Is TikTok’s “Proffee” Nutrition Trend Actually Legit?

What you need to know about the platform's latest obsession

protein coffee tiktok
Should you be starting your mornings with some "proffee"?
Jakub Dziubak/Unsplash

TikTok probably isn’t the best place to go for dietary advice. While the platform does have a more useful side — with experts who offer insight into healthcare, sex education and social activism — TikTok’s health and fitness content often trends superfluous and fantastical. Think: flash-in-the-pan workout challenges, skincare boosters, detox teas and appetite suppressors.

Every once in a while, though, something takes off that isn’t all that bad. Like the “protein coffee” trend, which currently has about four million views under the #proffee tag.

Protein coffee is exactly what it sounds like. TikTok users have been posting videos of themselves pouring protein powder or pre-made protein mixes into their morning coffee. Some have even gotten in the habit of making “iced coffee shakes” from scratch, mixing ice, coffee, creamer and vanilla protein powder in a blender.

Why has this gotten so popular? That’s somewhat unclear. High-protein, low-sugar caffeinated beverages are definitely having a moment right now — Super Coffee was valued at $400 million earlier this year, and alternatives like mushroom-based MUD\WTR are picking up steam. But TikTok’s home-“brewed” DIY option seems to have won supporters here likely for their cost effectiveness, and as an aspirational addition to add to one’s morning routine.

Plus, many of these videos stump for protein coffee as a pre-workout drink. The science does back up that concept — as we’ve written in the past, drinking coffee 30 to 60 minutes before a workout helps preserve glycogen during prolonged activity. Meanwhile, timed protein intake isn’t as important as most trainees give it credit for. The infamous “anabolic window” (a period of time after a gym session to guzzle protein and fuel fatigued muscles), is larger than most know, and it’s ultimately more important to get sufficient protein than consume it at the very perfect time.

That’s all to say, protein coffee isn’t a bad way to start your day. It can also help you hit some numbers on your dietary reference intake chart. Assuming you keep some of the more sugary /fatty additives out of there, it’s a pretty healthy change of pace from a Starbucks venti.

Just remember not to confuse #proffee with a proper meal. If you’re chugging the blend to make up for a lack of fuel or sleep before you head to your workout, try to push that wake-up time back. You’d be better served with steel-cut oatmeal, a couple eggs, a banana, and a water. And on the caffeine front, make sure to monitor (at least once in a while) how exercise feels without it. It’s an effective pre-workout, yes, but if you need it in order to move your body around, it might be time to cut back.

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