For years, I’ve been having plain old Gold Standard Double Rich Chocolate and whatever brand of pre-workout as my go-to gym drinks. You know, like most other old-school gym rats.
I was so used to it that when I saw my buddy pouring instant coffee in his shaker cup, I was like, “boy, get out of here!” But I tried it anyway.
And that’s when everything changed for me.
Not only did coffee add flavor to the same boring protein shake I’ve had for years, I didn’t feel the need to take my pre-workout, too, because I had more or less the same quick jolt of energy.
You don’t have to take it before an exercise like I did either. You can have it as a smoothie for breakfast or maybe even as a recovery drink to keep you going if you workout in the morning.
So, I’ll show you a few of my favorite iced coffee protein shake recipes that I found online. But, before that, let me tell you why you should try them.
Why mix protein and caffeine?
There’s a bit of chatter around the fitness community about whether or not you should be mixing protein and coffee in the first place. The issue is about caffeine disrupting protein absorption.
Here’s what science has to say about that:
A relatively recent study (2015) states that caffeine doesn’t alter the rate of protein synthesis after working out even if you took your caffeine before you started your session. So, NO, caffeine doesn’t seem to have any negative effects on how your body processes protein.
Moreover, the same study says that caffeine intake increases AMPK expression, which basically means your body becomes more efficient in using fat and sugar for energy.
This doesn’t surprise me at all considering how caffeine has a reputation for being one of the best fat-burners and energy boosters the world has to offer.
It’s why a lot of weight loss supplements, pre-workouts, and energy drinks have caffeine as their main ingredient.
I know. Coffee’s pretty darn great. But, you should also know your limits.
Why you should NOT have caffeine in your protein shake
Several experts, including the FDA, say that 400 mg of caffeine is generally considered a safe amount for healthy adults. So, consider this a rule of thumb:
Don’t put coffee in your protein shake if you’re already drinking a lot of caffeine.
It’ll be pretty obvious if you’ve had too much because you’ll be jittery, anxious, nauseous, your heart will beat faster, and you might even have a headache.
Also, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than other people. I know for a fact that I’m one of those people, so my caffeine limit falls below the 400 mg mark. If you’re like this, too, don’t push it. Your health always comes first.
Having said that, it’s time for the main event.
The 10 best iced coffee protein shake recipes
1. The simplest, most straight-forward coffee protein shake
I mean, it really is. All you need are coffee, milk, ice, and protein powder.
The Spruce Eats recommends brewing your coffee the night before and leaving it to chill in the fridge overnight. You could also swap the ice for frozen bananas and maybe add a couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup to make it sweeter.
Throw everything in the blender, give it a quick whirl, and pour it in your favorite cup
If you used whole milk and Gold Standard whey, you should be able to net around 28 grams of protein per serving.
2. Vanilla-flavored coffee protein shake
Kristina LaRue of Love & Zest describes this as “straight up milkshake” — and I agree. It does taste like a milkshake!
However, instead of vanilla ice cream, you’re using vanilla protein powder and vanilla almond milk. Other ingredients you’re going to need are ice, cacao nibs to use as toppings, stevia if you like your drink sweeter, and your favorite coffee chilled or brought down to room temperature.
Every serving of this recipe should get you about 25 grams of protein.
3. Kris Gethin’s Iced Protein Coffee
First of all, if you don’t know who Kris Gethin is, he’s one of the most notable bodybuilders in the fitness industry. Man or woman, there’s something we can all learn from him, including the way he makes is iced protein coffee.
You can throw in a bit of almond milk there if you want. And, of course, you don’t have to use the same brands as he does. Also, if you want your drink with more kick to it, use some other type of coffee instead of decaf.
Moving on, the difference between his version and most others you find on the internet is that he replaces whole milk with water and casein.
Science has proven that our bodies absorb casein at a much slower rate than whey. So, if you take both of them (casein with your coffee and whey at some other time), you’re theoretically extending protein synthesis and therefore building muscle more efficiently and effectively.
The exclusion of whole milk in this recipe, according to Kris Gethin, also eliminates the fat and sugars you generally get with milk. So, if you’re trying to reduce those macros in your diet, this should work well for you.
4. Peanut butter and chocolate coffee protein smoothie
I found this recipe on Diethood and like the rest of the recipes here, it’s fairly simple.
You’re going to need a banana, natural peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, almond milk, and of course, brewed coffee made the night before.
If you noticed, ice isn’t one of the listed ingredients. That’s because the recipe wants you to pour your pre-brewed coffee into ice trays to freeze overnight.
5. High-protein iced coffee
If someone brands themselves as The Protein Chef, you just know whatever they make is packed with protein. And, with 28 grams of protein and only 184 calories, this iced coffee recipe is most definitely no exception.
You’re going to need whatever and however much coffee you want, unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, chocolate- or vanilla-flavored protein powder, and ice.
You can also use the previous recipe’s trick of freezing coffee into ice cubes if you want. Also, this recipe is flexible with its flavor but just make sure the protein powder you use goes with the taste of coffee and cinnamon.
6. Cafe mocha protein shake
This, I got from Jennifer Meyering and it calls for 1 and ½ scoop of protein powder. Specifically, 1 scoop of vanilla whey and half a scoop of chocolate whey.
Needless to say, this recipe is packed full of protein. Depending on the brand of protein you use, maybe even more so than The Protein Chef’s ice coffee (recipe #5)
This recipe also uses cold brew coffee. If you don’t know how to do that, it’s actually very simple and Jenn has another guide to help you out. Other ingredients you’ll need include unsweetened almond milk and, of course, ice.
7. Basic iced coffee protein shake for gym-goers
Nick Harris-Fry from Coachmag describes this as the “ultimate summer drink” for anyone who’s into fitness. But, to be honest, it’s actually quite basic. All you need are 30 grams (which is about the amount of powder in 1 scoop) of whey, coffee, and your choice of milk.
The recipe recommends using vanilla whey but says that mocha or chocolate should do just fine. Also, coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk would be perfect but you can use whole milk if that’s what you want. Either way, your drink should have around 30 grams of protein.
Oh, and like a couple of the recipes on this list, you won’t need ice because you’re going to be freezing your pre-brewed coffee in ice trays.
8. Keto-friendly iced coffee protein shake
This recipe is tailored specifically to feed the needs of anyone on the ketogenic diet. That means low-carb, high-fat, and moderate levels of protein.
To make this happen, Tanya from KetoVale uses almond milk, avocado, keto collagen powder (for protein), cocoa powder, erythritol, and ice. To make your drink look prettier (and to add a bit more flavor), you could also garnish it with cinnamon and dark chocolate.
Each serving of this keto-friendly iced coffee protein shake should get you 10 grams of carbs, 21 grams of fat, and 14 grams of protein
9. Low-carb coffee and protein frappe
Here’s another low-carb coffee and protein drink for you keto dudes and dudettes out there. Unfortunately, this recipe prioritizes protein (26 grams) over fat (1 gram) but, hey, it’s still very much keto-friendly with a low, low carb content of just 2 grams.
You’re going to need coffee (instant coffee or espresso shots work just fine), protein powder, water, cacao powder, and ice. If you want it sweeter, you could always use stevia or other low-carb sweeteners.
10. Vegan coffee smoothie
I’m going to be honest. I’m not vegan.
HOWEVER! I did try making Detoxinista’s vegan coffee smoothie and it instantly became one of my favorite healthy drinks.
As always, you’re going to need chilled coffee and ice. You’re also going to need medjool dates, hemp hearts (for a quick boost in protein), and cashew or almond butter. The recipe says you can add baby spinach if you want (I don’t). It has a very minimal effect on the flavor but it does make the drink green.
Coffee. Protein. What’s not to love, right?
That said, I think all of these iced coffee protein shake recipes make for quick breakfasts, healthy pre-workouts, or quick pick-me-up drinks when you’re running low on energy in the afternoon.
Just remember not to go overboard with your caffeine, okay? Also, try not to have these drinks a few hours before bedtime. Or, if you really have to, use decaf.
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