Adding protein powder to your diet probably doesn’t seem that radical to most people—after all, nearly 30% of people who frequent the gym take some sort of protein shake after a heavy workout and that’s on top of the protein they get from a balanced omnivorous diet.
I’m not sure why I resisted for so long, as a quite physically active, plant-based eater, I almost certainly have not been getting enough protein. My diet consists mainly of hearty salads, smoothies (sans protein), and soups but I’m always reaching for snacks—especially during the notorious midday slump. That said, when my partner suggested I try adding protein powder to my diet, I initially laughed him off. After all, studies suggest that most women actually get too much protein.
However, after doing some research of my own and finding an organic, plant-based protein online (I went for Vega One’s Organic Protein), I figured adding a little protein to my smoothie was worth a shot.
Here is exactly what happened when I added protein powder to my diet—including one pretty unexpected thing that went down.
I was admittedly quite excited to start this new routine. My chocolate protein powder smelled weirdly delicious and I figured it would be a great addition to my basic veggies and peanut butter smoothie. I wasn’t wrong! Adding a scoop of protein powder made my smoothie instantly thicker, almost like a healthy (and vegan) version milkshake.
Unfortunately, after I gulped down my smoothie I almost instantly got a stomach ache. I wasn’t sure if it was due to the added protein or an unfortunate coincidence but I spent most of the day loafing on my couch and trying to relax.
By the next day, I was feeling better and decided it was probably just a coincidence that I had such a bad stomach ache—sometimes it just happens to me. I really need to up my probiotic intake, I guess.
Unfortunately, though, I should have done a bit more research. After I finished my post-workout smoothie, I had the exact same horrible stomach ache once again. This time, I did a bit of research and realized that high quantities of protein in one serving can cause stomach issues for anyone not used to that much protein at once.
By day three, I had finally learned my lesson. This time around, I added just a third of a scoop to my smoothie and let me tell you: it worked out a lot better for me. Rather than only focusing on my stomach pain, I noticed how full and satiated I felt for the rest of the day. I usually have one or two afternoon snacks, like lentil chips, a serving of veggies and nuts, or a couple of cookies, but after having the protein in my smoothie I was comfortably full until dinner time—and even then I actually wasn’t too hungry for dinner.
I was really looking forward to my smoothie by day four. I’m so glad I took the time to research proper protein consumption—and even happier that my partner suggested I try a protein powder at all. I decided to up my intake to half a scoop to test the waters—and my stomach didn’t feel upset at all.
By the last day, adding protein powder to my post-workout smoothie felt like second nature. It’s such a relief to not have to constantly search for forms of protein—which, as a plant-based eater can be really tough. Not only am I more full in the afternoons, I also feel like I have a lot more energy, and, I will admit, as someone with a slight sweet tooth, I love the added chocolatey taste and texture that my protein powder provides.