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All you need to know about bulletproof coffee

Alex Higham / October 28, 2022
All you need to know about bulletproof coffee

Learn how to make bulletproof coffee, plus understand the benefits and risks before I share my own experience on it and what I now drink instead.

Bulletproof coffee has a bit of a “kids these days” vibe to it. But is it a passing trend or something that has real benefits?

We investigate the good, the bad, the what and the how of bulletproof coffee – so you can decide if you want to give it a go.

What is bulletproof coffee?

Also known as butter coffee, bulletproof coffee was first coined by Dave Asprey, the founder of the Bulletproof Diet. This is a lifestyle and eating regime that focuses on high quality fats, low carbs, low toxins, intermittent fasting and ketosis. Which sounds like a lot but it’s actually pretty interesting.

Anyway, bulletproof coffee is the thing that brought the Bulletproof Diet into the public eye. It’s a blend of mycotoxin free coffee, MCT oil and grass-fed butter or Ghee, which when blended together create quite a creamy, latte-esque coffee that feels pretty luxurious to drink.

Bulletproof coffee made with Exhale Healthy Coffee 2

The claim being that after drinking it, you’ll feel full for longer, and the high-quality fats will act as fuel for your body and mind to help you feel alert and focused.

Who is bulletproof coffee good for?

If you follow a paleo, low-carb or ketogenic diet, or do intermittent fasting —bulletproof coffee could work for you.

This is because it doesn’t contain any carbs, and the MCT oil is quickly absorbed and converted into ketones—which your body uses for energy during fasting [1], when it doesn’t have access to carbs.

What are the benefits of bulletproof coffee?

The research listed here is mostly in its infancy, but there are more studies going on - so it’s worth keeping an eye on the research. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Sustained energy, without the crash. This is due to MCT’s role in inducing ketosis [2], helping you to access ketosis faster, and helping with tolerance of a low-carb diet.
  • There are some small studies that show the MCT oil and coconut oil can be beneficial for cholesterol by increasing HDL [3] as well as lower inflammation [4] and help with weight management [5].
  • Bulletproof coffee increases focus, but these claims are likely mostly based on coffee, as opposed to the “bulletproof” portion. You can read more about how coffee is good for your energy (and your brain and your heart) in this blog > 3 ways coffee is good for you.
  • Good quality butter provides fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D and K as well as being a source of butyrate which is prime food for your friendly gut microbes.
  • While a Bulletproof coffee definitely breaks a fast, it’s an easy way to get into intermittent fasting which does have a ton of health benefits.

Bulletproof coffee made with Exhale Healthy Coffee

What are the dangers of bulletproof coffee?

The main argument against bulletproof coffee is that by replacing breakfast with it, you miss out on a potentially nutritionally dense meal. So you will need to compensate with nutrient-rich meals later in the day (or risk having to spend a small fortune on supplements). But if you're a bowl of cereal for breakfast type person then you're probably not losing much!

Bulletproof coffee is high-fat, which works for certain lifestyles, but it's not ideal for everyone. For example, according to current government guidelines, a cup of bulletproof coffee provides more than your daily recommended amount [6] of saturated fat. So you need to carefully consider it in the context of your own personal health goals.

If you've spent your life eating a carbohydrate rich diet with lots of fibre, then you should be cautious suddenly switching to such a high fat, low fibre diet. Your body and your gut microbes will have spent decades digesting and fueling on a certain type of food. You may simply not have the right composition of gut microbes to digest so much fat or the lack of fibre to feed the good bacteria could make you feel worse. Transition slowly.

Exhale healthy coffee blog on bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof Coffee recipe

This is adapted from the original recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup brewed coffee - our Dark(ish) roast works best as the stronger flavour competes better with everything else going on.

1 tsp. to 2 tbsp. MCT oil (build up your quantity over time)

1-2 tbsp. grass-fed, unsalted butter or 1-2 tsp. ghee

Instructions:

Add coffee, MCT oil and butter/ghee to a blender.

Blend 20-30 seconds until it looks like a creamy latte. Enjoy!

My experience with bulletproof coffee

Personally, I drank Bulletproof coffee daily for over a year when I was training for an Ironman. I swore by it and thought I couldn’t do an early morning training session without one. 

Then came race day of my first ever Ironman. In the morning I thought I’d fuel as I had done through the training and have a Bulletproof coffee. But because of the pre-race nerves I literally couldn’t stomach it and the heavy, fatty nature of it made me feel sick. It nearly ruined the race.

So from then on I stopped having them. Now I just drink a double espresso in the mornings or before training sessions. I easily feel as alert, I train as hard, and my stomach is much happier. But equally, I appreciate drinking coffee on an empty stomach isn't for everybody so learn to listen to your own body.

Exhale Founder Alex Higham in a Race

It also doesn’t break my fast allowing me to train fasted then have a cold shower which is a killer 1-2 punch. I then have a hearty breakfast, packed with protein, fats AND carbs to refuel... and I feel great and fly through the day. I've learnt over many, many years of trial and error that's what works best for my own body and level of activity. Proving again, there's no one-size fits all to nutrition.

What could you try instead?

Well... unless you’re on a ketogenic or LCHF diet... most of the benefits cited for bulletproof coffee - alertness, focus, energy without the crash - can all be achieved with a cup of high-quality, organic coffee that’s packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, and importantly for the Bulletproof diet is mycotoxin free. Like Exhale for instance...

SHOP: Exhale Organic Coffees

Exhale Coffee being brewed

Other than the benefits of a good quality coffee, the MCT oil in bulletproof coffee does have a host of benefits of it’s own which I try to take advantage of.

Most days, as a mid-morning snack, I have a delicious cup of Exhale coffee blended with MCT oil and collagen to get all the additional health benefits of MCT oil and collagen (which I can't live without, but more on that another time!).

So basically, I swap out the butter of bulletproof coffee for collagen, and I have breakfast after my morning workout so it's supplementary to, not in place of a meal.

Occasionally, I'll spend a period of time adding an adaptogen or medicinal mushroom into the mixer. Depending on what other stressors I've got going on in my life at the time. I'll go into which I recommend for when in another blog.

But it's always using the mycotoxin free, organic Exhale Coffee as a base then adding in whatever nutritional support acts I feel I most need at the time. 

Coffee isn't the poor man in the relationship. A health-optimised coffee, like Exhale has as many, if not more, tangible health benefits than anything else you can put in your cup.

Exhale Coffee Fueling Adventures

We prefer to build from the ground up. Finding the healthiest possible coffee, then adding in whatever nutritional side-kicks you feel are most needed to support whatever else is going on in your life at that time.

If you do give bulletproof coffee a try - let me know how you get on with it. It could work for you, we’re all totally unique with our own wonderfully complicated blend of bodies, biome, ambitions and lifestyles!

Al x

Shop Exhale Healthy Organic Coffee

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481320/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5987302/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26545671/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25471799/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874190/

[6] https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/different-fats-nutrition/

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