Health

What Is ‘Proffee’? Here’s Why Fitness Pros Are Combining Protein With Coffee

Protein-Infused Coffee (AKA ‘Proffee’) Is All the Rage Among Fitness Fanatics — Here’s Why

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If there’s one thing a true fitness junkie can’t live without, it’s protein — and, of course, one of the best ways to supercharge a shake is to add a caffeine kick. This is why it comes as no surprise that a fusion of the two — “proffee” — has been making waves on social media platforms in 2021 (to date it has more than 2.6 million views on TikTok alone).

RELATED: Best Protein Powders

As the name suggests, proffee combines muscle-building protein with energy-boosting coffee — so, basically, it’s your new best friend for cranking out any kind of workout.

“The pandemic had a huge impact on all of us and, for many people, it changed eating patterns and health goals,” explains Carissa Galloway, RDN, Premier Protein Nutrition Consultant. “During quarantine, we visited our favorite coffee houses less, but still craved that premium, delicious beverage that had been part of our everyday routine. Proffee was a simple yet nutritious alternative that anyone could make at home.”

Samantha McKinney, certified personal trainer and registered dietitian at Life Time, adds that a focus on protein makes sense as more people focus on their overall health and immune system — or look to shed those extra pounds from quarantine. (FYI, the TikTok originator of this trend claimed that they lost 55 lbs in five months by starting their day with proffee). And since coffee is something that may already be a daily habit, it’s a convenient combo that you’re more likely to stick with.

But how do you make proffee? And what benefits exactly can you expect? Read on for the lowdown on this viral trend.


What Is Proffee?


 On a basic level, proffee is just protein-spiked coffee — but there are many ways to customize it according to your own needs and preferences.

For example, Galloway says you can use espresso, hot coffee, instant coffee, or iced coffee as the base. Or, if you’re not a fan of java, you could even add protein powder to another caffeinated bev, like a chai or matcha latte. It’s all about finding what works for your routine.


What Are the Benefits of Proffee?


Protein powder with scoop insideGettyImages

According to Brad Dieter, Ph.D., a NASM-certified nutrition coach, there’s a ton of studies on the performance-enhancing elements of both caffeine and protein. “In isolation, caffeine and protein both have some health benefits,” he says.

“Caffeine has been shown to be beneficial for improving performance when consumed before exercise — specifically, by increasing the time to fatigue and having a slight benefit on power output. It has also been shown to increase alertness and reduce fatigue. Protein is an essential nutrient and is involved in recovery from exercise, maintaining muscle mass, and creating most of the important tissues in your body.”

It’s also worth noting that both protein and caffeine seem to have potential weight loss benefits. Protein has been shown to offer a metabolism boost (since your body burns calories in the process of breaking it down) and it helps your body maintain muscle mass while losing fat. Caffeine, meanwhile, has also been proven to rev up the metabolism while also increasing hormones that contribute to satiety and lowering hunger hormones.

Plus, WRKOUT personal trainer Matthew Traub points out that protein can also help to sweeten up your cup of Joe, thus helping you avoid adding sugar- and fat-laden creamers.


RELATED: Guide to the Pre-Workout Coffee


When to Drink Proffee


 “Caffeine can be a good part of a pre-workout regimen, and protein is needed for optimal workout recovery and results,” says Kinney. “If you choose to combine them, try having it at least an hour or so before you start exercising so that the protein powder has some time to digest.”

Galloway’s favorite time to drink proffee is after a grueling workout — but keep in mind that you may need to adjust your recipe if you go this route. “Consuming it post-workout may help with recovery due to the protein content, but without carbohydrates present, glycogen replenishment and muscle protein repair will be diminished,” notes Dieter.

So, if you’re drinking proffee after hitting the gym, make sure to blend in some carbohydrates, like oats, banana, or low-fat milk.


Potential Downsides


A maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (about four cups of coffee) is considered safe for most adults. That said, if you’re taking certain medications (stimulants, or certain antibiotics, asthma medicines, and heart medicines) it’s important to check with your healthcare provider about whether proffee could cause any negative interactions.

People with heart or sleep disorders, anxiety, IBS, acid reflux, and an overactive bladder should also be mindful of their caffeine consumption and check with their doctor before trying it.

“There are some side effects such as headaches when caffeine is withdrawn,” says Dieter. “Most research suggests that around 200-300 milligrams is an effective dose of caffeine, which is the equivalent of one cup of Starbucks brewed coffee.”

And remember: not all protein powders are created equal. Some products are loaded with sugar or artificial fillers, flavors, and sweeteners, and may even be contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals. Consider asking an RD or nutritionist for their recommendations, and look for “clean” proteins that have fewer ingredients that you recognize.


RELATED: Best-Tasting Protein Powders


How to Make Proffee


Dual espressos being made from an espresso machineGettyImages

According to Dieter, you should aim to consume between 1.4 and 2.2 grams of protein per kg of your body weight — but this also depends on the frequency, nature, and intensity of your workouts.

There are several ways to make proffee:

  • You can make a protein shake in the blender and add in some coffee or a shot or two of espresso

  •  You can make a coffee beverage and stir in some protein powder

  • You can mix the protein into milk or creamer, and then add that to your coffee

Keep in mind that some protein powders can clump up when added to very cold or hot drinks, so you may want to add small amounts at a time while stirring. Of course, you can also use a blender to get a smoother frappe-like consistency — just don’t forget to let your espresso or coffee cool down first. Kinney also notes that collagen protein, in particular, mixes really well into hot beverages.

For an iced proffee, Gallway suggests filling a large tumbler with ice, pouring in two to three shots of cooled espresso and your favorite flavored protein drink, and adding in a dash of cinnamon before stirring. For hot proffee, just swap out the ice for 4 ounces of brewed coffee or two to three shots of hot espresso.

While many different kinds of protein will work, Dieter highly recommends reaching for a whey isolate or concentrate if you’re using animal-based protein. “Hydrolyzed whey can make things taste bitter while casein proteins may change the consistency of the coffee and make it more difficult to drink,” he explains.

If you’re using a plant-based protein powder, Dieter advises looking for a blend that utilizes multiple plant sources (like pea, chia, hemp, or brown rice), and also checking third party reviews to ensure that thet don’t contain high levels of heavy metals (which may not be listed on the label).

“Be sure to read the labels for [a powder] that’s low in sugar,” adds Galloway. “I personally love the Premier Protein High Protein Shakes.” When combined with coffee, the Premier Protein High Protein Shakes add a whopping 30 grams of protein and 24 vitamins and minerals to your coffee that help to support a healthy immune system.

Since this drink doesn’t have to be refrigerated, you can make proffee on-the-go. Keep one of these ready-to-drink shakes in your work or gym bag, and you can easily whip up a proffee at the office or while running errands.


Proffee Recipes


 Here are Galloway’s go-to proffee recipes:

Creamy Iced Caramel Coffee

Ingredients:

Instructions: 

  • Prepare espresso and refrigerate for up to 12 hours (optional)

  • Fill a 14-16 oz glass with ½ cup ice

  • In a separate glass, combine espresso with almond extract

  • Pour espresso over ice and add Premier Protein High Protein Caramel Shake

Frothy Golden Turmeric Vanilla Protein Latte

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  • Froth Premier Protein High Protein Shake on a warm setting. (If you don’t have a frother, shake the Premier Protein shake in the container for 45 seconds and then microwave it in a mug for 45 seconds).

  • Add the espresso to a 14-16 oz mug, and top with the frothed shake and spice blend. Stir to combine with a whisk.


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