There has been a lot of buzz around Bulletproof Coffee in the past few years. Personally I was late adopter, but nonetheless find Bulletproof Coffee very energizing and it has become an integral part of my morning routine. Bulletproof coffee makes a difference in my morning energy levels.
For TL;DR see the summary and recipe at the end.
This is what the creamy goodness looks like.
Does BP coffee actually work? It seems it does at least in two respects.
- It triggers mild ketosis: I’ve done experimentation and it turns out my ketone levels do go up after having my BP coffee. With about 20 grams of butter and 1 tablespoon of MCT oil I’m reading slightly above 0.5mmol/l an hour after the coffee. This requires I don’t have anything else for breakfast. Having a couple of eggs with BP coffee at breakfast seems to still trigger very slight ketosis, but we’re talking about something in the 0.2-0.4mmol/l range. That hardly counts as ketosis. Also, if you have carbs with BP coffee, forget ketosis.
- It improves focus & energy compared to having breakfast: During the first couple of weeks I did notice having more energy in the mornings with BP coffee compared to just regular coffee. Since then it had become hard to tell. I had felt so good I hadn’t gone a single morning without BP coffee since I started a couple of months ago. So like a true biohacker, I had to experiment to learn more. Today I haven’t had my bulletproof coffee, but some eggs and regular coffee instead. The difference is subtle but noticeable. I’m not quite as alert, and I got really really hungry at lunch time. At the same time I could feel my energy levels drop (blood sugar). So there we have it! I will have to repeat the experiment, but I’m so fond of BP coffee it won’t be tomorrow.
Whether you follow a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diet or not, I’ve noticed combining BP coffee “breakfast” with a LCHF lunch keeps you energetic and fired up all day long. Gone is the afternoon carb-induced brain-fog and 4-5PM cravings. I eat a moderate amount of carbs at dinner and/or before bed, and find this to be optimal for myself. Dave Asprey, the inventor of Bulletproof coffee is saying he could go until 5pm with just coffee, but I find that I do get hungry at my usual lunch time.
But saturated fats are bad, right? While not everyone agrees, there’s plenty of research that debunks the saturated fat myth. For instance, this meta-analysis of 72 studies concluded “Current evidence does not clearly support guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” Note that this doesn’t suggest high saturated fat consumption, but just tells that favoring unsaturated fats over saturated fats is not necessary for better health.
If you’re trying to lose weight and burn fat, BP coffee should be a good tool for increasing your fat burn capabilities. First, you need to skip the actual breakfast to get the most out of it, and as a result you’ll also eat less. Second, being in ketosis (briefly) means your body is burning fat instead of glucose for fuel, which should also contribute to weight loss.
Benefits of grass-fed butter. In general, butter is rich in vitamins and minerals, and beneficial fatty acids such as omega 3, butyrate, and conjugated linoleic acid. Organic grass-fed butter seems to have more of these important nutrients than non-grass-fed butter. One key difference between grass-fed and non-grass fed is the fact that eating grass will provide more vitamin K1 to the cow’s diet. And the presence of K1 is required to produce vitamin K2, which human body cannot make on its own. Thus, grass-fed butter and meat contains more vitamin K2 than the grain fed variety. Some say K2 is another “super-vitamin” like D3. There’s already research suggesting the RDAs for vitamin K should be reconsidered. Also, the fatty acid composition of grass-fed seems to be higher in Omega 3. In the European Union your best bet on finding grass-fed produce is to buy organic butter and beef. More about benefits of grass-fed butter (Mark’s Daily Apple).
What is MCT oil? Another key ingredient of BP coffee is MCT (medium-chain-triglyceride) oil. Asprey promotes his products XCT oil and Brain Octane Oil, which are Bulletproof branded alternatives. XCT oil is basically just a good quality MCT oil that contains only Caprylic (C8) and Capric (C10) fatty acids. At least in Finland, you can get similar products from most supermarkets. Brands like Cocovi and Puhdistamo sell MCT that is equivalent to XCT. The Brain Octane is a bit more expensive variety containing only C8, which is supposedly better than C10.
Benefits of MCT oil. MCT oil metabolizes quickly and efficiently, which gives your brain a boost of energy. Overall, the fats in BP coffee give you a sustained source of energy that doesn’t cause your blood sugar to crash a few hours later. MCT has been shown to inhibit hunger, and there’s a connection to weight loss. There are even accounts of using MCT and/or ketogenic diets in treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
What are ketones and how to measure them? “Ketones are produced when the body burns fat for energy or fuel. They are also produced when you lose weight or if there is not enough insulin to help your body use sugar for energy (source).” To measure your ketone levels, you should be able to find Ketostix or something similar in your local pharmacy. The color of the indicator paper will tell you the level of ketosis you’re in. Keep in mind though that Ketostix are meant for diabetics, and they are not very accurate for measuring nutritional ketosis. The take-away from my experiment really is that BP coffee does trigger ketogenic activity in the body just as Asprey claims, even if the ketone levels seem to stay fairly low. 0.5mmol/l and above is considered ketosis. Some sources say 1.5-3.0mmol/l is the optimum range for weight loss. Personally I’m in it just for the added energy, so even though I’m eating a high-fat low(ish)-carb diet, I don’t pay too much attention to whether I’m in ketosis or not.
To summarize, here’s how it works.
- Replace your breakfast with Bulletproof coffee. Do not eat anything else.
- BP coffee triggers mild ketosis, and gives you energy and focus.
- BP coffee inhibits hunger better than your usual breakfast.
- Butter has several beneficial vitamins and minerals, and research indicates butter is actually good for you.
- Favor grass-fed organic butter.
- Favor MCT oils that contain only C8 and C10.
- For optimal performance throughout the day, eat a low-carb high-fat lunch. Save the carbs for dinner.
Recipe. Just in case you’re not familiar with the idea behind Bulletproof coffee, here’s my take.
- Brew strong coffee the way you like. I use a small “3 cup” moka pot or an AeroPress and grind my own beans.
- Pour the coffee to a tall heat resistant container or a heat resistant blender.
- Add 20-50 grams of organic unsalted butter. In Finland you might want to look at Milbona butter sold by Lidl.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil. 1tbsp seems to do the trick for me. In Finland Puhdistamo and Cocovi oils can be found from most Prisma and Citymarket stores.
- Blend for 10 seconds using an immersion blender or a regular blender. If you’re not positive your blender can take the heat of coffee, play it safe and use an immersion blender. I broke a regular blender making BP coffee already.
- Enjoy the latte-like treat.
Update: Added links to Puhdistamo & Cocovi sites and a mention about where to get MCT oil in Finland.