Bullet Proof Coffee – What is it and is it really good for you?
Bullet proof coffee is a modern day take on the Yak butter tea that is traditionally drunk in Tibet and the Himalayas. The Yak tea is high in fat and is drunk to maximise satiety during the winter months when food sources become limited. The high fat consumption helps to thicken the blood conserving energy and warmth during colder months.
Promoters of the paleo and ketogenic movements have jumped on the bullet proof coffee bandwagon and promote it as a fat burning fuel to increase feelings of fullness (satiety) and to boost energy levels. It all sounds wonderful but like any diet fad that sounds too good to be true, it usually is, let me explain.
Recent research suggests that the once thought of health enemies butter, saturated fat and coffee are now actually good for our health. This is true, when eaten or drunk in moderate amounts they can certainly supply health benefits.
Grass fed butter is richer in health promoting anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed butter. Butter is also a good source of fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin K, Vitamin D and vitamin E. It also contains Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid that is good for brain health, healthy gut function and reducing inflammation within the body.
Coconut oil contains MCT’s or medium chain triglycerides which are quickly absorbed by the body and tend to be used primarily as an energy source rather than stored as fat in the body. Coconut oil composes of more than 85% of saturated fats. The majority of fats are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), lauric acid being the most dominant fatty acid. Lauric acid is what gives coconut oil its white colour in its solid state. The saturated fat in coconut oil can help induce a prolonged feeling of satiety after consumption so may be of benefit to help prevent overeating throughout the day but it contains little nutrient value.
Coffee can be beneficial to our health due to its high antioxidant profile and may even help liver function and digestion by stimulating Hydrochloric acid and bile production. Coffee does contain caffeine however which can stimulate the nervous system so it is not ideal for those suffering with anxiety or from high amounts of stress as it can further stimulate the stress response within the body. Coffee also temporarily increases blood pressure so it is not recommended for those with high blood pressure or heart disease.
I am all for including a good cup of coffee a day, choosing butter over processed chemical laden margarines and eating small amounts of fat to keep us healthy. Like any health trend however if a little bit is good, a common misbelief is that more must be better. This is where bullet proof coffee comes in! Strong coffee is blended with up to a couple of tablespoons of grass fed butter and coconut oil in the quest for feeling full all day long and to promote fat burning. Super slim model looking girls and buff muscle men can be seen on social media making their morning ‘bullies” which entices not so slim “normal’ people to do the same. Where it falls apart is that these bullet proof coffees are high in calories (up to 500 calories per drink) and are really meant to replace meals or for those on a low carb diet (ketogenic diet). To benefit from the fat burning or ketogenic effect you need to replace breakfast with your coffee or do a significant amount of exercise to counteract the excessive number of additional calories you have just consumed from eating 4 tablespoons of saturated fat! If you have the bullet proof coffee with breakfast instead of breakfast, fail to exercise and are not on a ketogenic diet i.e. still eat carbs the likelihood that you will gain extra kilos instead of lose them is exceptionally high! Consuming large amounts of saturated fat with caffeine is not a heart healthy combination and most definitely something I would not recommend to do on a daily basis particularly for those with blood pressure, cardiac problems, liver problems or obesity issues!
Bullet proof coffee recipe
1 cup of black coffee
1 – 2 tablespoons of grass fed butter
1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
Place in a blend and blend until well combined.
The professional verdict? Replacing meals with bullet proof coffee can put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies and limits fibre intake, an important substance required for gut health, hormonal balance, maintaining blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
Consuming large amounts of fat and caffeine first thing in the morning is not advisable and like any sensible diet avoid extremes, bullet proof coffee being an extreme!