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Whether you love a simple roast with a splash of milk or prefer an intense cold brew, a healthy dose of caffeine is a great way to start your day. Following the dalgona craze, there’s a new favorite on the block—protein coffee, or “proffee,” has taken the internet by storm.
So, what is a protein coffee, exactly? This beverage is made by adding a pre-made protein shake or protein powder directly to a cup of coffee. “Historically, we have added protein in the form of milk, but this new item takes it to another level,” says nutritionist Karin Evans, RDN, of Top Nutrition Coaching.
Protein coffee has also become a popular morning choice thanks to the low-carb or keto trends, which emphasizes protein and fat over carbs to trigger a state called ketosis, where your body burns fat rather than carbs for energy, says Christa Brown, RDN, who specializes in diabetes care and women’s health. Proffee is a great choice if you’re trying to consume fewer carb-heavy meals, snacks, and drinks while loading up on protein.
The wide variety of flavors available with protein powders also makes protein coffee a fun way to enjoy your cup of joe with some bonus nutrients, adds Evans.
Meet the experts: Karin Evans, RDN, is a nutritionist with Top Nutrition Coaching. Christa Brown, RDN, is a nutritionist who specializes in diabetes care and women’s health.
Ready to get sipping? Here’s everything you need to know about protein coffee, including the benefits, potential risks, and how to make it to your liking. Cheers!
So, is protein coffee good for you?
For those who are always in a rush to get out the door in the morning, protein coffee “provides a quick and easy way to get some nutrition, and it puts at least some nutrients into the gut to start the day,” says Evans.
Despite what wellness trends may preach, starting your day with protein coffee will not necessarily help you lose weight. But if you skip breakfast on the reg and end up eating way too much at lunch or snacking endlessly throughout the day, protein coffee might help increase satiety and prevent you from overeating later.
Upping your protein intake in the morning could also help keep your energy levels stable and consistent, says Brown. This is especially beneficial for people living with type 2 diabetes since a high-protein breakfast can stabilize blood sugar and prevent glucose spikes better than a high-carb meal, according to 2015 research published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Another perk? Proffee may give your body the boost it needs to power through an intense workout, since caffeine and protein have been shown to improve muscle performance in athletes, per 2020 research published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living.
Okay, are there any downsides to protein coffee?
The added protein may change the texture of your drink, says Brown. Depending on the type of powder you use, your blend may turn out grittier or thicker than you’d like.
And if your protein powder is made with sugar substitutes like stevia, erythritol, or aspartame, you may experience stomach discomfort, bloating, or diarrhea, says Evans. So, always read the label carefully and choose a powder without artificial sweeteners.
You can drink protein every day—just be mindful of how much you’re consuming so you don’t overdo it. “If you’re not exceeding the caffeine limit of 400 mg per day and need help getting your protein needs met (0.8 g/kg body weight), then this is a great supplement,” Brown says.
That said, those who are pregnant should check with your doctor before drinking protein coffee (or any kind of caffeine, really). “They need to be careful of the amount of caffeine they consume daily, which is 200 mg, or about two six-ounce cups per day,” says Brown.
One important note: Protein coffee is *not* a meal replacement, says Evans. “It only provides protein, not carbohydrate and fat, which are recommended as part of a balanced meal or snack.” So, make sure you pair your protein coffee with foods like whole-grain avocado toast or some yogurt with fruits and low-sugar granola.
How to Make Protein Coffee at Home
All you have to do is blend your favorite brew and add protein powder, says Evans. Whey protein is often easiest to digest and may mix better in your coffee. For plant-based folks, pea protein powder is a great vegan option. The taste of the protein powder will transfer, so choose one that pairs nicely with coffee like chocolate or vanilla.
You can play around with the protein-to-coffee ratio and find what tastes best to you. “Less is more, and it really comes down to taste and texture versus safety,” says Brown. Start with just a few grams to one scoop, then sprinkle in more if you want more flavor.
Protein coffee works hot or iced, but the powder may not dissolve completely when added to a hot drink, says Evans. “It’s recommended to blend hot coffee and protein powder so it provides a frothy drink, but if the coffee is cold, protein powder will blend more easily,” she explains.
The bottom line: Customize your profee to find what tastes best for you and experiment with the flavors, proportions, and temperatures. Want some extra creaminess? Add a splash of your favorite milk.
Can you buy protein coffee?
If you prefer to buy a coffee protein shake, there are ready-to-go options available. Check out these sips recommended by Brown and top-rated products on Amazon.
1. BuzzFit Protein Coffee
BuzzFit protein coffee is a medium roast Colombian instant coffee with 10 grams of whey protein per cup, says Brown. There’s also no added flavorings, additives, or unnecessary ingredients, she notes.
2. OWYN Vegan Plant-Based Cold Brew Coffee
Each bottle of OWYN’s cold brew shake contains 20 grams of protein with no sugar alcohols or Stevia added. Store it in the fridge for an extra refreshing taste or blend with ice.
3. ALOHA Iced Coffee Protein Drink
This drink is dairy-free, vegan, paleo, and low carb. Each bottle packs 20 grams of protein and three grams of fiber, making it the perfect morning java to keep you full until lunch.
4. Chike High Protein Iced Coffee
Two shots of real espresso and 20 grams of whey protein per serving? Yes, please! “The reason I prefer this brand is because it has no added sugars and uses whey as its source of protein,” says Brown. Plus, it comes in seven different flavors!
5. Iconic Cafe Latte
If you’re running out the door and need a protein boost to start your day, Iconic protein drinks are a great sugar-free option with a whopping 20 grams of grass-fed protein per bottle. Each drink is also gluten- and lactose-free and made without artificial sweeteners.
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