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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
July 04, 2022
The only thing that’s as good as a giant cup of coffee first thing in the morning is a protein shake following a killer gym workout. The first wakes you up, providing you with a much-needed boost to kick-start your day.
The latter tastes delicious (assuming you’re using a quality one vetted for flavor) and provides your muscles with a much-needed protein boost as they work to repair after exercise. Separate, they’re superstars.
But, together? Protein and coffee, otherwise referred to as Profee, may just be even better.
In this post, we’ll discuss:
You can and should! Consider protein powder to be a healthy, protein-packed creamer in this scenario, but without the sugar, fat, and senseless calories. It’s also a great on-the-go meal whether you’re heading to work or an early morning gym session, as it’s simple to make, simultaneously provides energy and nutrients, and tastes delicious.
It’s also great at different times throughout the day. We suggest trying it for your morning coffee, on your way to the gym, after your workout, or as a between-meal, protein-packed snack. It's also great regardless of what your current goals are. If you're trying to lose weight, it'll help fill you up, whereas if you're following our 7 day meal plan for muscle gain, it makes for a great snack or breakfast addition.
Without further ado: Here are the benefits of combining this duo.
We need to preface this by saying a high-quality protein powder is essential for the taste and quality of your protein powder and coffee combination. If you get a cheap protein powder with an awful taste, it will not magically turn delicious upon mixing it with coffee.
First and foremost: Read the ingredient list. You want to pick a protein that doesn't have a long list of artificial ingredients. The primary ingredient should be protein. Look for ones with BCAAs, amino acids that help your muscles recover, and a high bioavailability rate, ensuring your body quickly and successfully absorbs the protein and other nutrients found in your protein powder. The last ingredient to look for is leucine, which research shows improves protein synthesis more than a protein powder without it1.
And finally, there are some protein powders out there that are packed with nutrients but still taste bad, so you may have to experiment to find your favorite brand and flavor. In our opinion, cookies and cream reign supreme, but the flavor options truly are endless.
Our mouths are watering at the thought of some of the amazing flavor options, including brownie, snickerdoodle, mint chocolate chip, coffee ice cream, and Oreo.
As we just discussed, if you get a protein powder with minimal artificial sweeteners and flavoring, emphasizes protein as its main ingredient, and includes added nutrients such as BCAAs and leucine, your body is getting everything it needs to encourage protein synthesis. For even more added vitamins and minerals, look for a casein or whey protein powder fortified with vitamin D, magnesium, and iron.
On top of that, coffee has its own added benefits, including lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease2.
Research also shows that it is packed with antioxidants, leading to inflammatory effects and an anticarcinogenic effect.
Studies show that protein powder, when combined with a proper weight lifting routine, like this effective 3-day workout split, leads to more muscle mass and improved strength training performance 3.
Plus, if you get one that includes the BCAAs we just discussed, your amino acid increase will promote muscle synthesis, a process involving producing protein to repair and rebuild your muscles.
This is particularly prevalent when you have your protein powder immediately following a workout, as it delivers the much-needed protein intake to your muscles when they need it most.
It’s also a great way to continue feeding your muscles protein between meals, and when taken before bed, it aids in additional recovery while you sleep. How's that for multi-tasking?
During muscle recovery, your muscle fibers are rebuilding to be bigger and stronger following a workout, so trust us, it’s an important step.
If weight loss is one of your current goals, combining protein powder and coffee can help get you there. A high-quality protein will contain 15 plus grams of protein per 100 calories, and coffee has zero calories.
Combine one serving of protein powder with coffee, and you’re looking at a nutrient-rich meal replacement or snack containing about 120 calories. You’ll feel more full thanks to the protein, and this low-calorie option makes it easier to stick with your daily intake goals.
Plus, protein powder has additional health benefits, including encouraging body recomposition, which preserves lean muscle while reducing body fat, leading to the ultimate weight-loss combo.
A study examined two groups, one that consumed whey protein and the other that did not, and found that the whey protein group lost significantly more body fat and preserved lean muscle better than the control group4.
Anytime you’re combining minimal ingredients, placing them in a cup, and bringing them to go, you’re going to appreciate the convenience of it. Combining protein powder and coffee requires no additional ingredients or much time, so you can mix a few things, take it to sip during your morning commute, and enjoy the great taste.
It tastes even better when you know your body is absorbing crucial nutrients and antioxidants.
Since protein powder comes in just about every flavor, you can give your coffee a variety of delicious flavors. Opt for caramel one day, vanilla ice cream the next, and consider finishing the week with a chocolate brownie flavor.
You also have the option to enjoy this drink hot or cold and can easily customize it with more added preferences, including milk, spices such as cinnamon, and extracts like vanilla and maple. Yum!
In addition, two of the best times for deciding when to take a protein shake include post-workout and as a snack. If you're looking for some variety to switch up your protein routine, turning it into protein coffee to enjoy after an intense workout is about as versatile and delicious as it gets!
Yes, as long as you get a good-tasting protein powder. An easy way to check whether your specific protein powder tastes good with coffee is by first mixing it with only water. If it tastes good with water and seems like a compatible flavor to pair with coffee, it'll likely taste good in your Proffee concoction.
If you think it tastes gross, coffee probably isn't going to change that.
You can put protein powder in hot coffee, but there are a few techniques we’ll get into in just a bit that either improve the flavor or help avoid a mixing disaster. If you try to add your protein powder into your coffee and mix it with a spoon, your drink will be super lumpy.
It's hard for the protein powder to thoroughly dissolve this way, which is why you use a shaker cup when you consume it with cold water. And as far as heating your protein powder, rest easy it’s not going to ruin its nutritional value.
A few strategies you can use for combining protein powder with hot coffee include using a blender or mixing protein powder with water or milk and then adding it to your coffee.
More on these techniques in a moment.
If you enjoy adding milk to your coffee, you’ll likely enjoy it in your coffee-protein drink. It can provide a better flavor and texture, and if you’re using dairy milk, another dose of appetite-decreasing, muscle-building protein. Just remember, it will also increase the drink’s calorie content, so factor that in accordingly.
To combine the three, we suggest first shaking your protein powder with milk until dissolved, and then adding it to your cup of coffee. You'll enjoy your drink even more, knowing you're getting caffeine while supporting muscle growth.
Not a fan of dairy? Oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk are also great choices!
We’ve covered that you can combine (and should) the two and that stirring them together won't yield delicious results. The traditional technique of shaking it in a cup isn’t a good idea, either. Shaking your hot coffee in a container that’s sealed, like a shaker cup, increases the temperature and pressure inside your cup, potentially causing your coffee to burst through the top.
Between the mess and hot coffee spurting everywhere, we wouldn’t recommend it. The last thing anyone wants to do is clean up coffee and deal with burns first thing in the morning (or quite frankly, anytime).
Instead, use an immersion blender. It will break up all the clumps, and you won’t have to worry about it surging through the top while you’re mixing it. The other way to combine the two is by first mixing your protein powder with a small amount of cold water.
Once you've thoroughly dissolved the protein, add your dissolved protein powder water to your cup of hot coffee.
If you enjoy iced coffee, add protein powder in and you'll have a delicious treat. Iced protein coffee is a lifesaver for times when you can’t fathom drinking something hot, including a 90-degree summer day or following a sweaty gym session. You also don’t need to worry about your technique as much with cold coffee.
Use any of the techniques we suggested above, or simply shake the two in a shaker cup to combine. Since you're now dealing with a cold drink, it won't create the internal pressure that hot coffee does when shaken up.
Your current favorite protein powder is the best one to use with your coffee since you know you enjoy the flavor. You may also want to avoid going crazy with your flavor choice. We love lucky charms and fruity pebbles protein powder as much as the next guy, but it’s probably not going to pair well with coffees strong flavor.
Instead, opt for vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, peanut butter chocolate - you get the gist. A few brands worth looking into include Level-1 (our favorites are the caramel lattes and vanilla ice cream flavors), Clean Simple Eats, Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard, Legion’s Whey +, Ghost, and Dymatize ISO 100.
It's also worth researching whether plant protein or whey protein is best for you.
There are a few recipe variations included here, so you can make it with or without milk, or for those warm-weather days, iced. Simple and satisfying, protein powder coffee will quickly become your morning go-to. Easy protein coffee that satisfies while helping maintain lean muscle? Sign us up!
Determine how much protein you need per day to build muscle and adjust your serving size accordingly. If you're hoping to give your protein coffee an added nutrient boost, consider including a scoop of collagen as well.
Directions: In an immersion blender, combine your coffee and protein powder, blending until the protein powder thoroughly dissolves. Alternatively, you can mix your protein powder with 1/3 cup of cold water, and then stir it into your coffee.
Directions: Add all of your ingredients to an immersion blender, blending until the protein completely dissolves. To prepare without an immersion blender, combine the protein powder and milk; then stir into your coffee.
Directions: Add all of your ingredients to an immersion blender, continuing until they are well combined. Enjoy!
Without adding anything to it, there are 0 grams of protein in black coffee. If you add one scoop of protein powder to your black coffee, you can increase this to between 20 and 30 grams of protein.
Add 1/2 cup of dairy milk as well, and there are another four grams of protein.
It depends on the protein, which is why it’s crucial to always read the list of ingredients. Many protein powder brands and flavors do not have caffeine.
But several coffee-flavored or mocha protein powders can contain anywhere from 15 to 120 milligrams per serving.
Yes! In addition to combining protein and coffee into a delicious drink, you also have several options for purchasing pre-made protein coffee and coffee protein.
For coffee protein, many of these are iced beverages you can buy in-store or online and combine a protein boost with caffeine-rich coffee.
Kitu Super Coffee is a great option, containing 10 grams of protein, 70 calories, and flavors such as coconut mocha, sweet cream, and French vanilla.
High Brew is another great pre-made coffee protein drink, with its creamy cappuccino flavor containing 12 grams of protein per 8-ounce serving.
You can also find plenty of coffee-flavored protein powders, and as you can imagine, tastes delicious when blended with a cup of Joe.
Certain brands, like Click, also have an all-in-one coffee and protein drink mix, which has 15 grams of slow-releasing protein and provides you the option of serving it hot or iced. Nothing beats a refreshing iced protein drink after completing a tough workout, like this ultimate full-body workout plan.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, consuming a coffee protein drink may cause you to feel jittery, anxious, shaky or restless, dizzy, or accelerate your heart rate. In addition, if you have this drink too close to the end of the day, you may struggle with insomnia or fall asleep.
However, if you have it earlier in the day and don’t struggle with caffeine-sensitivity issues, there are no negative effects from combining two nutritious ingredients into one. There are two other things to look out for here.
One: If you consume too many of these in a day and aren’t tracking your calories, you could quickly begin gaining weight as each drink will contain between 100 and 200 calories. Two: If you don’t select a high-quality protein and instead settle for one with artificial ingredients and sweeteners, you may suffer from gastrointestinal issues and hormone imbalances.
Stick with the clean ones; your body will thank you!
Looking for a few extra tips to make your proffee even more delicious? If you’re opting for the iced version, use vanilla protein powder, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a banana for a more shake-like Proffee variation.
Plus, having it pre-workout will give your body a healthy dose of caffeine, carbs, and protein, ensuring your body has the perfect balance of protein and energy before hitting the weights.
Or, for a simple way to elevate your protein coffee flavor, use flavored unsweetened almond milk, and exclude the banana.
This combination will taste great hot or cold. Other easy ways to add more flavor include adding cinnamon, pure maple or vanilla extract, honey, and coconut oil.
Including powdered peanut butter is another excellent way to add more flavor and protein with minimal calories.
For an added touch, don’t forget to spend a few seconds frothing at the end. Few things in life are more satisfying than sipping a foamy, protein-packed drink. And do your research, including the differences between whey isolate and concentrate, to find your perfect protein pairing. With the right protein, drinking coffee is about to get even better.
And when you pair it with a plate of high protein French toast, your body and tastebuds will thank you!
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