Last Updated June 13th, 2021
This coffee will take a bullet for you
Or maybe not, but that doesn’t mean this is coffee is ordinary in any way.
Gaining immense popularity among health-enthusiasts, celebrities, Hollywood A-listers, athletes, and whatnot, bulletproof coffee is in no way here for a short haul.
For those of you who are still unaware of this much-trending theme, bulletproof coffee is a high-performance drink with a base of organic brewed coffee mixed with butter (yes, you heard it right) and an ingredient known as Brain Octane Oil.
This drink packs in the punch of good-old coffee with healthy unsaturated fats and a wee-bit of chemical that nitro-boosts your brain.
While many of you must be getting mentally grossed out with the idea of blobs of butter floating in your cup of joe, there are millions of others (including your favorite celebs) who swear by its cutting-edge health benefits.
With more than 7 million subscribers to its founder’s podcast and a supposed increase of 700% in the revenue of the company, it can be safe to assume that bulletproof coffee has taken the world by storm.
But before we begin telling you about how this coming of age brew can impact your body (and mind), let us first delve into the tale of its origins.
From the snowy Tibetan peaks to the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
From Yoga to Buddhism to a mug of supposed healthy goodness – the wonders of Orient have never failed to impress the West.
While the words “bulletproof” and “coffee” have absolutely no exotic ring to them (in fact, they sound very red-blooded American to most), in reality, the origins of this wonder beverage can be traced back to the frigid Himalayan peaks.
So who was this avid adventurer whose travel stories brought yet another secret of the East to the breakfast tables of fitness enthusiasts?
It was none other than Dave Asprey, a self-proclaimed “biohacker” from the boulevards of Silicon Valley whose serendipitous trek to Tibet metamorphosed the coffee-drinking cult.
Habitually fatigued, overweight, and facing the risk of cardiac issues at the ripe age of 30, Asprey was not much different from an average American male; perched on the cusp of chronic lifestyle diseases years before hitting the big 40.
And just like every young individual who has been alerted of the dangers of “heart attack” and “stroke” a decade before middle age, he tried everything within his capacity to lose those pounds.
Sadly enough, nothing really worked for him.
And then, during one of his travels that took him all the way to the Himalayas, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Now trekking at 18,000 feet above the sea-level and temperature 10 degrees below zero, where the unforgiving icy-winds are needling their way through your lungs, it is normal to feel your energies plummeting at an exponential rate.
More so, if you already are on the brink of a major health episode.
However, beyond all odds, Asprey was able to survive and thrive in such inhuman conditions.
How you ask?
It was the somewhat “magical after-effect” of a local Tibetan concoction of tea mixed with yak butter that put him on superhuman mode.
This sudden jolt of energy and rejuvenation prodded Asprey to conduct rigorous research into the depths of this miracle beverage.
A caffeine-infused drink, when amalgamated with the goodness of healthy saturated fats, results in a powerful energy drink that comes with the bonus of mental clarity and high physical endurance.
And that’s how the foundations of bulletproof coffee were laid.
Bulletproof Coffee – Biohacked!
When a neighborhood café invents a signature latte that has a distinct taste and feel, it’s called a gastronomical delight; a gourmet creativity.
But when a Wharton graduate goes on to specifically assemble a few critical ingredients and concoct a beverage that will not only boost your health but also help you lose pounds, it’s called a game-changer.
It took Asprey years of research into learning how different molecules could interact with the body’s and brain’s biochemistry to produce a beverage that could surge energy levels and increase satiety.
These key findings led to the alchemy of creating the bulletproof coffee.
So what can you find in a mug of bulletproof coffee?
Here is a list of the ingredients:
- Coffee (duh..) but the one which is mold-free (more about that later).
- Butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows.
- Brain Octane Oil or BOO
Simple ingredients – Complex results
How can these simple ingredients come together to make a centuries-old beverage “bulletproof”?
For that, we need to dive deeper into the chemistry of each of these ingredients and how our body responds to each of these.
Firstly, the coffee.
Now as we all know, coffee, the most popular drug in the world, has often been demonized by the media and health experts for no apparent reason.
Coffee, as a standalone drink, is filled with healthy goodness.
A mug of coffee is not just a drink to wake you up from your slumber. It is replete with essential nutrients such as potassium (regulates blood pressure) and manganese (controls hormones and metabolism). It is also a rich source of vitamin B, the key building block of our cells.
Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants – the substance that keeps aging and body degeneration at a bay.
Caffeine is also said to increase your body’s metabolism (lose weight faster) and surge your physical endurance capacities.
And coming down to the undeniable positive impact of a cup of coffee on your brain.
It is the ammunition your brain cells need to intensify neuronal firing. In simple words, your brain cells are more active, sharp, and alert. It is one of the best mood-uplifter (now you realize why most dates begin with a cup of coffee?) and has a protective action against aging on your brain as well.
While choosing the right kind of coffee for making your very own cup of bulletproof coffee, one must remember to opt for mold-free coffee. Commercially available coffee is more often than not contaminated with microscopic fungi; a long-term intake of which can result in several health issues. Mold-free coffee ensures that the disease-causing mold or fungi are filtered out, making way for a healthier cup of joe.
Now enough about the coffee, let’s address what’s the deal with grass-fed butter.
Finding the word “butter” on a dedicated health drink may sound somewhat bizarre.
But that is only because, just like coffee, the health benefits of healthy fats have been greatly demeaned by the popular media.
The fad that “eating fat will make you fat” not only keeps you deprived of the healthy goodness of this key nutrient, but also makes you opt for sugar-filled “low-fat” foods which are highly degrading for your health.
So why butter?
The essential fatty acids present in healthy sources of saturated fats such as butter do a lot good for your body. These include:
- Increase in brain function
- Higher satiety
- Important nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin K
- Better hormonal regulation
- Protection against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases
It is important to note that Asprey specifically instructs grass-fed butter to be used in making bulletproof coffee.
And why is that?
It’s because grass-fed butter has several advantages over normal supermarket butter that give bulletproof coffee its “bulletproof-ness”.
Let us take a look into those
- Well for starters it is a relative no-brainer that grass-fed cows are much healthier than their factory or farm-inhabiting counterparts. They are well-nourished and produce a much better quality of milk.
- The butter churned out of grass-fed cow’s milk has higher levels of omega-3 fats, fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E, & K).
- It also has higher levels of CLA or Conjugated Linoleic Acid; the key ingredient in the majority of weight loss supplements.
- This kind of butter has been scientifically proven to reduce bodily inflammation; a critical feature that makes it anti-carcinogenic.
So, all in all, whatever benefits you get from healthy consumption of butter, you get more with grass-fed butter.
Moving further on to the most exciting and mysterious ingredient of bulletproof coffee.
Brain Octane Oil
The name itself suggests that this ingredient is itself is necessary for catalyzing cognitive functions by putting brain in hyper-accelerated mode. Let’s check out what this mystery ingredient has in store for us:
- Brain octane oil is a medium chain triglyceride derived from pure coconut oil. This energy boosting chemical raises your body’s ketone levels. This means that you burn fats at a faster rate (instead of burning glucose).
- If you are following a ketogenic diet for weight loss, this ingredient will fill most of the nutritional gaps created by such restricted diets.
- The reason why it is “Brain” octane oil is that it provides immense protection to the brain, especially when you are limiting your food intake.
- BOO is also known to have anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties along with the ability to lower your body’s cholesterol levels.
What is the relation between Bulletproof Coffee and Ketosis?
Let us first look at what is ketosis before examining how it is related to Bulletproof Coffee.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a type of metabolic state where the energy requirement of body is totally fuelled by fat instead of glucose. This happens if our body has limited access to glucose.
It is also worth mentioning here that glucose is usually the normal source of energy used by the body.
People go into ketosis when they are eating less than fifty grams of carbs in a day.
When our diet is low on carbs, the insulin level goes down and the body releases fatty acids. These fatty acids move into the liver, get oxidized and turn into ketones.
Ketones are the molecules which are capable of providing the required energy to our body and brain.
The relation between Weight Loss, Ketosis, and Bulletproof Coffee
When you are looking to lose weight you start lowering your carb intake. Less carb intake, in turn, lowers insulin level and ketosis gets initiated.
Bulletproof Coffee helps in raising ketone levels in your body; it aids ketosis and the consequent weight loss.
Additionally, when ketone levels are higher, it becomes easier for your body to function using ketones rather than glucose.
Recipe for Bulletproof Coffee
Now let’s actually make a cup of bulletproof coffee.
Take 2 ½ tablespoons (or 8 to 12 ounces) of coffee beans and brew using filtered water. Utilize a French Press for preserving beneficial coffee oils which are lost when paper filters are used.
- Add about one teaspoon to two tablespoons of Brain Octane Oil to it. To start with, add one teaspoon in a cup and then gradually increase it to 1 to 2 tablespoons.
- Add one to two tablespoons of grass-fed cow’s butter (unsalted) or grass-fed cow’s ghee in it.
- Lastly, mix everything in a blender for about 20 to 30 seconds to create your foamy latte.
Experiment with Different Recipes – The Nutrient Dense Additions
Let us explore some recipes that you can try out, which are Bulletproof approved and are rich in nutrients.
Turmeric | Collagen | Vanilla | Chocolate powder
- Turmeric: It is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. By mixing it in your Bulletproof Coffee you will be able to enjoy the benefits of these properties.
- Collagen: Collagen contains different amino acids, is tasteless, and completely dissolves in your cup of coffee. The good thing about collagen is that it facilitates healthy tissue repair.
- Vanilla: By adding vanilla you will be benefitting from anti-oxidants present in the same. These anti-oxidants will be helping with your cognitive enhancement. However, you need to keep note of the fact that these won’t be the usual vanilla extract. You will have to use Madagascar vanilla beans which are 100% ground.
- Chocolate powder: Transform your coffee into mocha by mixing chocolate powder to it. Chocolate will also bring in different polyphenols to provide you a performance boost.
Cinnamon | L-Theanine | Ginger | Grape seed extract |
- Cinnamon: You will have to specifically purchase Ceylon cinnamon to get the benefits it provides. As for instance, Ceylon cinnamon will lower your insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar. In addition to it, it will also enhance your performance and make you more alert.
- L-Theanine: It is an amino acid that helps in mitigating the negative effects of caffeine such as anxiety and poor sleep quality. Moreover, it works synergistically to boost the positive effects of caffeine. The good thing about L-Theanine is that it will not change the taste of your coffee but certainly improve how you feel.
- Ginger: Ginger has a high concentration of gingerols and is commonly used for its anti-oxidant, anti-nausea, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, you need to be aware of the fact that it will diminish the flavor of coffee just like turmeric does.
- Grape seed extract: It has a tannin flavor and is also an astringent. Moreover, it has a positive effect on inflammation and helps in controlling blood cholesterol. More importantly, when you are using an extract of this seed, it gives your coffee an amazing flavor.
Cayenne | Blueberry powder | Egg yolks or eggs | Bilberry powder
- Cayenne: There are many health benefits of Cayenne. One of the important health benefits of Cayenne is that it works in combination with MCTs against thermogenesis. But, you need to keep note of the fact that it is susceptible to mold toxin contamination. So, it is better to purchase cayenne from a good quality source.
- Blueberry powder: It has a high percentage of polyphenols and also has good ORAC score. Additionally, it increases BDNF, which is useful in improving brain functions.
- Egg yolks or eggs: Egg yolk is an excellent source of healthy fats and also contains micro-nutrients such as omega-3s and vitamin K2.
- Bilberry powder: This powder is made out of bilberries, which is related to cranberries. The good thing about bilberry powder is that it lowers eyestrain, improves vision and facilitates overall eye health.
Upgraded cocoa butter | Vitamin K2 | Maca
- Upgraded cocoa butter: This is an excellent option if you want to add subtle chocolate finish to your Bulletproof Coffee. Additionally, it is a good source of saturated fats that we need. However, it will not work as a substitute for the actual grass-fed butter. So, you should add just a bit of it.
- Vitamin K2: It is already present in grass-fed cow’s butter but you can also include it separately in your coffee. A positive thing about it is that it is heat stable and will not alter flavors of coffee in any way.
- Maca: Commonly called Peruvian Ginseng, it is a form of endocrine adaptogen that balances hormones and reverses problems such as hypothyroidism. In addition to it, it is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
How Can Bulletproof Coffee improve your health?
There are several health benefits of Bulletproof Coffee, let us delve into the details in this section.
- Suppresses hunger: Brain Octane Oil is an important ingredient of Bulletproof Coffee and it is responsible for balancing cholecystokinin (CCK) and ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry while CCK does the opposite and makes us feel full. After taking bulletproof coffee you will feel full until lunch. A mug of bulletproof coffee will keep you full for hours and reduce the frequency of binge-eating snacks throughout the day.
- Provides lasting energy: Grass-fed cow’s butter contains saturated fat and it helps in slowing down caffeine absorption by the body. This ensures that instead of having caffeine spikes in your body, you get caffeine is a regulated manner. Instead of having sudden bursts of energy and inevitable afternoon-crash, you get a longer and consistent source of energy.
- Ensures mental clarity: Brain Octane Oil quickly converts into ketones. As mentioned before, the higher is the ketone level in your body the more are you likely to burn fats. But the benefits of ketones are not limited to faster fat loss only. A combination of caffeine and ketones is the perfect combination of chemicals that keep your brain alert and active for a longer time.
- Improves your workouts: Bulletproof Coffee in combination with Brain Octane Oil proves to be excellent for workouts. As these two ingredients increase your physical endurance levels and how fast you burn fats, the ultimate combination of both makes sure that you get more out of every workout session. This gives bulletproof coffee an added advantage over traditional sugar-laden energy drinks. Unlike sugary beverages, bulletproof coffee doesn’t hamper your body’s natural testosterone levels and as a result, ensures that you have improved muscle mass.
Let’s hear it from avid bulletproof coffee proponents
- As per the fans of bulletproof coffee, it improves your mood, provides sufficient energy, increases your productivity, and enhances overall health. Moreover, it is able to kill hunger more effectively than a regular cup of coffee.
- Bulletproof coffee drinkers claim that it does not make them feel jittery as happens when they are drinking normal coffee.
- It is also rich in healthy fats that our body needs. Additionally, butter from cows that are grass-fed is generally healthier than conventionally raised cows. Studies also reveal that there is a right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in butter from these cows.
- Another alluring aspect of bulletproof coffee is that it contains Brain Octane Oil which is a purified form of MCT. MCT as we mentioned earlier, is useful for people who want to manage their weight.
- It is also popular among ketogenic diet proponents due to its fat burning as well as energy boosting capabilities. A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet where fat turns into ketones by our body and used as energy.
Is this coffee bulletproof from side-effects?
When we talk about bulletproof coffee, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Let us look at a few of the negative aspects that it can have.
Reduction in Nutrient Intake
You are supposed to take Bulletproof Coffee in the morning and as a replacement for your usual breakfast.
“It will replace your entire meal; this means you will cut down on nutrient intake while energy intake will remain the same. This means your remaining meals will have to meet your daily nutrients needs,” according to performance dietician Jessica Spendlove.
This cannot be considered a balanced breakfast since it lacks fibers, important vitamins, and proteins that we need.
High Concentration of Saturated Fats
Experts agree that unsaturated fats are better than saturated ones.
The reason is that saturated fats are known to play an important part in increasing the risk of heart diseases. Butter contains a higher amount of saturated fat and thereby, drinking BPC may not be that helpful for your heart.
Risk of Weight Gain
Any type of fat is rich in calories and over-consumption can result in weight gain.
“Bulletproof Coffee is rich in fats and if a keto diet is not followed then it can cause weight gain,” Spendlove said.
Additionally, if a person takes a diet containing carbs then BPC at breakfast will not provide the desired energy levels. Moreover, energy gained will be less than what someone on a keto diet will get by drinking Bulletproof Coffee.
This, in turn, can result in an overall increase in food intake to balance reduced energy intake during breakfast. Such over-consumption may eventually result in weight gain.
The possibility of Stomach Upset
It is a known fact that fat stimulates gut motor activity or what is also known as gut motility.
High fat intake (such as when you are drinking Bulletproof Coffee) can lead to stomach upset in people with IBS.
Additionally, increased gut motility will not be suitable for athletes before the morning workout. The reason is that gut discomfort due to high-fat content in BPC might impair their performance.
Far from Being a Balanced Breakfast
Bulletproof Coffee is devoid of many nutrients that our body needs such as:
- Vital vitamins
- Complex carbs
Thus, we cannot call bulletproof coffee a balanced breakfast.
A balanced breakfast has more nutrition as compared to Bulletproof Coffee. Moreover, a balanced breakfast has unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, and calcium, meaning you feel fuller for more time.
Bulletproof coffee – The final verdict
So, should you drink bulletproof coffee?
Is it really good for your body?
Or just like any other media-fuelled hype, this too is rife with nutritional incompetence. But we are too caught up in its claim-to-fame glare to realize its potential adverse after-effects?
Well, the answer to all these questions is yes.
Paradoxical as it may sound, bulletproof coffee can be (to quote the age-old cliché) both a boon and a bane for your health. Let us examine each in detail.
Only for a ketogenic diet
Bulletproof coffee is the ultimate beverage for those following a strict ketogenic diet. The term strict expresses the idea that this works wonders only for those who follow every aspect of this diet to the “T”.
It DOES help in losing weight and increasing energy levels once your body has attained the state of ketosis.
High in cholesterol
A number of studies indicate a high cholesterol level in individuals who are regular consumers of bulletproof. This might be partly because such individuals have elevated risk factors for high cholesterol (age, gender, and lifestyle habits) and partly because they are not using the right kind of ingredients specified to make BPC.
Thus, it is advisable for people to closely monitor their cholesterol levels if consuming this coffee on a regular basis.
Too much fat?
To evaluate the next critical factor, we need to refresh a few of those evolutionary biology lessons. While it is true that saturated fats are good for our bodies, but it is also true that excess of anything is bad.
The evolution path of Homo sapiens suggests that our bodies cannot healthily process such vast amounts of it.
This is because BPC is not the only source of saturated fats in our diet. When you add the normal fat consumption and top it with dollops of saturated fats in the form of BPC, you end up spelling serious trouble.
Basics of nutrition
And lastly, going back to the basics of nutrition.
Yes, we need more mental energy and clarity. And yes, we are sleeping less and less and demanding more and more from our body. And yes, BPC fits perfectly in this unhealthy struggle between our biology and the demands of urbanization.
Having said that, we are trading in energy in exchange for essential nutrients. Energy is just one of the many reasons we consume food.
We need nutrients for maintaining health, ensuring the proper functioning of organs, and keeping diseases at a bay. And at this very critical juncture, BPC fails to fulfill the actual physiological needs of our body.
So now that you have all the information at hand, what’s your final verdict on bulletproof coffee?
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