Whichever way you take your coffee—black, with a scoop of sugar, or with just a splash of milk—it likely doesn’t involve a spoonful of melted grass-fed butter. But, could this unlikely combination suppress hunger and promote weight loss? Marketed as Bulletproof Coffee, this diet trend has steadily continued to gain major traction over the past few years with health fanatics, celebrities, and, of course, the social media world. Being the curious bunch we are, we set out to investigate what all the hype is about.
Keep reading to learn about Bulletproof Coffee—and if it can actually help you drop pounds.
What Is Bulletproof Coffee?
The brainchild of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey, a health and fitness fanatic, Bulletproof Coffee is a mixture of coffee, butter, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil. The drink is part of his Bulletproof brand, which includes lifestyle changes and products that claim to help you take control of your body, and biochemistry, keeping you healthy, trim, and happy.
Meet the Expert
Dave Asprey is a retired Silicon Valley entrepreneur as well as founder and CEO of Bulletproof Coffee located in Seattle, WA. Asprey has turned his company into a successful podcast, the Bulletproof Radio, and is the author of a New York Times bestselling nutrition book. He lives in Canada with his wife and two children.
Asprey came up with the concoction after an intense hiking trip in Tibet, where locals fed him yak butter tea, a creamy cup of tea made from tea leaves, fresh yak butter, and salt. Nomads from the region are said to drink tens of cups of yak butter tea a day in order to provide caloric energy for life at extreme altitudes.
Finding the drink to be restorative, Asprey tweaked the recipe to involve low-mold coffee beans (caffeinated Arabica beans tend to be lower mold) so it’s as pure and toxin-free as possible, unsalted grass-fed butter (such as Kerrygold), and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, which contains a blend of coconut and palm oils.
The Benefits of Bulletproof Coffee
There are a multitude of potential benefits to Bulletproof Coffee, such as:
- Maintain high energy without the crash. A usual sugary coffee is definitely one thing that leads to an afternoon slump, but with Bulletproof Coffee's high levels of healthy saturated fat and caffeine, that mid-day crash is said to be a thing of the past.
- Weight-loss. Because Bulletproof Coffee does not contain carbohydrates, a metabolic state called ketosis might be triggered. Ketosis is said to occur when your body start burning fat due to a lack of carbohydrates.
- An improved metabolism— Bulletproof is claimed to increase the speed in which your body turns calories into energy. Part of the mass following is due to Bulletproofers seeing a positive change in their gut health.
Does It Help Boost Weight Loss?
The creamy, frothy drink contains healthy fats that are supposed to keep you fuller longer, help you avoid crashes and sugar cravings, provide an energy boost, and improve mental clarity. Asprey says after consuming a cup of the coffee, “You will have no interest in food for four to six hours,” which contributes to the purported weight loss.
Coffee itself is a known appetite suppressant, but the way it’s traditionally prepared involves lots of sugary add-ons and is often followed by an early afternoon crash.
Asprey claims that the specific kind of butter (grass-fed and unsalted, or ghee) and quantity (two tablespoons max, once you build up to that) will put your body into fat-burning mode for the rest of the day. He compares it to other healthy fats (like the kind found in avocados and nuts), which optimizes, but does not raise, cholesterol.
Keep in mind that Bulletproof Coffee itself is meant to be a meal replacement, so you are only supposed to drink the coffee for breakfast, not have it alongside other healthy food.
How Popular Is Bulletproof?
Actress and natural health maven Shailene Woodley swears by Bulletproof Coffee, saying she starts almost every day with the drink. In Los Angeles, the land of health nuts and fit bodies, a Venice coffee shop called Another Kind of Sunrise serves a “Buttery Brew” on their menu. It’s a $5 blend of “quality coffee made with a spoon of raw coconut oil, grass fed ghee, and fresh organic coffee” that patrons can’t get enough of. The brand even has brick-and-mortar stores in Santa Monica and Los Angeles and is sold at several distributors across the globe.
The market for the coffee shop is already in place. As we prepared our first ever cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the Byrdie office kitchen for this story, we discovered three coworkers who drink the concoction daily and say they feel incredible and alert six hours after doing so—not only that, they say they indeed aren’t as hungry and crave less sugar. They keep a jar of ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil (which they use instead of MCT oil, as many Bulletproofers do) here at the office, and whip it up in the mornings at work.
How to Make Bulletproof Coffee
- 8 oz. filtered water
- 2 1/2 heaping tbsp. freshly ground Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee beans (or, if you don’t want to buy the Bulletproof brand of low-mold beans, just make an 8 oz. cup of regular coffee, ideally using fresh-roasted beans)
- 1 tsp. MCT oil (coconut oil can work as a substitute)
- 1 tbsp. grass-fed, unsalted butter (or ghee)*
Once you are able to acquire the taste for Bulletproof Coffee, you can graduate to the full two tablespoons.
Combine the brewed hot coffee, a teaspoon of MCT oil, and a tablespoon of grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee in a blender to get a frothy, creamy mixture like that of a latte. If you just stir the butter and oil into the hot coffee, the oil won’t blend and will sit on the surface of the drink. Then drink up! Just remember, due to the calories and fat content, Bulletproof Coffee is intended to be your breakfast, not to be consumed in addition to your usual breakfast.
Potential Side Effects
- A lack of nutrients in the recipe—because Bulletproof Coffee is intended as a meal replacement, it lacks the essential nutrients you'd usually get from a full breakfast. While the fat percentage might help keep energy up and is claimed to reduce your appetite, make sure you're still getting the correct amount of nutrients from other food sources.
- High saturated fat content: Saturated fat is not advisable to be consumed in overly large doses and Bulletproof coffee contains a high amount. An increase in saturated fat is thought to lead to heart disease, so if you're wary of your cholesterol levels, it's recommended that you find another energy source.
- A quick warning: if your cholesterol levels are already high, the butter in Bulletproof Coffee may end up causing more harm than good.
The Final Takeaway
While the daily drink is highlighted as a way to shed weight, it's still important to be aware of both the benefits and the downsides to such a concoction. The drink has rave reviews and is something many of us here at Byrdie have found to be a great way to start our day. With that being said, take time to see if it works for you and your lifestyle.
What do you think of this craze, and will you be giving Bulletproof Coffee a try? If you’ve already integrated it into your morning routine, have you noticed any weight loss? Share with us below!
Make sure to check out the six natural energy supplements you need to try if you're not on the Bulletproof train just yet.
Greenberg JA, Geliebter A. Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012;31(3):160-166. doi:10.1080/07315724.2012.10720023
Houston M. The relationship of saturated fats and coronary heart disease: fa(c)t or fiction? A commentary. Ther Adv Cardiovasc Dis. 2018;12(2):33-37. doi:10.1177/1753944717742549