Is Bulletproof Coffee a Healthy Drink?

The high-fat morning brew claiming to make you fit

What if you could drink a specialty coffee for weight loss and increased energy? Bulletproof coffee is making these claims and more. Drinking this product is supposed to help you perform better, think faster, and live better.

What is it about this drink that makes it so special? Is it healthy or just another expensive fitness trend? Taking a look at the ingredients and any scientific evidence will help answer these questions.

What Is Bulletproof Coffee?

Coffee, butter, and saturated fat blended together is bulletproof coffee. It’s a huge trend and popular among Keto Diet followers or those using a low-carb, high-fat diet.

The well-known drink was created by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and bio-hacker, Dave Asprey. Evidently, he was inspired during his travels in Tibet while observing healthy-appearing citizens at high altitude drinking tea with yak butter. After his return home, he produced and marketed a high-quality coffee brand that mimicked the Tibetan drink.

Bulletproof coffee became the trademark name for his coffee brand. Asprey claims his coffee beans are specially filtered to remove fungal toxins, or mycotoxins. The drink also contains grass-fed butter and his famous "Brain Octane Oil." The oil is supposed to be a secret ingredient of the coffee, but it’s really purified MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides) from 100 percent coconut oil.

The coffee is blended into a warm, creamy drink recommended by Asprey to be used as a breakfast substitute. He claims carb-heavy breakfasts like oatmeal spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry and tired. His bulletproof coffee is supposed to use fat for fuel and supply your body with suppressed hunger, lasting energy, and mental clarity.

How Do You Make It?

Not all buttered coffee is created equal according to Asprey. He claims the only way to get the real benefits of bulletproof coffee is using his ingredients. Nothing can be substituted for mold-free coffee beans and Brain Octane Oil found only in his product, says Asprey. 

Although his claims for Bulletproof coffee remain questionable, the official recipe is below:

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ heaping tablespoons ground Bulletproof Coffee Beans
  • 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons Brain Octane Oil
  • 1–2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or 1–2 teaspoons of grass-fed ghee

Directions

  1. Make your coffee: Brew 1 cup (8–12 ounces) of coffee using filtered water with 2 ½ heaping tablespoons of freshly ground Bulletproof Coffee Beans. Use a French press for ease of use and to preserve beneficial coffee oils that paper filters keep out.
  2. Add Brain Octane Oil: Add 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of Brain Octane Oil (start slow with this stuff—it’s powerful!)
  3. Add grass-fed butter or ghee: Add 1–2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter or grass-fed ghee. Make sure your butter is unsalted. Salty coffee is gross.
  4. Blend: Mix it all in a blender for 20-30 seconds until it looks like a creamy latte. There will be a good amount of foam on top.

    Nutrition Facts

    Bulletproof coffee is a drink high in saturated fats for one serving. Doubling the serving doubles the fat, calories, and cholesterol. Below is a breakdown of the nutrient values for a single serving of bulletproof coffee:

    Bulletproof Coffee Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size 15oz (12oz coffee, 1tbsp butter, 1tbsp MCT oil) 
    Per Serving% Daily Value*
    Calories 205 
    Total Fat 26g35%
    Saturated Fat  22g100%
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
    Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
    Cholesterol 30mg0%
    Sodium 0mg0%
    Potassium 0mg0%
    Carbohydrates  0g0%
    Dietary Fiber 0g0%
    Sugars 0g 
    Protein 0g 
    Vitamin A 10% · Vitamin C 0%
    Calcium 0% · Iron 0%
    *Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

    Health Claims and Benefits

    The marketing campaign claims bulletproof coffee can give all day energy. Asprey gives credit to using cleaner beans, grass-fed butter for vitamin K-2 and butyric acid, and the secret ingredient Brain Octane Oil for sustained energy, according to Joel Kahn, MD, Council Member, True Health Initiative, and one of the world’s top cardiologists.

    It has been presented as a drink that might serve as fuel in the morning and help you not eat all day until dinner. Many health professionals and nutrition experts disagree with this philosophy. In the medical and marketing meetings attended by Dr. Kahn, bulletproof coffee is served with standard breakfast fare as a substitute for standard coffee, not standalone.

    During a recent announcement to raise funding for bulletproof coffee, CEO Asprey said he is pioneering science-based food and better products to help people gain long-lasting energy, eliminate cravings, and boost cognitive performance.

    But is there enough reliable scientific evidence to support these claims?

    Currently, there are no fully published scientific studies supporting or criticizing the impact of bulletproof coffee on any of the claims made in the marketing campaign such as energy, cognition, or cravings, according to Dr. Kahn.

    A recent scientific abstract presentation highlighted the rise in blood cholesterol that occurred with bulletproof coffee, says Kahn. This was due to the drink containing such high levels of saturated fats, negatively affecting blood lipids. 

    The only proven benefit of the bulletproof ingredients comes from chronic studies on caffeine. Research indicates there are potential health benefits from drinking coffee alone without additives. Coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant shown to boost your metabolism, improve mental clarity, and reduce inflammation.

    So, it appears the only way to improve the drink is by removing the fat. In other words, just drink a cup of black coffee.

    Should I Drink It?

    Coffee is delicious and many people enjoy a morning cup. There are proven health benefits to consuming caffeine by drinking a cup of black coffee. Of course, this is without added fat or sugar. Although bulletproof coffee contains caffeine, it’s also loaded with saturated fats—not the best option for your health.

    Consuming large amounts of animal-based saturated fat is very concerning in view of the continued statistics that coronary heart disease is the number one killer of men and women due to atherosclerosis. The fact that blood cholesterol levels are a major contributor to heart disease is not disputed in cardiology, according to Dr. Kahn.

    Bulletproof coffee has taken the option of a cup of black coffee rich in antioxidants and absent calories and fat sources and replaced it with one of the highest recorded calorie-dense options ever created.

    There is no evidence of the health claims nor is their evidence that the public is deficient in butter or the components of MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil. Whether the bulletproof coffee beans are healthier and worth the additional cost over standard beans, and even organic coffee bean brands, is unknown and not supported by human science.

    It would take one study of 10 healthy persons drinking Bulletproof coffee one day and black coffee another to determine the impact on lipids, inflammation, endotoxin release, and endothelial function. The fact that butter harms the health of arteries and endothelial function has already been demonstrated.

    Overall, bulletproof coffee gets two thumbs down from cardiologists and can be viewed as a likely contributor to coronary heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer development, which is related to saturated fat intake.

    A Word From Verywell

    Bulletproof coffee is a popular drink that claims to help you lose weight, increase energy, and boost mental clarity. It features strong marketing and those following low-carb, high-fat diets like the Keto Diet continue to promote the unhealthy blend. No clinical studies or research exists to support any health claims made by the brand. However, plenty of evidence is out there showing over-consumption of saturated fats can lead to chronic health problems, including heart disease. Having an occasional bulletproof coffee may be considered a treat but consuming it on a regular basis is not recommended.

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