3 Must-Have Cognition Enhancing Supplements

How many mornings have you woken to the sound of the alarm inexplicably confused by how it could be time to wake up?

Bleary-eyed and foggy headed, you stumble to the bathroom to get ready for work and head out the door. Breakfast is a mere afterthought.

Walking into your office building, you head straight to the break room for your morning cup of salvation (coffee), praying it will clear the cobwebs and make you feel somewhat human again.

But alas, as the day progresses, you continue to find yourself stuck in a malaise, unable to focus, discern, or communicate. That strong cup of coffee (or six) can’t do much to “nudge” the brain into action.

What gives?

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes the brain decides that it doesn’t want to do much of anything in the way of productivity. It would prefer to wander, daze, and (worst of all) focus on things that you shouldn’t be wasting your time with.

While the above scenario might seem like a rare occurrence for you, for a lot of adults it’s the norm, with some people spending over half of their work day in this never-ending haze.

Now, don’t get us wrong. The blank stare, fidget, or daze is necessary sometimes to help process and learn new, complex information, but if you find yourself staring at the wall more often than actually getting work done, then it might be time to upgrade your circuitry.

And that brings us to the point of today’s article, what supplements can you take to improve focus, mental clarity, productivity, and cognition?

We’ll answer that very question ahead, but first, let’s discuss what exactly cognition is, and why boosting it is an excellent thing.

What is Cognition?

The dictionary defines cognition as:

“the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

In other words, cognition is the collection of mental processes that allow us to acquire, process, manipulate, store, and retrieve information.

The word is derived from the Latin word cognoscere, which means “get to know,” and essentially, cognition is essential for our day-to-day life.

It helps us understand information about our surroundings as well as interact with it safely. Furthermore, since our senses are constantly inundated with new information, cognition also helps us distill and extract the “useful” or relevant bits of information to perform whatever tasks we’re currently doing and discard the portions of information not needed.

As you can imagine, cognition is vital to successfully navigate just about any situation imaginable, whether it be a high-level business meeting or a get-together with friends. Being able to observe, listen, understand, and extract the useful bits of whatever information is being thrown our way, and then use that information to carry the situation forward meaningfully all involves our cognitive function.

And, without it, we might as well not even be present at all.

That being said, let’s now look at what supplements you can take to improve your information processing skills if you’re in a bit of a cognitive deficit.

3 Supplements to Boost Cognitive Function

While the concept of improving human cognition might seem like a relatively new trend, people have been using drugs and other techniques to enhance cognition for centuries. Caffeine has been used as a stimulant for at least a thousand years by individuals seeking to increase energy, mood, motivation, and focus. [1]

Given the enormous popularity of nootropics and biohacking these days, finding a cognitive enhancing supplement has never been easier, or more confusing for that matter. Walk into any supplement shop, and you’ll come face-to-face with a wide array of natural supplements advertised as cognitive enhancers, including:

  • Herbs
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • amino acids
  • And even mushrooms!

As with just about anything in life, some compounds are more thoroughly understood and proven effective than others, which brings us to this list of the best supplements to boost cognition, beginning with one of the oldest brain boosters on the planet — caffeine.

Caffeine

Caffeine merely is magical and often gets far harsher treatment than it deserves.

Simply put, next to creatine monohydrate, it is the single most studied, and proven active ingredient on the planet for boosting performance both mentally and physically.

The way caffeine works is multi-faceted, but it’s pretty simple to explain.

First and foremost, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors. [2] Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that causes us to feel tired, lethargic, and fatigued. By blocking the adenosine receptors and preventing adenosine from acting, caffeine promotes alertness and wakefulness. [3]

But that’s not all; caffeine also can increase dopamine signaling. [4] Dopamine is often referred to as the “reward” molecule in the brain, but it is also heavily involved in motivation and decision-making. [5]

Now, caffeine boosts dopamine secondary to antagonizing adenosine receptors. Additionally, this increase in dopamine does start to dwindle the more tolerant you become to caffeine. In other words, caffeine goes from being a compound that wakes you up and makes you happy to something you “need” to feel alive in the mornings.

Caffeine can also cause a variety of cognitive benefits [3], all related to improved attention, focus, and concentration. Most notably, caffeine increases:

  • Arousal (awareness to stimuli) [6]
  • Vigilance [7]
  • Reaction time [8]
  • Concentration [9]

As if that wasn’t enough reason to supplement with caffeine, it may also help combat cognitive decline. [9] So, not only can caffeine improve your brain function, but it may also help keep it running better for longer.

How much caffeine do you need to experience its benefits?

Studies investigating the potential of caffeine to boost attention, memory, and cognitive performance note that benefits can be obtained with doses as low as 60 mg — about as much as a cup of strong black tea.[10]

Interestingly, while caffeine tolerance is a well-known side effect of its continuous usage, there is some research showing that even if you are tolerant to caffeine, you may still obtain some attention-boosting benefits from it. [11]

Based on this information, it appears that the attention-promoting properties of caffeine aren’t solely due to stimulating dopamine receptors. It also occurs by antagonism (“blocking”) of adenosine receptors.

The take-home message from this is that daily caffeine consumption is excellent for purposes of increasing cognitive function, and you wouldn’t need to cycle it for this purpose.

Does Caffeine Need to Be Cycled?

As we just stated above, daily usage of caffeine is safe and appears to work for boosting cognitive function. It does not need to be cycled. One reason you may want to cycle caffeine though is if you miss the “stimulatory” component to caffeine.

L-Theanine

L-theanine is a non-protein amino acid naturally occurring in green tea leaves. On its own, Theanine is a pretty common focus and cognition-boosting supplement. However, when paired with caffeine, as it is in SteelFit® Steel Pump, some pretty cool things begin to happen.

The combination of caffeine and theanine is highly synergistic for boosting focus [12] and sustaining it. [13] This occurs even though the two compounds exert opposite effects in the brain. [14]

Essentially, caffeine increases mental alertness, wakefulness, and arousal, while theanine promotes feelings of calm and relaxation due to its effects on GABA — the main “downer” (inhibitory) neurotransmitter in the body. [15]

So, how does combining an “upper” and a “downer” improve focus, attention, and cognition?

Well, caffeine increases alertness and arousal, meaning you pay attention to things better, but the downside is this attention is a bit too expansive. You see, when people take caffeine, they get focused, but they tend to focus on anything and everything, not necessarily the most important thing they should be focusing on.

Adding theanine into the mix helps tame some of the arousal brought on by caffeine, but not so much to the point where you feel tired. More importantly, even though it reduces some of the stimulatory effects of caffeine, it does NOT reduce the improvement in focus you get from caffeine.

In other words, combining caffeine and theanine improves focus and helps prevent your mind from wandering or focusing on things it doesn’t need to be at the time. [16]

This is one of the main reasons Steel Pump contains both caffeine and theanine — to provide an increase in energy and “dial in” focus, while at the same time helping mellow out the harsh “kick in the face” high doses of caffeine can often bring.

Lastly, there is no significant body of research noting that Theanine on its own improves focus or cognition. Most of the studies on humans to date have used the caffeine + theanine combination. So, while it may be possible that theanine exerts some cognition-boosting properties on its own, we don’t know.

L-theanine is a perfect option for those who tend to feel a bit too “over stimmed” from caffeine or those who tend to have a wandering mind when trying to focus on a single topic for prolonged periods of time.

Alpha GPC

Choline is an essential nutrient for optimal brain development, healthy brain cells, and neurotransmitter synthesis. It’s also required for the production of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two major phospholipids critical for cell membranes. [17]

While choline is readily available in a number of foods (egg yolks in particular), it does not effectively enter the brain. However, choline-based nootropic supplements offer a solution to this “problem.”

Alpha-GPC (Alpha-glycerophosphocholine) is a synthetic form of choline that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier brain where it’s used to create a host of neurotransmitters, most prominent among these is the “learning neurotransmitter,” acetylcholine. [18]

But that’s not all, acetylcholine also plays a vital role in muscle contraction, and it’s believed that the neurotransmitter plays a prominent role in establishing a strong “mind-muscle connection.” In other words, when supplementing with Alpha GPC, you may “feel” stronger contractions from your muscles during training, which helps make for a more productive workout.

One of the most important benefits of supplementing with Alpha GPC is in the areas of brain health and cognition. Studies note that Alpha GPC may be able to improve memory formation, enhance learning ability, as well as potentially restore memory. [19,20]

In regard to exercise performance, Alpha GPC has been noted to increase Growth Hormone secretions as well as strength and power output. [21]

Alpha GPC also supports neurotransmitter synthesis of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.

And, as we discussed above, increasing dopamine can benefit brain function significantly.

Additionally, much like theanine, there is some unique synergism between caffeine and Alpha GPC. In particular, research notes that Alpha-GPC alongside both caffeine and increased attention and reaction time when individuals experienced acute stress. [22]

The Bottom Line on Cognition Enhancing Supplements

In today’s world of increased reliance on productivity, efficiency, and expediency, cognitive function has never been in greater demand by employers or needed more by employees. And with the increased demand for our attention and even greater amount of distractions, supplements that improve cognition and focus are a gold mine.

Caffeine, theanine, and Alpha GPC are three of the best and safest options to consider when looking to improve mental performance in the gym or at work.

This is why we’ve included all three of these cognition-boosting supplements in every serving of Steel Pump.

Steel Pump is a high energy, high-performance pre-workout that support performance, stamina, focus, and muscle pumps. Take one scoop 30 minutes prior to training and get primed for the pump of a lifetime!

References

  1. “Cognition-Enhancing Drugs.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690227/.
  2. Ribeiro JA and Sebastião AM. “Caffeine and Adenosine. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164566.
  3. Snel J and Lorist MM. “Effects of Caffeine on Sleep and Cognition. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21531247.
  4. Nall AH, Shakhmantsir I, Cichewicz K, Birman S, Hirsh J, Sehgal A. Caffeine promotes wakefulness via dopamine signaling in Drosophila. Sci Rep. 2016;6:20938. Published 2016 Feb 12. doi:10.1038/srep20938
  5. Friston K, Schwartenbeck P, FitzGerald T, Moutoussis M, Behrens T, Dolan RJ. The anatomy of choice: dopamine and decision-making. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014;369(1655):20130481.
  6. Giles GE , et al. “Caffeine and Theanine Exert Opposite Effects on Attention Under Emotional Arousal. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28044450.
  7. Kamimori GH , et al. “Caffeine Improves Reaction Time, Vigilance and Logical Reasoning During Extended Periods with Restricted Opportunities for Sleep. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25527035.
  8. Kahathuduwa CN , et al. “Acute Effects of Theanine, Caffeine and Theanine-caffeine Combination on Attention. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26869148.
  9. A, Nehlig. “Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer? – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182035.
  10. Wilhelmus MM , et al. “Effects of a Single, Oral 60 Mg Caffeine Dose on Attention in Healthy Adult Subjects. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27649778.
  11. Lanini J , et al. “Acute Personalized Habitual Caffeine Doses Improve Attention and Have Selective Effects when Considering the Fractionation of Executive Functions. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26621326.
  12. Haskell CF , et al. “The Effects of L-theanine, Caffeine and Their Combination on Cognition and Mood. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208.
  13. Foxe JJ , et al. “Assessing the Effects of Caffeine and Theanine on the Maintenance of Vigilance During a Sustained Attention Task. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22326943.
  14. “Caffeine and Theanine Exert Opposite Effects on Attention Under Emotional Arousal. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28044450.
  15. Nathan PJ , et al. “The Neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a Possible Neuroprotective and Cognitive Enhancing Agent. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182482.
  16. Kahathuduwa CN , et al. “L-Theanine and Caffeine Improve Target-specific Attention to Visual Stimuli by Decreasing Mind Wandering: a Human Functional Magnetic Resonance Ima… – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29420994.
  17. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Choline.” Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 26 Sept. 2018, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/.
  18. The role of acetylcholine in learning and memory. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006;16(6):710-5.
  19. De Jesus Moreno Moreno M. “Cognitive Improvement in Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Dementia After Treatment with the Acetylcholine Precursor Choline Alfoscerate: a Multicenter,… – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12637119.
  20. Canal N , et al. “Effect of L-alpha-glyceryl-phosphorylcholine on Amnesia Caused by Scopolamine. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2071257.
  21.  “Acute Supplementation with Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine Augments Growth Hormone Response To, and Peak Force Production During, Resistance Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-S1-P15.
  22. Hoffman JR, et al. The effects of acute and prolonged CRAM supplementation on reaction time and subjective measures of focus and alertness in healthy college students. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. (2010)

Essential Vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are the “building blocks” of protein. While there are around 100 total amino acids naturally-occurring, humans only need about 20 of them. Many know amino acids play a vital role in protein synthesis, but they’re also necessary for nutrient storage, neurotransmitter production, energy generation, and nucleotide synthesis. They’re also needed for tissue repair and metabolism maintenance too.

But within the robust family of amino acids, there are some that are especially important you could even say they’re essential. Ahead, we’ve got a quick primer on which amino acids you need to optimize performance, maintain health, and grow muscle!

Types of Amino Acids

Amino acids are divided into two categories: essential and non-essential.

Essential Amino Acids

Of the 20 amino acids needed by the human body, nine of them are considered essential. That is, these essential amino acids (EAAs) are those amino acids the body cannot synthesize and therefore must consume them through food or supplementation. These nine essential amino acids must be consumed through the diet (via food or supplementation) to maintain protein synthesis, build muscle, and survive. The nine EAAs are:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Unlike carbohydrates or fats, the body doesn’t store amino acids for use later on. Instead, it’s constantly using them to create new proteins, which means you want to provide a steady stream of essential amino acids to keep things running as they should.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Along with the nine essential amino acids of the human body, there are also 11 nonessential amino acids. These amino acids are termed “non-essential” because the body can create them from other amino acids and nutrients in the body.

The 11 non-essential amino acids are:

  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartate
  • Cysteine
  • Glutamate
  • Glutamine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

Within the category of non-essential amino, eight of them are considered “conditionally” essential. The reason they’re classified as “conditionally essential” is that under normal circumstances, the body can produce sufficient amounts of these amino acids to perform the variety of functions required of them. However, during times of illness or extreme stress (i.e., weightlifting), the body cannot produce enough to keep up with demand, and that’s when consuming food or an amino acid supplement containing the conditionally essential amino acids may be useful.

Sources of Amino Acids

As we stated up, the essential amino acids must be obtained through the diet, which means consuming food in some form or fashion for most people. The best way to ensure you’re getting in the required amounts of amino acids each day is by consuming adequate amounts of protein from a variety of sources.

Animal proteins are “complete” proteins in that they contain all nine essential amino acids humans require on a daily basis. Plant proteins (beans, grains, vegetables, etc.) are often missing one or more of the essential amino acids, and are therefore “incomplete” proteins. If you are a vegetarian and looking to get all of your EAAs from only food, you’ll have to do some mixing and matching. For example, eating beans and rice provides the complete amino acid profile you need, as does consuming quinoa. Of course, there’s always vegan protein powders and amino acid supplements if you get in a bind and need to hit your protein numbers on the go.

Takeaway

Amino acids provide the basis for all of your muscle-building aspirations as well as thousands of other functions in the body. Whether you’re an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore, make sure to eat a diverse diet so the amino acid pool in your body is always fully stocked and your body is primed for the big time.

Tips for Cooking with Protein Powder

Whey protein is a staple for active individuals, providing a quick, affordable, and above all delicious means to hitting your daily protein requirements and supporting your fitness goals.

But, sometimes you get tired of always drinking your protein. We’ve all had those days when the mere thought of drinking yet another protein shake is enough to chuck our blender, shaker cup, and protein powder in the dumpster.

On these occasions, wouldn’t it be great if you could chew your protein powder instead of having to drink it? You can!

There are thousands of protein powder recipes available, each one offering you a delicious and macro-friendly means to enjoying your protein powder.

But, cooking and baking with protein isn’t a simple endeavor, especially if you’re new to cooking and baking with it. There’s a certain finesse that needs to be applied when attempting things with protein beyond the standard protein shake or oatmeal.

The following list of tips has been compiled to help YOU avoid the same mistakes other culinary artists have when attempting to cook with protein powder. Give them a read and save yourself hours of wasted time and money!

Best Whey Protein Baking Tips

All Proteins are NOT the Same

When crafting your culinary concoctions, you might think one protein powder can easily be swapped for another. After all, they’re both, and they’re both powders, so they should be able to be exchanged 1:1…. right? NOPE!

If you’ve ever mixed up two different protein powders in the same amount of water, you’ve witnessed for yourself just how thick or thin different powders can mix. Different protein powders have entirely different tastes, textures, and consistencies.

What this means for you is that if a recipe calls for whey protein, don’t assume that you can automatically sub in an equivalent amount of casein, pea, or brown rice protein.

Don’t Overmix

Anyone who’s ever attempted to bake cakes, muffins, brownies, or just about any other type of sweet treat has made this error a time or two. When you overmix a batter, the gluten in the flour can form elastic strands, creating a denser, chewer, and “tougher” textured treat. That’s why you see so many recipes advise to mix ingredients “until just combined.”

What this means is that you stir the ingredients just enough to where you don’t see the individual elements you just added to the bowl. Limiting the amount of stirring, mixing, shaking, or whisking you do helps keep the texture of your baked goods light, making for a more pleasant tasting baked good.

While your baked protein goods will have less flour than standard baking recipes, you still can have a dense, overmixed product if you overmix. Therefore, mix and fold your ingredients just until they’re incorporated and then STEP AWAY from the bowl.

By doing so, you’ll be rewarded with a delectable baked good that’s sure to tantalize your tongue.

Grease It Up

Protein powders are notoriously sticky on their own, and when mixed into a batter, the stickiness factor is dialed up exponentially. This can make mixing batters, scooping batters int baking trays, and removing the finished product from the tray a real challenge.

Due to this, it’s imperative that you grease and coat your baking sheets, cake pans, and muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. Another idea is to use paper liners in your trays if you’re making cupcakes or muffins.

And as a bonus tip, if you’re going to be using your hands to mold, shape, or scoop a whey-based dough, rub some oil or non-stick spray on your hands and whatever spatula you’re using to scoop the dough out of the bowl. This will help prevent the mixture from clinging to your hand, meaning less waste and more finished product!

Follow the Recipe

Are you a cook or a baker?

While to the casual diner, the difference is relatively minuscule. Both apply heat to a mixture of different foods and create a delicious delicacy. But, if you’ve ever been in the kitchen, you know there is a big difference between cooking and baking.

Cooking is a bit more free form. You can tweak, change, or adapt recipes to suit your palate. Don’t like asparagus in your pasta dish? That’s ok; you can swap it with broccoli, brussels sprouts, or green beans.

But, if a baking recipe calls for a set amount of flour and you add too little or too much, you’ve got a boondoggle on your hands.

It’s often said that cooking is an art, but baking is a science. By that, we mean that cooking is more “flexible,” allowing you to make minor modifications here and there. But, with baking, you must follow the recipe. Even the slightest deviation can result in you having to toss out an entire tray of goods, meaning you’ve wasted a considerable amount of time, resources, and food.

Sweeteners

We all like the occasional sweet treat. That’s probably why you’re considering baking in the first place. And, since you’re reading this article, you’re most likely trying to eat a bit healthier, and that means upping the protein and lowering the sugar content of your baked goods.

With that in mind, here are a few quick tips:

  • Refined, white sugar can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio with mashed, ripe bananas or applesauce. However, the overall liquid in the recipe needs to be cut by 25%.
  • If replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners, such as honey or agave syrup, the exchange ratio is 2:1. What this means is that if you’re replacing 1 cup of sugar with honey, you will use ½ cup of honey (or agave). However, this is important, if subbing honey for sugar, for every ½ cup of honey you add, you also need to add in ½ teaspoon of baking soda.The reason for this is that honey is acidic, and baking soda balance out the acidic properties of honey. Additionally, cooking temperatures also need to be lowered by 25 degrees as liquid sugars begin to brown and caramelize faster than dry sugars.
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract can be swapped for 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

Don’t Forget the Fat

Fat is flavor, and there’s a reason baked goods always taste so sinfully good — they contain fat!

When attempting to make protein treats, it can be tempting to completely remove fat from a recipe on account of you trying to make things “uber healthy.” However, fat is not to be feared. Your body requires fat to function properly, and so do your baked treats!

If you don’t add fat to your baked goods, it’ll be impossible to have a moist, crunchy cookie. Avoiding fat in your recipes, especially protein cookies, will leave you with little cookie-breads that taste more like sweet, hard cardboard than a soft, moist, delectable cookie.

Any fat will do — butter, oil, lard, nut butter, coconut oil — use whatever kind you prefer, but make sure you do use some form of fat.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten a dry, crumbly, saliva-sucking baked good.

Chances are every one of you reading this have experienced that at some point in your life.

As you’ve likely experienced, chewing on a dry baked treat is akin to eating a mouth full of dirt — it’s disgusting, and no matter how much water you drink, you can’t get rid of that funky taste/sensation in your mouth.

The reason for the horrendous dryness is due to overbaking and/or not including enough moisture in the dough.

And this brings us to the next baking tip — ALWAYS USE A MOISTURIZER!

No, we’re not talking about adding some hand cream or lotion to your batter (that would be disgusting).

What we mean by a “moisturizer” are ingredients that help “weigh down” your protein powder and add moisture to the batter, preventing a dry, rubbery, crumbly mess. Moisturizers include things like bananas, Greek yogurt, applesauce, pumpkin puree, or cottage cheese.

As a general rule of thumb, adding ¼ – ½ cup of a moisturizer for every cup of a dry ingredient is enough to keep your treats moisture and avoid the dry, dirt-like texture.

You NEED Flour

Never, ever, under any circumstances try to cook or bake a batter that consists primarily of protein powder. Doing so will yield food that is incredibly dry or rubbery.

When cooking with protein powder, you NEED flour.

The flour helps to add volume, structure, and texture to your product. Generally speaking, your recipe should never contain more than ¼-⅓ whey protein powder. Making up the rest of the “dry” ingredients in your batter can be any number of flours including wheat flour, white flour, oat flour (i.e., ground up oats), coconut flour, almond flour, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, or chickpea flour.

Beware Coconut Flour

Building off the previous point, though the name can be deceiving, coconut flour does NOT react the way other flours do when mixed into a batter. Coconut flour soaks up A LOT of liquid and using too much of it can create absurdly dry, compact and “fibrous” tasting food.

As such, you should use coconut flour sparingly.

On a gram for gram basis, coconut flour contains far more fiber than other flours, which is great if you’re going for low carb foods, but with that also comes the propensity for coconut-heavy batters to be incredibly dense.

Don’t Overbake

This rule applies to everything you bake, protein powder-inclusive or not, but it’s even more important when cooking with protein.

Whey protein baked goods can go from moist, delicate, and delicious morsels to dried out, crumbly catastrophes (or outright burnt useless hockey pucks) in the blink of an eye. Whey-based goods are incredibly susceptible to overbaking, and as such, you need to watch them like a hawk once they go in the oven. As an added measure of protection, you may also want to lower the baking temp by 25 degrees if you’re particularly worried about overbaking your treats. Reducing the oven temperature will allow the goodies to cook more evenly.

Still, keep a close eye on your goodies and the clock — protein treats bake relatively quickly compared to their non-protein counterparts, which means you need to be on full alert when you stick them in the oven. Now is not the time to do a bunch of other honey-dos. When your treats go in the oven, stay focused on them, and them alone.

Do the Wobble

There’s a hard and fast rule when it comes to baking cheesecakes — do not bake them until they are solid and when poked with a knife or toothpick come out clean.

You want them to do the “wobble” when jiggled. The reason we recommend this is that cheesecakes will continue to cook once you pull them out of the oven. Continuing to leave in the oven until it’s 100% set in the middle will yield a cheesecake that is not creamy or particularly palatable.

To test if your cheesecake is ready to come out of the oven, give the pan a little shimmy shake and if you see a slight wobble in the center (similar to jello or pannacotta), remove it from the oven. It’s ready to go.

If when you nudge the pan, it wobbles like crazy or sloshes out over the sides, it’s not done. Leave it in for a few minutes and test again to see if you get the slight wobble.

Have Fun!

We’ve given you a lot of tips in this guide to baking with protein powder, but perhaps the most important advice we can give you is to HAVE FUN!

Cooking and baking are meant to be enjoyable experiences, either by yourself or in the company of family and friends. Put on some music, your favorite apron, do the happy dance, and just cut loose. If you’re stressed, on edge, and grumpy the whole time you’re baking and cooking, it won’t matter how good the food tastes. You’ll still be in a funk.

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to experiment, sample your batters along the way, or make multiple versions of the same recipe. With practice comes mastery, and in just a short while, you’ll go from a protein powder Padawan to a Jedi Master in no time!

And, if you’re looking for the perfect protein powder to spark your culinary curiosity, there is Steel Whey®!

Steel Whey — The Baker’s Protein Powder

Steel Whey™ is a 100% whey protein concentrate supplying 27 or 28 grams (based on the flavor) of pure, high-quality protein in every serving.  Steel Whey™ uses only the best quality whey protein concentrate in WPC-80, and contains no proprietary blends or protein spiking.

It’s ideal to use in cooking, baking, or as a convenient, delicious whey to get in some additional muscle-building protein into your daily diet.

Click here to learn more about Steel Whey™ and why it’s the only whey you should go!