Coffee has long been a subject of controversy in the health realms. From negatively impacting our nervous system and REM sleep, to improving our metabolism and extending our life expectancy; conflicted views are a plenty. But, one iteration of the caffeinated brew, bulletproof coffee, is wedging a greater divide. The butter, oil and black coffee concoction has some high stake claims – some hard to believe (improve IQ), others more palatable (aids weight loss). When Beauticate contributor Rikki Hodge-Smith heard that she could put a knob of butter in her morning coffee and call it a health experiment, the caffeine fan was all in. Here, she gives her verdict on the buttery brew.
I love coffee. I just do. One time, I stopped drinking it for 40 days for a yoga program and my skin looked amazing, I slept like a sloth and didn’t feel sluggish in the morning. On day 41 I went straight out and bought a double shot latte. I don’t drink heaps - maximum three cups (and one of those is a weak instant), but mostly two a day. The thing I’m hyper aware of, though, is that the spike in energy is short lived and I plummet to the minuses on a caffeine comedown. I first heard about bulletproof coffee on Instagram – it seemed every Insta It Girl was whizzing up a buttery coffee concoction, spouting a myriad of health benefits. I’m sorry? What was that? Butter in my coffee and call it healthy? In! I then interviewed Ash Hart – who genuinely glows from the inside, out – who swore by the breakfast beverage. I was sold. Here’s everything you need to know about bulletproof, and my verdict.
What exactly is bullet-proof coffee?
The recommended recipe:
- 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed unsalted organic butter
- 1-2 tablespoons of Brain Octane Oil, organic coconut oil or MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides extracted from coconut oil. I used Melrose MCT Oil)
- Mug of black coffee, using ground coffee (not instant. I make a long black using Nespresso pods).
- Put all ingredients into a blender and blitz on high for a couple of seconds.
- Drink, quickly (this is not made to drink tepid, the ingredients will separate as the temperature goes down).
- According to the Bulletproof blog, having breakfast is the cause of energy spikes and blood sugar crashes, leaving you sluggish before you're able to refuel with lunch.
- Suppressed hunger. Brain Octane Oil balances ghrelin and CCK, your hunger hormones, keeping you full until lunch. You can read more about the science behind BP Coffee and hunger suppression here.
- Steady lasting energy. The saturated fat in grass-fed butter slows the absorption of caffeine, which gives you even energy for several hours instead of a caffeine spike and crash. No jitters.
- Mental clarity. Brain Octane rapidly converts to ketones, a type of molecule that your brain uses more efficiently than carbs or sugar. Pair ketones with the slowly releasing caffeine and you can literally feel your brain turning on.
Cool story... But does it work??
So, here's the thing... it did for me, but I'm hesitant to promote it with vigour. See, the first seven days went a bit like this:
* Day 1: I am staaarrrving. And had a little... ahem... laxative situation. Major cramps and getting to 1pm without food isn't going to happen. I eat at 11am...and 12pm...12:30...1:30. You get the picture. How am I going to continue this??
* Day 2: My god. I'm going to die. I ate my weight, times two, in food yesterday because I was so hungry and have done much the same today. This is a huge joke and I am the punchline. Gah!
* Day 3: Wait. I don't feel terrible. Just let me triple check... *thinking background music* Yeah, guys, I don't feel terrible. I even hold out until 1pm to eat, I don't have a second coffee (oh, so I forgot to mention I did that on both day one and two) and I don't feel starving or crampy.
* Day 4: I'm a little hungry, but I add a bit more oil and butter to my coffee this morning (I had been conservative with my portioning for fear of the 'situation' returning) and am by no means gnawing my arm off. My stomach feels flatter too... interesting.
* Day 5: I have a total taste for this coffee now. I look forward to the concoction and the promise of no caffein-fuelled energy spike/crash is winning g. I eat two healthy meals for lunch and dinner, one snack and don't go to bed hungry. THIS IS WORKING. I have what feels like extra energy... not sure if placebo is at work. But wonder if it matters, since I'm getting a lot more done than normal - including completing an essay I've long avoided.
* Day 6: I reckon I'm sold. I've been such a staunch believer in 'eat breakfast like a king' for so long, this is going against all of my long-held eating practices, but I can't deny how I'm physically feeling. I am not hungry when I wake up, I still have no energy crash and while I can't say I've lost weight exactly, my stomach is definitely flatter.
* Day 7: Much the same, really. I haven't experienced a down side since the first couple of days, and I feel like it's a sustainable practice (if I'd remained hungry, we'd be having a different conversation). I genuinely love the taste of this coffee and I'm keeping my meals healthy so as not to blow out on calorie and fat intake. I, personally, am looking like a bullet proof devotee at this stage.
So, final verdict:
While I have had a good experience with this, I really don't think it's for everybody. I think we get too stuck on the 'rules' of diets. We were told in the '90s that low fat was best but, along with skinny-line eyebrows, we've since learnt our lesson. Then, we were told that a hearty breakfast was the golden rule of weight loss and sustained energy... something I have stuck to forever. But, the thing is, I personally (secretly) felt flat and bloated after consuming these ideal breakfast foods (oats, eggs, smoothies before 9am...). I suppose I just ignored it and kept on keeping on, being a good little health writer who lives by her words. Having coffee first thing in the AM - I know those worded up on hormones and diet will baulk (and look, I get it!) - has so far worked wonders for me. In fact, intermittent fasting in general (bullet proof being an iteration of that) has too. So, my final words; give it a go. You might hate it, you might love it, but it's worth trying if you find your brekky is leaving you feeling bleak. Will you suddenly improve your IQ, or extend your life expectancy by downing this fatty brew though? Nah, I don't reckon.
Story by: Rikki Hodge-Smith