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.
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.
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 as it provides 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 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.
But won't drinking butter make me gain weight and raise my cholesterol?
Asprey says 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 in avocados and nuts), which optimize cholesterol, not raise it.
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.
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.
Keep scrolling to get our favorite recipe.
- 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)*
*Asprey recommends graduating to two tbsp. once you acquire the taste for it.
Combine the brewed hot coffee, teaspoon of MCT oil, and 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.
So tell us, what do you think of this craze, and will you be giving Bulletproof coffee a try? If you’ve already tried it, have you noticed any weight loss? Share with us below!
This post was originally published on January 16, 2015.