reason that the body cannot produce its own, and all these are abundant in hemp.
Amino acid’s are the compounds that combine together to make protein, and both of these are the building blocks of the entire body. This explains why protein plays such a crucial role in human health, and why it is such a buzz word in the fitness industry where it is used for tissue growth and repair as a result of exercise.
BUT getting enough protein is also vital to us all whatever our age, and whether we are active or not. Not getting enough can lead to muscle wastage – which brings with it a whole new set of problems as muscle mass not only helps regulate our hormones, but also has a whole host of other beneficial uses.
BENEFITS OF MUSCLE MASS:
1. FAT BURNING
Muscle is the engine of the fat burning process. Muscle, gram for gram, burns more calories than fat even when at rest, all day every day, and so it makes sense to build a good framework of muscle on our bodies.
You can do this more efficiently with certain weight bearing exercises such as resistance training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), power walking, dancing, kettle bell training, or basically anything that uses controlled movements. These will all cause resistance in the muscles, making them stronger and more powerful.
Please read my post ‘Burning Fat and Building Muscle’ to learn how to make the changes needed to build yourself a stronger, leaner and healthier body for life.
Note that you don’t need to use heavy weights, or even any weights at all to build muscle. There are a lot of exercises that use your own body weight as the resistance such as power walking, dancing and most HIIT exercises.
2. BONE DENSITY
Building more muscle will give you much stronger joints and ligaments, and bones that are less likely to break in any situation, such as accidents or sports injuries in general. This will be especially beneficial as you age, because bone density naturally decreases and the recovery times after a break or a fall increases.
3. CUTS YOUR RISK OF INJURY
The more muscle mass you have on your body, the less likely you are to injure or break bones. Think about it like this – muscle around your stomach and back will help protect your internal organs and spine from injury.
4. INCREASED ENERGY
As your body adapts to the higher demands put upon it through strength training, it builds up a reserve of energy – making all other tasks seem like a piece of cake! Have you ever noticed how energetic you feel after a run or any other exercise that gets your heart rate up?
5. LOWERING OF BLOOD PRESSURE
Strength training is not only the best drug free option to lower high blood pressure, but also strengthens your heart (which is in itself a muscle), making it easier for it to do its job of pumping blood around the body.
6. LOWER RISK OF DIABETES
More muscle mass makes it easier for your muscles to absorb sugars directly from the bloodstream. This is good news as it means those excess sugars, rather than being stored as fat, will be stored as glycogen in the muscles, ready to be used directly as energy. All this is especially good in terms of diabetes, which is an inability for the body to clear excess sugars from the blood efficiently.
7. RELIEVES DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
I am 100% sure that weight bearing exercise, along with a low GI diet, played a huge role in helping me cure my depression. These two things combined are like a miracle for this kind of mental illness, as the cascade of feel good hormones and endorphins that are released when you exercise literally blasts it out of your system. I don’t know the in’s and out’s of how this works but it really does!
Exercise is way more effective when done alongside a Low GI Diet and high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. Low GI eating keeps your blood sugars stable, and this in itself will help defuse anxiety and depression. It cannot be stressed enough that all these things work in harmony and should be done together to feel the greatest benefits.
8. STRESS RELIEVER
Stress is actually the root cause of many illnesses and diseases (including the above two) and is actually the BIGGEST KILLER of modern times. When you are stressed your body believes there must be a potential threat and goes into fight or flight mode. This releases the hormone cortisol into the system, which in essence gives you a big hit of sugars into the blood stream so you have the energy to run away or fight (hence the term fight or flight).
Burning those Excess Sugars Off is Essential:
But the reality of the situation, is there is no actual threat, so therefore you don’t burn of those extra sugars from the bloodstream, causing them to be laid down as fat, and often as dangerous belly fat.
Exercising not only helps burn off these sugars before they turn to fat, but also releases opiates into the system – these are the body’s own natural painkillers which also also act as powerful anti stress messengers.
9. GREAT BODY
Finally, and probably one of the best side effects – resistance training will get you buff (as if you needed any more reasons), and there’s NOTHING more satisfying than looking in the mirror and seeing a fit healthy body. Not just for aesthetic reasons, but because you know that in having a lean body and well defined muscles you are helping to protect yourself from many illnesses and diseases AND are adding years to your life.
WHAT IS HEMP PROTEIN? – WHO SHOULD SUPPLEMENT WITH IT?
Hemp protein is good for everyone, whether you are in training of some kind or just being a couch potato. This is more true for those following plant based and vegan diets where meeting protein needs can be more difficult. We all need protein, just some more than others. Often, somebody who doesn’t exercise and eats animal products will more than likely be getting enough already and so there will be no need to supplement.
If you are in recovery from an operation or illness then your requirements may be greater, or if you eat lots of junk food then a low GI protein powder like hemp may help stabilise your blood sugars, fill you up, and stop you snacking.
BENEFITS OF SUPPLEMENTING HEMP PROTEIN
- Hemp protein provides the perfect 3:1 ratio of the fatty acid’s omega 3 and 6, and also contains the healthful GLA (Glamma Linolenic Acid) which is very hard to find in other plant products. GLA is known to be helpful for many problems such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, skin problems, ADHD, high blood pressure, MS, obesity and PMS.
- It contains no sugar or saturated fats.
- Hemp helps to ‘cleanse the colon’ due to its high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber. These will help push toxins out of the body and would be more effective still when combined with other foods that help detoxify the body.
- Hemp protein is highly nutritious and contains high amounts of fiber, antioxidants, chlorophyll and minerals.
- Hemp protein can also help regulate blood sugar, making it perfect for diabetics or anybody who may suffer with sugar cravings (that will be most of us then) due to it being high fiber and low GI value. Low GI foods regulate blood sugar levels to help keep you stable and full. Find out more about low GI foods.
- Immune system boost – hemp protein contains the globular proteins albumin and edestin, both of which help with anti-body formation, making them vital for a healthy immune system.
- Hemp being a plant protein, is superior to animal protein as it does not contribute to inflammation in the body like many animal products do, in fact it lowers inflammation.
- Chronic inflammation is also caused by stress, and this type of inflammation is another root cause of many illnesses and diseases. This is why I recommend veering towards a more plant based way of eating altogether. Find out more information on the simply astounding benefits of a plant based foods with this truly eye opening post ‘Starting a Plant Based Diet’.
HOW TO USE HEMP PROTEIN POWDER:
Hemp protein powder in my opinion, tastes better than some of the other plant protein powders, but you will probably want to whizz it up with some nut milk and a banana, or some other sweetener to make it tastier. As it might take some getting used to, you may want to build up the dosage incrementally and see what your gut tolerance is like.
How Much Do I Need?
The average person needs about 1-2 grams of protein per kg of body weight a day, but this may be dependant on individual needs. It’s important to remember that the body can only assimilate about 30 grams of protein at a time. Consuming more than this may well be useless to most of us, and could very well go down as fat instead so don’t over do it. Leave at least 2 hour periods in between high protein powder supplements and other meals.
If you feel you need some extra protein in your life then I would go for hemp as your first choice. But I would advise to always buy organic for superior quality, and to cut your chances of over consumption of any pesticides and fertilizers that may be lurking in there.