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Should You Add Protein to Your Coffee?

What do you get when you combine protein powder with cold-brewed coffee? Coffee, according to TikTok. The hashtag has almost four million views, with doctors in scrubs praising the drink as a protein-rich weight-loss pick-me-up.

Tara Collingwood, RDN, an Orlando-based registered dietitian, says proffee often comprises coffee and a protein supplement, such as protein powder or a high-protein drink. Adding a third of a Premier Protein shake to her tea every morning has been her ritual for years. It’s great in her huge travel mug of tea.

Is a Protein Breakfast Necessary?

Protein has several health benefits, from maintaining or increasing muscle strength to fighting infections and bacteria. However, new evidence reveals that timing your protein intake is crucial. One study found that many adults consume their most protein-dense meal late at night. The American Society of Nutrition states that late-day protein intake (30 grams or more) must be consumed quickly or stored as fat. According to the USDA, a 4-ounce steak has 25 grams of protein (USDA).

photo of coffee mug on top of book
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Protein eaten three times per day increased muscle protein synthesis as opposed to protein eaten mostly at night, according to the Journal of Nutrition. Prolonged protein intake led to a 25% increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to one-time protein intake.

He advises eating protein throughout the day because our bodies can only use so much at once. Breakfast should contain 20-30 grams of protein, she says. “We need carbs for energy, but they deplete quickly and may leave us hungry,” she adds. “Protein gives breakfast more power.”

A single high-protein meal (with slightly more than half the calories from protein) had a stronger effect on appetite-regulating hormones than a low-protein breakfast, and those who ate the high-protein breakfast felt less hungry later. The influence did not apply to all satiety hormones, the researchers say.

Is it better to drink protein than to eat it?

Why consume protein? “When protein isn’t paired with soluble fiber and lipids, it digests faster,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook. “Because you’re not absorbing pure protein when you chew, watery protein may be faster.”

Collingwood concedes this is true in theory, but says there is no definitive study to back it up. “Since liquids are absorbed and digested faster than solid foods, it makes sense that liquid protein would be absorbed and utilized faster.”

Is it important whether the coffee is decaffeinated?

Caffeine is a stimulant that does not have the same effects as decaffeinated coffee. “The use and absorption of protein should be affected by caffeine,” said Collingwood. Caffeine is a natural stimulant for digestion, adds Newgent. “This can increase the motility of digestion,” she adds.

There is a lot of study on the health benefits and risks of coffee and protein, but not much on how they combine. While caffeinated coffee is more effective, decaffeinated coffee contains protein.

What Are Some Cheap Protein Coffee Additives?

The liquid protein shake Collingwood uses in her coffee is barely a third of the carton, or approximately 50 calories and 10 grams of protein. Like a powder, it mixes in smoothly and doesn’t need to dissolve. Instead, add a scoop of protein powder to your coffee for a fraction of the cost.

“Unless you’re an athlete,” Newgent argues, “you don’t need protein powder.” Most people get enough protein from their diet.” She thinks many protein powders are over-processed and lack the nutritional value of protein-rich whole foods, particularly plant-based diets.

Instead, choose protein-rich whole meals. A coffee smoothie would consist of cold-brewed coffee, plant-based milk, chocolate powder, banana, and nut butter.

Is Coffee Risky?

The same goes for protein and coffee, says Newgent. Overdoing it on protein and coffee is the worst thing you can do. The FDA recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day or four to five cups of coffee. A sedentary adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound — around 56 grams of protein per day for a man and 46 grams for a woman.

The body may not metabolize excess protein, causing a “metabolic strain” on the bones, kidneys, and liver. A study published in the August 2020 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology recommends limiting protein intake.

Chronic effects of too much coffee include migraines and tremors, as well as agitation, irritation, and restlessness. A May 2017 review of studies found that pregnant women, children, and persons with mental health issues are especially “sensitive” to the detrimental effects of coffee. “Those who need to avoid caffeine, such as those with heart conditions, should drink decaf coffee,” Newgent advises.

Collingwood claims that a daily cup of coffee can provide much-needed protein, as well as vitamins and nutrients. The alternative is coffee creamer, which is primarily fat and has no nutritional value. Protein powders and shakes typically contain calcium, vitamin D, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

Should You Try Proffee?

Is it proper to start the day with coffee? According to Newgent, if you desire a cup of joe in the morning but don’t eat breakfast or don’t get enough protein in your morning meal, proffee may be a decent solution.

To maximize the advantages and minimize any bad effects, keep track of your protein and caffeine intake throughout the day.

If you want to make chocolate proffee, click here.

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