If you’ve been tuning into our Instagram stories this summer, you’ve probably noticed that we have been sharing some delicious Nitro Cold Brew and Kombucha drink recipes. The recipe videos have been a hit, and we’ve got a few more up our sleeve, but there is one recipe we wanted to showcase in more depth in order to highlight the health benefits of coffee, protein, and healthy fats- the Nitro Cold Brew Protein Shake.
It is a common misconception that protein shakes exist to simply provide a high amount of protein without the fuss of putting together a whole meal. However, many are seeing additional benefits from having a shake that combines coffee, clean protein, and healthy fats first thing in the morning, prior to, or following a workout, including replenishing energy and jump-starting brain activity.
What's the science behind it?
Aside from its well-known benefit of increased energy, coffee brings along a host of other health benefits, including burning fat, stabilizing insulin levels, and improving mental clarity and athletic performance. Let’s break these down a little further:
- Coffee Helps To Burn Fat: The caffeine in coffee triggers a fat-releasing effect, in which fat molecules within fat stores are split into free fatty acids. Your body uses these free fatty to fuel you (rather than through other energy sources like carbohydrates). The combination of, say, a tough workout and the inflated number of free fatty acids results in an increase in fatty acid oxidation, aka, increased fat burning!
- Coffee stabilizes insulin levels: Elevated blood sugar levels are a result of insulin resistance which can result in unwanted weight gain and unstable energy levels. While the foods you eat have a major effect on how your body reacts to elevated blood sugar levels, many studies have found that regular coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of insulin resistance. This means regular coffee drinkers are better able to secrete insulin to maintain healthy and stable blood sugar levels.
- Coffee improves mental clarity and athletic performance: Most people commonly associate a caffeine buzz with increased mental clarity and attention, but that same buzz can also increase physical endurance. Caffeine increases adrenaline and stimulates the central nervous system, which increases your endurance. This allows you to push even harder during a workout and delay the time to exhaustion post-workout. As for the increased attention and awareness that you feel after consuming your morning cup of coffee, that is a result of the caffeine blocking your brain receptors from a chemical called Adenosine, which typically prevents the release of stimulating brain chemicals. With Adenosine removed, these brain-boosting chemicals flow more freely, resulting in that jolt of energy and mental performance that coffee provides. The amount of caffeine needed to feel these benefits will depend on the person. We recommend starting small with 10oz and increasing from there if desired.
Unfortunately, all protein powders are not created equal and the benefits you get from your protein powder correlates to the quality of the protein powder you are using. The biggest decision most people make when choosing a protein powder is usually deciding on the source of protein, plant versus animal.
The choice between plant-based or animal-derived protein powders is up to you and what your body reacts best to. The most common types of plant-based protein come from hemp, pea, and rice protein sources. As for animal-derived protein sources, the most common types are whey isolate, egg whites, and collagen peptides protein. All of these protein sources provide different benefits, from losing weight to building muscle and everything in between. We recommend doing a little research to see what source provides the most benefit for your goals. When choosing your protein powder, be sure your protein doesn't have any not-so-healthy additives and sweeteners, like pure cane sugar. Instead, opt for simple ingredient lists with names you can easily identify.
Did you know your brain and nervous system are comprised of 60% fat? Having a diet rich in (the right kinds) of fats and oils is important for maintaining brain health. Our bodies need good fats for the health of our skin, hair, nails, brain, joints, heart, and so much more. So starting your day off with some quality healthy fats is a great way to jump-start brain function and maintain a healthy insulin response as your digestive system begins to rev up. Healthy sources of fat include avocados, coconut and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, olive oil, fatty fish (think salmon & sardines), and eggs. It’s important to note that these health benefits do not hold true for other refined oils and fats often found in processed foods and cooking oils (think packaged snacks, bread, canola, and other “vegetable” oils).
So what happens when we put all three of these together?
The combination of coffee, protein, and fat is an award-winning combo for a number of reasons. Firstly, adding healthy fats to your coffee gives it a latte like taste and consistency without adding any dairy. But more importantly, the combination of healthy fats, or in this case, medium-chain triglycerides, protein, and caffeine increases fat burning, eliminates feelings of hunger, and improves mental focus, all while giving you a jitter-free energy bump. But I won't bore you with the science behind this. Instead, I’ll leave you with a delicious recipe so you can give it a try for yourself.
Nitro Cold Brew Protein Shake
- 1 c Commonwealth Joe Nitro Cold Brew or Cold Brew coffee
- ½ c full-fat coconut milk (we used the canned Whole Foods brand)
- 1-2 scoops of protein powder ( we used Vanilla Collagen Protein powder from Bulletproof
- ½ c ice
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
Blend all of the ingredients on high until well combined. Pour and enjoy!