There has recently been a lot of press for ‘BulletProof’ coffee, which is just branding for a traditional kind of coffee used for centuries. Here is a link to the company selling their BulletProof mix. It is actually very easy to make yourself.
All hype aside, does it help you? Does it have any health benefits, does it actually increase your mental sharpness, or is it just another fad?
I came across this Guardian article yesterday, which I found wildly inaccurate and terribly uninformative. So here is my attempt at giving you all some information about this wonderdrink.
What is it made of?
It is made by blending your favourite cup of black coffee, MCT oil, grass-fed butter, resulting in a latte-like, foamy, oily mixture. Standard measurements are 1 cup coffee, 1tbsp MCT oil, 1tbsp butter, blended at high speed for 20 seconds, and enjoyed immediately.
First and foremost, our magic drink of interest is composed of…. coffee! Yay coffee! How does it work? Throughout the day, every moment you are awake, your neurons (brain cells) are active and produce Adenosine as a by-product. Adenosine levels in your brain are constantly monitored. Once they hit a certain threshold, this is information for your brain that you’ve worked enough, and it’s time to go to sleep. So, you get tired. Enter caffeine! Caffeine binds to the Adenosine receptors in your brain, blocking your nervous system from sensing a rise in Adenosine.. Tricking you into thinking you are not tired at all.
MCT (Medium-Chain Triglycerides)
MCTs are the major component of coconut oil, and are, as their name suggests, fatty acids. MCT’s are a highly digestible fat owing to their molecular composition. As soon as they’re ingested, they head straight to the liver for oxidation, i.e., energy creation- it is therefore very difficult for them to be stored as excess energy in adipose tissue. This is where their reputation for increasing metabolism and helping you lose weight comes from. You an buy a bottle of MCT oil on amazon.
As we know, Omega 6 PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids) promote inflammation -even though we need them in small amounts-, whereas Omega-3 PUFA reduce inflammation, help with emotional stability, skin health, nail strength, and a bunch of other things. Essentially, the higher the Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio, the healthier the body. Unfortunately in the Standard American Diet (greatly acronym’d the ‘SAD’), the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 we consume is closer to 1:50 than an ideal 1:4. [Simopoulos, Artemis P. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy 56.8 (2002): 365-379] Eating grass-fed butter will give your body high-quality fat which it needs to function properly. (And no, it will not make you fat!).
Is there a downside? Some people report that it gives them a stomach ache. There are two explanations for this: The first one is a simple ‘fat overload’. If you’ve just started drinking fatty coffee, it is going to be a lot for your stomach to handle. Consider that this is probably the first time your body has to deal with such a large amount of isolated triglycerides, especially first thing in the morning. This stuff is pretty intense, and an overlead can be accompanied by headache, nausea, light-headedness… Give your stomach and your enzymes some time to adapt. Start off with 1 Tbsp of MCT oil, and build up to whatever it is you are going for.
The second possible reason for a stomach ache is the use of coconut oil in your coffee (or for that matter, on its own or in anything else). Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a powerful antifungal which is known to disrupt the cell membrane of yeast, causing these bugs that reside in your digestive system to literally implode. This is good! Anyone on a standard american diet probably has an overgrowth of yeast (also known as Candida Albans) in their gut. This yeast disrupts your micro biome and can, among other things, cause acne, bloating, depression, infections, sugar cravings… [Bergsson, Gudmundur, et al. “In vitro killing of Candida albicans by fatty acids and monoglycerides.” Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 45.11 (2001): 3209-3212.] You can also reduce your C. Albans population by supplementing with probiotics, eating a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, since this is what they thrive on.
In summary, BulletProof coffee will give your body good fuel to start the day simply because of its high fat content. MCTs have been reported to make your brain feel sharper, but perhaps more interestingly, fatty coffee will keep you full for a very long amount of time. Finally, on a ketogenic diet, the use of this kind of drink will help you get into ketosis very efficiently and will get your macronutrient ratios perfectly on track (post about ketosis coming soon).
Does it taste good? It’s not bad! My personal preference is to replace the butter with coconut oil or grass-fed full fat cream (it’s much less oily than with the butter, and gives it a nice texture), or to blend the coffee with MCT oil alone. Try 32 ounces of coffee blended with 2Tbsp of MCT oil and coconut oil each.