Have you heard of this new trend of putting butter in your coffee, also sometimes called Bulletproof coffee? This new diet trend was started by Dave Asprey, who claims that starting your day with a cup of coffee with butter in it will boost your IQ, increase your energy, and help with weight loss. But, are any of these claims true, should you jump on this bandwagon?

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

Butter coffee, or Bulletproof coffee, is low toxin coffee blended with unsalted grass-fed butter and MCT oil. Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof coffee, is a self proclaimed health “biohacker” and entrepreneur with no degrees in nutrition or medicine.

He started drinking coffee with butter after a trip to Tibet, inspired by the yak butter tea they traditionally drink there. He claims that the MCT oil in butter (a type of fat) provides sustained energy, increases focus, and promotes weight loss. He also says it reduces food cravings and turns off inflammation. But, is any of this actually true?

Scientific Evidence for Bulletproof Coffee

Although Asprey has managed to grow a huge following of butter coffee drinkers, there is no scientific evidence that it actually does anything he claims. Some of it does make sense in terms of how fat works in our bodies. Fat does make us feel full, so in theory butter coffee might help decrease cravings. Coffee does give you energy and increases mental clarity.

MCT oil, a type of fat, does have some interesting research around its ability to improve insulin sensitivity and help with weight loss.1 Although MCT may be beneficial, is eating MORE calories ever a benefit?

The weight loss claims are what really get to me. Two tablespoons of butter, no matter if it is grass-fed or not, has 200 calories. If you add the MCT oil, as recommended per Asprey, you are looking at a 400+ calorie beverage. If you are having Bulletproof coffee in addition to your breakfast meal without changing your diet in any other way, it could result in weight gain.

Asprey does recommend replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee which could result in a lower calorie intake, depending on what you were eating for breakfast before. But, you are also losing the nutrition you could find in a well-balanced breakfast and replacing them with just calories and fat. So, are you really going to be healthier?

Also, butter is high in saturated fat. Although saturated fat is not the demon we previously believed, it still isn’t recommended to eat huge quantities of it.2 We were not meant to drink huge quantities of saturated fat. There have been some reports of people’s cholesterol skyrocketing with the addition of Bulletproof coffee in their diets, although this wouldn’t necessarily happen for everyone.

Should You Drink Bulletproof Coffee?

The answer for most people is probably no. There doesn’t seem to be any major compelling reason to do so and the risks are unknown. Those who have a history of heart disease or high cholesterol should definitely avoid it. If you want to lose weight, adding butter to your coffee probably isn’t going to be the miracle solution you are looking for. Instead, focus on watching your calories and starting your day with a healthy well-balanced breakfast with plenty of protein and fiber.

Yours in Health-

Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
IVL’s Community Registered Dietitian

References

  1. Nagao K & Yanagita T. Medium-chain fatty acids: Functional lipids for the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome. Pharmacological Research. 2010;61(3):208-212.
  2. Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, Sills D, Roberts FG, Moore HJ, Davey Smith G. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 5.