Have you heard of the trend of putting butter in coffee? It has been popularized by technology entrepreneur and self-proclaimed ‘biohacker’ Dave Asprey, who first tasted yak butter tea while hiking up mountains in Tibet and went on to found the company Bulletproof Coffee.
Asprey reports that his morning cup of black coffee blended with coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and medium-chain triglyceride oil helps him to curb his hunger, burn more fat, lose weight, and optimize brain function.
Sound too good to be true? SURPRISE!!! –>It is.
For one thing, any food, fad, or trend that claims to provide a shortcut to good health (which is essentially what a hack is isn’t it?) is probably not a good idea—here I offer a friendly reminder that good health is a lifelong journey, it’s not about a quick fix.
Now let’s break down this trend into the facts:
I recently wrote an article about coffee : Coffee: Good for Health or Just Another Caffeine Fix?, where I explained the health benefits and possible risks to drinking coffee.
The bottom line was that yes, coffee can be a part of an overall cancer-protective diet, but needs to be consumed in moderation, just like anything else.
There is evidence that people metabolize coffee differently and have different sensitivities to caffeine. Bulletproof coffee encourages people to drink a cup of coffee every day – but their claim is founded on the belief that everyone will respond to it in the same way, which is not true.
If that wasn’t already suspicious, the entire premise of Bulletproof coffee, which claims to be an upgraded, one-of-a-kind mycotoxin-free coffee, is also false. Most varieties of coffee, ranging from the most generic to specialty varieties, have been using a specific roasting process for years that is shown reduce or eliminate mycotoxin levels, so it’s safe to say there is no risk of consuming harmful levels of mycotoxins in the coffee you are already drinking.
If that wasn’t convincing enough, there is no evidence to actually back up the claims that Bulletproof coffee is indeed any lower in mycotoxin levels than any other coffee.
Yes, its true that butter can be included in a healthy diet, in moderation, but adding 2 tbsp of butter or coconut oil and 2 tbsp of MCT oil to your morning cup of coffee, even if the butter is grass-fed and may provide higher levels of some nutrients, means that you will be getting the following:
- 465 calories from that coffee and
- 100% of calories from fat.
This is over 10 times more calories than a traditional cup of coffee with cream, and many more calories than a cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts or a slice of whole grain toast topped with avocado and a boiled egg.
Drinking a cup of Bulletproof coffee instead of a traditional breakfast meal means that in order to meet your daily nutrient intakes, you will have to consume more fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains at your other meals, with little to no additional fat (you’ve already met your daily fat intake recommendations with the coffee, remember?).
You are not only losing an opportunity to nourish your body as you begin the day, but you also lose time, as you will have to do a whole lot of planning to balance out your meals for the rest of the day.
The MCT Oil
Medium-chain triglycerides are a partially man-made fat that bypasses normal fat digestion and is absorbed directly into the liver. Bulletproof claims that MCT oil helps the body burn more fat and helps you feel more full and satisfied than when you consume other types of fat, but the studies examining MCT oil are limited and have mixed results.
In addition, the special type of MCT oil that is sold with Bulletproof coffee is called Brain Octane Oil, implying that somehow their particular brand of oil is superior to any other brand. REALLY?!… need I say more?
THE BOTTOM LINE:
For the average American, who gets plenty of calories and beneficial nutrients elsewhere, there is just simply no good reason to put butter in your coffee and use it as a meal-replacer.
If the foodie in you wants to embark on a taste-bud experience and simply want to experience the flavor of butter blended with coffee (it probably will be delicious!), by all means, experiment away. But don’t fall for the hype of the quick-fix health fad and deprive yourself of the opportunity to start your mornings with a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
– Julie and Intern Sanaa
Tea drinker here. Is green tea with lemon a better choice? Since it is rich in polyphenols/flavonoids (e.g., catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and proanthocyanidins). I’ve read that lemon really helps bring out those benefits. Also what about matcha tea?
Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN says
I consider coffee (black, or with just a touch of sweetener and milk), and unsweet tea, that you brew yourself, to both be good choices. So yes! If you’re more of a tea drinker, keep it up! As far as the lemon bringing out the benefits, I suppose it’s possible, but I’m not real up to date. I would say that it certainly won’t hurt things! 🙂 Julie
Angela Williams says
People who lived in the mountains like the Swiss Alps put butter in their coffee to help with staying warm in the cold air . I am from Europe and hear my relatives tell the stories of their habits.
I can see your point and I agree. Like anything else, you need to consume your food or drink in moderation. I love a good cup of coconut oil coffee, and I often experiment to find the best taste and learn about the possible health benefits. Thing is, it’s never meant to be a meal replacer – although it will do good in a pinch in cases where you just can’t grab anything else. It’s not meant for everyone and not meant to replace meals, but the benefits are noticeable.