WHAT IS BULLETPROOF COFFEE?
Coffee is a widely consumed beverage around the world, and its popularity can be attributed to several factors. People tend to use coffee for many reasons that include:
- Energy Boost
- Enhanced Focus and Concentration
- Social and Cultural Tradition
- Workplace Norms
- Ritual and Comfort
The normalization of coffee consumption is a result of a combination of historical, cultural, and social factors. The historical roots of coffee comes from regions such as Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula. Over time, coffeehouses and cafes became important centers of social and intellectual exchange in cities across Europe and the Middle East. As European colonial powers expanded, they introduced coffee to new regions and culture, helping to spread its popularity. As coffee became a global commodity and symbol of trade and cultural exchange, advertising and branding companies invested heavily into the product, making coffee a ubiquitous part of daily life.
As coffee entered individuals homes, the workplace and office culture, popular figures explored ways to continue optimizing it. Enter Dave Asprey, the founder of the Bulletproof brand. This beverage is made by blending low-toxin brewed coffee with grass-fed ghee and finishing it with MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil creating a frothy and creamy mixture. Many consumers of this beverage use it to replace breakfast all while still being able to enjoy their delicious cup of coffee.
The bulletproof coffee recipe gained popularity in the mid 2010’s among individuals interested in biohacking, ketogenic diets, and health and wellness trends. Supporters of the brand claim that bulletproof coffee has many benefits including mental clarity, sustained energy and fat loss.
But what is bulletproof coffee really? Is it a healthy alternative to breakfast or just another fad pushed by fitness and health gurus alike in order to keep you stuck in the cycle of mindless consumption. This article will take a deeper look into the benefits of bulletproof coffee along with its influence on the health and fitness industry.
A Closer Look at the Bulletproof Coffee Recipe
First, let’s break down what’s actually in bulletproof coffee along with the perceived benefits and drawbacks of each ingredient.
Low-toxin brewed coffee
- Increased alertness and improved cognitive function
- Rich source of antioxidants
- Mood enhancements
- Sleep disturbances (anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, increased heart rate & blood pressure)
- Increased dependency and withdrawal
- Digestive Issues
- High Smoke Point
- High in Healthy Fats
- High in Saturated
- Calorie Dense
- Lack of Essential Nutrients
MCT Oil (medium-chain triglyceride)
- Quick Energy Source
- Appetite Control
- Improved Cognitive Function
- Caloric Density
- Gastrointestinal Distress
- Limited Food Source (highly processed)
A study from the NIH (National Institute of Health) suggests that there may be no benefit of Bulletproof coffee over black coffee for improving cognitive performance. However, consuming one Bulletproof coffee containing 250kcal, as compared to black coffee, does appear to increase feelings of fullness and result in a reduction in perceived prospective food consumption after 3 hours. (1)
Given the high fat and caloric density of ghee and MCT oil along with the high risk for caffeine dependency and withdrawal, there doesn’t seem to be much practical use of this recipe amongst the general population.
Why is it so popular then?
Keto, short for “ketogenic”, refers to a high-fat, low carbohydrate dietary approach designed to encourage the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body primarily relies on fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet is characterized by specific macronutrient ratios:
- High Fat: About 70-80% of daily calories.
- Low Carbohydrates: About 5-10% of daily calories.
- Moderate Protein: About 10-20% percent of daily calories
Although the appeal for bulletproof coffee benefits extends beyond the keto community, the bulletproof coffee recipe aligns directly with the keto dietary principles, making it convenient for individuals following a keto diet to adopt this recipe as it is a convenient source of healthy fats and energy. That being said, following a keto based diet isn’t exactly the best approach either. Studies show that “long-term adherence of a ketogenic diet is a major challenge and that is why this type of diet is considered non-sustainable.” (2)
Surveys and data suggest that a relatively small percentage of the population in the United States and Western countries follows a strict ketogenic diet. The exact numbers can vary by study, but estimates typically range from 1% to 5% or slightly higher.
Now if a small fraction of the population strictly follows the ketogenic diet, we can assume that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, especially if the bulletproof coffee recipe is being consumed daily.
DAILY CONSUMPTION OF BULLETPROOF COFFEE?
Given everything we have just learned about the bulletproof coffee recipe, the best answer to this question is no. In reality, caffeine is a stimulant, and although widely accepted it would almost certainly cause more issues than not. Could it provide some benefits short term, sure. But it doesn’t seem to be a long term solution to the real problem most individuals are suffering from which is a combination of a broken circadian rhythm and emotional eating habits.
Although the consistent consumption of caffeine may help with alertness and cognitive function, you know what else can help with that and is free? Daily sunlight exposure and 7-9 hours of undisturbed deep sleep. And it comes without the anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, increased heart rate & blood pressure that consistent caffeine consumption may present us with (click here for our article on Caffeine & Anxiety).
Along with increased mental clarity, some of the bulletproof coffee benefits include sustained energy and fat loss. There are multiple studies showcasing how better sleep health was associated with great subsequent weight loss and fat loss. In addition to this, studies also show that poor sleep is directly associated with psychological distress, disinhibited eating and more energy needed to sustain extended wakefulness (3,4). Therefore, if we can work on getting better deep quality sleep, sustained energy and fat loss should come along for the ride.
ALTERNATIVES TO THE BULLETPROOF COFFEE LIFESTYLE
At functional patterns, we tend to avoid adding additional steps/routines to our lifestyle that don’t necessarily coincide with our biological blueprint as humans. Humans have what we like to call a hierarchy of needs and they should be respected. By doing this, we are able to avoid many problems while regenerating our health and physiology in the process.
When it comes to improved cognitive function, sustained mental clarity and energy and fat loss, these are the guidelines we recommend to live by:
Daily: Get sun daily when available to you to help set your circadian rhythm so that you can get a good night’s rest. During the day make sure to spend some time thinking about your body’s mechanics and correcting dysfunctions to help you function efficiently over time. Make sure to hydrate yourself so that your body can function better and process the nutritious organic foods you eat.
Weekly: Throughout the week do things to help manage your stress like getting an intentional FP training session in or utilizing heart rate variability tools. Learn something new that will help you gain or improve upon relevant skills.
Monthly: Get some time out in nature. Whether it’s the park down the street or a drive out to a more isolated area, we feel it’s important (especially for city dwellers) to get outside and learn to tune into the boredom. Find a quiet spot somewhere to sit down, look around you and think. Think about your problems and what you can do to solve them.
While the bulletproof coffee recipe may show to provide benefits for some people, there are simply better ways to get the benefits their supporters claim. By training your body through FP movements and getting daily sunlight exposure, you are keeping your anxiety in check all while repairing your circadian rhythm. The consumption of caffeine will impair this as your body will struggle to reach a parasympathetic state when you are sleeping.
In addition to this by simply choosing to eat a well balanced meal 1-2 times a day, you won’t need to worry about appetite control because your body will be absorbing the nutrients you ingest. All these variables go hand in hand to balance the ecosystem inside your body.
Thinking that something like the bulletproof coffee recipe will fix your metabolic issues is very short-sided and only leaves you with more problems on the back end. By reaching out to a practitioner near you, you will learn how to sustainably manage your body’s energy system, leaving you with long term mental clarity, sustained energy and fat loss.
Click HERE to Find a Practitioner Near You