Food and Nutrition

I Used To Be a Protein Powder Hater, Until I Tried This One

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The first time I ever consumed protein powder, I was 17 and had just attempted a P90X workout in my friend's living room after school. I was so thirsty after what felt like a million sit-ups, I took a giant swig of some random protein drink, only to be left sputtering after swallowing the chalky mixture that tasted only faintly like vanilla.

Needless to say, protein powder hasn't exactly been at the top of my grocery list ever since. Beyond the texture and flavor that didn't quite agree with my palate, I always wondered why I'd need a protein supplement if I felt like I got enough of the macronutrient from the chicken, eggs, and beans in my diet.

Well, according to Brittany Michels, MS, registered dietitian for The Vitamin Shoppe, lots of people (and many of her own clients) actually do struggle to get enough protein from their diets alone, which is important because protein has a bunch of vital functions in the body.

For one, the amino acids in protein support neurotransmitter and hormone production (two pretty important functions, I'd say). Secondly, protein also aids in recovery—which means my muscles might not have been so cripplingly sore after my initial P90X experience if I had actually finished that protein drink.

"For those who work out consistently, getting adequate protein at the right times can make a big difference in recovery time," Rebekah Blakely, RD for The Vitamin Shoppe says. "A protein powder delivers the necessary amino acids to the muscles in an efficient manner."

Okay, so maybe I wasn't giving the benefits of protein powder enough credit. But there's always been one additional issue that's kept me away: my sensitive stomach. In my previous run-ins with a protein-boosted smoothie, I'd sport an uncomfy bloat the rest of the day, along with a few too many trips to the restroom.

Knowing my track record with protein powders, I didn't think anything would ever convert me—until I tried Blessed Plant Protein. It's a plant-based protein powder that uses pea protein with 100 percent vegan ingredients (with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or added sugar), which Michels assured me would make it way easier to digest.

"While anyone can enjoy Blessed Plant Protein, its tailored design is a dream for those who are prone to digestive issues," she says. Feeling seen as ever, I decided to try Blessed for a couple weeks to see if whipping up some delicious afternoon smoothies could turn me into a long-term plant-based protein powder drinker.

"While anyone can enjoy Blessed Protein, its tailored design is a dream for those who are prone to digestive issues."

I was off to a pleasant start from the get-go thanks to the flavors I found on each container: Vanilla Chai, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Coconut, S'mores, Strawberry Mylk, and Cookie Crunch. I mean come on, aren't you hungry already after just reading those combos? For my first smoothie, I went with Vanilla Chai mixed with almond milk, banana, blueberries, and strawberries. I could taste the bursts of spice from the Blessed powder in every sip, plus, it filled me up way longer than my usual sans-protein smoothie.

After Vanilla Chai, I gave each flavor a fair shot, and the ones to leave a lasting memory on my taste buds were Choc Coconut (dessert meet protein, protein meet dessert) and Strawberry Mylk, which tastes like sipping on melted strawberry ice cream. And, did I mention there's no chalky aftertaste to speak of?

To really put it to the test, I took Blessed for a spin (err, sip) post-sweat sesh. After each workout, I whipped up a quick shake, and began to notice I didn't wake up feeling like I couldn't move my arms or legs the day after—and no squat-induced wobble out of bed either.

The final test for this plant-based protein powder, though, was to see if it could handle my notoriously sensitive digestive system—and my body's reaction is really what sold me.

"Pea protein is one of the more easily digested plant proteins, with reports of less digestive upset or bloat," Michels says. And it's considered less gritty than other plant proteins on the market, she adds.

So far, my stomach hasn't acted out even once in defiance—and I've been slurping these smoothies up for the past 14 days. Did I just become a protein powder (*pauses for dramatic effect*) lover?

Top photo: Getty Images/Westend61

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