For millions of individuals, coffee is a signal to start the day, a prod to get one foot out the door, and a 12-ounce cup o’ warmth which just makes the world a better place.
But coffee is not just a way to wake up anymore. It is a complex combination of strength, brainpower, and “get up and go.” That is, if you are in the habit of “Bulletproofing” your mug of java.
If you have not heard of Bulletproof coffee, you are missing out on a bio-hacking opportunity which reportedly, in addition to several other health benefits, can make your brain work smarter and faster.
Wait, more brainpower? How do we access that? Luckily, the concept of Bulletproof coffee (BPC) is simple. Add a tremendous load of healthy fat to your organic, well-sourced coffee and blend the bejesus out of it. Recommendations from the Bulletproofing community are to use this power-packed coffee as a meal replacement. It is calorie dense and satiating, and can fuel your body for hours.
The concept is brilliant, right? Yes, but it wasn’t actually us who thought of it. Many cultures, such as the Ethiopians and Tibetans, have been drinking “Buttered coffee” or “Yak milk” long before the Keto and Paleo crowd got their hands on it. In fact, Dave Asprey, a health enthusiast and entrepreneur, was exposed to the concept in 2009 while hiking in Tibet. He brought back the basic recipe and refined and developed it into what we know today as “Bulletproof coffee”.
Does butter in your coffee sound a little less than appealing? A steaming mug of Bulletproof coffee will, in fact, be the smoothest most frothy and delectable cup of coffee you ever laid your hands on.
So, how can a cup of coffee give you all this strength, energy, and brainpower? Bulletproof coffee is not just any cup of coffee. Spoiler alert, Bulletproof coffee’s secret has everything to do with fat – the good kind. The medium chain triglyceride (MCT) kind to be precise. But, before we get to MCT oil, let’s talk you into this whole buttery coffee concept.
Since becoming popular with the ancestral health crowd in the late 2000s, many benefits of Bulletproof coffee have been reported. The biggest perk (pun intended) is the impact on our brains. Mental clarity and cognitive function have been shown to improve with the regular use of Bulletproof coffee. How could this be?
Remember how in the late ’80s and ’90s we thought fat was the devil? We removed it from every food item, replacing it with a storm of chemicals so that the new fat-free food could be edible. We also reduced our intake of butter, whole milk, and fatty meats. Cholesterol and heart disease were on the rise and fat was the smoking gun.
Turns out we were dead wrong. Fat is an essential part of almost every physiologic function in our body, particularly when it comes to optimal brain function. By reducing or eliminating fats, we were creating serious health problems. Now, we understand that, when we ingest good fats in higher amounts, our brains and bodies function effectively. Bulletproof coffee has a high amount of healthy, well-sourced, saturated fat and this is good news for our brains.
But there are other benefits of Bulletproof coffee; improved metabolism, weight loss, stabilized gut health, and increased mood and strength. The combination of well-sourced coffee, caffeine, and all the healthy fats are a recipe for success.
Now, you know the overall benefits of Bulletproof coffee, what exactly is MCT oil and why are we putting it in your coffee?
With the traditional Bulletproof recipe, one of the key three ingredients is a source of medium chain triglycerides. Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) travel straight to the liver and are processed more easily than the longer chain triglycerides like Omega 3s. This means MCTs are not stuffed in fat cells for safekeeping and they are a readier access to energy.
You can acquire MCT oil in two ways: unrefined coconut oil, which is about 62-65% medium chain triglycerides, or a processed MCT oil whose percentage of MCT will obviously be significantly higher.
There are considerations for both. Although coconut oil is lower in MCT, it has other benefits like being antibacterial, antiviral, and an anti-inflammatory. Coconut oil also has a tremendous amount of research behind it. MCT oil, on the other hand, is processed, not well-policed, and newer to the market with less research behind it. It also has the potential to have contaminants and, because of the refining process, may be subject to chemical processing.
But, don’t dismay, MCT oil is an excellent option. You simply have to purchase your MCT oil from a reputable source. MCT oil could be considered a front-runner over coconut oil because the benefits are concentrated, so you can take less.
The third ingredient in Bulletproof coffee is butter. But, not just any butter. This butter must be grass-fed. Why? If you do not use grass-fed butter, it means you are using grain-fed butter, which has a significantly higher concentration of the less desirable oils, such as Omega 6s and 9s. For those that are dairy sensitive, you can opt for the “Ghee” version of butter, which is a grass-fed butter that has had all the dairy components stripped out through a clarifying process.
It is important that you understand and perfect the basic Bulletproof recipe before moving onto to some of the variations.
• Eight ounces of well-sourced organic coffee
• 1 Tsp. – 2 Tbls. of MCT or coconut oil
• 1 Tsp. – 2 Tbls. of grass-fed butter
• Blend for 30 seconds (this is to emulsify the oils for better absorption)
Note that the recipe calls for a rather varied amount of oil, and for good reason! As you start drinking Bulletproof coffee, you are going to want to work up your dose of the butter and oil slowly if you are not used to consuming healthy fats. Fail to and your digestive tract may rebel. I saw the repercussions referred to as “Disaster Pants”. So, in other words, don’t move too quickly or you will move too quickly. Consider yourself warned.
Also, consider not only the source of the coffee, but also the method of brewing. The originator of Bulletproof coffee, Dave Asprey, suggests a French press so that the oils in the coffee are preserved and not eliminated through a filter. Certainly, do not use instant coffee – too processed – or K-cups, because of the potential exposure to plastics.
There are some appealing variations on the traditional Bulletproof coffee recipe. You can add 1–2 Tbls. of coconut milk or you could opt to make your bulletproof beverage from a green tea, matcha, or chai tea source: you can even make a Bulletproof cocoa. You can also add collagen as an additional source of protein. Be careful not to add unnecessary sweeteners. Any sweetener, including maple syrup, sugar, or honey, will trigger an insulin response. The purpose of Bulletproof coffee is to promote “ketogenesis”, a metabolic state where you body elects to burn fat in the absence of carbohydrates. If absolutely necessary, you can add stevia as it will not interrupt the ketogenic state.
Finally, BPC is purposed as a meal replacement. This thing packs some calories, particularly if you use the higher oil content to encourage more of the brain and body benefits. Most enthusiasts recommend using Bulletproof coffee as breakfast substitute as the fat is most effectively utilized on a fasted system. Some will also use BPC as a pre-workout drink as it provides immediate energy and endurance.
Bulletproof coffee is an excellent option to kick off your day in a powerful and energized way. It is quick to make and your body is going to love you for it.
By: Heather Denniston
Photo: Getty Images