Caffeine with a healthy kick at Marion's 'Innovative Protein & Coffee Bar'

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Going on a diet is never easy. Add in giving up coffee drinks, and for some it can feel impossible.

That’s where Innovative Protein & Coffee Bar hopes to help.

The coffee shop, owned by Innovative Aesthetics, opened Sept. 14 in Marion as part of the company’s range of services; it has a spa in downtown Cedar Rapids and a weight loss center in Marion. The coffee shop is now its third location.

Its weight loss program includes the Ideal Protein system and meal products. During phase one of Ideal Protein’s program, participants avoid carbs, fat and sugars.

“It’s very hard to have coffee drinks,” coffee shop manager Lexi Nelson said. “A lot of customers and coaches told us they were missing these things.”

So the coffee shop serves up beverages with an option to be “IP” friendly, substituting sugar-free syrups and cream aides in classic coffee shop offerings like lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso drinks.

Those not following the Ideal Protein diet are welcome, as well. All the drinks also can be served with the traditional steamed milk and regular sugar.

“We want people to come here and enjoy it and be in a relaxing environment,” Nelson said.

Dusty Swehla, who manages the Ideal Protein side of Innovative Aesthetic’s business, came up with the idea for the coffee shop.

“He wanted a place where clients could get healthy products approved for the program but also a place the public could come,” Nelson said.

In addition to getting their caffeine kick, customers can grab a bite to eat. A grab-and-go cooler offers salads and sandwiches, while a case of baked goods like muffins and brownies sits on the counter.

The menu also includes smoothies, with the option to add ingredients like kale or spinach to kick the healthy quotient up a notch.

“We try to educate people on making healthier choices,” Nelson said. “The goal is to build a better lifestyle and eating habits.”

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