Whey Protein vs Hemp Protein : Which One is Better?

Proteins are one of the three main nutrient classes required for a healthy lifestyle. They are most important for cell growth and tissue repair.

In addition, enzymes and hormones used to maintain normal body functions are made of proteins.

The recommended daily dose of protein for adults performing muscle-building exercises is 80 g. A 2012 clinical trial found greater muscle protein synthesis in males consuming 20 g four times a day than those consuming 40 g two times a day. [1]

An average male should aim for 56 grams of protein per day and females 46 grams per day. [2]

Routine breakfast, lunch and dinner may not be providing enough proteins. So, protein supplements like: whey and hemp can be used. This article explores the different benefits and side effects.

Whey Protein

Whey makes up 20% of the protein found in milk. [3] It can be separated as a side product during the process of making cheese.

Whey has a very high nutritional rating as it contains all 9 amino acids, which cannot be made in the body. [4],[5]

Whey has a diverse range of benefits. These are explored in detail below.

1. Helps in Muscle Building

Athletes and bodybuilders are strong supporters of whey protein for muscle-building and weight loss.

During exercise, the branched amino acids: leucine, valine and isoleucine are broken down for energy in muscles.

Amongst the natural proteins, whey ranks number 1 for quantity of branched amino acid. These branched amino acids promote muscle synthesis. [6]

Mouse studies reveal whey improves muscle synthesis and performance during exercise. The mouse was less tired and had greater strength when performing different activities. [7]

2. Rich in Antioxidants

The high cysteine amino acid content of whey protein gives it antioxidant properties in muscle cells. [8]

Cysteine is used to make glutathione in the body. This chemical is a natural defence mechanism against reactive oxygen species in the muscle.

Whey increases glutathione production and provides better immunity.

Reactive oxidative species are naturally produced by specific reactions in the body.

However, excessive production can lead to damage of proteins, DNA and muscle cells. [9] Whey helps to battle these problems.

A 2007 clinical trial featured in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition tested the effect of dose of whey protein on glutathione production. [10]

The participants were consuming either 15, 30 or 45 g of whey per day. At 15 g no difference in glutathione activity was seen.

The highest activity was seen in those taking 45 g/day.

Heavy metals like iron cause oxidative stress. Specific bioactive components of whey can bind to these metals and reduce oxidation. [11]

3. Slows Down Ageing

Sarcopenia describes the natural condition in which skeletal muscle mass declines with age.

A clinical study with 48 men in the age of 73-75 reveals whey protein is effective at increasing skeletal muscle mass in older men. [12]

Furthermore, whey is more effective than other protein supplements, such as: casein.

Whey is absorbed from the small intestines into the blood faster than casein. Thus, a higher blood concentration of amino acids is achieved, and this results in muscle synthesis.

In older adults, whey allowed protein synthesis throughout the day. [13] This can significantly reduce how much muscle is lost with age.

4. Helps in Exercising for Longer

Glycogen is a carbohydrate used by muscle cells to provide energy during intense exercise.

Both animal and human studies have proven that consuming both carbohydrates and proteins after exercise is better than consuming only carbohydrates to rebuild glycogen stores.[10],[14]

Animal studies testing the effect of consuming carbohydrates and proteins before exercise show similar effects. [15],[16]

Glycogen is rapidly produced during exercise. This allows the rats to exercise for longer as glycogen doesn’t run out as quickly.

Only the hydrolysed form of whey protein is suitable for this.

Whey is reported safe to use for all adults except for those with lactose intolerance.

5. Side Effects for Lactose Intolerant Adults

Whey protein contains small amounts of lactose as it comes from milk. This makes it unsuitable for use by lactose-intolerant individuals. [17]

After consuming whey protein, they may experience: bloating, gas and diarrhoea

Hydrolysed Whey Protein Is Beneficial for Outgrowing Lactose Intolerance in Young Children

The hydrolysed form contains only 0-0.5 g of lactose per 100g of protein. So, it can safely be added to milk powders used by 1 – 2 years old children. [18]

The whey protein ingredient can help children to grow out of lactose intolerance by adulthood.

6. Promotes Weight loss

Whey protein diets make you feel full faster so, you eat less, and you feel full for longer.[19]

Also, fats and carbohydrates are broken down instead of proteins to provide energy.[20],[21] This leaves the proteins to be used for muscle synthesis.

A 2018 study compared appetites of men and women after consuming a whey drink.[22]

Men showed a 15% reduction in the quantity of food they ate as compared to their normal diet. Whilst, the women showed no change from their normal diet.

The trial found that the men were losing weight more easily but, females too showed a reduction in weight.

A different trial found obese individuals lost 6% of their body fat mass in 12 weeks.

This was a highly successful trial as loss in fat mass above 5% is considered to reduce the risk of obesity related diseases. [23]

7. Reduces Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Diseases in Normal and Obese Individuals

A trial on prehypertensive and stage 1 hypertensive men and women found that whey protein reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressures within a week from the start. [24]

Further, clinical trials and experiments are proving whey to be suitable for the treatment of individuals facing risk of cardiovascular diseases by decreasing blood pressure. [25],[26]

A 2012 clinical trial found whey protein was effective at reducing blood pressure in obese individuals. [27]

8. Good for Digestion and Healthy Stomach

Experiments reveal whey protein is successful in stimulating growth of useful bacteria in the stomach. [28],[29],[30] This can improve intestinal wellbeing.

Furthermore, whey protein stimulated growth of specific bacterial populations, which are known to help reduce and prevent obesity. [31]

Thus, whey protein is highly suitable for use by obese individuals.

The lactose in whey protein is converted to lactate by stomach bacteria and this provides antimicrobial activity.[32]

Hemp Protein

Hemp protein is a plant-based dietary supplement. It not only contains a good percentage of proteins but, also lots of healthy fats.

Like whey protein, it also contains all 9 essential amino acids.

Whey protein is perfect for muscle-building. But, hemp protein is the better option for achieving an all-rounded healthy body. This is mainly due to its high healthy fats and fiber value.

The benefits of hemp protein are explored in detail below.

1. Provides Very High Nutritional Value – Important for Strong Health

All studies highlight the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in hemp protein is perfect for that needed in a healthy diet. [33],[34]

These fatty acids allow the protein to reduce intensity of hypertension, inflammation and coronary heart disease. [35]

When added to kale juice, hemp protein showcased strong anti-inflammation activity. [36]

Hemp protein is a very rich source of fibers and minerals, including: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. [37],[38]

These metals are key for good brain function, strong immune system responses and muscle growth. [39]

The two main proteins found in hemp protein: edestin and albumin are easily digestible in the body. [40],[41]

A 96-participant clinical trial confirmed hemp protein is helpful in reducing constipation.[42]

The ideal dosage was found to be 7.5 g. Hemp protein is highly recommended for reducing digestive problems.

The individual amino acid percentages meet the requirements set for 2-5 years old children by the World Health Organisation. [43]

Other than providing well-functioning body systems, hemp protein has many other benefits, which can be seen below.

2. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Heart Disease

The uniquely high arginine amino acid quantity in hemp protein improves blood flow and maintains normal blood pressure. [44]

Arginine can be converted into nitric oxide, which opens up blood vessels. [45] This reduces the risk of developing heart diseases.

Hemp protein proved successful in mouse studies as a treatment for hypertension and heart failure. [46]

Then, it was tested in humans and the results suggested arginine reduced risk of heart diseases. [47]

Experimental analysis shows hemp protein can lower cholesterol and regulate blood glucose levels.

Omega-3 and omega-6 reduce the risk of blood clotting and maintain a steady heart rate. [48]

3. Rich in Antioxidants

Hemp protein is an antioxidant agent. It reduces cell damage by binding to radicals and iron metal. [49],[50]

4. Reduces Inflammation in Brain

The anti-neuroinflammatory effects of hemp protein seen in mice provide strong support for using the protein in treatments of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. [51]

The TPA chemical in hemp protein improved learning and memory of Alzheimer’s Disease mouse models. [52]

5. Unlikely to Cause Allergies

Hemp protein is classified as a low allergen. Only 5 chemicals have been reported with the ability to cause allergic reactions and those too would be quite mild. [53]

Thus, it is safe to eat for all adults.

Whey Protein vs Hemp Protein

Whey protein and hemp protein have different uses and health benefits. They can be compared in order to determine, which one better meets your requirements. [54]


Whey protein is ideal for muscle strengthening and weight loss. However, it will produce side effects in individuals with lactose intolerance as it contains lactose.

Hemp protein is desirable for a healthy well-functioning body. It will improve digestive problems and prevent heart diseases.

This article has objectively provided the health benefits of taking whey and hemp protein supplements. The better choice depends on individual requirements as, they both have different benefits.