There are people who drink their coffee with significant amounts of both butter and coconut oil. It’s sort of a fitness/biohacking craze popular in paleo-diet circles.
As I’ve never been anywhere near a paleo-diet circle, and I just had to google ‘biohacking’, I am not generally one of those people. In fact, I’m a carb munching, 3-coffees-a-day drinking, sweet-toothed sceptic. I work out pretty regularly, well, every time my cup of gym-guilt starts to overflow, but I do not tend to frequent fitness blogs.
So when our Manager Liv suggested I write a blog about ‘bulletproof’ (butter) coffee, I unsurprisingly had not heard of it. You may be in the same boat. If that is the case, let me briefly explain:
One day an American fitness guru called Dave Asprey staggered into a Tibetan guesthouse halfway up a mountain and was served a cup of coffee with a healthy dollop of yak butter in it. It was a revelation. He bounded right on up the mountain, and wasted no time in slapping a price tag on this Tibetan tradition, calling it ‘bulletproof coffee’ and marketing it internationally.
To be fair he refined the recipe quite a bit. Instead of yak butter, followers the world over are now carefully measuring out a tablespoon of unsalted, grass-fed butter and a tablespoon of MCT oil (refined coconut oil), and blending it into their single-origin filter coffee. While ‘Bulletproof’ is the name Asprey has given his brand, many people simply buy the ingredients themselves and make their own.
Bulletproof coffee is often used as a breakfast replacement, and is famously consumed by top-level athletes and Silicon Valley execs. The brand is gaining international cult-status, with Asprey as the larger-than-life, inside-sunglasses-wearing, tight T-shirted cult leader. In fact, Stuff dedicated an article to the rising trend just yesterday.
Obviously, the pivotal question here is ‘why?’ In an attempt to answer that, not only did I gulp down a slick of oily warmish yellowish coffee-ish liquid yesterday morning, I also forced it on my very obliging colleagues. There were varying reactions.
The touted health benefits are manifold. The saturated fats in the butter and oil smooth out the caffeine and release it over a longer period of time. Theoretically, you won’t get the jitters, and you won’t crash. Also, the MCT in the coconut oil acts like ’empty carbs’, giving you heaps of energy to burn, without storing it as fat. In fact, (according to Vice Munchies, my gastro-media holy grail) saturated fats have gotten a bad name. There is actually little evidence linking them to increased cholesterol and heart disease. There are lower rates of heart disease in the blubber-eating Inuits, and the foie-gras-eating French. Apparently, coconut oil is actually a fat that helps you burn fat – basically reducing the body’s absorption of other types of fat and satisfying carbohydrate cravings.
I decided, for experiment’s sake, to engage in a hearty work-out about half an hour after the potion had gone down, and I have to say – it was unprecedented. I had skipped breakfast, and the only thing in my belly was this oily ball of froth, but it honestly seemed to work. While I wasn’t quite “floating in a depersonalised way” like the aforementioned Munchies contributor, I did smash all my previous times and levels – easily. I breezed through things that I’d usually struggle with, my perception of exertion was almost non-existent. Back at the Roastery I powered through my to-do list, firing off bulletproof emails, taking bulletproof meeting minutes, and invoicing orders with unusual aplomb.
But to this I must add a disclaimer: There is a very large chance that it was all in my head. I’ll be the first to admit I have a more suggestible subconscious than most. However, my workplace guinea-pigs also reported having more energy, and not feeling hungry later in the day.
If you do get an inkling for trying out the concoction, allow me to debunk one myth for you right this minute… Asprey claims to have unlocked the secret to ‘upgraded’ coffee, professing that other coffees contain mycotoxins, or traces of mould from improper processing techniques. But actually, the coffee industry figured that one out a while ago. Any commodity grade coffee that has been water-processed is safe. It is very unlikely that your espresso, or the beans you use at home contain anything close to harmful levels of mycotoxins, unless its a really crap instant blend that hasn’t been processed to a quality standard. Basically, forking out NZ$109 for a pack of bulletproof branded coffee is not necessary if your concern is mycotoxins.
So, is butter coffee the real deal, and is it worth sullying your pure morning brew with mounds of oil? Well, the only answer I can give is that this morning before heading to the gym I very briefly lamented the fact that I had no coconut oil and butter on hand – I was back to my usual red-faced, sweaty struggle. But then again, I doubt I’ll be jumping online anytime soon to order Dave Asprey’s miracle fitness potion. For one, I’m not sure I completely agree with Asprey’s marketing approach, and for another, the idea of drinking butter and coconut oil in such large quantities still turns my stomach slightly.
If you’ve tried bulletproof coffee we love to know what you thought…leave us a comment below!
December 4th, 2014
Posted In: Uncategorized