Bulletproof Coffee: Superfood or Super Fad?
At Integrative Nutrition, we are all about the latest nutrition trends. Nutrition is an emerging science that has become incredibly complex, and we are only just beginning to understand all its facets.
Recently there’s been a popular fascination with coffee – and not just any coffee, but bulletproof coffee. It’s being served at trendy places worldwide such as Hu Kitchen in New York City, Elephant Grounds Café in Hong Kong, and Planet Organic in London.
So what is bulletproof coffee?
It involves blending grass-fed butter and medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil into a freshly brewed cup of organic coffee, giving you a foamy hot beverage that’s not far from a latte.
Sound weird? Unappetizing? Crazy? All of the above?
Bulletproof coffee is being touted as a health elixir that promises sharp focus, weight loss, and many other health benefits. It has even converted some avid caffeine-avoiders into diehard coffee drinkers, and many claim that it’s delicious to boot.
Here are some of the benefits suggested by fans of bulletproof coffee, including Integrative Nutrition visiting teacher Dr. Frank Lipman:
- Steady energy. One of the problems most people face with coffee is an initial jolt of energy followed by a crash. The natural fats in bulletproof coffee cushion the caffeine, causing it to release more slowly in the blood, providing sustained energy.
- Good cholesterol balance. Isn’t butter artery-clogging and cholesterol-proliferating? Not necessarily. Many nutrition experts, including Dr. Lipman, argue that it’s a misconception that good quality dietary fat contributes to high cholesterol. Healthy fat, found in MCT oil, is crucial for maintaining HDL levels (good cholesterol).
- Sharper mind. The brain is composed of 60% fat and requires dietary fat to function at an optimal level.
- Weight loss. Some studies have shown that MCTs are processed rapidly by the liver and encourage the body to utilize calories as energy rather than storing them as fat.
- Satiation. Eating quality fats lubricates the body and creates a feeling of physical and mental satisfaction in the stomach and brain, decreasing the chances of overeating later on.
On the other side of the discussion, skeptics say that drinking a 450+ calorie cup of coffee loaded with saturated fat will cause weight gain and a serious cholesterol problem.
Many people recommend drinking bulletproof coffee as a breakfast replacement, which might not work for many people as it lacks fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Even Dr. Lipman agrees it shouldn’t be used as a source of nutrients, but rather, as a supplement. In addition, there are many people who can’t handle caffeine at all, bulletproof or not.
Saturated fat and butter continue to be controversial – many doctors, such as visiting teacher Dr. Neal Barnard, say that it compromises heart health and leads to unhealthy weight gain.
With strong arguments for and against bulletproof coffee, you might be wondering how you can figure out what really works for you when it comes to your morning beverage, and saturated fat for that matter.
The answer? It all goes back to what we at Integrative Nutrition call bio-individuality – the concept that one person’s food (or drink) is another person’s poison, and there’s no-one-size-fits-all diet. That means the only way to really find your sweet spot is through experimentation.
As IIN Founder and Primary Teacher Joshua Rosenthal says, “Nutrition is the only science in which two parties can comprehensively prove two different theories that are diametrically opposed to one another.” That’s why getting an education in this field is so rewarding and important, and that’s why as a school, we keep an open mind to the latest trends and encourage our students to explore what’s right for them.
Have no interest in trying bulletproof coffee? That’s OK! Want to give it a shot? Try drinking the buttery stuff for one week and notice how you feel.
This drink is quite easy to make yourself:
Step 1: Pour freshly brewed coffee into a blender.
Step 2: Add 1-2 tablespoons grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee and 1-2 tablespoons MCT oil.
Step 3: Blend on high for 20-30 seconds, or until frothy.
Pro tip: Preheat your blender by pouring some hot water in it then discarding before blending, so the temperature of your drink isn’t compromised by a cold blender.
Have you tried bulletproof coffee? If so, how did it affect your mind and body?
If not, would you try it? Why or why not? Do you think people should be drinking it as a health beverage? Share in the comments below!