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“I learned about the power of butter at 18,000 feet of elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet,” states the Bulletproof Coffee website, and that, more or less, is how the story starts (you can read the rest here). Dave Asprey, “a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur,” according to his website and a “biohacker” according to his Twitter account, is the brains behind Bulletproof Coffee.
Bulletproof Coffee is a unique coffee blend that uses unusual ingredients (including butter) to induce metabolic effects that help people lose weight and that promote "amazing focus," according to Asprey. It's a trend that's picking up steam with fitness enthusiasts, CrossFitters and coffee nuts.
Confused? We were too. Here’s how BulletProof Coffee works.
What makes it different from other coffees?
The first thing that’ll surprise you are the ingredients: coffee, unsalted butter and an extract of coconut oil. Specifically, the official Bulletproof Coffee recipe calls for Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee Beans, Bulletproof Upgraded Brain Octane and unsalted butter (or ghee).
Can I drink Bulletproof Coffee if I purchase those specific ingredients?
There is technically a difference between Bulletproof Coffee and "bulletproof coffee," but it’s minimal—it’s like the difference between Kleenex (a brand name) and tissue (a generic description). You can buy regular coffee beans, unsalted butter and MCT oil and make "bulletproof coffee," but it won't be Bulletproof Coffee. Make sense?
Jeremy Mullins, MS, RD, a part owner of CrossFit Thunder, says he hasn’t noticed much difference between the branded stuff and coffee from Starbucks. “From my studies, from my experience with myself, I don’t notice a difference between Starbucks with grass-fed butter and Bulletproof with grass-fed butter,” he says. “I can’t tell a difference. That being said, the Bulletproof Coffee is very good.”
Can I use regular butter?
No, for two reasons. Odds are the "regular butter" you’re talking about is salted, and salted coffee “is a crime,” according to Bulletproof's website. We’re inclined to agree. Make sure to buy unsalted butter if you plan to make this recipe. Regular butter comes from grain-fed cows, which generally produce butter with higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids. By choosing butter from grass-fed cows, you’ll likely get fewer of those. “You look at grain-fed, you’re getting an abundance of omega-6’s,” Mullins asserts. “With the grass-fed, you’re not getting a lot of omega-3’s, but you’re getting a lot less omega-6’s."
Okay, so to make my coffee bulletproof, all I do is add butter and oil, right?
Nah, that’d be gross. If you're making Bulletproof Coffee, brew eight ounces of the brand's Upgraded Coffee beans using whatever method you prefer. Just make sure to use filtered water. While it's hot (like off-a-boil hot), pour the coffee into a blender. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of Brain Octane and 1or 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (or ghee). Blend on a vigorous setting for 30 seconds, or until a nice froth has formed. Pour and drink it.
Wait. Why would I add butter and MCT oil to my coffee?
According to the Bulletproof Coffee website, coffee made with this recipe has a “massive impact on cognitive function.” The site also claims that it's the “creamiest, most delicious, highest octane cup of coffee you’ve ever experienced.” Not a bad thing. It's also filling. "I eat dinner at 9 at night, and I don’t consume anything but coffee and butter [in the morning]," Mullins says. "The only thing I do until I train at one p.m the following day is coffee."
RELATED: 5 Benefits of Coffee for Athletes
Doesn't adding fat to your coffee make it taste disgusting?
No, which is kind of surprising. Reddit user Subduction wrote, “I tried it this morning. It is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S after tasting it for the first time, despite having suggested that the idea was 'disgusting,' 'revolting,' and 'an abomination.'" In a separate post user brundleflied added, "it's pretty much super delicious." Mullins says, “It tastes very good when blended, but if an individual just tries to put butter in coffee and stir it up, it doesn’t mix very well. The butter blended into the coffee tastes very good.”
Isn't adding all that fat bad for you?
Ah! Good question. According to Mullins, the idea that all that fat is bad for you is a myth. “Everyone has been told that fat is bad,” he says. “Look at the biggest health problems: obesity and diabetes. And then some people say, well no, heart disease is the number one health problem. How many of those people are either obese or diabetic? That runs you down the line that says that we, as Americans, are eating too much carbohydrate. It’s not fat that’s the problem.”
Mullins also points out that with grass-fed butter, you get fewer pro-inflammatory omega-6’s. “If you just do regular butter from a grain-fed cow, you’re getting into an issue with that omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which has been shown to cause cholesterol issues from the amount of omega-6’s,” he says. “[But] when it’s a grass-fed butter, there is no issue from the fats.”
Who is drinking this stuff?
CrossFitters, people who follow a Paleo diet and people who follow a ketogenic diet, to name a few.
So that's it—just coffee, unsalted butter and oil?
If you want to stick to the basics, yep. However, some people add a few other flavors."I get farm fresh eggs and I use a couple of those [in the coffee as well]," says Bennett Smith, co-owner of CrossFit Hoboken. "I throw some cinnamon and vanilla bean in there for flavor."
Does it actually live up to its claims?
It seems that for most people, Bulletproof Coffee and bulletproof coffee offer the same benefits. Reddit user jasonbatemansfather wrote (in this thread), "I haven't really noticed any cognitive/performance difference between [Asprey's Upgraded Coffee Bean] and Square Mile's Red Brick Blend.
"Going paleo was life changing," says Smith. "Was it that kind of shift? Probably not." But he did notice "a little bit more alertness," after drinking bulletproof coffee, when compared to drinking straight black coffee.
Should I try it?
Mullins thinks it's a good choice for busy athletes who are short on time. "When we think about kids especially, the choices they have at school are carb, carb, carb," he says. "There's a reason they’re falling asleep in second period: they ate 400 grams of carbs for breakfast [and crashed]." Of course, if you're sensitive to caffeine or your parents say no, you should probably avoid it.