Thursday, October 31, 2013


I've been in the routine of skipping breakfast and instead downing a ‘Bulletpoof Coffee’ first thing in the morning. Bulletproof coffee (BPC) is a phenomenon sweeping the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb world at the moment. 

It was invented by bio-hacker Dave Asprey who, although he sells a lot of expensive and unnecessary supplements on his online store, is a super intelligent dude who puts out a lot of great free information and is one of my most respected health gurus. 

Dave’s podcast Bulletproof Executive Radio is one of the best out there. He is a keen interviewer and attracts the most interesting and relevant guests week after week. I listen religiously. 

Apparently Dave first came up with the idea of putting fat in his coffee after a trip to Tibet where he noticed the locals adding Yak butter to their tea, tried it, and noticed a significant boost in his cognitive function. 

So what is this magic stuff?

Basically you brew some high quality (e.g. single origin, water processed, chemical-free beans grown at altitude) coffee - Dave recommends his own 'Upgraded Coffee' of course. I use organic, single source beans from the best source I can find, which I brew in an Aeropress. 

French Press is Dave’s brew method of choice. Any filter method will work well (drip, pour-over, Clover, etc) and you could even use espresso coffee such as a long-black/Americano. However, I think the higher absolute caffeine content of a full cup of filter coffee adds to the buzz. 

Once the coffee is brewed, decant it into a blender - I pour it into a beaker and use a stick blender. Add 10-30g of UNSALTED grass-fed butter and 5-25mL of MCT oil (start on the lower end). If you don’t have MCT oil you can substitute regular coconut oil but as Dave and many other people have noted, you won’t get the same cognitive and energy-boosting effects from the more concentrated shorter-chain fats in MCT oil. Blend for 5-15 seconds until creamy. Enjoy. (Bathroom sprint x 1 rep).

WARNING - MCT/Coconut oil can have a strong laxative effect if you aren’t used to it. This effect is multiplied when consumed with caffeine, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach! Start very small with the butter and MCT/coconut oil and titrate up over a number of days. As your body becomes used to a bolus of readily absorbed fat in the morning this laxative effect will wane. 

I was skeptical at first about Bulletproof Coffee. It seems utterly absurd to add 10-50g of pure fat to black coffee, blend and drink. Conventional dietitians and doctors would have a heart attack just at the thought of it! However, when you experience the amazing cognitive buzz, satiety, and sustained energy for many hours after, it is hard to deny the fact that it works extremely well. I am still amazed at my newfound productivity in the mornings since adopting BPC into my daily schedule. 

Why I think it works…
I have Bulletproof Coffee instead of breakfast, and often don’t eat for 3-6 hours thereafter. With my typical 20g butter + 20mL MCT oil this is a nice little 360 calorie dose of fat. As there is no protein or carbohydrate it does not raise blood sugar or insulin, meaning there is no mid-morning blood sugar crash. 

Furthermore, MCT/coconut oil helps boost ketone production, maximizing your ability to tap into this fuel source and, in a way, continue your overnight fast. Add to this the fat-burning and stimulant effects of caffeine and it starts looking like a potent little morning cocktail for those looking for productivity and fat loss. 

Not for the feint-hearted…
Please understand that Bulletproof Coffee - the “biohack” du jour - has no real scientific backing as yet, although I think Dave is working on some research. There is a small chance that I’ll look back one day, laughing, and say, “Holy crap! I can’t believe I used to drink saturated fat for breakfast!” 

But I doubt it. As a caffeine addict, coconut oil lover (I literally rub it into my skin) and butter fiend, Bulletproof Coffee is the next logical step in my crazy quest for optimal health. 

Is BPC for you? 
Before you jump headlong into the BPCC (Bulletproof Coffee Cult) and start drinking hundreds of calories of fat for breakfast you may want to take a look at the rest of your diet. If it isn't so "bulletproof" - that is, you are eating a lot of refined carbohydrates, sugar and other crap - then perhaps adding so much fat to your mornings is not the best idea. 

Then again if you are otherwise healthy and tolerate fat well, given BPC's magical powers of suppressing hunger and cravings and the thousands of testimonials from people saying they've lost a bunch of weight since incorporating it, The Paleo Model sure isn't going to stop you getting in on this whacky biohack! 

Try it with caution and let me know how it goes… #bulletproofcoffee 

UPDATE (Feb 2015):

Even though I continue to consume BPC on occasion - probably once or twice a week at most - I am still skeptical about the possible long term effects. It continues to grow in popularity and I am not surprised why - it is convenient, addictive and it really does have astounding positive effects when it comes to both satiety and mental performance. However, I am seeing more and more backlash against BPC from other ancestral health experts. 

The major argument against BPC is that even though butter and MCT oil both have some beneficial properties, they are relatively energy-dense and nutrient-poor compared to eating real foods. This begs the question, are you really doing yourself any favor by drinking pure fat for breaking or would you be better off eating a real breakfast of, for example, eggs, kale and avocado. 

And if you wish to intermittent fast why not just have black coffee and not interrupt the fast with a large bolus of fat?

While I don't have the answer to these questions I do encourage you to consider how often you consume BPC and to continue to track your lipids in case you are a hyper-responder to dietary fat and therefore risk a substantial increase in your LDL-C and lipoprotein particle number. 

Personally, I will continue to use BPC as an occasional supplement rather than an every day ritual. 

Here is the MCT oil that I swear by and I'm pretty sure it's just as good as Asprey's... and about half the price!


9 comments:

  1. Hi, since you have more experience and had, most likely, researched the subject extensively, would you care to comment on the following post?
    http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/mct-oil-vs-coconut-oil-the-truth-exposed/
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, thanks for the question.

    This article argues that MCT is not better/healthier than coconut oil because it has been fractionated (refined), removing the longer chain C12 Lauric acid, leaving only the shorter C6 Caproic, C8 Caprylic and C10 Capric acids.

    They argue that Lauric acid is the most beneficial fatty acid in coconut oil so why would you want to consume MCT that has removed all the lauric acid?

    This argument does not make sense to me. The C6, C8 and C10 fatty acids also have a lot of benefits. They are broken down and utilized for energy far quicker than Lauric acid and therefore act as a kind of rocket fuel for your body and brain. This is the reason why MCT is so effective in Bulletproof coffee, because the shorter chain MCTs are a faster and more efficient fuel than coconut oil.

    I agree that MCT overall has less nutrition than coconut oil, and I would never use MCT to replace coconut oil in the rest of my diet, but as a supplement, especially in Bulletproof coffee or perhaps a smoothie, it is very beneficial. I would never use MCT oil for cooking with or baking, for example.

    So yes, MCT is refined and has less nutrition than coconut oil but it is still an excellent fuel source when used as a supplement.

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  3. Thank you for the (surgically precise and to the point) answer (to my rather unfocused question :) ). That is exactly what I needed cleared out!

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  4. Hi! I'm just curious, I see a lot of posts about replacing breakfast with BPC and then tons of following articles stating the con of BPC is the loss of nutrition from skipping breakfast. What about having BPC WITH your usual primal breakfast? That way you aren't missing the nutrients of eating real food but you are adding some good fats to the coffee you would probably be drinking with breaky anyway? Just curious because I don't see many people mentioning they do this I usually only see instead of breakfast....Thanks

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    Replies
    1. The calorie count of BPC added to a full breakfast would be very high and would likely lead to weight gain in most people. Also, healthy fats are best consumed apart (at different meals) from healthy carbs if the goal is weight loss.

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    2. The calorie count of BPC added to a full breakfast would be very high and would likely lead to weight gain in most people. Also, healthy fats are best consumed apart (at different meals) from healthy carbs if the goal is weight loss.

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much for sharing. Your article was extra high value due to the update. Please please update again in a few months.

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  6. Hi and thanks for this great concoction! I never heard of Bulletproof coffee before but reading from hundreds of people who swear by it, there must be ”something” potent about it. Will I try it? I want to since I’ve read from your post that it can make you feel satisfied for longer periods of time. I’m into the 3 day military diet where black coffee is allowed so I’m looking at the list of food. I know for a fact of the benefits of virgin coconut oil which I periodically use. I hope to see good results and will update you of any progress. If you would like to make a review of the military diet and the effects of bulletproof coffee in terms of weight loss, here’s a good resource page to start. I hope you come up with another informative blog post and thanks again, hope this helps http://3daysmilitarydiet.com/faq/coffee-during-diet.html

    ReplyDelete