Guest Author: Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Often billed as a high-performance drink, bulletproof coffee is essentially a hot coffee, butter and medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil all blended together. It was made popular by Dave Asprey, an entrepreneur out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Asprey developed his bulletproof coffee recipe after traveling to Tibet and tasting yak-butter tea drinks.
One theory is that bulletproof coffee will start your day off with a blast because of the energy derived from the MCT oil. Most foods we eat are primarily long chain triglycerides (LCTs), but a few foods, such as coconut and palm oils contain higher amounts of MCTs. The shorter chain triglycerides can be easier to digest and therefore may provide quicker energy.
The butter that is recommended for bulletproof coffee is grass-fed and unsalted. Adding butter to your coffee is supposed to slow the absorption of caffeine, which will then give you even energy for several hours instead of a caffeine spike and crash without the jitters.
Some believe that the coffee made this way is so energy packed, that there is no need to eat anything else for breakfast.
But, is this really the best way to start your day?
According to Registered Dietitian Eleanor Baker, MS, RD, LDN out of Jacksonville, Florida, “Bulletproof coffee claims that it will help to lose weight, curb cravings, and increase mental focus. The coffee has MCT oil (palm and coconut oil) and grass fed butter stirred into it, which amounts to about 460 calories per cup. It is true that those calories will help the body to break its overnight fast and start the metabolism up in the morning, but calories are calories and an extra 460 calories to someone’s day will not help them to lose weight. The fat in the coffee may help slow the absorption of caffeine thus preventing the jitters and a noticeable crash for some, but the same will occur if regular coffee is consumed with a balanced breakfast made up of nutrient dense food. Bulletproof coffee provides 14% of your daily calories in saturated fat (the American Heart Association Recommends consuming <7% of your dietary calories from saturated fat for good cardiovascular health) but the coffee does not have a significant amount of other nutrients to offer. In comparison, a breakfast of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, fresh berries and some soaked almonds is going to be rich in calcium, vitamin C, probiotics, fiber, iron and protein that will help to regulate your blood sugar and keep your digestive system running smoothly.”
Like many food fads, some may see immediate improvement in weight reduction and energy levels after drinking bulletproof coffee, just because of the new focus on food. However, sometimes just paying more attention to what you eat can make a big difference, even if the coffee isn’t as magical as it seems.
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.