A cup of Joe delivers a dose of caffeine accompanied by a burst of energy to jumpstart your day. Similarly, like any drug, coffee has a half-life of three to five hours before it wears off along with your reaction times, mood, and mental performance. Now, more coffee and health aficionados are starting to take their coffee the "Bulletproof" way — black with grass-fed butter and MCT oil — as a replacement for the most important meal of the day — breakfast.
Breakfast Of Champions Or Death Wish In A Mug? Nutritional Logic
Creator of 2015’s “it” beverage, Dave Asprey of Bulletproofexec.com, claims Bulletproof coffee has the ability to transform your cup of coffee into a potent health and energy food. The high-fat tonic consists of a blend of coffee, grass-fed butter, and medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconut and palm oils. The beverage is intended to be consumed as part of a Paleo-style diet heavy on fat, along with grass-fed meat and certain vegetables. But can the drink itself hold any nutritional value?
The Coffee Beans
It’s no surprise the man behind Bulletproof coffee actually concocted his own brew. According to Asprey’s website: "So, I use the lowest toxin, highest performance coffee there is (I know, because I created it and tested it!) 'Normal' coffee usually gives you the jitters and makes you cranky, but this coffee makes you feel noticeably better than anything else you’ll find."
The coffee beans are reportedly high quality and carefully sourced with a fruity aroma with hints of apple, cherries, and vanilla. Asprey also describes his coffee as having a “full body and undertones of caramels in the creamy finish.” Accompanying this description is a California Proposition 65 warning, which includes acrylamide — a cancer-causing agent that is produced during the roasting process in coffee beans or most starchy foods. However, Asprey suggests cooking temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or 121 degrees Celsius, or lower, can reduce the creation of acrylamide and other harmful byproducts that derive from high temperature cooking.
Asprey’s low-toxin upgraded coffee beans most likely make for a decent cup of coffee, but what about its most controversial ingredients?
Typically, we keep our coffee and our butter separate. In Bulletproof coffee, java and butter go together like peanut butter and jelly or mac and cheese. Asprey insists on using grass-fed, unsalted better because normal butter contains a lot of inflammatory ingredients. Kevin Meehan, a holistic practioner and founder of Meehan Formulations in Jackson, Wyo., told Medical Daily in an email: “Butter releases components which may actually increase fat production. For example, the fat in butter is broken down by our bodies to release fatty acids and glycerol.” Moreover, the saturated fat in butter releases triglycerides, says Meehan, which is known to be a controversial blood lipid linked to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.
It is not to say saturated fat is bad for you, but only within reasonable consumption. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern where five to six percent of calories come from saturated fat. For example, no more than 120 calories of saturated fat should be consumed on a 2,000-calorie based diet. Simply one tablespoon of grass-fed butter alongside one tablespoon of MCT oil — necessary to make Bulletproof coffee — amounts to more than 100 percent of our recommended daily allowance of saturated fat.
However, grass-fed butter does have some redeeming nutritional qualities. The butter is higher in omega-3s and vitamins. It contains fat-soluble vitamins such as (A and K2), CLA, and butyrate.
The MCT oil used in Bulletproof coffee comes from coconut and palm oils. These MCTs in combination with grass-fed butter could wreak havoc, however. MCT oil was previously used to give to hospital patients who lacked enzymes to digest fat. This suggests it can lead to complications in your digestive tract.
Unlike coconut oil, MCT oil is manufactured by machine to separate the MCTs from the rest of the oil. These oils generally contain only the capra fatty acids, and lauric acid — the key component in coconut oil — is either present in small amounts or missing. Nutrition researcher Kris Gunnars wrote in a blog post, “[M]CT oil is 100 percent empty calories. It is a refined and processed fat with no essential nutrients.”
The Claims: Boosts Energy And Weight Loss
The rising popularity of this coffee is attributed to its claims of boosting energy, productivity, and even weight loss with relatively little sleep. In theory, Bulletproof coffee may be the go-to pick-me-up after a poor night’s sleep or an all-nighter, but it may not be intended for long-term use. The body’s continual reliance of this power drink can be physically debilitating if the consumer repeatedly suffers from poor sleep.
Undoubtedly, Bulletproof coffee delivers a boost of energy because of its ingredients. “The healthy fat cushions the stimulating effects of caffeine, causing it to release more slowly into your blood and give you sustained energy, not a quick surge and crash,” Lula Brown, a certified health coach and private chef based in New York City, told Medical Daily in an email. “The healthy fats from butter and coconut oil lubricate all of the organs and are especially essential for brain health. The brain is 60 percent fat and requires dietary fat to function.”
Weight Loss Boost
Coffee that can help us lose weight seems like a dream come true — but it’s not. Bulletproof coffee is touted for improving insulin sensitivity, which is considered to be one of the limiting factors when it comes to weight and fat loss. However, Brandon Mentore, chief health and fitness officer of TheBodyLogic in Philadelphia, told Medical Daily in an email: “In the long haul Bulletproof coffee is not a viable option for pound shedding. It’s a good beverage to experiment with, to cycle in and out of your diet, and give your body a chance to mix up the way it utilizes energy to promote more fat burning.”
Bulletproof Coffee: Health Tip Or Health Fad?
This coffee drink may currently be 2015’s “beverage of choice,” but chances are it’s likely to become just a thing of the past like the grapefruit diet. Buzz surrounding the coffee drink is increasing consumption, but it is likely to do just that. Precision Nutrition, a nutrition consulting company estimates a cup of Bulletproof Coffee contains 10 times more calories than a standard cup of coffee with cream.
Telling our baristas we’d like a cup of “black coffee with no cream and no sugar” may be the best route when it comes to our health and overall well-being.