Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Truth Behind Bulletproof Coffee: Is it Really That Healthy?

What if coffee could provide you with long-lasting energy and a feeling of satiety so you could skip breakfast in the morning?

You’d probably be more than curious about this seemingly-amazing, time-saving brew, but hang on.

What if I told you that in order to reap these benefits, you had to add a nice chunk of butter and a dash of oil to your morning coffee—would you still be interested?

As unappealing as that may sound at first, this productivity-hacked coffee is reaching new heights of popularity in the nutrition world so I decided that I needed to see what all the buzz was about.

While I powered through my taste tests, I also had to research the real science behind this trend. Today I’ll share everything I uncovered about Bulletproof coffee so you can decide if it’s right for you.

In a nutshell, what is Bulletproof coffee?

whats in it

The creator of Bulletproof coffee, Dave Asprey, was inspired to pioneer this new brew after his trip to Mt. Kailash, Tibet.

Here, at 18,000 feet above sea level, Asprey was first introduced to a traditional Tibetan tea made with yak butter.

This special tea has been consumed by both the Tibet and Chinese people since the 10th century. It’s even believed that the locals in these regions consume up to 40 cups per day!

Now, to make this ancient version, you’ll need tea leaves, water, salt, and good ol’ fashioned yak butter (made from the milk of domesticated yaks, an animal in the cattle family).

Why add yak butter to your tea?

The butter is said to provide caloric energy, especially for those living in high altitudes. As a bonus, the butter also helps with chapped lips and dry skin common to those living up in the cold, windy mountains.

When Dave Asprey tried this tea, he was “literally rejuvenated”. Asprey insisted on creating his own version of yak butter tea for those of us living in the states. So he replaced tea with coffee and yak butter with grass-fed butter.

The result came to be known as Bulletproof Coffee.

What’s in Bulletproof coffee?

to make it
Asprey’s modern version of yak butter tea, officially titled
Bulletproof coffee, claims to use a low toxin, high performance coffee known as “Upgraded Coffee”.

After you brew this coffee, you add grass-fed butter and a dash of refined coconut oil extract, or MCT oil.


Photo Credit

This revamped and creamy coffee is said to improve brain energy, help you feel full (for six hours, according to Asprey!), and can even aid with weight loss by turning you into an all-day fat-burning energy machine.

Here’s how it works:why it works


Bulletproof coffee is enjoyed on an empty stomach and in place of breakfast.

So when you choose the Bulletproof route, you won’t consume your next meal until lunch time, which we’ll say is about 1:00 p.m. This gives your body as much as 6 or 7 seven hours to run on its new found coffee and butter fuel.

This lack of real food puts you into intermittent fasting.

By running on Bulletproof coffee alone, your body operates in what’s known as a ketosis state, which is when it uses fats and proteins as a fuel source instead of carbs.

When you’re in this zone, the body uses these powerhouse macronutrients to burn fat for energy. You’ll be tapping into those unwanted fat storage areas in order to get enough energy to make it to lunch.

Here’s why it works:


Carbs are fast digesting, but protein and fat burn at a much slower rate, which gives you long-lasting and sustained energy for several hours at a time.

Using the grass-fed butter, you’ll also get a healthy dose of the following, according to Asprey:

These potent ingredients help with inflammation, heart health, and improving brain function, just to name a few benefits.

Plus, when you combine this healthy butter with coconut oil extract (or Brain Octane Oil, in Asprey’s version), you’ll get a fast boost of energy without the crash, according to the Bulletproof team.

See, the oil used in this brew is made from medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT for short. These are responsible for converting ketones to fuel your brain. These ketones replace the energy that you’d normally have from the glucose in carbs.

You’ll have the same fast energy of carbs, without the crash that leaves you craving sweets, high-fat foods, and, well, more carbs.

Asprey’s team also claims that this healthy combination will rev up your metabolism, too.

Now, I know this sounds all well and good, but it’s time to check the research to see if it’s true.

What does the research suggest?


Unfortunately, Asprey’s team does a decent job at hiding this part.

Sure, they mention that every article about their coffee is peer-reviewed scientific literature to make it sound legitimate. They even have a section on their site that points out the health benefits of each ingredient.

However, they don’t explicitly show unbiased scientific studies to support their claims.

According to an article on Gizmodo, Asprey’s studies were mostly conducted on rats and mice alone. Some of these studies are almost four decades old (yikes!) with nothing more recent to back them up.

As for the few human studies, the sample sizes were incredibly small (some as low as two people!), which means we can’t definitively conclude one way or another.

Although, you can sign up to be part of Asprey’s latest trial, which compares being on regular coffee to being on his upgraded version.

Even if we don’t have outstanding research about Asprey’s brew, we do have updated research on MCT oil specifically.

For starters, this type of dietary fat is actually easily absorbed and digestible, making it perfect for people with stomach-related issues.

Plus, in this study conducted on type 1 diabetic patients, researchers concluded that medium-chain triglyceride ingestion will in fact improve cognition.

Another study even established that MCT “preserves brain function for those under a hypoglycemic [low blood sugar] condition without causing deleterious hyperglycemia.”

Lastly, small amounts of evidence suggest that MCT oil could help reduce Alzheimer’s by improving brain function and enhancing the learning skills of patients. More research is still needed to confirm this one though.

Should you go the Bulletproof coffee way?

Since the research is still mixed on this trend, here’s what you should consider if you’re interested in trying the Bulletproof way:

Consider the Coffee on an Empty Stomach Aspect

effects of

Technically, coffee interferes with nutrient absorption when it’s combined with food. Plus, the nutrients found in coffee are best absorbed on an empty stomach anyway.

But here’s the thing: coffee on an empty stomach is not so great for you.

For many people, it will:

  • Increase stomach acid, which may lead to heartburn or indigestion throughout the day
  • Exacerbate anxiety and stress
  • Lower your hormone levels, causing imbalances

So if any of these issues have come up for you in the past, Bulletproof, or even coffee in general, may not be ideal for you.

Are you following a ketogenic diet?

plates food low carb

Yes, technically anyone can try Bulletproof coffee, but it won’t always be effective for some.

Essentially, this upgraded coffee works best for those following a Keto diet or something like an Atkins plan (which is not a favorite of mine). These diets already condition your body to use fats as a protein source instead of carbs.

For those not used to this way of eating, you may feel hungry or ravenous by the time lunch hits since your body has not been taught how to use your fat sources for fuel.

You’re Replacing an Important Meal

replacing meals

The last major thing to keep in mind is that you’re replacing one of the most nutritious meals of the day—breakfast—without supplementing adequate nutrition in its place.

Think about it: 1-2 tablespoons of butter is 200 calories, yet it provides no protein or dietary fiber. When you add the coconut oil, you’ll tack on another 232 calories and still have zero protein or dietary fiber—two big things you need to start your day off right.

Final Thoughts

eat well

Because there’s a shortage of conclusive studies showing how safe or effective Bulletproof coffee is, I’m still on the fence about it.

Yes, some individuals will benefit from making the switch, especially those already following a high fat, low carb diet, but those who need a little more substance to jump start their day will probably find it lacking in appeal.

Personally, I like to eat a quick, substantial breakfast consisting of at least two eggs, a healthy fat such as half an avocado, and a slow digesting carb like a slice of sprouted toast.

But I want to remind you that what works for me may not necessarily work for you. Find what works for you. If you notice a difference from drinking Bulletproof coffee every morning, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Have you tried Bulletproof coffee? What was your experience like? If you’ve never tried it, would you after reading this? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The post The Truth Behind Bulletproof Coffee: Is it Really That Healthy? appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

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