I’ve been debating writing about BulletProof Coffee for a while, but I do drink it occasionally, so I figured I should share with you my thoughts about this new coffee trend. Have you heard of BulletProof Coffee? If not, let me give you an introduction.
But first **Disclaimer: I will try to give my best thoughts about this, but I will not be able to exhaust the topic in it’s entirety. There is so much that goes into health and nutrition, and different studies all show conflicting evidence… so bear with me while I present what data I can and remember that these are just my thoughts on the topic and in no way serve as any solid evidence or advice. Thanks 🙂
Okay so BulletProof Coffee… where to begin. BPC originally started when Dave Asprey, a biohacker and former Silicon Valley executive drank Yak Butter tea while climbing mountains in Tibet and felt fabulous. He wondered what special properties in the butter tea made him feel so ‘bulletproof’ and so he began investigating combinations of caffeine, butter, and medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). And so, BPC was born.
BulletProof Coffee in it’s simplest form is coffee, blended with butter (must be grass-fed butter) and MCT oil or coconut oil. More about MCT’s in a bit. In it’s more complicated form, BPC is coffee that is purchased specifically from Mr. Asprey on his bulletproof executive website. He claims that his coffee beans are processed in a different way and are free of mycotoxins or molds that plague regular coffee. Dave has strong feelings about mold (he even has a documentary coming soon called ‘Moldy’ and I’m sure we will learn even more about his distain for fungus after that.)
The Science… Kind Of…
I think I will just start with some basics on the science behind BPC. Let’s start with medium chain triglycerides or MCTs. Triglycerides are fatty acids that are found in food and are essential in our bodies for proper production of hormones, cell membranes, and other tissues. Triglycerides are made up of a backbone with three chains of carbons hanging off. These carbon chains can be short (6 carbons or less), medium (6-12 carbons), or long (12+). Most fatty acids are absorbed in the intestine with the help of bile acids. They circulate in the blood and are deposited in tissues before making their way to the liver to be converted into energy.
Medium chain triglycerides however, bypass the initial circulation and go directly to the liver. They don’t require bile acids to be absorbed and they can be converted into energy faster. Studies have shown that MCTs have a better effect on lipid profiles, meaning they don’t effect LDL (or bad cholesterol) like other fatty acids do.
**Recently, there has been a lot of debate about dietary cholesterol and so I won’t go into all that because this post would go on forever. All you need to know is MCTs=good for you and dietary cholesterol is not bad for you anymore.
Other studies have implicated MCT’s in increased metabolism, weight loss, and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. A lot of those studies are shaky at best, and have super small sample sizes… so it’s hard to get a clear picture of the data. One thing we know for SURE about MCT’s is that they have a role in helping people with digestive problems get the dietary fats they need, and they can be beneficial to people with epilepsy. But as far as concrete evidence, that’s about it.
Coconut oil and palm kernel oil both contain high amounts of MCTs compared to other fats, so many people use coconut oil in BPC instead of buying straight MCT oil.
The other part of the BPC picture is this concept of intermittent fasting or ketosis. Again, this is a hot topic for debate so I won’t dive too deeply into it all. Many people are advocates for intermittent fasting. They say the whole “eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day” is bologna. According to this camp, eating all the time only helps keep your insulin levels high which is bad. We aren’t designed to eat all the time and there is benefit from going hours between eating. Allowing your body to dip into it’s fat storage for a few hours before eating again is good. People who snack a lot are by in large, more overweight than people who don’t. ***That’s not what I’m saying, but that’s what that camp believes***
Ketosis is a state in which your body is depleted of carbohydrates and is using ketones for energy. Remember your brain functions on glucose? So, when you’re not eating, your liver can make glucose by breaking down chains of carbohydrates it has stored. After a while, your body runs out of glucose and will start using fat to make ketones- the only other substance your brain can use for energy. This state, called ‘ketosis’ is a term I learned in medical school only associated with starvation or diabetics who are deprived of insulin and are very very sick.
But now, ketosis is this trendy fat burning state that we should all try to be in all the time. Who knew?!
Just like everything else in this post, ketosis is a hot topic for debate- some love it, some hate it. One way to maintain ketosis without actually starving is to eat fat. See, fat unlike protein and carbs, does not cause any insulin response in the body. None. So if you eat fat, you can maintain ketosis and theoretically your body will burn fat but you will not feel hungry. Your brain will still have ketones to use for energy, so you can still function… theoretically.
Lastly, the whole “moldy coffee” thing that Dave Asprey talks about has not been proven. Some studies have shows that would you have to drink 100+ cups of coffee per day to reach the toxic limit of mycotoxins. So I don’t know if it’s worth buying his “upgraded” coffee.
Enough Science. What Does It Mean?
Dave Asprey’s whole angle with BPC is to use it as a tool to keep fasting in the morning and therefore prolong ketosis and a fat burning state. If you drink BPC in the morning instead of eating breakfast, you won’t actually break your fast- your body will keep fasting. But, the fats in the coffee, coupled with caffeine will provide you will mental energy and focus to power through your morning. The fact that MCTs are absorbed quickly helps too.
And I can actually attest to this- BPC does make me feel even more alert and focused than a regular cup of coffee.
But there are some definite negatives to this. Here are some major CONS to BPC:
Bulletproof Coffee Cons:
- Skipping breakfast deprives you of lots of great vitamins and minerals- BPC basically has no nutrition other than fat and caffeine.
- BPC is high in calories and saturated fat. Depending on your state of health and genetics, it could do more harm than good.
- BPC is crazy expensive if you buy it from Dave. If you buy his coffee beans and his MCT oil, it is a pricey cup of joe! That’s why I use my own coffee, butter, and coconut oil.
And just to be fair, here are some Pros:
Bulletproof Coffee Pros:
- It’s ridiculously delicious. I mean, butter with anything is amazing, so I don’t know why we’re all surprised it’s good.
- It really does give you more focus and energy. I’ve asked a lot of people and we all agree.
- It helps you put off breakfast for a while. Even if you don’t completely fast until lunch, it can give you a jolt of energy first thing in the morning if you aren’t quite ready for breakfast yet. Some people even add some protein powder or an egg to the coffee.
How Do You Make It?
This is what I do with BulletProof Coffee (and again- this is just me.) I don’t like to eat breakfast at 4 or 5 am when I wake up, because if I do, I will be starving by 9 am when we start rounds. Normally, I have a small snack like a piece of toast with peanut butter when I first wake up, and then I eat my big breakfast around 7-8 am.
I’ve found that if I drink BPC when I wake up, I can wait until 7 am to have breakfast without feeling starving or unfocused. I feel energized enough to get through that first hour or so of work and then I eat breakfast.
Plus it’s delicious. So that’s why I like it.
I put 1 TBS Kerry Gold grass-fed butter (found at Costco!) and 1 TBS coconut oil into the blender. I then add 1-2 cups of coffee and blend on high speed.
The fat emulsifies with the coffee and also makes this incredible foam on top. It basically tastes like a latte, but it’s almost better.
So there you have it! Everything I know about BPC. What do you think?
Have you tried it?
Would you try it?