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What’s the Point of Hemp Protein?

Is it just another way to cash in on the CBD and weed craze, or an actual useful supplement?

The first time I saw hemp protein, I legitimately wondered what the point of the product was. I considered it to be a matter of settled science that whey and soy protein were the superior forms of protein for supplementation — your personal tolerance for dairy products or genetically modified foods notwithstanding — and any other vessels for the administration of protein seemed like a gimmick. This remains true of my opinion whether we’re talking about hemp protein, pea protein, pumpkin protein or any other protein derived from an atypical or exotic source.

In the case of hemp protein, this seems especially true given the proliferation of products that are ostensibly marijuana-based in an era of heightened acceptance of weed and sweeping efforts to legalize its use. Most of these products rely on forms of verbal, visual and technical legerdemain to show the marijuana in one hand, and hide it in the other, all the while walking a fine line between implied naughtiness and the legal distinctions between words.

Is hemp protein even any good?

Compared with other forms of protein, the honest answer is “not really.”

If we’re talking pragmatically about what we’d expect to get out of our protein powder, the most logical response would have to be “protein,” right? Well, whey and soy protein are viable enough that a somewhat adulterated 30-gram scoop of whey protein powder will provide you with 24 grams of high-quality protein, whereas a refined 24-gram scoop of soy protein powder delivers 20 grams of protein to your digestive system.

At present, the best attempts at presenting a refined hemp protein supplement appear to run into a barrier at about 50 percent, meaning each 30-gram scoop will only contain 15 grams of protein. Consequently, if you care about calories, or you just don’t want to take too many swigs of post-workout beverages, replacing your whey or soy protein supplements with hemp protein will have you consuming twice as much powder for what isn’t even the same protein payoff. This also means you’ll end up purchasing twice as much protein for consumption, all for the sake of being able to say that you’re supplementing with hemp. 

This is to say nothing of the fact that hemp is low in key amino acids. Although hemp can claim to be a complete protein in a technical sense, it’s comparatively lacking in muscle-repairing effectiveness when compared with other protein sources.

Who cares about all that nutrient nonsense?! Will hemp protein get me high or not?!

I know this is going to crush you, but legally the answer to that question has to be “no,” because the difference between hemp and marijuana is a clear matter of legal distinction. Hemp is the name given to a cannabis plant if its THC content is 0.3 percent or less, while marijuana is the name given to the same plant if its THC content exceeds 0.3 percent. It’s theoretically possible — but highly unlikely — that a “hot” batch of hemp might slip through the cracks. One out of every five tested lots of hemp has needed to be destroyed because it tested “hot,” meaning its THC content exceeded 0.3 percent. For the record, most marijuana available today has a THC level of around 10 percent, so it would be implausible to think that even a hot batch of hemp would somehow get you high. 

If we’re being honest, if it wasn’t for the implicit connection between marijuana and hemp, and the edginess associated with it, it’s unlikely that anyone would give it a second glance. In essence, we all know why most people who are using hemp products are really using them, but we dance around the issue. When you get right down to it, hemp protein powder isn’t particularly efficient, nor will it get you blazed. No matter what your primary goal is — whether it’s getting yoked or getting stoned — hemp protein is likely to fail you on both fronts.

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