Bulletproof coffee is very popular and is recommended to consume as “your daily foundation for reaching a state of high performance, resilience and vibrant health”. But is it really?
Bulletproof coffee is claimed to be a ‘high-performance’ coffee which improves memory and cognitive function. Basically, it's coffee with MCT (medium chain triglycerides), and butter added. To make bulletproof coffee you need to have the ‘correct’ coffee, oils and ghee, and naturally these are all available through the bulletproof website, however there will be no nutritional differences if you brew your own coffee, add 2 tablespoons of MCT and 2 tablespoons of ghee.
Bulletproof coffee is designed to be consumed at breakfast, after an overnight fast of typically 10 hours, then you continue to consume no food until 12 – 2 pm. Technically this is only a 10 hour fast as the fats consumed in the morning coffee contain energy, and therefore you do break your fast when you consume a bulletproof coffee. However these calories of energy consumed in the morning are from fats. If you are fasting, fats are purported to help with your mood, energy and glycaemic control (1, 2) and of course the magic bullet, weight loss. The coffee is not really the key here, it is actually a combination of restricted calories and intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting or IF is where you fast for part of the day, and traditionally consume your macronutrients within a feeding window. However, the bulletproof coffee philosophy also engages either a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) or ketogenic diet regimen during the feeding window. This can add another challenge for many people as it involves a strict reduction in carbohydrates (including cutting out fruits and many vegetables, dairy products, and grains). Therefore, this diet regimen is not for everyone and should be undertaken with trained dietetic supervision, particularly if you want to maintain a nutritionally complete diet.
The bulletproof coffee company classifies various foods as either bulletproof, suspect or kryptonite (i.e. toxic). If you follow this advice, it will limit your food choices drastically. The meal plans are extremely repetitive as the list of foods you can consume is very small, with few grains, fruit (only 5% of daily calories from fruit), and starchy vegetables. On the plus side, unprocessed and raw foods are encouraged, which are beneficial in our diets. A day from their typical keto meal plan was shown to provide a total of 1744 kcals, comprised of 160 g fat (83% total calories), 60 g protein (13.75% of total calories) and 16 g of carbs (3.6% of total calories). This total energy value is actually a little low (especially for active people), and the protein is less than the recommended 20% for a keto diet. If your energy requirements are more than this daily, then obviously you should lose weight, simple energy in versus energy out. For some people the challenge of consuming high amounts of fat is daunting, and usually you need to gradually introduce the fats into your diet and build up to it. What this highlights is that this diet is not for everyone, as with all diets
A ketogenic or LCHF diet typically works for weight loss for many people, as they are usually cleaning up their diets from excess energy in the form of sugar and junk food. The extra fat can also reduce your appetite, and as the example provided previously, on a keto diet the calories consumed are lower than a standard balanced diet. This is just the same as exercising more than your estimated energy requirements, it doesn’t matter how many calories you eat or what your macros are…if you burn excess energy off above energy consumed, you should lose weight.
The bottom line is drinking bulletproof coffee alone will not help you achieve all of your health goals, you need the whole philosophy of eating LCHF or keto with intermittent fasting. If you dedicate yourself to this, you might just achieve your health and body weight goals, however this is not for everyone and it is still advised that you seek the advice of an experienced dietitian.
Watch out for our Ketogenic Diet for weight loss course by Dr. Patrick Owen, and learn more about a ketogenic diet for weight loss, the science and facts, in addition to Dr Caryn Zinn who presents for us on Fasting and Health. Both experts in these nutrition areas and provide the evidence supporting these diets.