What is Bullet Proof Coffee?
“Bullet proof coffee, was never my cup of tea.” Perhaps Austrian Mountaineer Heinrich Harrer would have liked bullet coffee better than the Tibetan Yak Butter tea. Recently, blending some mixture of fat in your coffee and having that for breakfast has gotten quite popular. The main version of Bulletproof coffee is made by mixing Coffee, Grass Fed Butter and pure C8 MCT Oil in a blender. This recipe comes from entrepreneur Dave Asprey, who apparently got the idea after having Yak Butter Tea in Tibet in 2004.
Proponents of Bulletproof coffee claim that the coffee will keep you focused and curb your appetite for hours. While coffee with a gob of fat may sound like a new-fangled trend, the practice of ingesting coffee with fat was around even before people drank coffee as a beverage. Sometime between 575 and 850 CE, nomadic mountain warriors of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia would combine crushed coffee beans with animal fat, and snack on that for energy during long treks and warfare.
“Excuse me, can I have a butter bar please?” Personally, I can attest to the sustained energy that comes from ButterProof coffee, but what could be making it so magical? And should you be replacing your breakfast with it? Before we get into it, it’s necessary to understand that saturated fat in general is not the enemy that it’s been made out to be. You also have to know a little bit about ketosis because this is one of the goals of the coffee. Very briefly, ketosis occurs when you restrict carbohydrate intake enough and for long enough. When you’ve burned out enough of your carbohydrate stores, your liver then turns fatty acids from your diet, and from your body fat into ketones.
These ketones are used for energy in the body and brain rather than relying on glucose or carbohydrate. Ketosis has many benefits, physical and mental. It helps you lose weight and reduces hunger. There’s also evidence that it improves longevity and health span, it suppresses oxidative stress, and it improves cognition and memory. So by doing intermittent fasting or being on a low carb and high fat diet, your body gets energy primarily from fat rather than carbohydrate. This allows you to get through the day without blood sugar spikes and crashes, and you’ll have more stable energy, feel more focused and less hungry.
Obviously butter coffee plays into this because it’s just fat and zero carbs. But there are some other fascinating properties of butter coffee that help get you into ketosis. First, the caffeine in the coffee actually helps to boost ketone production, even if you’re not doing a low carb diet. This study from last year in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology had people fast for 12 hours, then have breakfast. One group had no caffeine, another had 1 and ½ cups of black coffee, and another had caffeine pills that were the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee. They found that “Caffeine given at breakfast significantly stimulated ketone production in a dose-dependent manner.” So, the more caffeine, the more ketones. This is interesting, because insulin which is produced in response to eating carbohydrates hinders ketone production, but the subjects’ breakfast was 78% carbohydrate. Though, that doesn’t mean you should drink butter coffee no matter what your diet is.
We can expect that ketone production would have been even higher if they had the caffeine without carbohydrate. It’s important to drink this with a ketogenic breakfast, or better yet, with no breakfast at all. If you’re mixing up some grass fed butter and MCT oil in your coffee and then you have a cream cheese bagel, or bowl of cereal along with it, you’ll blunt the ketogenic effects of the coffee and store a lot of that fat on your body. You see, there are two ways you can fill up fat cells: One is by eating enough carbohydrates to where carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat through a process called de novo lipogenesis; the other is through a process called re-esterification. Simply put: re esterification is the process of taking fatty acids and forming them back into fat, which is then stored in your fat cells.
Then, the way you get the fat out of your fat cells is by breaking down the fat through another process: lipolysis. So, let’s say you’re on a ketogenic diet and you decide to whip up a bunch of fat in your coffee, and drink it for breakfast while you read Garfield comics from 1995. Fat’s going to be coming in, but because the main feature of ketosis is that you use fat for energy, lipolysis is going to be way up and you’re going to be using the fat from your fat cells and the fat from your coffee for energy.
So that’s not too bad. But if you’re having toast, eggs and potatoes with your butter coffee, then you’re gonna have some of the carbs stored as fat through de novo lipogenesis, and actually even more re-esterification will occur and the fat output, lipolysis, will be low. When you fat with carbs, even more of that fat goes into your fat cells and you burn less fat because insulin, which is secreted when you eat carbohydrate, increases re-esterification and inhibits lipolysis.
One of the benefits of bulletproof coffee is that it’s supposed to help you lose weight, but it might do the opposite if you put sugar in it or have it with carbohydrates. I didn’t realize how big this Butter and MCT oil coffee trend was getting until I saw that a pre-made version of it hit the shelves of a convenient store chain here in London. Unfortunately, the coffee they use is so weak the drink just tastes like skim milk but… I was impressed that they got the ingredients right – it’s not just coffee with butter, it actually has grass fed butter and MCT oil in it.
So what’s the deal with the MCT Oil? MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides, and, compared to long-chain triglycerides, MCT’s are: -Absorbed quicker and turned into energy more efficiently -Result in less body fat gain -They make you feel fuller faster -And, they enhance the production of ketones. So here we have another ingredient that promotes ketones. There’s a couple different types of MCT’s – c12, c10, c8 and c6 which refers to the length of the chain. The shorter the chain, the easier it turns into ketones. C6 isn’t usually used because it easily upsets the stomach and apparently smells like goats – So, pure C8 – caprylic acid, is your best bet for maximum ketone production, but a mix of C8 and C10 is usually more available and more cost effective.
So why the grass-fed butter? Well, Butter provides great fat soluble Vitamins like Vitamin K2 and Vitamin A and Vitamin E. And studies suggest grassfed butter has better Vitamin A and E content, higher omega-3’s and higher levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Though, this is just a nice little bonus- I wouldn’t say BulletProof coffee is packed with vitamins. So the big point of this fatty coffee is to boost your ketone production so you can get the benefits of ketosis even when you’re not super strict on intermittent fasting or eating really low carb. But is it healthy having this every morning? I would say “healthier than what?” If having this coffee is getting you to keep your blood sugar down and insulin levels low thanks to it replacing your high carb breakfast, I would say yes, it’s healthier.
I’d consider Grass fed butter and MCT oil a healthy addition to your daily diet for reasons I just discussed, so the question becomes: is daily coffee consumption healthy? There’s a ton of research on coffee showing that more coffee consumption increases longevity, reduces diabetes risk and heart disease risk. Recently, coffee and even decaf coffee have been shown to promote an anti-aging process called autophagy. But coffee is a very complex beverage that affects all kinds of hormones and neurotransmitters like Adenosine, Dopamine, Cortisol, Adrenaline, Cholecystokinin and Gastrin. Coffee has also been shown to produce inflammation. Personally I love butter coffee and feel great for a couple hours after I drink it, but I feel more calm and content in general when I don’t have a coffee habit.
Recently, I’ve slowly cut my morning coffee consumption in half over a couple weeks. I get less of a spike in focus, but I’m calmer and more focused in general throughout the day. Then again, that’s just me. There’s a lot more to say about coffee, but that’s a great topic for another time. There is one more thing I should mention about coffee. This June 2012 paper, authored in part by Ryan N. Coffee actually has nothing to do with coffee, but if coffee is something you like to indulge in on a daily basis, you might want to know how to make a really good cup.
How to Make Bulletproof Coffee And Intermittent Fasting
Here we’ll uncover if you can consume bulletproof coffee while intermittent fasting. We’re talking about bulletproof coffee and intermittent fasting. A lot of people will come to me and say hey I really love intermittent fasting and I really love doing one meal a day and I really love having that bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning. So this is where things get a little bit dicey so let’s talk about it. So when we look at a bulletproof coffee essentially what we’re doing is we’re taking a cup of black coffee and we’re mixing in a blender a tablespoon of MCT oil and two tablespoons of butter. And what this equates to is about 400 calories in fat.
When we’re doing intermittent fasting, that’s fasting for 16 hours and eating your meals within an 8-hour period. So let’s say you’re waking up first thing in the morning, and you drink that bulletproof coffee, and then you have another four to five hours to go in your fast to hit that sixteen-hour mark. Well when you wake up first thing and you drink that bulletproof coffee and consume 400 calories in fat you by all means are going to break your fast. Now when we look at this bulletproof coffee I understand that some people are doing it as a gateway to get to the full 16 hours of fasting. So they’re having a hard time getting to that full 16 hours. So they use it as a gateway to kind of just help them as a crutch to get there. And I think that’s completely acceptable completely fine because you’re using it in order to get to a better lifestyle. In order to improve your health. So that you can eventually do the real deal. Now when we’re looking at one meal a day here’s another thing that comes up. A lot of people are doing bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning or in the afternoon.
And they’re saying I really like it because it allows me to do one meal a day and it energizes my brain and gives me that all that fat for energy. But once again you are breaking your fast with 400 calories of fat. The other argument when it comes to one meal a day and breaking your fast with the bulletproof coffee; is some people are saying well the problem with it is that you’re consuming 400 calories. And that’s basically like a small meal and it’s not very nutrient dense. So when we look at and we look at one meal a day one of the things that we have to understand is that a bulletproof coffee 400 calories are going to break that fast. The only thing that we really want to have is maybe a coffee with very small amounts of cream. So black coffee alone or black coffee with very minimal amounts of creamer in it. And that’s how you’re going to get the true benefits of or OMAD.
Now the other question that comes up is the bulletproof coffee Keto? And the answer to this question is most definitely. And as a matter of fact I think this is where a lot of confusion comes in as many people see it as keto. And they know that they can have it on keto so then they think you can also do it well intermittent fasting. And so if you want the full benefits of one meal a day or intermittent fasting don’t drink a bulletproof coffee during those fasted hours because it’ll break that fast. But you can definitely do it with keto because it is loaded with a high amount of fat. And many people really like it on keto. And the reason for that is because it has so many calories of fat in it that it helps you get to that level of fat that you want to consume on a daily basis. Because that’s another question I get a lot.