If you’re like many of us, coffee might be the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. And now, the healthy beverage — which is a major source of disease-fighting antioxidants in the diet — may have gotten a social media upgrade to “proffee.”
Proffee is the marriage of “coffee” and “protein,” with the protein coming from powder or protein drinks. Spend any amount of time on TikTok, and you’ll see users taking on this trend by heading to their local coffee joint, ordering a couple of shots of espresso and ice, and then combining that with a bottled protein drink. There are, however, a variety of ways you can make the proffee trend your own.
Luckily, there are bona fide benefits to adding protein to your morning brew. “I’m a big fan of this approach if someone likes the way it tastes in their coffee,” says Molly Kimball, New Orleans-based registered dietitian at Ochsner Fitness Center and host of the podcast Fueled Wellness + Nutrition. Coffee is personal, she says, and something people tend to savor, so if you give proffee a go and like your homemade brew better, then stick with what you like, she says.
According to Kimball, there are also some nutrition benefits to this mash-up. “Adding protein powder helps your coffee pull double duty. Many people have coffee first thing in the morning or iced mid-afternoon, but they don’t have anything nourishing with it,” she adds. Proffee transforms something low-calorie into a more filling drink that can provide your body with calories, protein and other vitamins and minerals to meet your nutrient needs.
Want to give proffee a try? There are several ways to make it happen, depending on your tastes and when you’re drinking it:
HOT PROFFEE: PROTEIN POWDER + COFFEE
Stir a scoop of your favorite protein powder into hot coffee until it dissolves, which also adds some creaminess. (Pro tip: Use a small hand frother — like this one for $12 on Amazon — to expertly dissolve the powder.) Experiment with different protein powders, as you might prefer the taste of one over another when combined with coffee. You can even consider a flavored powder, like vanilla, to add a little extra taste boost.
ICED PROFFEE: READY-TO-DRINK BOTTLED PROTEIN DRINK + COFFEE
In a large glass, combine a bottled ready-to-drink protein drink along with coffee concentrate or espresso and ice to create a protein-packed iced coffee, suggests Kimball. (The type of coffee you choose depends on how strong you like your drink and your preferred protein drink-to-coffee ratio.) When buying a ready-to-drink protein beverage, read the label and pick one that is low in sugar and contains no artificial sweeteners, she adds.
PROFFEE FRAPPE: COFFEE + PROTEIN POWDER + MILK + ICE
In a blender, add protein powder, coffee, milk (try unsweetened almond or coconut) and ice. Blend into a frappe that easily has 20 grams of protein and no added sugar, says Kimball. “This is especially great for someone who likes the frozen, sugary coffee drinks, but it’s a cheaper, more nourishing alternative,” she says.
COLLAGEN POWDER + HOT OR ICED COFFEE
Collagen peptide powder is another way to get protein, says Kimball. Given collagen powder has exploded in popularity in recent years, it’s easy to find, too. “There are some small studies showing that collagen can help with joint and tendon health, as well as hair, skin and nails,” she explains. Check the label of your preferred product, but two scoops should deliver about 20 grams of protein. Stir some into a double espresso for a collagen coffee shot or make it into a frappe with coffee, collagen and ice in a blender.
You can substitute proffee anywhere you’d normally drink coffee. Low in calories but high in protein, it’ll make a more sustaining stand-in for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. (If you are sensitive to caffeine in the afternoon, try decaf or half-caf, or stick to drinking coffee only in the morning.)
When it comes to breakfast, many people don’t realize that they’re skimping on protein during the first meal of the day, particularly if their go-to is a smoothie, oatmeal or a piece of fruit. If you’re aiming to reduce calorie intake to lose weight, you may also consume less protein when dialing back calories, Kimball says. Protein is essential for muscle-building and repair, and it can be much more satiating, too.
Another great time for a proffee kick? Before a workout. “Consuming a source of caffeine before a workout can help decrease the perception of how hard your workout is, so you can have a more powerful workout,” says Kimball. She also points to new research in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that found consuming caffeine a half-hour before exercise helped enhance fat-burning as a source of energy. Adding protein to the mix provides some pre-workout nutrition to help maximize muscle gains.
“I’m always looking for creative ways to get protein into the diet,” says Kimball. “If coffee fuels you on your way out the door, throw protein in and let your coffee do some extra work for you.”