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Hemp Protein for Sports & Fitness

Why Use

Why Do Athletes Use It?*

Hemp protein is an alternative for vegan athletes and those who have dairy allergies or sensitivities. While hemp protein is often touted as a complete protein like whey , its lysine content is too low to prevent deficiency, making it an incomplete protein. Additionally, hemp protein is relatively low in leucine, one of the branched-chain amino acids needed for muscle building and repair, and may therefore not provide the same benefits as other protein supplements. Vegetarians and vegans who use hemp protein should also include beans and lentils in their diet to ensure adequate intake of lysine.

What Do the Advocates Say?*

Some fitness advocates promote hemp protein to boost the protein intake of vegetarians and vegans. Because most hemp protein is made without heat or chemicals, it is also a good choice for people who eat a raw food diet. Lightly-processed hemp protein supplements provide more fiber and healthy fatty acids, including a variety of polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids , than other protein supplements. Additionally, the seed fiber does not appear to have phytic acid, a compound that can reduce the absorption of some medications and nutrients. Hemp seeds are unlikely allergens compared with dairy, eggs, and soy . They don’t cause symptoms in people with lactose intolerance , and unlike many soybeans, are not genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Dosage & Side Effects

How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?

Side Effects

Many people experience digestive upset after taking protein supplements. Hemp protein appears to break down more easily than some other types of protein, 1 but whether this translates into fewer digestive side effects is unknown. Typical hemp protein supplements are relatively high in fiber, 2 which may add health benefits but can also cause digestive symptoms in some people.

Some people are concerned that taking hemp protein regularly could cause urine drug tests to be positive due to the presence of low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in marijuana. One study showed that people given the same amount of THC as would be found in 300 grams of shelled hemp seeds per day for 10 days did not have high enough urine THC levels to cause a positive drug test result. 3 Since THC is found in the oil of the hemp seed , hemp protein supplements have even lower amounts than shelled hemp seeds and should not cause positive drug test results.

Although rare, allergies to hemp seeds have been reported. 4

Hemp Protein How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes? A typical serving of hemp protein powder is 30 grams, with about 15 grams of protein. Most people use one serving per day but some take as many as four servings per day, depending on their training level and the protein content of the rest of their diet. Side Effects…

HEMP AND DOD POLICY

Recent federal legislation (the 2018 Farm Bill) defines “hemp” as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives… with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.” The same law makes hemp no longer a controlled substance.

Hemp is prohibited for use by Military Service Members.

The hemp plant naturally contains the substance delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive substance in marijuana. However, the amount of THC varies widely depending on the varieties (and parts) of the cannabis plant.

Even though the new law removes low-THC hemp as a controlled substance, the law also recognizes FDA’s authority to determine whether hemp or any of its derivatives are allowed in foods, drugs, and dietary supplements. For more information, please visit FDA’s press release and FAQs.

  • On 26 February 2020, DoD issued a memorandum that establishes new policy (effective 1 March 2020) that applies to “active duty Service members and the members of the Reserve Components.” The passage of the House bill in 2020 has not changed DoD policy. See the Announcement on the home page of the OPSS website (OPSS.org), which states, “Despite the recent bill passed by the House, DoD policy has not changed regarding hemp and hemp-based ingredients such as CBD.
  • Updated Navy policy ALNAV 074/20 further states that “Sailors and Marines are prohibited from using any product made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 U.S.C. 1639o), including CBD, regardless of the product’s THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians,” including all topical products, except prescribed, FDA-approved drugs and “durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing.”
  • Coast Guard policy ALCOAST 308/20 states, “Coast Guard members are prohibited from using products made or derived from hemp including CBD, regardless of the product’s THC concentration…, and regardless of whether the product may be lawfully bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians.” The policy defines “use” as to “inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body (e.g. oral ingestion, smoking/vaping inhalation, topical skin application)” and includes “topical products containing hemp and CBD, such as shampoos, conditions, lotions, lip balms, or soaps….[but] does not apply to the use of durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing.”
  • Air Force policy AFMAN 44-117 states, “the use of products containing or products derived from hemp, including but not limited to cannabidiol (CBD), is prohibited. This prohibition applies regardless of the route of administration, ingestion, or use. Exception: This prohibition does not apply to the use of durable goods containing hemp, such as clothing.”
  • Updated Army policy AR 600-85 states, “The use of product made or derived from hemp (as defined in 7 USC. 1639o), including cannabidiol CBD, regardless of the product’s THC concentration, claimed or actual, and regardless of whether such product may lawfully be bought, sold, and used under the law applicable to civilians, is prohibited, regardless of the rout of administration or use… Examples of products that are prohibited include, but are not limited to, the following: products that are injected, inhaled, or otherwise introudced into the human body; food proudcts; transdermal patches; topical lotions and oils; soaps and shampoos; and, other cosmetic products that are applied directly to the skin…The use of durable goods containing hemp, such as rope or clothing, is not prohibited.”

For more information specifically about CBD, please read the OPSS article about cannabidiol.

The bottom line: All products containing hemp are prohibited for use by Military Service Members.

The bottom line: All products containing hemp are prohibited for use by Military Service Members.