Grass Fed Butter

What’s the Buzz About Bulletproof Coffee?

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Have you heard about bulletproof coffee? When I tried my first cup of this trendy new beverage I’d only heard very little – and a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

Coconut OilWhen I stepped into Leeds’ newly-opened ‘healthy fast food’ outlet and saw Bulletproof Coffee on the menu I was keen to give it a go. I’d skimmed an article about it recently and the word ‘coconut’ had jumped out at me. At that moment, I’d assumed that I knew exactly what Bulletproof Coffee is – a tasty drink that combines 2 of my favourite things; my long-standing buddy espresso and my new BFF, coconut water. I’ve only recently discovered coconut water, but our relationship is already getting quite serious. It’s so hydrating and so delicious – sweet but low cal, satisfying but fat free… combine it with a tasty, gutsy boost of caffeine and what’s not to love?

Buzzing with anticipation, I cheerfully handed over my money and watched intently as my barista set to work. Imagine my dismay as I watched her add a heaped tablespoon of coconut oil (not water!), and 2 small, foil-wrapped squares of butter into my coffee. BUTTER!

Well, around about this time my thoroughly British sensibilities kicked in. Sure, it wasn’t what I had wanted, but I was getting exactly what I’d asked for. The fault was entirely my own for ordering so nonchalantly without really doing my research first. And besides, these guys had set up a whole business around healthy eating – and a lucrative business at that – surely they knew something I didn’t? Perhaps this would be the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted?

Coffee BeansAs I sat down and apprehensively took my first mouthful I was… pleasantly surprised! I could definitely taste the coffee (strike 1), I could also really taste the coconut (strike 2), and the butter was very mild and actually gave that first mouthful the consistency of a full-fat latte (and I’ve had quite a few of those in my time!).

But… then I took another mouthful… and another… and then all I could manage was a sip. This stuff was filling! So filling that I was struggling to manage any of my (also very filling) porridge. My eating and drinking slowed to such a crawl that I was making myself late for work! It was time to bite the bulletproof and swig what was left in my cardboard cup. Yeesh! The last mouthful was all butter. I’d just gulped a mouthful of molten butter! My walk up the hill to Covance was slow, sluggish and quite a bit uncomfortable.

The whole experience left me wondering ‘Why are people excited about Bulletproof Coffee?’ I decided it was time to revisit some of the articles I’d skimmed and find out exactly what I was missing.

I quickly learned that the inventor of BPC, Dave Asprey, got the idea from Sherpas in Nepal, who drink coffee with yak’s butter to help them withstand a Himalayan winter and summon the energy to scale Everest. So perhaps it’s not really necessary to drink this before an 8-hour office shift in July? In fairness, people in central Leeds who need this kind of fortification are probably few and far between.

Grassfed ButterReading on, I learn that the quality of the ingredients is an important factor in making the perfect bulletproof coffee – the coffee beans should be organic, and the butter should be unsalted and grass-fed (hence the mild flavour I noticed). But why not just enjoy a higher quality product by itself? Why combine the two?

Well, according to Dave Asprey, adding butter to your coffee means that you absorb more of the drink’s natural antioxidants than if you add milk. Furthermore, exchanging dietary carbs for the saturated fat found in bulletproof coffee is thought to send your body into a state of ‘ketosis’, meaning that you draw energy from burning fat cells instead of sugars. So I probably made a mistake in chasing my coffee down with carb-laden porridge, then.

Moving away from Asprey’s ‘Bulletproof’ website, I find out that Dieticians are still very much divided as to whether ketosis works as a weight loss method – that it can be argued that ketosis has both positive and negative effects on health. And the NHS still strongly advocates reducing your saturated fat intake to drop pounds and prevent cardiovascular disease.

It’s at times like these that I really appreciate the work done at our Research Clinic. I’m no scientist, but working in the clinic has revealed so much to me about the lengthy and painstaking process behind issuing accurate health advice. Years and years of data are collected before we can say definitively and confidently that the product we’ve tested is beneficial to your health. A mammoth effort is made to obtain objective proof, to remove the speculation and conflicting opinions I was now reading about Bulletproof Coffee!

One last Google search on the subject took me to some interesting and rather wickedly entertaining reviews of the product. Apparently it’s not uncommon for the levels of sat fat in a Bulletproof Coffee to cause a bit of intestinal distress, whether it’s your first taste or you’re a seasoned drinker. As one blogger beautifully put it, taking a run after a BPC felt like ‘a bouncing bomb in my colon’. Hmmm!Cappuccino

My conclusion? As I’ve said, I’m no scientist, and there may well be benefits to drinking Bulletproof Coffee as part of a ketogenic diet. But until rigorous clinical testing proves these benefits, I’ll be delighted to go back to my regular cappuccino!