The facts on ‘proffee’: Can protein powder plus coffee help you lose weight?

Open container of protein powder

The trend of proffee, or adding protein powder to your morning cup of coffee, is gaining momentum.

It seems innocent enough – just mix and sip. But is this on-the-go breakfast healthy for you?

Nebraska Medicine registered dietitian Kimmie Sharp, MMN, RDN, LMNT, LD, says yes, protein coffee is an easy, low-calorie, filling meal. Here’s how to make protein coffee and what to look for in a protein powder.

Can protein help you lose weight?

Evidence supports that adequate protein intake helps with weight loss. Adding protein powder to your coffee is an excellent way to cut extra sugar and calories from creamers.

Don't go too crazy with coffee – drinking two pots in one day is not good for you. But a cup or two of coffee with protein powder is a great choice.

Protein in the morning removes the sense of physical hunger you feel after waking up. Protein will keep you going for a few hours, while something like plain toast will make you hungry sooner.

Other good sources of protein:

  • Skim milk
  • Soy milk
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
Protein coffee will break your fast

Following intermittent fasting, 16/8 method means you eat or drink calories in an eight-hour window each day. For the remaining 16 hours (including sleep time), you're fasting – not consuming calories.

You can drink black coffee (without creamer or sugar), black tea, green tea, matcha tea and water without breaking your fast.

However, mixing things containing calories with your coffee means it will no longer be calorie-free. Protein has calories. Adding protein powder to your coffee will break your fast.

If you're intermittent fasting, wait until your eating window to get your protein powder fix.

Is protein coffee a meal replacement?

You can use protein coffee as a meal replacement. It's a quick and easy way to fuel up for a busy morning. However, many powders lack essential vitamins, minerals or healthy fats. Some protein powders contain much more protein than you need, which could cause weight gain.

If your goal is to lose weight, a shake specifically formulated to replace a meal is a better option.

What is the best protein powder?

For a protein powder or a pre-made shake, look for 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving and 5 grams or less of sugar per serving.

Avoid brands that make crazy health claims, for example, that they help cure disease. Those aren't reputable.

How to make protein coffee

If you're adding a protein shake that's already a liquid, you can mix it with your hot or iced coffee.

Adding protein powder to iced coffee is also simple. Just mix the two and you're set.

For hot coffee and protein powder, though, it's a bit trickier. Depending on the type of protein powder, it can thicken or get a bit clumpy if you add it to hot coffee. Instead, mix the protein powder with a little bit of warm water first. Then add your hot coffee to your mixture. A milk frother can help dissolve the powder more quickly.

No matter your coffee preference, it's safe and easy to try the proffee trend.

If you need help navigating healthy eating, schedule a telehealth nutrition counseling visit with the University Health Center registered dietitian. The first visit is at no cost if you pay student fees. Follow-up visits can be submitted to private insurance. Call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment.