Guide to Whey Protein vs. Hemp Protein for Bodybuilding

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps to build muscle, repair tissue, and aid in hormone synthesis. It is found in all types of food but is most commonly known for being a key component of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, etc. However, it’s also a prevalent dietary supplement.

We want to talk to you about two types of supplement protein today – whey and hemp. Whey protein is made from the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production. Hemp protein is made from the seeds of the hemp plant.

But is that all that separates them? Not in the slightest.

What is the Difference Between Hemp and Whey Protein?

First things first, we have to discuss the origin.

Hemp protein is derived from the hemp plant, and whey protein is a by-product of the dairy industry. While hemp is vegan-friendly and contains no lactose, whey contains lactose and is an animal-based protein.

Amino acids are the second thing up for discussion.

While both of these contain all nine essential amino acids, it is widely accepted that hemp protein does not have an amino acid profile as balanced as whey protein.

Thirdly, we have to look at the overall nutritional profile.

Hemp protein is much higher in dietary fiber and has a healthy boost of healthy fats, antioxidants, calcium, iron, etc. This makes hemp protein richer in nutrients than whey. But it also makes it more calorie-dense.

Also, if we look at the biological value (a measure of how well your body can use a particular protein), then whey protein comes out on top. Whey has a higher BV rating of 104 compared to hemp’s 87.

Finally, there’s the taste. While very subjective, it is generally accepted that whey protein has a more pleasant taste than hemp protein (often described as earthy), making it the preferred choice for many.

Benefits of Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp protein powder is packed with numerous benefits, making it a great addition to any diet.

Hemp protein powder is high in fiber, providing an excellent source of plant-based nutrition and dietary fiber that can help support healthy digestion. [1]

Due to its high fiber content, hemp protein powder can also help support healthy blood sugar levels and is an excellent source of plant-based iron.

Additionally, hemp protein powder contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimal health and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another benefit of the fatty acids found in hemp protein has proved to be quite beneficial in reducing and even preventing inflammation, making it more than beneficial for various athletes and gym-goers. [2]

Is Hemp a Complete Protein?

Hemp is a complete plant-based protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it an ideal choice for vegans who may lack certain essential acids like BCAAs in their diet.

However, the jury is still out on hemp protein’s actual amino acid profile. Research has compared hemp’s amino-acid profile to one of an egg white or soy. Still, other studies with opposing conclusions are also present, making it difficult to draw a definitive conclusion.

Benefits of Whey Protein Powder

We know of muscle-building benefits associated with whey protein, but many other health benefits exist.

Whey protein powder can actually help with blood pressure. As with many dairy products, peptides (ACE inhibitors) present in them help prevent angiotensin I from converting into angiotensin II, thereby helping your blood pressure remain lower.

Whey protein (especially isolate) is also a great source of glutathione, which is an important antioxidant that helps support your immune system. [3]

Finally, some research suggests that supplementing with whey protein may help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, effectively making whey protein a supplementary treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Hemp Protein vs. Whey Protein for Bodybuilding

Now for the part you’re most interested in, which is better for bodybuilding? Well, the answer to this isn’t so clear-cut. But let’s try.

Let’s compare a 25g scoop of hemp protein powder and a 25g scoop of whey protein powder.

Hemp protein contains more dietary fiber and healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. It also has quite a bit of calcium and iron. But it also has fewer essential amino acids, and the macronutrient profile isn’t as “balanced” as whey, as it contains less protein per scoop.

On the other hand, whey protein is much higher in essential amino acids, particularly BCAA (branched-chain amino acids), and it is much more protein-dense than hemp, despite often being lower in calories. The macronutrient profile isn’t easy to dial in, but it’s usually something like 80% protein and 20% fats and carbs.

So, how does this translate to bodybuilding?

By analyzing the macronutrient profile and considering all the previous things we’ve discussed, it’s clear that whey protein is better suited for muscle-building and strength training.

Also, there has been a ton of research on whey proteins, and virtually all of it shows that it is the most effective and efficient protein source for muscle-building.

At the end of the day, if you are looking to build lean muscle mass, whey protein is going to be the best option for you, as it packs a lot of protein into fewer calories and is also much easier on the wallet.

Should You Choose Hemp or Whey Protein?

There are two reasons to choose hemp protein as an alternative to whey protein:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Veganism

While research on how many people are actually lactose intolerant is quite conflicting, some studies suggest that up to 50% of the global population is lactose intolerant.

So, if you are one of those people who can’t tolerate dairy, then hemp protein will be the better option for you.

As for vegans, they don’t have a choice if they want to add supplemental protein to their diet. While hemp isn’t the only plant-based complete protein source, it is arguably one of the, if not the best.


There you have it – it seems like whey protein is the most effective for bodybuilding and strength training, but hemp protein is still a good choice if you have any dietary restrictions or preferences. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but be sure to consider the things we’ve discussed before making a decision.

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