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Bulletproof Coffee - Is It Good For Health?

Ever heard of a coffee that is designed to be drunk on an empty stomach instead of breakfast and before working out? Well, if you are a frequent gym-going person, then it is quite likely that you would have heard of the term 'bulletproof coffee'. It is believed that drinking it on an empty stomach before you work out can increase your body's energy and endurance [1] . Bulletproof coffee is extremely popular among keto diet followers.

Bulletproof coffee is believed to be a high-performance drink that has a great impact on energy and cognitive function. Read on to know more about what bulletproof coffee exactly is, its proposed benefits and if at all it has any downsides.

What Is Bulletproof Coffee?

It is a drink that combines coffee with oil and butter [2] . It has a creamy texture and looks quite similar to a latte. Being a relatively new product, there has not been much scientific research into its beneficial or harmful effects on one's health. However, people who advocate its use say that it shows several benefits such as prevention of hunger, maintenance of energy levels throughout the morning and improving mental focus.

In general, bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie drink [3] that has been designed to replace breakfast. Few health experts believe that although bulletproof coffee occasionally is probably harmless, one should not make it a routine.

How To Make Bulletproof Coffee

Follow the below mentioned steps to make your bulletproof coffee:

Step 1: Use freshly ground coffee beans. Brew one cup of coffee.

Step 2: Add 1 tablespoon of a medium-chain triglyceride oil (usually derived from coconut oil).

Step 3: Add 1 to 2 tablespoon of grass-fed, unsalted butter (or a non-dairy alternative).

Step 4: Mix in a blender for about 20 to 30 seconds.

The resultant coffee mix would look foamy and creamy. Drink it warm.

Why Consuming Bulletproof Coffee Is Better Than Eating Breakfast

When you start your day with cereal, toast, fruit or oatmeal, it tends to spike your blood sugar and you will have a quick burst of energy. However, by mid-morning, your blood sugar crashes and you start feeling hungry and confused.

The following happens when you start your day with bulletproof coffee [4] :

  • The presence of saturated fat in grass-fed butter slows down the absorption of caffeine. This gives you energy for several hours instead of a caffeine spike and crash.
  • Your hunger hormones are kept well-balanced (at least till lunch time) by the medium-chain triglyceride oil.
  • The medium-chain triglyceride oil can rapidly convert to ketones (a molecule that our brain uses more efficiently than sugar or carbs). When ketones are paired with the slow releasing caffeine, it can effectively turn on the brain [5] .

Benefits Of Bulletproof Coffee

It has been found that drinking coffee in moderation can provide a range of health benefits. It can also reduce the risk of deaths from heart diseases and various cancers. The bulletproof coffee recipe uses a coconut-derived oil which contains a medium-length chain of triglyceride fats [6] . The shorter the chain is, the more quickly the body can break them down.

The following highlights some of the benefits of bulletproof coffee.

  • Fits the ketogenic diet: This form of diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fat. In general, the body converts carbohydrates into energy before using fat. However, if enough carbohydrates are not available, then the fat stores are used as an alternative source of energy [7] . Bulletproof coffee has been stated to fit into the ketogenic eating plan because it contains fat but no carbohydrates. The medium-chain triglyceride oil is converted into ketones.
  • Helps people with type 2 diabetes: Research studies say that a diet low in carbohydrate is beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. A person with diabetes can benefit from a low-carbohydrate diet in the following ways [8] :
  • Lose weight, if needed
  • Reduce the risk of heart diseases
  • Lower the blood sugar level
  • Reduces hunger: Bulletproof coffee is very effective in preventing hunger during the morning. When you add oil and butter to your coffee, then you tend to feel less hungry [9] , in comparison to drinking coffee alone.

  • Helps you workout harder: Bulletproof coffee acts as an excellent fuel for your workout. If you fuel your body with sugar and other simple carbs, it can lower your testosterone. This could cut into muscle building. Presence of medium-chain triglyceride oil gives you clean energy [10] . The caffeine gives you a nice boost as well.

Potential Downsides Of Bulletproof Coffee

Although highly popular among low-carb dieters, drinking bulletproof coffee regularly can have the following downsides:

  • Low in nutrients: Having bulletproof coffee instead of breakfast can significantly reduce the total nutrient load of your diet. Although it provides enough fat, thereby reducing your appetite and giving you energy, it lacks in several nutrients [11] . When one drinks bulletproof coffee, he or she is, in turn, replacing a nutritious meal with a poor substitute.
  • High in saturated fat: Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat. Since the health benefits of saturated fats are controversial, many health experts advise against its intake. Some studies show a high intake of saturated fats holds the chance of increasing heart diseases [12] . Limit your intake of bulletproof coffee if you are worried about negative health effects due to the large intake of saturated fats.
  • May raise your cholesterol levels: Ketogenic diets that are high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels [13] . For some people, a high-fat diet can lead to a massive increase in bad cholesterol.

On A Final Note...

Bulletproof coffee can help you lose weight and increase your energy levels. However, it is important to note that it should not be consumed in excess amounts. Moreover, anyone who regularly drinks bulletproof coffee should have their blood markers measured often. This is to ensure that there is no elevation in the risk of heart ailments or other related conditions.

View Article References
  1. [1] Khaw, K. T., Sharp, S. J., Finikarides, L., Afzal, I., Lentjes, M., Luben, R., & Forouhi, N. G. (2018). Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women.BMJ open,8(3), e020167.
  2. [2] Zinn, C., Wood, M., Williden, M., Chatterton, S., & Maunder, E. (2017). Ketogenic diet benefits body composition and well-being but not performance in a pilot case study of New Zealand endurance athletes.Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,14, 22.
  3. [3] Frestedt, J. L., Young, L. R., & Bell, M. (2012). Meal Replacement Beverage Twice a Day in Overweight and Obese Adults (MDRC2012-001).Current nutrition and food science,8(4), 320–329.
  4. [4] Zinn, C., Rush, A., & Johnson, R. (2018). Assessing the nutrient intake of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet: a hypothetical case study design.BMJ open,8(2), e018846.
  5. [5] Vandenberghe, C., St-Pierre, V., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Hennebelle, M., Castellano, C. A., & Cunnane, S. C. (2016). Caffeine intake increases plasma ketones: an acute metabolic study in humans.Canadian journal of physiology and pharmacology,95(4), 455-458.
  6. [6] Boateng, L., Ansong, R., Owusu, W. B., & Steiner-Asiedu, M. (2016). Coconut oil and palm oil's role in nutrition, health and national development: A review.Ghana medical journal,50(3), 189–196.
  7. [7] Swink, T. D., Vining, E. P., & Freeman, J. M. (1997). The ketogenic diet: 1997.Advances in pediatrics,44, 297-329.
  8. [8] Dyson P. (2015). Low Carbohydrate Diets and Type 2 Diabetes: What is the Latest Evidence?.Diabetes therapy : research, treatment and education of diabetes and related disorders,6(4), 411–424.
  9. [9] Drewnowski, A., & Almiron-Roig, E. (2009). 11 Human Perceptions and Preferences for Fat-Rich Foods.Fat detection: Taste, texture, and post ingestive effects,23, 265.
  10. [10] Biermann, U., Bornscheuer, U., Meier, M. A., Metzger, J. O., & Schäfer, H. J. (2011). Oils and fats as renewable raw materials in chemistry.Angewandte Chemie International Edition,50(17), 3854-3871.
  11. [11] O'Neil, C. E., Nicklas, T. A., & Fulgoni III, V. L. (2014). Nutrient intake, diet quality, and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008.Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,114(12), S27-S43.
  12. [12] Hu, F. B., Stampfer, M. J., Manson, J. E., Rimm, E., Colditz, G. A., Rosner, B. A., ... & Willett, W. C. (1997). Dietary fat intake and the risk of coronary heart disease in women.New England journal of medicine,337(21), 1491-1499.
  13. [13] Dashti, H. M., Mathew, T. C., Hussein, T., Asfar, S. K., Behbahani, A., Khoursheed, M. A., ... & Al-Zaid, N. S. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients.Experimental & Clinical Cardiology,9(3), 200.
Story first published: Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 12:30 [IST]
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