In the world of nutrition, fat and carbohydrates are hotly contested topics. One minute fat is your worst enemy, and the next it’s your best friend. It’s a similar story when it comes to carbs, too (hello, keto dieters!). But there is one thing that most people agree on – and that’s the importance of muscle-building protein.

With the rise of protein powders, protein shakes, protein bars and bliss balls are common fare for a protein hit… and now, the latest trend that’s sweeping the world of protein supplementation by storm is adding protein powder to your coffee. Yep, you read that correctly (and surprise, surprise – we have a Kardashian to thank).

But protein powder? In coffee? Hmm…

As an avid coffee-lover, I personally don’t think there’s many other things that could ruin a beautiful brew more, but I’m not here to tell you about my own tastes and preferences – rather, I’m going to put my Dietitian Hat on and give you my perspective from a nutrition standpoint. So, here goes nothing.

The basics

You’re sure to know that protein plays a crucial role in building and maintaining lean muscle. But it’s not just important for gym-junkies – it has many other roles, too. Your brain, hair and skin are protein-based, and your body needs protein to produce hormones and enzymes as well. What’s more, protein has a satiating effect, so incorporating a small portion of protein at each meal will help you stay fuller for longer.

Most people are very surprised to learn that they don’t actually need the mountains of protein that fad diets and supplement stores promote. Females between the ages of 19-50 are recommended to have just two and a half serves of protein each day. FYI one serve is 65 grams of cooked red meat, 80 grams of cooked poultry or 100 grams of cooked fish. A couple of eggs, a small handful of nuts or 170 grams of tofu counts, too. Dairy foods, like milk and yoghurt, can also contribute a significant amount of protein.

But hold on, do we really need to be adding it in our morning coffee?

The verdict

As you can probably tell, I’m not in favour of this new health trend. Not only would it ruin the taste of your beloved morning cuppa, but for most people, it’s simply unnecessary to rely on protein supplementation. Chances are you’re already eating far more than your body actually needs. Mind blowing, I know.

If you did happen to lack in protein in your diet, I’d much rather you focus on getting enough from real food, which is extremely easy to do. That way, you’ll reap the benefits of the other nutrients in food and avoid gulping down buckets ultra-processed powders.

That’s not to say that protein powders are completely useless. Busy bodies, elite athletes or those who are unwell could certainly benefit from their use. But for the average Joe, they’re rather pointless and a drain on your bank account.

Melissa Meier is an online and Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.