Experiencing a new wave of popularity, whey protein powder is no longer only a favorite protein supplement for bodybuilders and serious athletes. A fast and easily digestible form of protein, whey can be used by just about anyone as a way to introduce more protein into their diet.
Whey is one of the two proteins found in cow’s milk. It is a high quality protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is particularly high in branched-chain amino acids, required for muscle repair and preservation.
Whey protein has multiple health benefits beyond muscle building. It can contribute to weight loss, help to lower cholesterol, improve immune system function and speed up recovery after exercise.
Whey protein can be added to shakes, sprinkled on cereal and contrary to popular belief, it can even be mixed into your morning coffee.
Coffee and Protein Powder? What about the Heat?
There is concern that mixing protein powder with coffee might decrease the nutritional value through the process of ‘denaturing’ or breaking down of the protein. While there is some merit to this claim there is definitely more to understand about whey protein and heat.
Denaturing Whey Protein
Denaturing occurs when a substance is altered from its natural form in some way. In the case of protein, acid and extreme heat will change its structure, breaking down the amino acids. The chains of amino acids will denature when they begin to be “unfolded” from their natural state.
However, just because the natural state of something is altered, doesn’t mean it’s rendered useless and protein is no exception.
Yes, exposing the protein to heat will start to unfold the amino acid structure. But, that is as far as this claim goes.
According to Cornell University, although whey protein is sensitive to heat, mixing protein powder with coffee will not alter the amino acid composition or any undo effect on the protein’s nutritional benefit. Be aware though that heat can decrease the amount of lacto-globulins in the protein which is one consideration when deciding to put whey protein in coffee. Cooked or uncooked, hot or cold, your body will still gain some benefit from the added protein.
So don’t hesitate to add whey protein to your coffee or oatmeal for an extra morning protein boost. You can even try baking it into muffins or homemade energy bars. The majority of the nutritional content and health benefits will endure.
How to Add Whey Protein into Coffee
Why coffee? People love their coffee and often can’t get going in the morning without it. By blending whey protein powder in coffee, you can get your morning boost of caffeine and a healthy dose of protein all in one shot.
Although it sounds relatively simple, there are a few tricks to successfully adding whey protein into coffee without having a clumpy mess. Much like adding hot chocolate mix to hot water or milk, it can take some technique to make it smooth and delicious.
Can You Put Protein Powder in Coffee?
If you simply dump a scoop of whey protein powder straight into your freshly brewed java, you will most likely be left with a lumpy mess. Instead, allow the coffee to cool down before you add in the protein powder.
You can add milk or cream to your coffee to immediately cool it down. Or if you don’t like milk in your coffee, set it aside (or even in the fridge) until the temperature decreases.
Once it has cooled, you can start adding the whey protein. If you want to add an entire scoop of protein powder (this will provide you with around 25g of protein), add half the scoop first and let the powder dissolve, followed by the second half. Don’t move too quickly or it will not be able to completely dissolve, leaving big clumps.
And why not try different flavors? Adding to coffee will mimic a French vanilla latte. Adding will make it a protein-rich mocha. If you really want to try something new, add in banana or strawberry whey powder.
Another way to add whey protein in coffee is to make a whey protein coffee flavor shake. Make a shake just like you normally would by adding ice, whey protein, and a liquid of choice. Substitute half the liquid with coffee for a delicious and healthy blended drink.
Remember that while the protein will denature in coffee, the denaturing process is not complete and there will still be many of the nutrition and protein benefits you were after in the first place.
So stretch your muscles and jump start your day with a protein and flavor infused coffee, a treat for your body and your taste buds.