When you’re not checking TikTok for the latest viral dances or makeup tips, you’re probably learning something new to create in the kitchen. First there was whipped coffee and more recently the coveted baked feta pasta, but one of the latest food trends on the social media app is especially buzzy — pun intended. Protein coffee, otherwise known as “proffee,” popped up a few months ago and has been gaining momentum as a healthy breakfast option or even a pre-workout snack. But do nutritionists sign off on this theory? Well, it’s complicated.
Earlier this year, TikTok user @happyhealthyolivia shared a video that showed her frothing up a Premier Protein shake and adding it to her morning cup of hot coffee. Since then, others have hopped on the proffee trend with their own versions, which include using coffee-flavored shakes with a splash of whipping cream (a favorite of TikTok’s keto community) or even adding protein powder to their favorite Starbucks order — all to mixed results.
Whereas last year’s Dalgona coffee was considered more of an aesthetically friendly treat, proffee has positioned itself as something more health-focused. And while many nutrition experts see some value in the protein-plus-coffee combo, there’s a few things to consider before trying out the trend. First, what exactly are the upsides? “Protein in your coffee has been a staple for health and fitness professionals for years but I’m loving that it’s become a trend for the masses,” explains Melissa Kathryn, “wholeness coach” and author. “The power of caffeine combined with protein is great for heightened mental focus, brain health, [and] fueling your fitness goals, because it supports in building lean muscle.”
Additionally, sipping a protein-spiked coffee could keep you feeling satiated and balance your blood sugar, says Dr. Olivia Audrey, naturopathic doctor, author, and speaker. “Anytime that you can combine protein, especially plant-based — which is going to lower inflammatory levels — with a beverage it’s going to provide a higher level of satiety which means that you are going to balance blood sugar and reduce cravings for hours to come,” she tells TZR. “Combining that with coffee and the branch chain amino acids of good protein powders means that you were also getting brain-boosting benefits not found in a standalone beverage.”
All that said, some experts — like Lisa Richards, nutritionist and author of The Candida Diet — are wary of the idea of substituting the buzzy beverage for a full meal. “For those considering the proffee trend as a means to boost health and get in a quick protein-packed breakfast, there are a few health considerations to keep in mind,” she says. “Primarily it is important to understand that you are likely only taking in protein and caffeine. A coffee loaded protein shake is a minimal replacement for a whole foods breakfast, which would also provide a quality serving of carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients. This breakfast replacement could be paired with a small, on-the-go breakfast like a boiled egg and banana to ensure carbs and fats are getting worked in as well.”
The caffeine factor is also important to consider, says Caitlin Self, a nutritionist for Frugal Nutrition. “Caffeine can impact cortisol levels, which can cause blood sugar highs and lows and energy dips throughout the day,” she explains. “Adding some protein to your coffee may help you to mitigate some of those caffeine jitters and crashes, but make sure you're choosing a high-quality protein powder. Grass-fed collagen, organic hemp protein, and organic pea protein are all good options, but know that collagen tends to blend into coffee the most seamlessly.” Self also warns against the addition of some sugar substitutes. “Watch out for added sugar alcohols (usually ending in -ol) as these can cause increased motility — something compounded by coffee,” the health expert adds.
With this advice to consider, you’ve got some options when it comes to frothing up your own version of this trend — from plant-based protein powders to ready-to-drink canned concoctions. Ahead, find some ingredients and tools to whip up your take on proffee.
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