More than just another trendy food craze, though, proffee might just be an easy way to get two things cyclists love in one tasty sip. The best part: How you make it is entirely up to you.
The Case for Proffee
Postride, you want something that replenishes and repairs tired muscles. Protein does just that. “Consuming protein is important for keeping muscles strong and to prevent a decrease in muscle mass,” says Carissa Galloway, a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She notes that protein also contains the amino acid leucine, which stimulates muscle-building and recovery.
You’ll first want to evaluate how much protein you’re already eating, says Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, who is a Los Angeles-based sports and performance nutritionist.“If you tend to fall short, adding protein to coffee may be a way to help fill a gap,” she says. “For most active people, a protein goal of 0.25 to 0.40 grams per kilogram of body weight four to five times per day is ideal.” Keep in mind, though, if you usually tackle long, intense rides, you may need to up your daily intake. According to the International Journal of SportNutrition and Exercise Metabolism, a range of 1.3 to 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is better.
You also don’t want to overdo it with the protein because our bodies can only absorb so much in one sitting. Depending on the type of milk or pre-made protein drink you add and the amount, Sass says, proffee itself could suffice as your postride recovery snack. In other words, if your proffee has 20 grams of protein, you don’t also need eggs or Greek yogurt.
Sass says that you also need to take into account the carb-to-protein ratio. You want to be in the 3:1 ratio range, which is “about 60 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein in that first post-training performance meal,” she says. “A protein coffee alone won’t provide that, but it could be part of the meal if the overall meal is balanced and whole food-focused to replenish nutrients beyond protein.” (Think: a small bowl of oatmeal with a banana plus proffee.) That’s why it’s key to look at all of the ingredients, not just the protein content, she says.
Should You Drink Proffee Before or After a Ride?
Due to the high protein content, proffee makes for a good recovery drink after logging miles, but it could also be treated as a pre-ride source of fuel. “Consuming protein before and after working out enhances recovery,” says Erika Villalobos-Morsink, RD, a clinical sports dietician.
Research backs this up. When men were split into two groups, one taking a pre-workout protein shake and the other a postworkout shake, it was found that after three weekly workouts for 10 weeks, there was no real difference in the muscle strength or size between the two groups. Researchers suggest that the optimal window for protein consumption is wider than immediately following a workout.
Plus, caffeinated coffee is known as a performance enhancer, giving you a bit of a boost in the pace and distance departments. With this in mind, Villalobos says that you want to time your proffee so you get the caffeine benefits, noting that three to five milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight is a safe range. “Consume it 30 to 60 minutes before the event, she says. “You start to notice the effects 30 minutes after, but your blood levels of caffeine are highest 60 minutes after.”
Villalobos also notes that not everyone can tolerate this combination of protein with coffee, and might be sent running to the bathroom instead. Galloway, on the other hand, says “If coffee on an empty stomach causes a quick rush to the bathroom, then boosting coffee with protein, which boosts feelings of satiety, could delay that rush to the restroom.” As with any nutrition changes, it’s best to test it out. Galloway suggests trying proffee before a shorter ride, one where you know you’ll have ample places for restroom breaks on your route.
The bottom line: There is no real downside to proffee as long as you keep balance rather than excess in mind and your stomach agrees. Plus, proffee is convenient and customisable, and it fits seamlessly into your day (Galloway says non-coffee drinkers can even swap coffee for brewed chia tea). So for once, it turns out, social media isn’t all hype on this nutrition trend.