Protein Coffee - Why is it a growing trend?
Whether you like it or not, we can thank social media platform TikTok for a few interesting health trends over the past few years; from ‘Nature’s Cereal’ to the chia seed ‘Internal Shower’ people are trying these new health hacks all over the globe. The latest TikTok trend making waves includes two of our favourite ingredients; Protein + Coffee or #Proffee.
With over 9.9 million views and counting, TikTokers are uploading their Proffee recipes in which they create a drink made with ice, espresso and a protein shake. But does this latest wellness trend live up to the hype? We asked our In House Nutritionist, Jo Woodhurst on whether this hack was one to try or one to scroll past;
Why do you think this is such a popular trend?
It’s easy to see why so many people have jumped on this one. For one, it’s really convenient and super quick to make and it’s also hitting two goals in one; getting your hit of caffeine and upping your protein intake. We’re all looking for more ways to make life easier, so this seems like a fun one to try.
Is adding protein to our coffee a good idea?
Many of us can absolutely benefit from adding more protein in our diets. Protein is found in every cell in our body and we need a constant ‘topping up’ every three hours or so. Exactly how much protein you will need personally depends on a few key factors; your gender, age, activity levels, health status and health goals. The marker for optimum protein intake keeps shifting the more we learn about this all important macronutrient, but what is interesting is that as a whole we seem to be vastly underestimating how much protein we’re consuming across the day.
Finding interesting and easy ways to add a little more protein here and there can be a great way to ensure you’re getting enough. The Proffee trend tends to use pre-made protein shakes, which will contain anything from around 10-30 grams of protein. What this will do is keep you feeling full and satiated after drinking it, which support your goals if, say, you’re trying to snack less. On the other hand, if you’re one to have a coffee in place of breakfast in the morning and potentially missing out on some essential nutrients; a ‘Proffee’ will also help add some extra nutrition at the start of your day.
Studies have shown that a protein based breakfast can support better blood sugar balancing, causing less crashes in energy and then subsequently less reaching for snacks. This has a knock on effect on our hormones too, as well as supporting and protecting our muscle mass. This isn’t to say that the Proffee is the preferred choice of ‘protein breakfast’ - but a step up from just plain coffee in this respect.
Coffee, although a little demonised in the past, can actually offer plenty of perks when consumed in moderate amounts and when timing and nutrition are also taken into consideration. As well as caffeine, which has been well researched in terms of performance, mood and focus, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants (which protect your body’s cells against damage) and nutrients such as B vitamins and minerals like potassium. You can of course overdo it - resulting in poor sleep, feelings of anxiousness and those well known coffee jitters, but there’s a lot to like about combining both coffee and protein in a morning to help set you up for the day.
What’s the difference between adding collagen powder vs protein powder?
Collagen is a great addition to coffee as you can add in all those beneficial amino acids in an easy to use, easy to digest form. This digestion story is an important one. Protein is classically a tricker nutrient to break down than others, you need good levels of stomach acid and digestive enzymes to do this, which is why some people can find some protein powders a little tricky to take. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides essentially means the collagen has already been ‘predigested’ so can be absorbed and taken up by the body much more easily. High quality collagen - like our True or Wild products, dissolves completely leaving no lumps or residue, which I doubt you would find if you added in a scoop of protein powder, unless you premix your drink.
Where protein powder does well though is in the amino acid profile. Collagen isn’t regarded to be a complete protein as you won’t find tryptophan in there, where other protein powders will contain all the essential amino acids, making it a complete form. Dosage is also important. Whilst gram for gram a protein powder will have around the same amount of protein as collagen powder, an average scoop of protein powder will be around 25g giving you 20g of protein. In contrast it is recommended to take 5-10g of collagen a day and therefore you’ll only really be hitting a total dose of 4.5g- 9g of protein. A way to combat this would be to use a protein based milk in your drink or adding a little more protein by way of a snack such as a boiled egg.
Are there any downsides to Proffee?
Unfortunately yes, depending on how you make it and when you have it. Many of the trending proffee recipes add all sorts of syrups and toppings like whipped cream or chocolate which, even with a ‘low-calorie’ label are not conducive to a healthy option. When it comes to nutrition, quality always matters. This includes the quality of the calories you are consuming. On top of this, sweeteners are still sweet and therefore your body still prepares itself for the intake of a sugar which it receives in another form.
Whether using collagen or protein powders, quality is key here too. Many of the pre-made protein shakes you see on the trend also contain gums, artificial sweeteners and other unhelpful additives. When you think of the food you eat as information for the body, this list of processed ingredients can create more issues than nourishment. Finding a high quality protein powder is vital and a good brand will always state their clean processing practices and ingredients (Generally, the smaller the list of ingredients, the better.) Collagen powder quality is found when you can trace the ingredients to high quality produce - grass-fed bovine or wild caught fish for example. The processing of these ingredients means that the end product will be free from hormones, antibiotics or chemicals without the need to mask the taste with added flavours.
This is also true for any milks you might use in your drink. For those who are using dairy, it’s better to choose organic, full fat versions. For plant milks watch out for added gums, industrial seed oils, stabilisers and acidity regulators, especially dipotassium phosphate, as these can play havoc on our gut health if overused and are linked to weight gain, inflammation and irritated skin. Plant milks which use just a few ingredients and ones usually found in the fridge aisle are more likely a good choice in terms of your health.
Skipping the additional syrups, whipped creams and additive filled protein shakes or milks though, you’ve got a nice protein boost in one of your favourite drinks!
What would be a great Ancient + Brave Version of Proffee?
Here's the thing - whilst this trend has been growing in 2022, Ancient + Brave have been pioneers in this area for years! Our Coffee + Collagen blend is a ready made Proffee - you just have to brew it and pour it over your choice of milk and ice, as the protein is already combined in the blend. What’s more, you’ll find so many more benefits compared to your average Proffee from the Ashwaganga - helping you build stress resilience, additional antioxidants from cacao and baobab as well as gut supportive prebiotics from the chicory root. This offers much more nourishment than just coffee and protein.
I’d also love to see an Ancient + Brave Mocha Proffee in which I would use a shot of espresso, our Cacao + Collagen, a scoop of Wild or True to up the protein dose and I’d use a higher protein plant milk like hemp or pea milk to keep those amino acid levels high.