TikTok has launched many a trend in coffee, from "dalgona" whipped coffee to turmeric-milk lattes to "proffee," or protein coffee. If you've spent any time in the app, you've probably come across at least one video of a TikToker at the Starbucks drive-through, ordering a doppio espresso over ice in a venti cup, then proceeding to top it off with an entire carton of vanilla Premier Protein. What results is a yummy drink that tastes exactly like an iced macchiato. The best part? It has nowhere near as many calories or sugar as a traditional macchiato. But is proffee really as good for you as TikTokers claim? POPSUGAR spoke with a registered dietitian to find out.
Is "Proffee," or Protein Coffee, Healthy?
Though it's been popularized on TikTok as a new and healthy alternative to coffee creamer, Premier Protein is actually a protein shake that's been around since the '90s. It's recently been making waves in the keto community, because unlike other protein shakes and powders, it doesn't contain oats and is therefore gluten-free and keto-friendly, with only four grams of carbs per serving. But what does this mean from the perspective of a nutrition pro?
According to Amanda Li, RD, protein shakes are better for you than other flavored coffee creamers because of the way the body digests protein — specifically whey protein, which happens to be the kind used in Premier Protein. "Whey protein will digest slightly slower, keeping you feeling a little bit more full," Li told POPSUGAR. That's important because sugary coffee drinks, whether they're from a coffeeshop or made at home, cause your blood glucose levels to spike and then crash, leaving your body craving even more sugar and carbs to quickly bring your energy back up. That won't happen if you swap the sugar for whey protein.
Can You Replace a Meal With Protein Coffee?
TikTokers rave about how drinking proffee will curb your hunger through lunch, but swapping out entire meals for protein drinks or even protein bars isn't recommended. "The best times to use these protein shakes is when you're trying to add more protein to your meals or snacks," Li explained. "If you can get protein from food first, always grab it from food, and if you can't, then protein powders are a great alternative."
Remember, protein shakes are designed to supplement your diet, not act as your primary source of nutrition for the day. Though protein mixed with coffee doesn't equal a well-balanced meal as TikTok would suggest, it could be helpful when you're in a pinch. "When you have a meal that is lacking in a source of protein — for example, maybe you only have a salad and you don't have any chicken, fish, or eggs — this would be great to just shake up and consume," Li said.
Should You Buy Into the Protein-Coffee Trend?
For both its taste and nutritional benefits, proffee is worth the hype — but it's best consumed in moderation. "Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially if you are a slow metabolizer," Li warned. She explained that if your body breaks down caffeine slowly, you should drink no more than 200 milligrams per day. "Otherwise, listen to your body," she said.
And while this particular trend is dietitian-approved, stay cautious about any others that make unsubstantiated claims about health benefits, even if they seem completely legit. If you're ever unsure about making changes to your diet, talk to your doctor.