Want some protein in your cup of joe?
Protein coffee is a trend that’s gaining ground fast, and it’s not hard to see why.
In its simplest form, protein coffee refers to coffee-rich protein powders that are added to cold water to make refreshing smoothies Because protein powder can mix better with cold drinks than hot drinks, most commercial protein coffee manufacturers suggest drinking protein coffee as a chilled beverage.
It’s no secret that protein powders and shakes can take any workout to the next level. Protein intake helps you grow more muscles and maintain the bulk. Post-workout shakes, in particular, can also help with muscle recovery.
Coffee, on the other hand, has made a major mark in the workout scene. It boosts your workouts by revving up your metabolism, energizing, and alleviating muscle pain. It can also help you focus better on your exercises.
Protein coffee brings together the best of the two worlds.
And, it was just a matter of time before someone added a dash of protein to their piping hot mug of coffee.
Taking protein-infused coffee is a habit that the likes of self-made billionaire and Instagram sensation, Kylie Jenner, have picked up. Some people have gone so far as to call protein coffee a “stroke of genius.”
This begs the question: is protein coffee yet another fleeting craze that’s being hyped up by Instagram followers?
Or, a great match that’ll revolutionize fitness and wellness space?
Continue reading this comprehensive guide to protein coffee to get the answer to these valid questions.
What Is Protein Coffee?
Protein coffee is exactly what it sounds like – a combination of protein powders (whether soy, whey or collagen) and coffee. In other words, it is a coffee-based protein supplement.
If you’re wondering why someone might want to combine coffee and protein powders, you aren’t alone. But, there’s a good reason behind this, and we have dedicated a whole section to the benefits of this approach.
When you consume this tasty blend, you gain from the dual benefit of protein’s nutritional value, as well as the stimulating, antioxidant, energizing and appetite-fighting properties of caffeine found in coffee.
Incorporating protein into your coffee can also help you lose weight and keep it off, particularly if you are on a low carbohydrate diet. Ultimately, this is an excellent way to make sure that you’re getting sufficient amounts of protein to grow, recover and maintain your muscles.
And for this reason, athletes, bodybuilders and even ordinary exercisers stand to benefit the most.
Is Coffee On Its Own a Good Source of Protein?
The short answer: no, coffee is not a good source of protein.
However, protein content depends on the type of coffee. For instance, one cup (about 6 fluid ounces) of black coffee contains approximately 0.21 grams of protein, which is not meaningful, to say the least.
When you add sugar, cream, milk or any other sweeteners to your coffee to improve taste or richness, you may increase its protein content.
For example, one cup of caffe latte contains an average of 4.41 grams of protein, which is a significant contribution to your daily recommended intake.
All in all, regular coffee brewed with tap water has little to no protein. In fact, a cup of coffee with cream consists of only 0.39 grams of protein. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to perk up your cup of coffee with some protein powder.
Does Coffee Reduce Protein Absorption?
While there are not many studies and research into the subject matter, coffee (or caffeine, to be precise) does not seem to negatively affect the body’s ability to absorb protein.
On the contrary, caffeine – the most abundant compound that’s active ingredient in coffee – can positively influence both your body and mind in several ways.
- It improves mental sharpness, as well as reduce fatigue, a bad mood and other signs of tiredness.
- It ups your heart rate.
- It increases your metabolism and available fat for burning.
- It has antioxidants which help reduce inflammation and pain.
- It enhances the function of your respiratory system, boosting oxygen circulation.
- The stimulating nature of caffeine make your exercises seem less arduous.
- It encourages the production of happy-feel hormones like dopamine.
Despite all these favorable outcomes, caffeine does NOT prevent the absorption or breakdown of protein.
Can I Use Protein Powder in My Coffee?
That’s a resounding, yes. Coffee and protein powder is a match made in heaven.
If you are a regular user of protein powder, the chances are that you have already tried mixing them into your smoothies, sprinkling on your cereal, adding to your shakes, and whatnot. The result is always the same: something tasty yet rich in protein for your pre-workout, during workout and post-workout routine.
Turns out, you can also blend your favorite protein powders into your cup of joe! However, most people have found that combining protein powder with piping hot coffee will result in a foamy mixture.
If you want to avoid this, add milk, creamer or other additives to cool the coffee first before stirring in the powder. Alternatively, you can add the powder to a cold drink of coffee to produce a savory protein iced coffee.
Why Protein + Coffee Combo Works
Coffee doesn’t just taste heavenly — it’s also stimulating, energizing and can deliver a ton of health benefits. In fact, in recent years, researchers and scientists have studied the impact of caffeine/coffee on several facets of health. Their findings have been quite amazing.
We all know that the value of protein to our bodies is absolute. So, individual health benefits of protein powders and coffee are obvious. But what’s so special about combining them?
The allure behind protein coffee lies in the fact that protein powder cancels out the negative effects of drinking coffee.
For instance, consuming excess coffee can adversely impact on your body’s ability to absorb iron, which is a vital mineral for making red blood cells and reinforcing the immune system.
In one study published in 2017, scientists discovered that whey protein powder fortified with lactoferrin can help improve iron absorption. Unfortunately, not all types of protein possess this pro-iron absorption attribute. Soy protein, in particular, has been found to inhibit the process.
In most cases, drinking coffee improves the positive effects of certain proteins.
The same goes for some protein on the positive properties of caffeine. Better yet, the effects of coffee and protein powders counteract each other, making the blend a truly neutral supplement.
This is seen in bodybuilders and heavy exercisers who add protein powder to their coffees for post-work recovery.
Specifically, the nurturing properties of protein helps counterbalance the stress-elevating effects of cortisol whose levels are often increased by coffee consumption before the workout.
Don’t forget that blending protein with coffee also improves taste, especially if you’re on a low carb or sugar-free diet.
If you are trying to get in shape, the odds are that your diet doesn’t allow you to add milk, sweeteners or creamers to your coffee. Needless to say, this can affect the taste of your coffee, which, in turn, can impact on your workout performance.
Most protein coffees are designed to be rich and best-tasting while having low percentages of fat and carbs (Personally, I’m on a Keto diet and I prefer the Complete Nutrition brand because one serving has 1g carbs which allows me to stay within the 15 grams of carbs a day). They have less lactose, sugar and arguably taste amazing.
On the other, you can go with flavored protein powders. The good news is that there are many flavors out there, including chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, blueberry, etc. This way, you can pick one that best suits your preference and taste.
Coffee & Protein Health Benefits
(1) Protein Coffee Prevents Age-Related Muscle Loss
You need muscles to build strength, improve performance, and even shave extra pounds. The higher your muscle mass, the stronger you are and the more calories (and fat) you will burn.
Unfortunately, people tend to lose muscle as they age. That’s why we gain more fat with age, which then becomes a risk factor for many chronic conditions, ranging from obesity to high blood pressure.
The good news is that you can slow down, prevent or even reverse muscle mass loss with a combination of protein coffee, healthy diet and workouts.
Taking high-protein supplements coupled with workout sessions has been found to be the perfect combination to stay or get fit. That’s where a high-protein coffee blend comes in handy.
Coffee, on its end, helps boost your workout session so you can build better muscles and maintain them.
To achieve optimal results, however, make sure to mix your coffee with high quality protein powders, especially whey protein products which are known to have an abundance of leucine.
Leucine a class of highly specialized, branched-chain amino acids that help with muscle regeneration and production of ATP (the fuel choice for muscles). It also promotes muscle growth and facilitates recovery after heavy workouts.
There are several studies that seem to suggest that whey protein powders are slightly better at preventing muscle loss related to aging than other protein types like soy, casein or collagen. More importantly, the effects of whey protein powder can be enhanced by the presence of caffeine.
At the end of the day, effective prevention of age-related muscle can help you stay built, improve strength, and have a great-looking body even as your years proceed.
(2) Protein Coffee Increases Mental Alertness and Enhances Cognitive Function
If your mind isn’t in the right place, you will find it hard to work out and stay the course when it comes to your weight loss or training program.
A combo of coffee and proper protein can help.
That’s right. Consuming a blend of coffee with protein powder can not only improve your memory recall and cognitive brain function but also significantly increase your mental alertness.
This positive attribute of protein coffee can even help delay the symptoms and early onset of neurodegenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and chronic memory lapses.
In one particularly exciting study published in 2002, Alexandre de Mendonça and his team at the Laboratory of Neurosciences, University of Lisbon found that drinking coffee regularly can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease by up to 60 percent.
The stimulating properties of caffeine can also keep anxiety and depression at bay by binding with certain brain receptors associated with pain and stress.
According to various studies, whey protein can also increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. This is the hormone that influences several cognitive functions, including sleep, appetite, libido, memory, digestion, social behavior, and even mood.
By improving your mood and staving off depression, protein coffee helps you stay alert and mentally ready to tackle the physical, mental and psychological demands of working out, dieting and other aspects of weight loss.
(3) Protein Coffee Supports Weight Loss
Given that nearly two-thirds of all adult Americans are either obese or struggling with weight issues, anything that promises to help with weight loss is a welcome respite.
Protein, when taken with coffee, can help you lose unwanted weight and keep it off in a number of ways.
First off, it increases your metabolic rate.
You have probably been told your whole life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Indeed it is, and keeping breakfast can impact on your metabolism. If this sounds like you, protein coffee can do wonders for your metabolic system.
Not only does coffee infused with protein powder improve your metabolism but it also curbs your raging appetite, allowing you to naturally decrease the total amount of calories you need to consume each day. That’s a holy grail combination for anyone trying to shed excess pounds.
Furthermore, caffeine also gives you an added mental edge. When you are on a low carb or sugar-restricted diet, your mood can suffer. You can use a little pick-me-up every now and then so you can stay the course.
That’s exactly what coffee does. It makes you feel spirited and good so you can beat the melancholy of trying to stick to your diet.
For years and decades, protein powders and shakes have been a core part of weight loss programs and meal replacements. Including coffee in your shakes will add a fun twist to the whole concept, taking your weight loss efforts to the next level.
In addition to suppressing appetite and increasing metabolism, coffee also improves your stamina and performance during exercises, training, and workouts. This allows you to burn more calories and fat, according to a 2013 study.
Bottom line: Coffee-infused protein powders are rich in caffeine which reduces your appetite, boosts your workouts, and ensures that your metabolism is in tip-top shape. Taken together 30 minutes to 1 hour before your workout, coffee and protein can enhance weight loss.
(4) Protein Coffee Improves Strength and Stamina During Workouts and Exercise
Drinking protein coffee 30-60 minutes before your workout provides you with a much needed energy boost. The heat from coffee is sufficient to denature the protein so that it can be digested and absorbed quickly into your bloodstream.
Protein powder provides you with strength, while coffee gives you energy. What a combo!
The other thing to consider is that caffeine found in coffee helps increase your heart rate and blood pressure for just a couple of hours. This ensures that there’s an adequate supply of nutrients, fuel, and oxygen to the muscles.
The ability of caffeine molecules to bind with adenosine receptors in the brain allows the blood vessels to constrict and increase the blood flow.
Additionally, the same adenosine receptors prevent the feelings of depression, fatigue, and tiredness, as well as encourage the body to produce more happy-feel and stimulating hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine.
And by relaxing your central nervous system (CNS), the adenosine receptors help boost your mental strength and alertness. With protein powders helping your muscles grow and caffeine improving your mental energy, you will have enough stamina and strength to power through your workouts and exercise.
(5) Protein Coffee Helps with Post-Workout Recovery
Coffee, or caffeine for that matter, is said to be catabolic, which is a technical term for a compound that facilitates the breakdown of energy.
Protein powders, on the other hand, have anabolic effects. That means that protein intake helps rebuild and repair lost energy.
These are two opposing effects that counterbalance each other.
That’s why taking coffee-rich protein powder is recommended before working out.
The caffeine will act like a tablet that releases energy into your body. This continues until your workout/exercise session is over, or until the caffeine in your body is depleted.
Protein comes into force post-workout, allowing your body to replenish lost energy and reduce cortisol levels caused by the stress of exercising.
The other benefit is that protein dissolved in water is absorbed faster, which means that there will be plenty of it to repair and rebuild your muscle tissue, tendons, and fibers.
In summary, coffee + protein powder helps you recover quickly post-workout through:
- Ensuring higher availability of “building” proteins
- Improving the cortisol/testosterone ratio
- Reducing cortisol levels
- Dilating blood vessels due to the effects of caffeine/adenosine receptors making sure that there are enough nutrients needed for recovery.
(6) Protein Coffee Enhances Heart Health
A 2010 study found that taking 54g of whey protein each day can reduce high cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol, the leading risk factor for heart attack and other cardiovascular conditions.
According to another study presented at the Scientific Sessions 2013 led by the American Heart Association, Dr. Masato Tsutsui discovered that coffee can help small blood vessels deliver more nutrients to the peripheral nervous system (PNS).
When combined together, coffee and protein powder can lower blood pressure, improve circulation, reduced death of heart cells, and reduce bad cholesterol. The combined effort will help improve your cardiovascular health.
(7) Protein Coffee Has Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative stress due to the accumulation of free radicals can cause adverse effects at the cellular level.
Inflammation is typically a sign of the damage caused by these free radicals. If not supported by a responsive immune system, prolonged inflammation can have a major impact on the body. Your brain, your immune system and your heart often suffer the most.
Thankfully, protein coffee isn’t just a nourishing, tasty stimulant. Coffee in and of itself is packed with great minerals and vitamins, including a decent amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.
Antioxidants help counteract the effects of free radicals. Did you know that coffee beats veggies and fruits when it comes to the top source of antioxidants in the American diet?
According to nutritional facts website self.com, a single cup of joe has 6 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) for vitamin B5, 11 percent for vitamin B2, 2 percent for both vitamins B1 & B3, and 3 percent of essential metals manganese & potassium.
(8) Protein Coffee Helps Reduce the Risk of Developing Metabolic Syndrome
With obesity on the rise across the US, metabolic syndrome is becoming a growing pain for most adults and healthcare providers alike.
This is a condition that occurs as a precursor to several lifestyle chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and hypertension. According to Linda Ciampa at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), resistance to insulin, high blood sugar and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are usually the key signs of the disease.
A combination of protein powder and coffee can help prevent the onset and may even reverse the effects of this syndrome. Coffee, for one, aids the metabolism while protein builds muscle mass to help you burn more fat and calories.
Protein powders and coffee are very easy to add to a diet or weight loss program. Some people add the powder to yogurts, smoothies, milk or even cereal. So, why not add it to your favorite drink: coffee?
Even though moderate amounts of protein coffee are good for your health and well-being, taking way too much may not help.
In fact, excessive consumption of coffee can do more harm than good.
Too much protein, on the other hand, can lead to digestive problems, like diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, cramping, bloating, pain and nausea.
When all’s said and done, taking coffee-infused protein is not just an effective way to increase your protein intake. It also delivers powerful health benefits, from preventing the onset of metabolic syndrome to boosting your workout stamina.