The idea of adding butter and oil to your morning cup of coffee may make you feel slightly queasy, but this unusual concoction is a fast-growing health trend known as Bulletproof coffee.
Devotees claim that this strange brew give you more energy, improves your focus and helps you lose weight. But does it really work or is it a load of old hokum?
The recipe involves a combination of filter coffee, two tablespoons of grass-fed butter and two tablespoons of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, whizzed together in a blender.
It sounds revolting, but the theory is that this combination trains the body to burn fat instead of sugars, thus promoting weight loss, while the healthy fats provide energy and support cognitive function.
It’s the brainchild of Dave Asprey, a Silicon Valley investor, technology entrepreneur and founder of Bulletproof Executive. He came up with the idea after trying a tea made with yak butter while in Tibet, and was bowled over by its rejuvenating powers.
Asprey has since gone on to develop an entire Bulletproof diet, based on a high fat/low carb Paleo-style regime, which he claims has helped him lose 100lbs in weight, ‘upgraded’ his brain by more than 20 IQ points and lowered his biological age.
So, how can you try it? You can brew your own Bulletproof coffee, with the starter kits that are available online. Or you can get a cup ‘to go’ from Planet Organic and, more recently, Crussh. However, if you fancy giving it a whirl yourself, ordinary coffee won’t cut it, apparently.
The beans used in Asprey’s recipe are reportedly prepared in such a way that they are free from harmful mycotoxins such as funghi and mould, which are said to cause the jittery feelings you might get from your usual espresso.
You may well baulk at the idea of adding two tablespoons of butter to your brew. So why does Asprey say you should? Butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows is high in vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene, all of which are good for the immune system, brain and stamina.
And though butter is very high in saturated fat, studies now suggest that there is no link between saturated fat and heart disease.
The third ingredient in bulletproof coffee, MCT oil, is extracted from coconut and palm oil, and requires less energy and enzymes to be digested when compared to another type of fat known as long-chain triglycerides.
It is converted into ketones, which are immediately used as fuel for your brain; this is why many fans claim that the drink makes their brains razor sharp.
Bulletproof coffee makes some impressive claims. But it has also raised a number of concerns. For a start, it contains a whopping 468kcal and 52g of fat (of which 44g is saturated). It’s intended to be drunk as a breakfast replacement and with good reason, considering the high calorie and fat content.
While saturated fat is no longer looked upon as an evil substance to be avoided, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it should make up 50 per cent of your diet (as the Bulletproof diet recommends). Most nutritionists advise a figure nearer to 25 per cent.
As Bulletproof coffee contains no protein and has a low nutrient profile, it’s essential to ensure that the rest of your food intake for the day contains plenty of protein and vitamin- and mineral-rich fruit and vegetables.
It would also be wise to lower your fat intake for the rest of the day and opt for mostly mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated sources to maintain a good balance.
You should not just start consuming Bulletproof coffee and expect to follow your normal diet. Some serious adjustments and monitoring would need to be done to ensure that you are being properly nourished.
Another concern is that Bulletproof coffee may increase high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels in otherwise healthy patients. In fact, Dr Karl Nadolsky of the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington believes that this could become an increasing problem for those following the diet and has pledged to examine the wider effects of the trend.
We’re not convinced by it. It seems like a quick-fix way to speed up weight loss that could potentially lead to further health problems if you’re not very careful to monitor your fat intake.
A balanced diet, in the right amounts, and plenty of regular exercise is the best way to keep your body trim and your mind sharp. As for buttered coffee, we’ll be sticking to our lattes, thank you.