On and off diets since childhood, Mary Jo Liccar found it harder and harder to maintain her weight as years passed. Her cholesterol soaring, the Illinois grandmother finally tried a program that calls for protein at every sitting. “I love my morning coffee, so I tried mixing cold brew and a protein shake. I’d add sugar-free caramel syrup and that was breakfast instead of a muffin.”
Mary Jo’s metabolism hasn’t been the same since. At age 60, she lost weight she’d been trying to shed for years. “And it most definitely boosted my energy!” She says that proffee keeps her satisfied for hours, so she makes healthier choices. She’s lost a shocking 109 pounds — slowly and with a doctor’s counsel — and she is off cholesterol meds.
What is “proffee”?
In recent years, proffee has become one of the internet’s most talked-about drinks. Why? Because nutrition experts say sipping the stuff can support in preventing weight gain and even trigger weight loss. It’s also a cinch to make. “Just take your morning coffee and mix it with a natural, sugar-free protein powder or protein shake,” says University of Maryland nutrition expert Pamela Peeke, MD. While many high-carb breakfast foods promote fat storage, “proffee makes it easier for your body to burn fat. It’s a superb choice.” Bonus: Proffee’s protein helps override hormonal changes that slow fat loss, so women over 50 benefit most. “It’s magic!” says 10-Day Belly Slimdown author Kellyann Petrucci, MS, ND.
The recipe may be simple, but there’s a lot of science behind proffee and why it shrinks waists. It turns out that coffee and protein both have a “thermogenic” effect, “which means they create heat as they digest, burning extra calories,” says Dr. Peeke, author of the bestselling The Hunger Fix and host of the popular HER Mind Body Life podcast on iHeart Radio.
Studies show that digesting the protein in proffee can temporarily fire up metabolism by 35 percent, while coffee’s caffeine boosts it by as much as 29 percent. Additionally, extra doses of protein shrink the appetite by about 494 calories a day, per a University of Washington study.
This means that the body burns fat more efficiently while consuming less.
How does proffee work?
As proffee’s caffeine wakes up the nervous system, “it stimulates fat cells to release fat and make it available as fuel,” explains Dr. Peeke.
Meanwhile, amino acids in protein prompt the release of hormones that help do the same thing. So fat not only circulates in your blood, your proffee-boosted metabolism has an enhanced ability to burn it off. To maximize this benefit, “use the energy proffee gives you to do something physical — walk the dog, chase your grandkids, clean the house — then watch how well your system responds,” suggests Dr. Peeke.
Adds Dr. Petrucci, “Proffee gives you the potential to turn your body into a fat-burning machine.”
The main culprit in age-related weight gain is hormonal shifts lead to muscle loss. “Muscle is your fat-burning engine,” says Dr. Peeke. “The less you have, the less of a gas guzzler your body will be.” While our body isn’t as good at building and maintaining muscle as we age, we can compensate by giving it extra building blocks in the form of protein.
Scientists say this is especially important at breakfast, when we tend to skimp. In one study, older adults who upped their protein intake at every meal saw dramatic improvements in muscle strength and overall health, plus substaintial weight loss compared to those eating less protein.
“You can go from a four-cylinder engine to an eight-cylinder one, especially if you make a little time for exercise,” says Dr. Peeke. “Proffee is a fantastic tool.” Dr. Petrucci adds: “This drink stimulates fast and lasting fat loss.”
What results can you expect?
Eager to avoid a second knee replacement, Kara Harris went to a nutrition class taught by a local chiropractor. The chiropractor suggested she replace her high-carb breakfast with proffee.
“Now I can’t start my day without it,” says Harris, 67. “It’s my ‘go juice’. I bought a battery-operated whisk and [I use it to] whip up my coffee, collagen protein powder, some Truvia, and sometimes a little squirt of sugar-free flavorings.”
Hariss says that her proffee recipes boosts her energy and metabolism, keeps her full until lunch, and reduces midday cravings. She says she sticks primarily to healthy low-carb foods, but she is able to enjoy treats here and there without spiraling out of control.
“My thyroid meds have been lowered, and I really think the collagen has helped my joints beyond the weight loss alone. It saved me another surgery,” she says.
How can you incorporate proffee into your diet?
Experts suggest having a low-sugar proffee as breakfast each day; at other sittings, simply aim to include a nice serving of protein (six to eight ounces.), adding as many veggies as you can. When you’re not in a proffee mood, you can get similar metabolic results by eating protein-rich egg whites or Greek yogurt or adding protein powder to any morning meal.
That said, be sure to always get a doctor’s approval before trying any meal replacement or new diet. In general, healthy adults should have no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (four cups coffee), and proffee is not recommended for those with liver/kidney issues.
BASIC PROFFEE: To hot coffee, add 1 ⁄4 cup low-sugar protein powder. To iced coffee or espresso, mix in one low-sugar protein shake. Add spices, cocoa, or any healthy extras desired.
PROFFEE FLAPJACKS: Blend 2 diced bananas, 2 eggs, 2 scoops protein powder, and 1–2 pinches instant espresso until smooth. Prepare pancake-style with cooking spray.
BOOSTED OATMEAL: Microwave 1 Tbs. nut butter, 2 Tbs. protein powder, 1 cup water, and 1 ⁄2 cup old-fashioned oats for three minutes. Stir. Enjoy with a cup of coffee, if desired.
POWER MUG CAKE: In greased mug, mix 2 Tbs. protein powder, 1 egg, 1 Tbs. cocoa, 1 Tbs. sweetener, and 1 ⁄4 tsp. baking powder. Microwave 60 seconds.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.