Ever think when you’re brewing your coffee and frying up your eggs, “Wow, this morning would go a lot smoother if I could just combine the two?”
Okay, maybe not—but someone did. In fact, the practice of mixing raw egg and hot, black coffee has popped up throughout the centuries in Hungarian, Scandinavian, Vietnamese, and even Minnesotan culture. The result? A thick, creamy, sweet drink that kicks up your regular coffee.
But isn’t drinking raw egg dangerous? If raw eggs are contaminated with the bacteria Salmonella, you could get sick. That’s why you need to cook eggs well before you eat them.
With egg coffee, though, the heat of the liquid brings the temperature of the egg up enough to kill the bacteria, making it safe to consume, says the American Egg Board, an industry trade group. Eggs need cooking at 160 degrees, and the water in coffee preparation is roughly 200 degrees.
Buying pasteurized eggs—where they are heated to help destroy bacteria—can make egg coffee safer, too, especially if you are uncertain about the temperature of your coffee.
Centuries ago, people were mixing the concoction for its unique taste, but within the last decade, it’s started to gain popularity as a pre-workout drink, says Marc Bubbs, director of nutrition for the Canadian Men’s National Basketball Team.
“I’ve used egg coffee a few times before, doing some fasted cardio in the morning,” says Bubbs. “It was a nice boost, similar to Bulletproof Coffee, but with the nutrient-dense bonus of the yolk, compared to simply fatty acids.” Many of the ultra-marathoners he trains also enjoy a creamy cup of egg coffee pre-workout, too. In fact, pretty much all of his athletes eat eggs and drink coffee as part of their training and recovery meals, he says—just not together.
It’s been pretty much proven that taking in caffeine pre-workout can give you a performance boost, so the coffee part of the equation isn’t all that surprising. But why mix an egg into it? That gives you a hit of protein and fat, which helps in muscle recovery.
But that’s where the picture gets a little murky, and triggers quite the dilemma: Caffeine is helpful pre-workout, says Bubbs. But the fatty acids and protein that aid in recovery make eggs beneficial post-workout, explains Philadelphia-based nutritionist Marjorie Cohn.
“I’d rather recommend egg consumption, along with complex carb, within 30 minutes after exercise to maximise recovery,” she says.
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As for caffeine? Drinking it after your sweat session isn’t exactly ideal: “Your nervous system has just been firing all cylinders, so you want it to unwind, not be given another stimulus via caffeine,” Bubbs says.
So one component of your egg coffee is best before your workout, and the other part is best afterwards. If only you could split the two…
In fact, that’s what Cohn and other nutritionists do suggest that you do: Drink your coffee, and eat your eggs—separately.
“I can’t imagine why someone would want to mix eggs and coffee together,” says Pittsburgh-based nutritionist Heather Mangieri, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “One egg has varying amounts of 13 different essential vitamins and minerals, plus six grams of high-quality protein, but there is no added benefit to putting it into your coffee.”
Bottom line: Egg coffee is no magic drink, and isn’t exactly the key to workout bliss. At the same point, if you prepare it safely, it's a harmless way to charge up your taste buds. So if the thought of egg coffee intrigues you, go ahead and give it a shot: But when the novelty wears off it, it’ll probably serve you just as well—maybe better—to return them to separate cup and plate.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health