“BULLETPROOF COFFEE” REVIEW: DEBUNKING THE HYPE
Is mixing butter and oil into your morning coffee the “hidden secret” to burning inches of fat off your body while simultaneously super-charging your energy, mental focus and productivity?
It might sound crazy, but that’s exactly what Dave Asprey, a self-proclaimed “Professional Biohacker” and creator of the widely popular “Bulletproof Coffee” recipe claims.
Some say it’s nothing but pure marketing hype.
Some say it changed their life for the better.
What’s the real truth behind this fat-infused “miracle drink”?
Let’s talk about it…
What Is Bulletproof Coffee?
The Bulletproof Coffee recipe is pretty straightforward…
First, brew 250-500ml of coffee using filtered water.
You’re also encouraged to purchase the significantly more expensive “Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee” for this. Although the claim is not supported by science, Bulletproof’s website states that this particular coffee is “toxin-free” unlike other regular brands.
Then, add in 1-2 tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter along with 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil (in the form of Bulletproof’s “Brain Octane Fuel”), claimed by Asprey to be 18 times more potent than coconut oil.
Mix all of this together in a blender for 20-30 seconds until frothy, and drink.
What Are The Supposed Benefits Of Bulletproof Coffee?
The idea behind Bulletproof coffee is to use it as a replacement for breakfast.
Along with boosting your energy and mental focus (Asprey even claims that the drink can boost your IQ score by 20 points), the Bulletproof coffee ingredients are said to aid fat loss in the following ways…
– The caffeine in the coffee increases levels of norepinephrine, a catecholamine that boosts your metabolism and aids in fat oxidation.
– Butter is a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid that is often used as a weight loss supplement. CLA is believed to aid fat loss by binding to and activating the body’s PRARa receptors, as well as inhibiting PRARy receptors.
– MCT oil is claimed to boost thermogenesis, a process in which calories are burned to produce heat. It’s also said to increase ketone formation which plays a role in suppressing appetite.
3 Reasons Why Bulletproof Coffee Should Be Avoided
So, is Bulletproof Coffee healthy and is it effective as a brain boosting and fat burning aid?
I’ll admit that the branding and promotion behind the product is very well put together, but there are a few very big problems with Bulletproof coffee and the claims that are made about it…
#1 – It’s very high in total calories and fat.
Regardless of what anyone says, the single most important factor by far when it comes to losing body fat is managing your total net energy balance.
In other words, you need to maintain a calorie deficit over time by burning more calories than you consume, as this will stimulate your body to release its stored fat for use as fuel.
Although Bulletproof Coffee is promoted as a weight loss beverage, the truth is that waking up and downing 450 calories worth of pure fat is not going to be conducive to maintaining a calorie deficit in the bigger picture.
Not only is Bulletproof Coffee very calorie dense relative to its volume, but the fact that it’s in liquid form also means that it won’t fill you up physically and satisfy your appetite.
If you require 1500 calories per day for fat loss, one cup of Bulletproof Coffee alone will represent about 1/3 of your total daily calorie intake.
If you require 2000 calories or even 2500, that’s still 20-25% of your total calories for the day.
If you’re trying to lose fat from week to week without starving yourself, drinking a large portion of your calories is never a good idea.
For example, if you were to take that 1 cup of coffee and replace it with 450 calories worth of lean protein and vegetables, you’d be consuming a way larger portion of actual food that would control your appetite much more effectively and provide way higher nutritional value as well.
The other basic misconception people have is in thinking that since CLA and MCT oil are “fat burning compounds”, you’ll automatically lose weight by consuming them.
This is false for a couple of important reasons…
First off, there is NO conclusive evidence that either of these compounds significantly increase fat loss in humans to begin with.
CLA does not affect PPAR receptors to a strong enough degree to simulate fat loss in any significant amount, and MCT oil has only ever shown a very modest fat burning effect at best and only specifically in obese individuals.
Secondly, even if these compounds do stimulate fat loss to a small degree, the effect still won’t come anywhere close to offsetting the 450 calories you’ve ingested in order to get those compounds into your system in the first place.
Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, the reality is that there is actually no such thing as a “fat burning food” or a “negative calorie food”.
In other words, ANY food that you consume that has caloric value will always result in a net addition to your daily energy intake.
It doesn’t matter if that food contains certain fat burning substances or requires a larger amount of energy to digest relative to other foods; you’re always adding calories to your net energy balance any time you eat.
450 calories is approximately what you’d burn during a full 30-45 minute cardio session, and shoveling butter and oil into your mouth is not going to burn anywhere even remotely close to that amount.
Bottom line: Bulletproof coffee does NOT burn fat since the number of calories it contains will hugely offset any very modest fat burning effect that the CLA or MCT oil might provide.
#2 – It’s extremely low in essential nutrients.
Even if Bulletproof Coffee did possess legitimate fat burning benefits or was an effective appetite suppressant, drinking it regularly still wouldn’t be a good idea because of the simple fact that it’s extremely low in nutritional value.
The MCT oil is pure empty calories with no essential nutrients, while the grass-fed butter contains only small amounts of vitamin A and K2.
For the most part, you’re consuming 450 calories worth of fat with little to no nutrition.
Not only is this obviously bad from a basic health standpoint, but it can also offset any potential appetite suppressing effects of the CLA and MCT oil since food cravings are often a result of a deficiency in essential nutrients.
When there is a low availability of certain vitamins and minerals in the body, your brain starts sending out stronger hunger signals to motivate you to eat and obtain the nutrients it’s missing.
#3 – It’s very high in saturated fat.
This isn’t a guaranteed downside, but the reality is that no one actually knows for sure what the exact health effects of a very high saturated fat intake will be over the course of several weeks, months and years.
We know that saturated fat has been unfairly demonized in the past and that consuming “practical” amounts are fine for most healthy people, but downing 50 grams every morning along with the other fat you’ll naturally consume through your regular food intake could very well be dangerous in the long run.
This is only speculation, but given that Bulletproof Coffee itself isn’t likely to benefit you beyond a possible placebo effect anyway, I don’t see any reason to take the risk.
“But Bulletproof Coffee Works For Me!”
I know that some people will read this article and quickly reply, “I used Bulletproof coffee and it worked for me! I lost weight and feel great”.
Keep in mind that I’m not saying you can’t drink Bulletproof Coffee and still lose fat.
As long as you’re consistently burning more calories than you’re consuming in the big picture, then yes, you will still lose weight while drinking it.
However, for most people in most situations, consuming 450 calories of pure fat in liquid form will make it much more likely that they’ll over-eat on calories for the day as a whole.
And, even if you did lose fat drinking bulletproof coffee, the fact is that you’re still displacing a good portion of your daily calories with a nutritionally empty source.
So, health-wise it’s still not a good idea even if you do enjoy the taste and have lost fat while drinking it.
In terms of its effects on cognitive function, keep in mind that despite the addition of the butter and MCT oil, the simple fact is that you’re still drinking a strong cup of coffee regardless.
Caffeine is a very strong stimulant, and combined with the power of the placebo effect probably explains most of the “mental boost” you’re experiencing.
Bulletproof Coffee Review: The Bottom Line
Bulletproof coffee has no special fat burning properties, and more likely than not it will actually hinder weight loss by causing you to over-eat for the day as a whole.
Not only that, but it’s not a good approach to improving your overall health due to its extremely poor calorie to essential nutrient ratio.
The branding and marketing behind the product is great, but it simply doesn’t hold up to logical, scientific scrutiny.
Skip the butter and oil, save your cash, and stick to good old plain coffee instead.
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