The Difference Between Hemp Seeds and Hemp Protein Powder

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?

i heart quotation marks

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:

nutrition facts hemp seeds vs. hemp protein powder

And here is the nutritional data for North Coast Naturals’ organic hemp protein powder:

nutrition facts north coast naturals hemp protein

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…

samantha shorkey yoga posture

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

– Sam Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk




More Posts


  • Cindy Ortiz: February 28, 2019

    The research I came across states that the fat in the hemp seeds are a perfect blend of omega 3 and 6 and perfect for promoting weight loss. So, though they are higher in fat, it’s the type of fat that actually makes you leaner not fatter.

  • Ferment4Life: January 10, 2019

    Close to 3 years after I remarked on this article I came across it again. I am surprised that no one, even you, Sam, corrected my typo. I meant to say that hemp hearts contain 3 times the omega 6 as 3 and we need twice as much omega 3 in our diet. I balance it all with a bit more flax and chia to hemp hearts.

  • William: January 10, 2019

    So the only difference in protein content from seed to power is 11g to 15g?. So they go through all that processing and only increase the protein content by an extra 4g for a 30g serving? Am I reading this right?

  • RA: November 30, 2018

    I am the first on Earth who notice that we quickly become too high in iron when we eat hemp protein. Get cronometer and test it yourself.

  • Sam: July 12, 2015

    Aww yey! Glad you found it useful and informative, Moneca! And not to toot my own horn too much but I did study Journalism so I like to think I know how to write well-researched, factual articles in addition to my completely “un-researched” & purely opinionated random pieces ;)

  • Moneca Sheldan: July 12, 2015

    What a great article on the difference between hemp seeds and hemp protein powder! So good I printed it to have for reference and to share. The nutrition facts comparison was so great to add to the article. I had no idea what a difference they both were. Thanks Sam!

  • Sam: March 18, 2016

    Awww thanks for the comment and glad you found the article useful! I too am a fan of flax seed and flax oil in the diet. I know chia seeds are great too but I’ve just never been much of a fan. But yes, omega 3 and 6 are both important in everyone’s diet – vegan or not!

  • Ferment4life: March 12, 2016

    I enjoyed reading your article about the difference between hemp seed/hearts and hemp protein powder (I’m not vegan, but Googled to find info on this). I especially like that you include the nutritional facts for each. But I do feel that it’s worth pointing out that hemp seed in general contains more than 3 times Omega 3 as it does of Omega 6 and that nutritionally we need twice as much 6 as we do of 3. You nutrition facts display how much 3 and 6 are in the powder, but not in the seed. I believe it is proportionally the same, just a lot higher. I am certainly not saying that we should omit hemp from our diet, but rather include other foods that will balance this discrepancy out, such as flax and chia seed. Thanks!

  • Sam: November 19, 2016

    Good question! Truthfully, I did pea protein for years and had no issues. But when I switched to a rice protein, I did notice that I was farting a lot less and not nearly as bloated. BUT I also find that in terms of taste and texture, pea will always win. I’m currently doing Purely Inspired brand protein which is a nice blend of pea and rice and I find it’s the perfect balance in terms of good digestion enjoyable eating. Everyone reacts differently but in my coaching experience, people tend to have bad reactions to pea more than rice or hemp powders. Hope this helps!

  • Guest: November 18, 2016

    Thanks for the article. How about Pea protein? Would you recommend that just as much as rice Protein?

  • Sam: January 30, 2017

    Hi Siri! Well you could grind the seeds yes but it would have a different taste and again, it wouldn’t have the same macros as the actually hemp protein powder. You’ll have to read the post to learn about the differences between hemp hearts and hemp protein powder. :)

  • Siri: January 26, 2017

    Can i grind the hemp hearts and use it on my shake like i use the protein hemp powder? I wanna know if its have the same taste?

  • Sam: April 02, 2017

    Really eh? Hmmmm good to know! Thanks for sharing, Scott!

  • Scott Stapp: April 02, 2017

    A 2.5-3x EFA ratio is ideal, and that is what hemp oil is. Flax has an unbalanced profile, and most physicians do not recommend consuming more than one serving a day. You can consume as much hemp as you want.

  • Nikki: July 07, 2017

    Hi Sam! I really enjoyed your article on comparing hemp seeds to hemp powder. I just fully switched to a Vegetarian diet, & am trying every Vegan item I can get my hands on. Eventually, I’d like to be completely Vegan, & (thankfully) hemp is actually one of the foods I’m not allergic to. My question is this: Why is it that the nutritional content in the hemp products that you used as examples is different from Nutiva: specifically, the high amounts of zinc, iron & magnesium?

  • Sam: July 05, 2017

    Hmmm good to know! Ironically enough, I’m eating hemp hearts right now as I received your comment to my inbox. And they’re tasting pretty damn good on top of my banana with some cocoa nibbs. But if it were hemp powder (grinded and whole or processed) it would definitely not be having the same tasty effect. Thank you, texture.

  • DonMatteo: July 05, 2017

    Hemp seed powder contains 20-25 % highly bioavailable proteins.And that is simply not true that it is always made form pressed hemp cake.There are plenty of products that are just grinded hemp seeds,not processed in any other way. It contains also GLA fat acid and many other essential nutrients that plain hemp protein powder is lacking. And as hemp protein powder contains approx.50% protein ,you just have to use the double amount of the hemp seed powder to come to the same protein result. Simple as that :)

  • wholesale hemp products: September 15, 2017

    There’s nothing betterr than a well written post! Thank you so much for tgis relief, I loved every secdond of the read. Will be eagerly awaiting your next article : )

  • Ellen: January 10, 2018

    Hemp (plant) fat does not make you fat. Get your facts right. Only trans fat and sugar make you fat…

  • Sam: February 12, 2018

    Haha duly noted! Thanks for the info, Robin!

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing