For many of us, coffee is a non-negotiable part of any morning. Not only does the caffeine help us snap out of zombie-mode, but it also contains a number of antioxidants that can support healthy blood sugar and cognitive function.
What we add to that coffee has the power to either make it even healthier—or undermine its benefits by way of excess sugar and empty calories. Make your morning java work double-duty by adding one of these science- and nutritionist-backed ingredients..
Whether you want to promote healthy aging or simply make your morning brew more satiating, collagen is just the add-in you need. This protein makes up the supportive structure of many of our tissues and research has shown supplementing with it can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. “Collagen is rich in nutrients and amino acids that can support healthy joints, muscle growth, and recovery,” explains Theresa Kroog, B.S., N.Y.T., nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe.
Collagen powder supplements are often unflavored and mix easily, so you can enjoy your coffee without even realizing they’re there. A serving of Vital Proteins’ Collagen Peptides offers 18 total grams of protein for just 72 calories, helping you feel nourished and satiated as you sip.
2. Coconut Or MCT Oil
As the keto diet and buzz around eating more fat continue to explode, more and more people are adding coconut oil—yes, oil—to their coffee. It’s subtlety sweet and high in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), a type of saturated fat that our body breaks down differently than other fats. Because of this, MCTs are a good, quick energy source and less likely to be stored as fat and contribute to weight gain, says Kroog. For a satiating brew than keeps you energized all morning long, blend about a tablespoon of coconut oil into your coffee.
If you want to really maximize the benefits of those MCTs, you can also find pure MCT oil to blend in instead.
Another fat finding its way into coffee mugs everywhere: ghee, or clarified butter. Made by boiling butter into a golden liquid, ghee may be lower in lactose than regular butter. Kroog recommends opting for grass-fed ghee, which is more nutrient-dense. Research has shown that butter made from grass-fed cows contains up to 500 percent more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)—a fatty acid that prevents a step in our body’s fat storage process and can reduce how much of the fat we consume gets stored—than butter made from grain-fed cows.
Blend about a tablespoon of ghee into your coffee on its own or in addition to up to a tablespoon of coconut or MCT oil for sustained energy, says Kroog.
If you’re looking to sweeten up your mug of coffee without an actual sweetener, Kroog recommends using cinnamon. Not only does it add flavor, but the spice is high in antioxidants called ‘cinnamaldehydes’ and “supports healthy joints and blood sugar levels,” she says. Research has also shown it to support healthy blood pressure. Kroog recommends about half a tablespoon of cinnamon per 12 ounces of coffee.
5. Powdered Creamer
Whether you’re following a keto diet or just want your coffee creamer to actually add nutrition, a powdered creamer supplement can level up your coffee. Option number one: MAN Sports’ French Vanilla Iso-Amino Coffee Creamer Bliss, which adds five grams of muscle-supporting branched-chain amino acids and flavor without any dairy, sugar, or calories. Option number two: BPI Sports’ French Vanilla Keto Bomb, which contains powdered MCTs and essential fats so you can flavor your coffee with a boost of healthy fats instead of the usual carbs.
Maca, an antioxidant-rich root vegetable native to Peru, has been used in traditional medicine for its fertility and vitality benefits and is now revered as an ‘adaptogen,’ meaning it supports the body’s response to stress. Research has shown that supplementing with maca is particularly helpful in mediating low mood and feelings of anxiety.
Maca has a nutty flavor that hazelnut or toasted almond coffee lovers will enjoy, and just a tablespoon stirred or blended into your java will do the trick.
7. Protein Powder
If you leave the house with your shaker cup in one hand and your travel mug in the other, The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Jaclyn Jacobsen, M.S., recommends subbing protein powder in for coffee creamer. Not only does the protein powder provide your muscles with the nutrients they need to stay strong and grow, but it also turns your coffee into more of a meal and helps keep your blood sugar stable, Jacobsen says.
Whisk up to a scoop of your go-to protein powder (we like BodyTech French Vanilla WheyTech Pro 24 or Optimum Nutrition Double Rich Chocolate Gold Standard 100% Whey) into your brew until evenly mixed.
8. Mushroom Powder
After a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, mushrooms are everywhere right now—and varieties like reishi and cordyceps are getting extra-special attention for their ‘adaptogenic’ benefits. While reishi mushrooms support overall health and longevity because of their role in cell and immune function and their high antioxidant content, cordyceps are best known for improving energy and stamina.
You’ll find these mushrooms in all sorts of supplements these days (including pre-workouts), and Jacobsen likes to add Matrix FIT Organic Mushroom Powder to coffee to reap the immunity-boosting benefits of reishi, cordyceps, and other medicinal mushrooms. You can even satisfy your sweet tooth with mushroom hot cocoa mixes like Four Sigma Foods’ Cordyceps and Reishi Mushroom How Cacao Drink Mix.