Bulletproof coffee conjures up images of rugged, tough coffee brewing but the truth is not so complicated. Bulletproof coffee is simply a high-fat coffee that’s been popularised as part of the keto diet.
Proponents of the keto diet or the more specific bulletproof diet claim that bulletproof coffee can help you do anything from losing weight to improving your brain function. At first glance, bulletproof coffee may seem strange (most of us don’t add oil to coffee, for instance) but its continued popularity is worth delving into. Let’s get into it and separate fact from fiction to find out if bulletproof coffee is truly a bulletproof replacement for your morning breakfast.
What is Bulletproof Coffee?
Bulletproof coffee is a coffee drink that includes butter, oil, and coffee. This concoction is the brainchild of entrepreneur and author Dave Asprey and bulletproof coffee is part of his larger bulletproof diet plan. The concept behind the drink is to replace your breakfast with this coffee which is keto-friendly and energising.
Like much of the keto diet, bulletproof coffee is designed to be high in fat and calories while helping stimulate fat loss. Most breakfast foods are high in carbohydrates which needs to be limited in a keto diet. By cutting out regular breakfast foods that are high in carbs and replacing them with caffeine-rich, high fat bulletproof coffee, it’s proposed that it will push your body into ketosis and help burn off excess weight. It’s also claimed to reduce food cravings and help boost cognitive function.
According to Asprey, bulletproof coffee needs to be made with unsalted butter from grass-fed cows and MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride) oil. The caffeine in your morning cup is already known to boost energy levels and improve brain function and the addition of high-fat butter and oil is proposed to help you maintain your energy levels through the day and keep you full. After all, a single cup of bulletproof coffee can have over 400 calories!
While bulletproof coffee may seem like a modern fad, the concept of adding a fat like butter into coffee isn’t new. Many cultures across the world have high-fat, high-calorie coffee recipes that involve butter or oil. For example, in the Tibetan Himalayas adding yak butter to coffee is widespread. After all, if you’re living in one of the highest altitude regions of the world with freezing temperatures then adding a dollop of fat into your coffee would not only warm you up but give you the energy to brave the weather. In Ethiopia, there’s evidence of ghee (clarified butter) being added to coffee as early as the 6th century.
You might ask yourself, what does bulletproof coffee taste like? The taste of bulletproof coffee is buttery, rich, and like a heavier version of a latte. The taste of coffee still pushes through the heavy butter and oil, so don’t expect your bulletproof coffee to taste like something entirely new.
Recipe for Bulletproof Coffee
If you’re wondering how to make bulletproof coffee, then start by gathering these ingredients
You should use only the best coffee for any bulletproof coffee recipe. Go for something organic, single origin (preferably South American according to the original bulletproof recipe), and freshly ground.
Bulletproof coffee needs unsalted butter made from the milk of grass-fed or free-range cows. Butter is rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene, and has high amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
3. MCT oil
Medium-chain triglyceride or MCT oil helps push the body into ketosis and provides a boost of energy. It may be linked to improved levels of good HDL cholesterol which protects the heart, but further studies are needed.
Gather your ingredients and let’s get brewing:
- First, brew your coffee. A drip or immersion brewer is preferred over espresso-style coffee so go for a pour-over or a French Press.
- Add 1 tablespoon of MCT oil- coconut oil is a readily available option.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter. You can also add stevia if you want a sweeter brew.
- Combine the brewed coffee, butter, and oil in a blender or use a milk frother to blend them together directly in your cup.
Pros and Cons of Bulletproof Coffee
We know that coffee has many health benefits including increasing resting metabolic rate, improving concentration and memory, and keeping you awake and alert. These same benefits can be seen with bulletproof coffee as well. The fats from butter and MCT oil suppress hunger, keep you satiated longer, and are a quick and easy source of energy for the body.
However, most of the benefits of bulletproof coffee are tied to caffeine more than the butter and oil. The studies regarding the benefits of caffeine are more extensive and definitive while research on the benefits of adding fat to coffee is still ongoing. The keto diet, which led to the popularity of bulletproof coffee in the first place, also lacks definitive scientific backing on its efficacy.
So, what are the downsides of drinking bulletproof coffee? The most obvious would be that you’re skipping the first meal of the day. Replacing a balanced breakfast (which would include healthy carbohydrates) with a drink that only provides saturated fats may not be the best option for most people. A single cup of bulletproof coffee can exceed the daily recommendation for saturated fat intake and this can raise your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol has been linked to an increased risk of strokes and heart disease.
Caffeine can also have negative side effects for many people including increased anxiety, tremors, disturbed sleep, and gastrointestinal problems.
So, Should You Drink Bulletproof Coffee?
If you’re committed to a keto diet or it's been recommended by your doctor, then it might be worth trying out bulletproof coffee. For casual coffee drinkers, it’s worth noting that bulletproof coffee has not proven benefits over regular coffee. You could try bulletproof coffee as a one-time thing to see if you like it and take it from there.
Whatever you choose, remember that moderation is always the best course of action. No need to eliminate fats completely from your diet and neither is there a need to make your coffee full of saturated fats. Will you be trying bulletproof coffee anytime soon?