I’m a big fan of debunking fitness and nutrition myths.
In fact, I have a whole day dedicated to it in my group, The Health-usiastic Life with Hilary, because I think it’s that important.
There is so much conflicting information out there that it’s hard to keep things straight.
It’s easy to get distracted by something we saw on The Today Show, or read in O magazine, or heard on our favorite talk show.
Wellness is a billion-dollar industry that attracts people who claim they want to help people, but are often just hacks, IMHO.
So when my friend and fellow coach, Marsha, asked me about Bulletproof coffee, the whole Bulletproof movement, and to give my $0.02, I was more than happy to oblige!
Marsha asked: “I’d love to hear your take on bulletproof coffee…..even simply adding coconut oil and/or ghee to a cup of coffee? I’m so confused….is it beneficial or just extra calories??”
So here’s my take on it: the What, Who, How, Why, and my verdict (special thanks to my mama for doing some great research for me!). Feel free to disagree; I love a little friendly debate!
WHAT is Bulletproof coffee?
Bulletproof coffee is the nucleus of the Bulletproof Diet. It’s coffee blended with grass-fed butter and “Brain Octane,” a trademarked oil extracted from coconut.
The beans to make “real” Bulletproof coffee are specially-harvested to remove harmful mycotoxins, which Bulletproof’s founder, Dave Asprey, claims are present in high quantities on regular coffee beans (more on this later).
According to Asprey and other converts, Bulletproof coffee helps increase mental cognition; improve concentration and alertness; helps you lose weight; and can increase your IQ. Pretty lofty claims, eh?!
WHO is Bulletproof Coffee?
Dave Asprey is the CEO and founder of Bulletproof Coffee, the Bulletproof Diet, and the entire Bulletproof empire. To date, there are coffee beans, MCT oil (“Brain Octane”), protein bars, jerky, a cookbook, and various other retail items that bear the Bulletproof name.
Asprey was an overweight child and young adult who ““bio-hacked” is way to a 100-lb weight loss, higher IQ, and lower biological age…and asserts that the Bulletproof lifestyle is responsible.
Asprey spent over $300,000 of his own money, and took 20 years to “hack” his biochemistry to develop the theory behind the Bulletproof Diet. Based on his research, Asprey concluded that a diet rich in dietary fat and low in carbohydrates is the key to optimal health.
For best results, Asprey recommends that 1/2 of one’s daily calories from fat—avocado, coconut oil, for example–and the remainder from organic protein and vegetables. Sugar (including fruit), grains, legumes, and pasteurized dairy are to be avoided.
HOW does Bulletproof coffee work?
The “science” suggests that if you have Bulletproof coffee for breakfast, you’ll 1) perform better; and 2) not crave real food until lunch.
However, this is only if you use the actual Bulletproof products. According to Asprey, using organic, grass-fed butter; coconut oil; and regular beans is an “adulteration” of the product, a convenient excuse to dodge criticism (more on this later).
The drink is very high in fat and calories (400+ in some cases) by design to help suppress appetite. The intensity of the particular Bulletproof blend of beans also helps keep hunger at bay.
But as we’ll see a little later on, this can–and does–often backfire.
WHY would you want to try Bulletproof coffee?
Well, if high-performance, alertness, weight loss, and Asprey’s story and individual results are compelling (they are, admittedly), it’s no wonder he’s achieved the kind of success he has, and why there are so many converts out there who sing the praises of these products.
It sounds really nice to be able to skip breakfast and suffice on coffee (albeit high-calorie calorie) for hours on end, especially for someone who’s looking for a quick-fix to lose weight relatively quickly.
Bulletproof coffee could even help people on a budget save money on food…what’s not to love?!
Well, we’ll get to that!
WOULD you get the same benefits from regular coffee and coconut oil or ghee?
According to Asprey, no, and as I mentioned above, this is a convenient excuse to give when people criticism the product and claim it doesn’t work.
But let’s back up a moment. Ghee? What the heck is that?
Ghee was really hot about 5-to-7 years ago, when the Paleo lifestyle movement was in full force. I feel as though it’s subsided significantly since then, but I still hear about ghee every once in a blue moon.
According to Wikipedia, ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated from the Indian subcontinent. It’s used in cuisine, traditional medicine, and religious rituals.
It’s distinct from butter due to the process used to make ghee. making ghee: it’s essentially the cream that simmers off the top of the butter when it’s heated up. Ghee is nutty-tasting and more aromatic than regular butter, and therefore why it’s such a staple of the cuisine in these parts of the world.
So, back to the original question: no, coffee with ghee; regular, organic, grass-fed butter, and generic coconut oil is NOT the same, and may not yield the same results.
In a way, I get where Asprey’s coming from–if he said it was the same thing, it would be bad for his bottom line. He is a businessman at the end of the day.
What kind of trips him up, however, is how he further explains why his recipe for Bulletproof coffee reigns supreme: he claims that other coffee has “fungus,” or mycotoxins, that grow on the beans themselves and affect the quality and taste of the coffee.
However, those who know java claim that most mycotoxins are eliminated from all beans once they’re harvested, anyway.
Does that make me question Asprey? Absolutely, but let’s not write him off jusssstttttt yet…
WHAT’S the verdict?
My mom (and lovely research assistant!) read about two bloggers who tried Bulletproof coffee and followed the diet for up to two weeks.
They reported that while the coffee concoction was delicious, the butter and oil combo does make for a slippery cup of joe!
Was it tasty? Yep, but that’s no wonder–with 400+ calories from fat, what’s not to love?!
Did they experience the benefits Asprey and others tout? They did report that they felt much more alert, bordering on jittery (they attributed this to the extra caffeine rush, since the Bulletproof beans are treated in such a way as to preserve as much caffeine as possible.)
Will you feel “super-charged?” Apparently, the claims that you feel super-human for hours after enjoying the brew don’t hold up for the majority. Many who’ve blogged about their experiences claim to have “crashed” around 10 a.m., and those who waited to eat any real food did so with difficulty, and were “ravenous” by lunch time.
Truth be hold, none of this surprises me. Bulletproof coffee is a nice idea in theory, but may not be sustainable, just like most fad diets, juice cleanses, etc.
Frankly, anything that requires me to give up entire food groups is impractical, as is feeling forced to wait to eat real food. In my experience, any time I did that, I ended up 1) consuming more food than I would have otherwise; and 2) spent more, not less, precious mental energy thinking about food!
Even if Bulletproof coffee would make me feel less hungry for longer periods of time, I don’t think it’s an effective, sustainable practice because it doesn’t address the behavioral side of cravings and why many people struggle with dieting in the first place.
Fad diets persist because they are sexy and seductive…not because they actually provide tangible strategies we can use to eat better and healthier over the long term.