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hemp seeds vs hemp protein powder

The 7 Best Hemp Protein Powders of 2020, According to a Dietitian

Power up with these plant-based picks

Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN is a New York City-based registered dietitian with a lifelong passion for wellness who has written for Women’s Health, Well+Good, and more.

Elaine Hinzey is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and registered dietitian.

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Hemp protein powder is an excellent source of vegan protein that contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and filling fiber. Hemp seed is technically a nut, so it’s no wonder the functional food is chock full of healthy fats and vitamins and minerals. It’s also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Whether you’re looking for an allergy-friendly alternative to soy or whey protein, or just prefer the nutty taste of hemp seed, hemp protein is a versatile, mild-tasting powder that’s easy to digest. It blends well into smoothies and can be used in baking to give your favorite recipes a nutrition boost. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are many types of hemp protein powder, including 100 percent hemp protein or hemp mixed into a protein blend.

Here, the best hemp protein powders.

Best Overall: Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Protein Powder

Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder earns our top ranking, thanks to its exceptional quality, purity, value, and versatility. Made from organic, non-GMO, and sustainably-grown hemp seeds, the powder is rich in amino acids, protein, and fiber. It’s also a great source of omega-3 fats and antioxidants. Plus, Nutiva’s all-natural cold press extraction process doesn’t use any harmful chemicals or heat.

Like other hemp protein powders, it has a distinct, nutty taste, but it blends well into smoothies and shakes. It can also be used as a flour replacement when making muffins, bread, or other baked goods. One three-tablespoon serving contains 90 calories and 15 grams of protein with 8 grams of fiber.

Best Budget: Just Hemp Foods Hemp Protein Powder Plus Fiber

An excellent option for those looking for a quality but inexpensive plant-based protein powder, this hemp powder from Just Hemp Foods is a great value. It’s perfect for those following a vegetarian or vegan eating plan or those who have had unpleasant side effects from dairy-based protein powders. It’s free of soy, lactose, and gluten, so it’s ideal for those with allergies to typical protein powder ingredients.

Hemp protein can have a grainy texture, so it’s best to blend it into a smoothie or mix it into other recipes. One serving of 4 tablespoons contains 130 calories, 0.6 grams omega-3s, 14 grams fiber, and 11 grams of protein.

Best Organic: Navitas Organics Hemp Powder

Choosing a USDA Organic protein powder ensures that your protein is made from high-quality ingredients. Sourced exclusively from a small family of organic farms in Canada, Navitas Organics Hemp Powder is free of fillers and additives. It is also an excellent source of all nine essential amino acids and fiber. This vegan, gluten-free powder is cold-pressed from the whole hemp seed to preserve its potent nutrients.

Hemp protein is an easy way to add more plant-based protein, iron, and magnesium to your vegan or vegetarian diet. One serving of this nutrient-dense Navitas Organics Hemp Powder provides 40 percent of your daily value of iron and 60 percent of your daily value for magnesium. Four tablespoons offer 120 calories, 7 grams of fiber, and 13 grams of protein.

Best Unsweetened: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Fiber Protein Powder Vanilla

Some protein powders are filled with artificial flavors and sweeteners that may do more harm than good. Choosing an unsweetened protein powder is best for avoiding unnecessary ingredients, including colors, flavors, and sugar. Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp Yeah! Organic Protein Powder is made with only one ingredient: organic hemp protein powder.

Whether you have it in your hot cereal at breakfast time or mix it into your yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack, this all-natural powder packs 13 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving to keep you satisfied for hours. One 4-tablespoon serving contains 130 calories with no added sugar. You can also use it as a healthy substitute for flour when baking. If you prefer more flavor, the powder also comes in Chocolate and Vanilla, using organic coconut sugar as a sweetener and natural flavoring.

Best High Fiber: Nutiva Cold-Pressed Raw Hemp Seed Protein Powder

Many protein powders pack in the protein but skimp on fiber. Choosing fiber-rich foods can help you to feel fuller longer, improve digestion, and even reduce the risk of cancer.   While most hemp proteins are naturally high in fiber, Nutiva’s Organic Hi Fiber Hemp Protein has an extra edge over most products on the market, offering 4 grams of fiber per tablespoon. One 3-tablespoon serving also provides 80 calories, 11 grams of protein, and 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of iron.

While choosing high-fiber foods is key for meeting the average daily recommended fiber intake of 25 grams,   a quality supplement like Nutiva Organic Hi Fiber is ideal for those looking to boost protein and fiber from a whole foods-based product. The higher price tag is worth the extra money: the USDA Organic product is committed to quality and is also gluten-free and Certified Vegan.

Best Hemp Protein Blend: Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Organic Vegan Protein Powder

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend takes the top pick among hemp protein powder blends. The proprietary blend of organic pea protein, hemp protein, and goji berry contains 19 grams of plant-based protein per scoop. The USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Certified blend is allergy-friendly, as it is free of soy, gluten, and dairy.

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend is also free of added sugars and artificial sweeteners. It comes in five flavors, including berry, chocolate, mocha, vanilla, and natural. The natural flavor doesn’t taste overly sweet, so it won’t overpower your favorite beverage. With only four ingredients: pea protein, hemp protein, goji berry, and ground coconut, Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend Natural is a super clean choice. Note that the flavored versions contain additional ingredients, including the specific flavor and stevia.

One scoop provides 100 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 19 grams of protein, and no added sugar.

Best Hemp Protein Blend Runner-Up: ALOHA Organic Vanilla Plant-Based Keto Friendly Protein Powder with MCT Oil

Aloha’s USDA-Organic plant-based protein mixes pea, brown rice, hemp, and pumpkin seed protein to provide 18 grams of plant-based protein per serving. The blend contains 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving from acacia fiber, a rich source of soluble fiber. Aloha’s powder uses coconut sugar and monk fruit to sweeten the powder instead of erythritol or stevia.

The vegan powder also contains medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil. Aloha protein, made with simple whole-food ingredients, comes in three flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, and banana. The vanilla flavor has a creamy coconut taste from coconut sugar and coconut oil that boosts the nutrition of your favorite smoothie, baked good, or oatmeal. One serving provides 120 calories.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a high-quality USDA Organic hemp protein that’s rich in fiber and protein, Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein Powder is a reasonably-priced hemp protein. If you’re looking for a hemp protein powder with a bit more flavor, a blend like Sunwarrior Protein Warrior Blend Vanilla is an excellent choice.

What to Look for in a Hemp Protein Powder

Ingredients: Many hemp protein powders contain only one ingredient: hemp protein. Aim to choose a hemp protein that contains only ingredients that you can read and as few ingredients as possible. Consider quality, and select USDA Organic, non-GMO Project Verified products when possible.

Flavor: Hemp protein powder has a naturally nutty taste but comes in different flavor variations, including unflavored and typical chocolate, vanilla, and fruit flavors. If you prefer a relatively neutral protein and doesn’t overpower the smoothie or food you mix it into, then an unflavored hemp protein may be best for you. If you want a bit more flavor, consider a flavored hemp protein blend.

Fiber & Protein: Consider your dietary fiber and protein needs when selecting a protein supplement. Hemp protein contains dietary fiber, which can help to keep you satisfied. Some hemp protein powders contain equal amounts of protein and fiber, while others contain less fiber. If you are looking for a higher fiber product, choose mostly or 100 percent hemp protein powder. If you’re looking for more protein and less fiber, choose a protein blend that integrates hemp protein.

What Experts Say

“Hemp protein is an excellent source of easily digested plant-based protein and fiber. Many people with allergies or intolerances to other plant proteins such as soy or nuts can use hemp as a safe and healthy alternative. Adding hemp protein to a smoothie or sprinkling hemp seeds onto a yogurt bowl or salad is a great way to pack in some extra protein, fiber, and healthy fats.”—Nathalie Rhone, MS, RD

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements, including protein powders. I spent time reviewing the most current research on hemp protein and looking at multiple products and brands. I believe the hemp protein supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands that I would feel comfortable recommending to my clients, friends, and family. I have tried the majority of the hemp protein powders recommended, and use plant-based protein powder—including hemp— regularly in smoothies and baked goods.Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

The best hemp protein powders are rich in omega-3s, fiber, and protein. Our nutritionist researched the best products so you can find the right one.

The Difference Between Hemp Seeds and Hemp Protein Powder

Alright guys, the time has come for me to discuss an issue that has been confusing health-conscious vegans everywhere. Today, I will be exploring the nitty gritty deets (how’s that for a relevant pun?) behind hemp seeds and hemp protein powder.

Far too often, I hear from potential clients seeking vegan meal plans that don’t contain any soy. I’m all for a whole foods approach to eating but when we’re talking about a vegan competition prep diet or simply building muscle on a vegan diet , truth is, our protein options are somewhat limited. And I do believe that it’s that much harder for us veegs to build muscle AND lower body fat without consuming ANY soy therefore it’s crucial to at least include protein powder in their diet plan.

I’m also all about variety when it comes to meal planning so I’ll usually include both a good-quality rice-based protein like my own and also a hemp-based option like Manitoba Harvest . And you know what question 90% of clients come back with?

“Can I eat hemp seeds instead of hemp protein powder?”

And then I take a deep breath and go into my lengthy, passionate description as to why hemp seeds will not produce the same “Jacked on the Beanstalk” results as hemp powder. The short answer being HEMP SEEDS ARE A FAT SOURCE. HEMP POWDER IS A PROTEIN SOURCE.

Yes, hemp seeds are considered a “whole food” and do contain some protein. And yes, it is hemp seeds that are ground up in the first stage of hemp protein processing. The seeds are, however, squeezed to extract the oil (removing most of the fat content.) And what remains is referred to as “hemp seed cake” (mmmmmmm sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?) 🙂

The hemp “seed cake” is what gets milled and turned into powder. The powder is then sifted into “hemp flour.” This flour from the initial “sifting” creates a high fiber product but one that’s also lower in protein. Side note: am I using enough quotation marks in this paragraph or no?

Finally, to make that muscle building hemp protein we meatless meatheads love oh-so-much, the flour gets sifted to an even finer degree. This extra sifting removes a lot of the fiber content, leaving a higher concentration of protein.

And THAT my vegan friends, is why a handful of hemp hearts is far more tasty and enjoyable than a bowl of hemp powder. They’re FAT. And who doesn’t love fats?!

I should also mention that due to the fact hemp protein is made from hemp seeds , it obviously produces a protein powder with a slightly higher fat content than say, a rice or pea-based protein. So for my clients who are training for a competition or desperately trying to lower body fat, I will put more rice protein on their meal plans rather than hemp powder to keep fats lower.

And finally, for all you macro counters who want the cold, hard, nutritional facts, these ghetto, highlighted tables were made just for you! 🙂

Check the higher fat and calories of hemp seeds and note their lower protein and fiber content:

I should mention that regardless of how you eat ’em, hemp seeds are still a nutrition powerhouse as you can see from my tables above. They digest easily, taste awesome and are super versatile, adding great texture to everything from salads and oatmeal to baking and smoothies.

And the fat they do contain is at least GOOD FAT. We’re talkin’ a healthy dose of omega-3 and omega-6s plus muscle-building amino acids. Hemp seeds are also high in magnesium which helps you to fall asleep at night, relaxes your muscles, controls blood sugar, blood pressure and good for your bones. So however which way you choose to eat them, get ’em in ya.

Alright, I’m officially over talking about hemp. And for some reason, now I feel as though I should smoke a joint, eat some hemp seed cake and do yoga in the forest…

Disclaimer: this picture was totally staged for a stock photo my friend Roby Pavone needed. What’s yoga?!

The nitty, gritty facts (pun intended) on the difference between hemp seeds and hemp powder & why one is much better for vegan bodybuilders than the other.