One of the hottest crazes of the last year or so definitely has to be Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee. Bulletproof Coffee is the practice of buying Mr. Asprey’s specific blend of beans, and mixing them with his specific proprietary supplements and grass-fed butter. But are there any bulletproof coffee benefits? His claim is that this concoction will kickstart your energy and make you lose tons of weight, effortlessly, along with other miraculous health claims.
Well, there’s certainly merit to some of the stuff going on, so let’s chat about what is happening here.
WHY THERE ARE BULLETPROOF COFFEE BENEFITS
Most people eating a standard American diet, high in carbohydrates, are burning sugar the majority of the time as en energy source. When you sleep, you switch over to using fat for energy use. Most people eat a very carbohydrate-dense breakfast, which spikes insulin and stops fat burning mode.
When your insulin spikes, your body can no longer use fat for fuel, so it starts using carbohydrates instead. In fact, if you’re an average American eating a traditional breakfast of cereal grains, baked goods, and fruit juices, that insulin spike is also going to lead to blood sugar dysregulation and fat accumulation.
WHY HIGH FAT?
Think about the way your body uses carbohydrates as a gas tank in a car. You only have so many places to put those carbohydrates to use for energy (your gas tank) and when they starts spilling over, those glucose molecules have be to used or stored immediately.
The problem is, most people aren’t active enough to use up that energy; in other words, no one really ever drives their car anywhere. Since they’re not driving long distances, they really never need to ever top off their engine with gasoline; however, they do it constantly anyway. At first, the extra gas that overflows just gets stored as fat –not great, but that’s one of the responsibilities of insulin. After a while, the little mechanism that clicks the pump off when you’ve reached a full tank stops working. Gas is pouring everywhere and ready to start a fire. Oops! Now you have diabetes.
Fat is a much cleaner-burning energy for most people. I recommend a high-fat diet to many of my patients for optimal health. Everyone is different, however, and due to environmental exposure, genetics, lifestyle, amount of activity, and other reasons, you may feel and perform better with more or less fat in your diet than the guy sitting next to you at the coffee shop right now.
SO WHAT IS BULLETPROOF COFFEE?
Asprey uses butter, coconut oil, and his special “upgraded brain octane” MCT oil to get his patented bulletproof coffee benefits because they do very little to increase insulin and have almost no effect on metabolism early in the morning other than providing you with a quick dose of easily digestible fats that can give you with a jolt of energy. This continues your fat burning from over the night and provides you with some readily accessible energy.
Butter and coconut oil are also almost purely fat, which, especially when combined with caffeine, can be very satiating for humans. Given this fact, most people who utilize Bulletproof Coffee end up really just performing a modified version of intermittent fasting (IF).
Intermittent fasting is when eating windows are condensed to certain parts of the day. Instead of eating upon waking up, then throughout the day until dinner, say in a fourteen-hour span, you condense that window to six to eight hours. This is commonly done by skipping breakfast or lunch. Why would anyone want to do this? IF has been shown to increase lifespan, speed up metabolism, and use the body’s innate ability for autophagy (recycling old cells).
The basic fat-loss mechanism behind IF is that if you have either a very high-fat meal or not eat at all, you are still depending on your body’s reliance on your own fat stores.
The reason Asprey promises heightened mental clarity is due to the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in the proprietary MCT oil he suggests. MCTs bypass the liver and are not stored as fat, so when you eat them on an empty stomach, your body readily can feed your brain with byproducts, called ketones, for energy. When your brain has a surplus of energy, it can function more cleanly and more quickly than it would with a surplus of carbohydrate.
MCT OIL OR COCONUT OIL?
Pure MCT oil is a good tool if you are looking at isolated benefits, but there’s certainly more to the story. Just like eating whole fish is better than taking fish oil, and eating a wide variety of vegetables is better than taking a multivitamin, getting the whole food source of MCTs is likely more nourishing for your body than just pure MCT oil. So, what is the whole food source of MCTs? Coconut oil.
Coconut oil also has excellent fatty acids that MCT oil does not. The number one thing you’re going to be missing when skipping coconut oil in favor for MCT is a fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid has antifungal and antimicrobial properties, is beneficial for hair, skin, and nail health, and can provide the same boundless energy as the other MCTs in coconut oil. Bottom line: there is nothing special about MCT oil, it is much more expensive, and you can get more out of coconut oil. My opinion is to always go with the least processed food for the best result anyway.
To summarize, if you want to lose weight, don’t work out like a freak and have some extra energy, a higher-fat diet is probably right for you. In conjunction, coffee will speed up your metabolism and help you burn a little extra fat and act as a stimulant to further increase that mental clarity. However, this combination in trademarked Bulletproof Coffee benefits are not magic.
However, you don’t have to be mixing all of these ingredients together to get the same effect. I personally really like the taste of coffee, if you couldn’t tell, so I don’t want to ruin it by putting butter and coconut oil into it on a daily basis. Sometimes my goals align with convenience of a very high fat diet in the morning, especially on my long patient hour days. I will pop in something similar to a “bulletproof coffee” with espresso, coconut oil, cinnamon, and pureWOD BUILD beef isolate protein.
Here’s what you can do for the same miraculous bulletproof coffee benefits: you can just have a high-fat breakfast and a cup of coffee for the same effect. A spoonful of coconut oil is usually no problem for most people. Other high-fat foods include, but are not limited to, unpasteurized and raw cream, avocado, macadamia nuts, and bacon. Keep the protein lower as it can increase insulin after a certain point.
What you need to do overall is listen to yourself. Do you like the taste of coffee? Then don’t worry, you don’t have to ruin it by blending it with butter and coconut oil. Do you like the taste of butter or coconut oil blended in your coffee? That’s also excellent! Keep up your routine if it makes you feel good and perform better, because that’s what really matters. There is no magic pill, however. Rely on real food for proper nutrition and tweak when you have that nailed.