Another Look at Bulletproof Coffee

If you’ve ever read a review on Bulletproof coffee you’ll notice the reviews are pretty polarized. The people writing the reviews either really love it and think everyone should fit it into their diet, or tell you to steer clear of it. I myself drink Bulletproof coffee. Well actually I don’t use their products, I just use what I have in my kitchen while following their recipe the same way most people do. I’m not writing this post to sing the praises of this high fat drink, or any of the ingredients it’s made of for that matter. I will mention some good qualities they have but this post is more about the drink itself and whether or not you should drink it, and less about the health benefits of its ingredients.  I just want to go over what it is, what it’s made of, and what I think of it. Spoiler alert: I don’t think it is right for everyone because nothing really is. (Except water and oxygen, everyone needs those.)

Quick Background on Bulletproof Coffee

Bulletproof coffee’s creation is credited to a guy named Dave Asprey. He went to Tibet and had a drink called Yak Butter Tea that served as the inspiration for Bulletproof coffee we know of today. Asprey says that Bulletproof coffee helps with weightloss and cognitive function and says that it even boosted his IQ in a Fast Company article I read.  According to the company’s website, you make Bulletproof coffee by taking one teaspoon of Brain Octane Oil (MCT oil), one tablespoon of grass-fed butter or ghee, and blend those ingredients with one cup of coffee. Of course, they prefer that you use their brand when it comes to the ingredients. There are a few variations to their recipe. Many people replace the MCT oil with coconut oil and I rarely ever hear of, or see, anyone drink it with ghee.

The Coffee

The main ingredient in Bulletproof coffee is coffee. (obvious, I know) Over the years, coffee has been the recipient of many praises. But it also has some negatives on its record. Most of those negatives are associated with over consumption, and we all know that too much of anything can be detrimental to one’s health. Coffee has been shown to increase athletic performance. It may also be good for your liver and brain function. Coffee also has many B vitamins in it.

The MCT / Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a natural saturated fat that has many health benefits. MCT oil is usually made from coconut oil and goes through a refining process. MCT stands for medium chain triglyceride, and triglyceride is a scientific name for fat. MCT oil provides your body with easily digested fat which leads to quick energy. Both coconut oil and MCT oil have antioxidant properties and aid in cognitive health.

The Butter

Butter is a natural saturated fat, just like coconut oil. Butter has a diverse nutrient profile containing vitamins A, D, E, and K. It is also a source of selenium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and butyrate. CLA helps in improving body composition and is shown in some studies to be a viable weight loss supplement. Butyrate helps your digestion and selenium has antioxidant properties.

So…

The question of should you incorporate Bulletproof coffee into your diet remains. That answer depends on your eating habits and goals. The two biggest arguments against Bulletproof coffee, that I’ve seen, revolve around the idea that you can get more nutritional value from other food combinations and the argument that Bulletproof coffee contains too much fat. The people making these arguments seem to make these points from the perspective of eating a high carb low fat diet. Not everyone eats like that and the words that follow will be from a Keto dieter’s perspective.

The Nutritional Value of Bulletproof Coffee

For this argument to be valid it depends on what your eating habits are in the first place. If you’re on a traditional diet of high amounts of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and low amounts of fat, Bulletproof coffee is a toss up. Your average healthy high carb meal will have more nutritional value than a cup of Bulletproof coffee. I don’t have any doubts about that. Even though it’s outclassed in the nutrition department, it could still be useful for other reasons. People on a high carb low fat diet sometimes struggle with hunger if they’re in a caloric deficit and trying to lose weight. Fat has been shown to be a very filling macro-nutrient and for some people coffee may be an appetite suppressant. With that being said, Bulletproof coffee can help you reach your goals by helping blunt your hunger on days when you have food cravings. So, for someone on a traditional diet, bulletproof coffee isn’t worth altering your diet for if it’s working for you, but it could help you fight hunger.

Now if you’re NOT on a traditional high carb diet and are on the Ketogenic diet the answer is different. Bulletproof coffee is something that you should include in your diet, only if you drink coffee normally. If you don’t drink coffee and don’t need it then I see no reason to start.

Most people who are on Keto take a multivitamin to get the vitamins and minerals they need in addition to eating a decent assortment of vegetables. Since most of us take our vitamins in the morning, a cup of Bulletproof coffee in the morning won’t change anything. It’s just an add on. Bulletproof coffee can be a way to jump start your morning on those days when your energy levels are low. Bulletproof coffee is also a good mid day snack and a great way to get in some extra fat if you need to. It won’t be a detriment to your diet if you’re on Keto like it would be if you were on a traditional diet if you’re in a deficit. This is because calorie counting on Keto is more forgiving than on a high carb diet. On Keto, fat is your main source of fuel and it gets used in large amounts around the clock.

Bulletproof coffee could be a great addition to your Keto diet because it’s such an easy fit and it won’t hold back or hinder any other areas of your diet. And, as I said before, many people already supplement with multivitamins, which takes care of Bulletproof coffee’s micronutrient weakness. If you are on a traditional high carb diet, to me, it would be more trouble than it’s worth, not only because of nutrition, but because of overeating and calorie counting.

The Too Much Fat Argument

When it comes to this argument you have two camps. There is the “fat is bad so stay away from it” camp. Then there’s the “we know there are studies that show fat isn’t bad like we previously though, but stay away from it nonetheless” camp. What both of these groups have in common is that they think Bulletproof coffee has too much fat, whether or not they see it as healthy or unhealthy. So is fat bad or good? How much is too much fat? The answer to both of these questions is… it depends. Once again, what are your eating habits like? For people on a high carb diet, the jury is still out on whether or not saturated fats play as large of a role in heart disease as we thought. Some studies show that consuming saturated fat on a high carb diet increases the risk for heart disease, some studies don’t.

If you’re on the Keto diet, fat is your main fuel and consuming fat is business as usual. Bulletproof coffee is full of saturated fats that come from coconut oil and butter. While the health community at large is worried about saturated fats, there are many studies out there showing that saturated fats lower the risk of heart disease on a carb restricted diet. Since Keto by definition is a carb restricted diet, you could come to the conclusion that Bulletproof coffee does improve your health.

Conclusion

My final verdict is that Bulletproof coffee is great if you’re on a carb restricted diet, but not if you’re on a traditional high carb diet. One lesson that life has taught me is good and bad usually depend on the circumstances or situations we find ourselves in. This holds true for whether or not Bulletproof coffee should be a part of your diet. When you decide to change something or try something new, always remember to take your own situation or circumstance into consideration. Don’t just take the “guru’s” word for it. 

I hope this post helped you to make a decision about Bulletproof coffee and, at the very least, gave you something to think about. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you come back for the next one. Please share this with someone who could benefit from this information, and don’t forget to subscribe so that you can stay up to date with everything happening on Lettuce Wrapped.

Photo credit:Pseph