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Protein powder with coffee

Should you add protein powder to your coffee?

Many people amp up their coffee with a scoop of protein powder. This article explains whether adding protein powder to coffee has any benefits or downsides.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on September 4, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on August 8, 2022.

Adding protein to coffee is one of the latest wellness trends.

While it may sound odd, many claim that it boosts weight loss and improves workouts.

This article examines the science to tell you whether you should add protein powder to your coffee.

Benefits of adding protein to coffee

Studies indicate that adding protein to your coffee may provide several benefits, as enthusiasts claim.

It may improve your workout performance

Combining protein powder with coffee may enhance your workouts.

Coffee is rich in caffeine, a natural stimulant that can improve your muscle’s contractions and resistance to fatigue when you consume it within 60 minutes before exercising.

Likewise, protein powder gives your muscles the building blocks they need to recover from exercise, grow, and become stronger.

Research suggests that people who regularly exercise resistance benefit most from ingesting 0.7–1 gram of protein per pound (1.6–2.2 grams per kg) of body weight.

Taking protein immediately before a workout appears less crucial than once thought. Most people can meet their daily protein needs without the use of supplements.

Nonetheless, adding protein to coffee is a convenient way to load caffeine and protein.

It may help you meet your daily protein needs

One commonly cited benefit to adding protein to coffee is that it helps people who regularly skip breakfast meet their daily protein requirements.

Protein is likely best eaten over several periods throughout the day, especially if you’re physically active and hoping to build muscle or increase strength.

That’s because your body may only be able to use around 0.2 grams of protein per pound (0.5 grams per kg) of body weight at a time for muscle-building purposes.

For someone who weighs 154 pounds (70 kg), this amounts to around 35 grams of protein per meal. Anything above this amount is either used to make energy or excreted through your urine.

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Thus, adding protein to coffee may help you effectively spread your protein intake.

A complete and balanced breakfast is an even better strategy, as it helps fulfill your daily requirements for vitamins, minerals, other essential nutrients, and protein.

It may help you lose weight

Adding protein powder to your coffee may aid weight loss.

Given that protein reduces hunger and promotes fullness, adding it to your coffee may help keep you fuller for longer — and possibly slash the number of calories you eat later in the day.

Protein may also provide a slight metabolism boost because it requires your body to burn more calories to break it down than carbs or fats.

Finally, proper protein intake may help you maintain muscle mass while losing body fat.

Caffeine has potential weight loss benefits of its own. For instance, research suggests that it boosts your metabolism, lowers levels of hunger hormones, and raises levels of fullness hormones.

That said, drinking regular coffee with a protein-rich breakfast will likely provide the same benefits.

Summary: Stirring protein powder into coffee may provide several benefits, such as improved weight loss and workout performance. It may also help you meet your daily protein needs.

Possible downsides

Although coffee with protein powder may benefit those who don’t typically eat or drink anything in the morning, it doesn’t likely help those who eat a balanced, protein-rich breakfast alongside regular coffee.

Suggested read: Should you drink coffee before your workout?

Protein powders remain inferior to whole foods because whole protein sources contain additional vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds seldom found in protein powders.

Moreover, protein powders are sometimes laden with sugar, fillers, artificial sweeteners, and other additives. They also risk being contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, and other ingredients not listed on the label.

Therefore, it remains best to opt for whole, protein-rich foods over protein powders whenever possible.

Summary: Adding protein to coffee is inferior to eating a protein-rich breakfast alongside coffee. Protein powders not only may be high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, and additives but also risk being contaminated with harmful compounds.

How to add protein powder to your coffee

Adding protein to your coffee is simple as long as you keep a few pointers in mind.

Protein powders can clump, especially when added to hot beverages like coffee. To prevent this, try adding only a little protein powder at a time while stirring continuously.

You can also use a blender, but to prevent it from cracking, remove the plastic insert on the lid to allow steam to escape. An immersion blender also works, but it’s best to avoid blenders that don’t allow steam to escape.

Suggested read: Should you drink coffee on an empty stomach?

Alternatively, cool down your coffee with creamer, milk, or ice beforehand, or simply add protein powder to chilled coffee.

Summary: Protein powder is most easily added to cold coffee. If you wish to add it to hot coffee, use a blender or stir continuously to prevent clumps from forming.

Summary

Many health enthusiasts promote adding protein powder to your morning coffee.

Doing so may be convenient for people who regularly skip breakfast to get enough protein. Moreover, combining protein and caffeine may help you shed weight and amp up your workouts.

However, eating a balanced breakfast with your cup of joe remains a superior, more nutritious way to achieve these same benefits — with fewer downsides.

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