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Adding protein powder to coffee Benefits during exercise and drawbacks

While working out in a gym has not been possible lately due to a global pandemic, exercise has remained a focal point during these uncertain times of lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people all around the world. But as restrictions begin to ease, exercising with a bit more freedom, at least in public parks, running on the road, or playing your favourite sport are making a quiet return. 
Adding protein powder to coffee Benefits during exercise and drawbacks

Whether it is bodyweight exercises or working out in a gym with weights, exercise has always gone hand in hand with nutrition, and the advances in this particular field have gone on overdrive in recent years, with an abundance of nutritional supplements lining the counters at various stores all over the world.
From age-old pehelwaani (Indian wrestling) which still swears by concoctions of pure cow’s milk mixed with all kinds of nuts and other ingredients, workout nutrition has evolved into an industry in itself. Workout nutrition is now divided into several different categories like protein supplements (they can be made out of milk, animal proteins or plant proteins), those for weight or muscle gain, weight or fat loss and so on. They are also categorised into pre and post-workout supplements.
The humble cup of black coffee, however, remains a favourite pre-workout ingredient to one’s daily exercise routine even today. It has long been a refreshing drink to begin the day for anyone, and its strength in keeping one going through the night while studying for an exam is also well known.
Caffeine, the main stimulant in coffee and certain other drinks, is classified as a psychoactive drug, but unlike other such substances, it is legal and freely available all over the world. It gives us the perfect jolt any time of the day to lift us out of a couch and help last through the day, and even though tea is a more favoured beverage in India, coffee is steadily gaining ground and emerging a hot favourite thanks to the burgeoning coffee shop culture across the country.

Coffee in protein powder a new emerging trend
While coffee is considered to be a great pre-workout drink for an extra shot of energy before an intense exercise routine, adding protein powder to coffee has emerged as a new trend. It is believed that mixing both can result in improved performance during a workout and it can aid weight loss as well.
Caffeine tablets have also been promoted as workout supplements for those short on time, or those who may not like to drink coffee, as its tablet form can provide a stronger burst of energy that you would get from a cup of black coffee before setting off on your morning run, or while any other type of workout. (Check with your doctor before taking these tablets. Side-effects include headache, acid reflux, diarrhoea, faster heartbeat, etc.)
Many studies have suggested that coffee acts as a stimulant that helps your muscles to contract better and helps you through a workout if taken less than an hour before exercise. Protein powders, on the other hand, provide the requisite recovery your muscles need after an intense workout and help them build and gain more strength in the process.
It is perhaps why the trend of mixing protein powder to your brew has become popular, as it can help improve your daily performance in the gym or while playing your favourite sport.
Those short on time to have a filling breakfast can benefit from this trend as it helps them meet the daily protein intake in the body. Protein is one of the main ingredients to help either gain weight or even lose weight, as it helps increase muscle mass in the body and lowers the amount of fat storage. It is why protein is consumed in small portions at different times of the day.
According to a position statement published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the International Society of Sports Nutrition has recognised caffeine supplementation in the following points:
  • Caffeine is effective for enhanced sports performance in trained athletes when taken in low to moderate quantities, and does not result in further enhancement in performance if taken in higher doses.
  • Caffeine produces an ergogenic effect (increases work rate and workload) when taken in an anhydrous state. Anhydrous means completely dry or devoid of water. Caffeine anhydrous is made from the seeds and leaves of the coffee plant: the caffeine is extracted and dehydrated to make a stronger, more concentrated caffeine powder.
  • Caffeine can enhance alertness during more intense, exhaustive exercise programmes, and help during periods of sustained sleep deprivation.
  • Caffeine is beneficial for endurance exercise and sport. It has proven to be beneficial during time-trial performances (such as in long-distance cycling).
  • Caffeine supplementation is good for high-intensity exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sports such as football and rugby.
  • Caffeine is effective in supplementation during strength- and power-oriented activities, but there is more research that needs to be done.
  • Caffeine-induced diuresis (increased production of urine) is not recommended during exercise as it can cause changes in the fluid balance of the body, which may negatively impact sports performance.

An average individual requires about 30-35 grams of protein in a meal if they are habituated to daily exercise or are in the process of muscle building or losing weight. While consuming more than this isn't necessarily harmful, it doesn't get used up as efficiently by the body, and the excess amount can be burnt up as energy or passed through urine.
Mixing protein with your coffee can help meet your daily protein requirements more efficiently, if you do not have the time to have several small meals during the course of a day. It is also beneficial for retaining your muscle mass, especially if you are looking to lose a lot of weight dramatically, which will only allow the excess body fat to be burnt away.
The process is also said to aid weight loss as the consumption of protein is linked to reduced hunger and helps you remain full for a longer period of time as compared to fats and carbohydrates, which do not promote the same levels of satiety. Protein also aids faster metabolism that helps you burn more calories on a daily basis.

To summarise, adding protein powder to your cup of coffee can, at best, be considered an alternative to meet your daily nutritional needs, but it isn’t a substitute for a healthy and balanced diet, particularly during breakfast.
Caffeine has several benefits for the body as it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and gives you an instant burst of energy, activates parts of the brain that help you focus and reduces fatigue, increases performance by triggering adrenaline response, and aids fat loss. It also helps the body release endorphins, lifting the mood and encouraging the high one feels after exercise, and helps activate muscles. Coffee is also rich in antioxidants and is also beneficial against the development of degenerative mental illnesses and other chronic diseases.
However, caffeine in high doses is not recommended—studies on athletes have shown that the increased athletic performance may give some an unfair advantage, which has prompted certain sports divisions to ban its consumption in high doses. Caffeine overdose is also a condition that can lead to feelings of confusion, hallucinations or nausea. Some studies have also spoken about how coffee isn't suitable for those who have a high sensitivity to caffeine, and it is not recommended for those who have anxiety or have sleeping disorders. Caffeine can also lead to a rise in blood pressure (high blood pressure).
As mentioned above, protein powders have emerged as supplements, which means they are or should be consumed alongside a balanced diet to aid your performance in the gym or while playing sport. They should not be consumed to replace a full meal or whole foods in the meal.
Protein powders also contain additional flavours and can be loaded with artificial sweeteners and sugar along with other additives, which doesn’t help meet your nutritional needs. Fresh foods that are protein-rich are better alternatives, and consuming those foods is better for achieving the feeling of satiety or fullness.