Fall is the season for pumpkin spice, and not just in the various coffeeshops and restaurants that started trotting out their autumn flavors alarmingly early this year. You’ll find #PSL fever in the gym, too.
I knew that fall had truly arrived when I was greeted on the Tuesday after Labor Day by a box full of tubs of limited edition pumpkin protein. The supplements, sent my way by sports nutrition company BSN, aren’t technically in the pumpkin spice family—the official name is “Pumpkin Pie”—but the powder is unmistakably in the same flavor profile as the ubiquitous PSL. To ring in the new season the right way, I decided to pop the top and give the powder a taste test after taking on a challenging leg day workout.
While BSN’s is the first pumpkin-flavored protein I’ve have the opportunity to taste, it’s not the only one on the market. A quick search will pull up a few other results, and there are even a few vegan powders made from the big squash itself. But I had a good feeling about this one; the last supplement I tried from BSN, a collaboration with Coldstone Creamery, is the tastiest I’ve ever tried.
Once I opened the tub, my first whiff of the powder was promising. The stuff smelled exactly like the popular coffee drinks: rich, sweet, and unmistakably pumpkin. I measured out a scoop, filled up my shaker, and added cold water. The only thing I was missing was the requisite scarf and flannel, since the sun didn’t get the memo and it was over 85 degrees outside in New York City.
The taste wasn’t overwhelming on the first sip, which is the most you can ask of a uniquely-flavored protein shake. I could make out the cinnamon and pumpkin distinctly, with the same sweet aftertaste you get with a PSL, minus the bad protein-y aftertaste you get with some supplements. The powder mixed well, without the chalky chunks that make drinking some shakes an exercise of choking the concoction down rather than savoring it. The liquid’s color was yellow rather than orange, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m not sure how eager I’d be to chug a bright orange brew.
By sip three, I was tasting more cinnamon than pumpkin. My last gulp, however, was all pumpkin, and no less refreshing than a rich chocolate protein. Overall, I’d give the drink an 8 out of 10—high marks, but I could see myself potentially getting sick of the flavor fast.
The Pumpkin Pie protein passes the taste test, but fares a bit less well in other regards. The Syntha-6 formula is a synthetic protein blend, while MH guidelinesspecify that a single-source—particularly whey or whey isolate alone—is ideal. There’s also more added sugar (1g) and a higher percentage of your daily carbs (5 percent) and less protein per serving (22g) than you might want in your go-to powder.
But you know what? Weather be damned, it’s fall. I’m going to drink a fall shake when I can get one. You can make some concessions for taste, and this protein tastes damn good. Call me a certified Fall Guy, basic as can be, because I’ll be guzzling PSP (Pumpkin Spice Protein) all season.