Bulletproof Coffee: Beginner’s Guide


I don’t think there’s a person who hasn’t heard the term “Bulletproof Coffee”, but not all of us know what it actually means.

In this post you will find all the answers you need:

  • What is Bulletproof Coffee?
  • Why do people have it?
  • How to make it?

You might be aware that those who follow the ketogenic diet have this type of coffee every morning. But can you have Bulletproof Coffee if you’re NOT on a keto diet? Would it break your fast? What are the benefits of having this type of drink?

Since this guide is beginner-friendly I’ll also share the basic principles of the keto diet, so that everything is crystal clear.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

Bulletproof Coffee, also known as Butter Coffee, is a term used to describe a high-fat coffee drink. It consists of freshly brewed coffee, grass-fed unsalted butter (or ghee), and MCT (or Brain Octane) oil. Bulletproof Coffee contains anywhere between 250 and 500 calories per serving. It’s usually used as a breakfast replacement by people who follow a low-carb ketogenic diet.

The person who made this term popular is Dave Asprey. He’s an entrepreneur, creator of the BULLETPROOF® Diet. After watching his interviews and reading about him, it became apparent that he and his brand revolve around biohacking.

Biohacking: Making conscious diet or lifestyle changes that have a positive impact on your organism’s function and improve your well-being, efficiency, and overall performance.

Each ingredient used in the making of Bulletproof Coffee has its purpose and is intended to influence one’s body in a positive way. Dave Asprey sells BULLETPROOF® branded products, such as Brain Octane Oil, Coffee, ghee, and other components that may give you the power to hack your way to better body health. Nevertheless, it seems like many people who follow the so-called ketogenic diet use non-branded ingredients and still experience the benefits of the Butter coffee (I’ll touch on that in more detail further below).

For me to explain the benefits of Bulletproof Coffee and its ingredients, I need to go over the basic characteristics of the keto diet and the BULLETPROOF® Diet.

Keto and BULLETPROOF® Diet: Explained

The Ketogenic diet (also known as Keto diet) is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet. The goal of this regimen is for the person who follows it to enter a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process in which your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose. The condition is induced by a drastic restriction of carbohydrate intake.

Those who follow the standard keto diet eat less than 50 grams of net carbs per day. The body can reach ketosis in about 2 days to a week after rigorously following this strict low-carb regimen.

When NOT on a keto diet, digestible carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is used as energy. If we don’t eat carbs, we’ll enter a state of ketosis and our bodies won’t have enough glucose for energy. So the body adapts and starts to burn fat instead. As a by-product of this metabolic process, the liver produces ketones.

There are quite a few health benefits that have been linked to the keto diet.

There is evidence that the ketogenic diet has neuroprotective properties. Because of that, people suffering from neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheumer’s or Parkinsons may benefit from this regimen.

Actually, even healthy individuals who follow the keto diet report improvement in their cognitive performance. It seems easier for them to focus, and they feel more energized.

Some supporters of the keto diet say that the human brain and body work more efficiently on ketones compared to glucose.

The ketogenic diet also has potential anti-inflammatory effects. That’s why some people with certain autoimmune diseases follow this regimen not just to lose weight, but also to better manage their symptoms.

There is also evidence that the keto diet is effective in reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy.

Furthermore, the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for those who have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome [1] [2] [3].

This low-carb regimen may also have beneficial effects on other health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

With all being said, the ketogenic diet is as popular as it is, because it promotes weight loss. Another cherished advantage of this regimen is that people see results fast.

The thing is that after the initial excitement caused by the quick weight-loss, many people start getting bored and frustrated with the restrictive nature of the regimen. So they start increasing their carbohydrate intake and soon find themselves back to where they were before.

Unfortunately, the extreme keto diet isn’t very sustainable. On top of that, scientists are concerned by its numerous potential risks, such as an increase in bad LDL cholesterol, nutrient deficiency, constipation, liver problems, and kidney problems.

It seems like Dave Asprey has considered some of the possible negative effects of the strict ketogenic diet when crafting his BULLETPROOF® alternative.

The BULLETPROOF® Diet is a modified cyclical version of the ketogenic diet. It consists of 6 days of eating high-fat low-carb (less than 50 grams of net carbs per day), and 1 carbohydrate refeed day (~ 150 grams of net carbs allowed).

So each week you can have a sort of a cheat day on which you can increase your carbohydrate intake. Of course, not all carbs are allowed.

One should stick to the BULLETPROOF® Diet’s recommendations of eating what is considered healthy carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, squash, or white rice.

The carb day may reduce the chances of constipation or kidney stones and may increase the overall sustainability of this regimen.

So the BULLETPROOF® Diet is more flexible in terms of macronutrients.

Nevertheless, if you follow the recipes of the BULLETPROOF® Diet strictly, the regimen turns out to be expensive, as its recipes require a lot of BULLETPROOF® branded products.

Dave Asprey also acknowledges the fact that each individual has unique dietary requirements, so he encourages implementing different low-carb approaches for those who don’t feel well on a full ketogenic diet. One of them is the moderately low-carb BULLETPROOF® Diet which allows 100 to 150 net carbs per day every day.

What all of his approaches have in common is the use of Bulletproof Coffee as a breakfast replacement every morning.

So let’s see what are the benefits of having the Bulletproof coffee drink.

Bulletproof Coffee Benefits

It’s been suggested that Bulletproof Coffee has many health benefits. It has energizing properties and may improve cognitive function. Furthermore, it’s nutritious and packed with antioxidants and vitamins, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin E. The Bulletproof coffee may keep you full, energized, and productive while making it easy to manage food cravings. It may also promote weight loss and fat-burning especially for those who follow a ketogenic diet.

To further investigate the benefits of Bulletproof Coffee, we need to review each of its ingredients and explore their beneficial potential.

  • Coffee.

    Coffee, because of its active ingredient caffeine, has energizing properties and improves our alertness and cognitive performance.

    Furthermore, many weight-loss supplements contain caffeine, as it may boost metabolism and fat burning [4].

    Coffee consumption has also been linked to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (source).

    So coffee can play a supportive role in a ketogenic diet and may even boost the beneficial effects of such a low-carb high-fat regimen.

    Coffee also contains antioxidants that protect against DNA damage and oxidative stress. I won’t go into more detail about coffee’s potential benefits.

    Actually, there are just too many studies and articles that discuss its health-protective role, which is worth exploring in a separate post.

    Now here comes the twist. According to Dave Asprey, not all coffee is good. One of the principles of his BULLETPROOF® Diet revolves around avoiding all the unnecessary toxins. And according to Dave most coffee beans that you can buy from the supermarket aren’t healthy because they contain mycotoxins.

    Mycotoxins are chemicals formed by molds and have been linked to various harmful effects if consumed in significant quantities. They may be present in coffee beans, as well as in other foods like nuts, and cereal, but in negligible amounts. The types of mycotoxins that are common to coffee beans are aflatoxin B1 and ochratoxin A.

    The branded BULLETPROOF® Coffee is high-quality arabica coffee that has been processed in a way that strips out the harmful toxins. According to the product information shared by the company, all BULLETPROOF® coffee beans have also been lab-tasted for mycotoxins.

    Nevertheless, fungi and mycotoxins have been an issue in the coffee industry for many years. That’s why processing methods that lower the mycotoxins in coffee are already being used.

    One such method is the wet processing method. It is, in fact, the most expensive one, so beans processed through the wet (also known as washed) method are usually a bit more expensive.

    Even though there isn’t clear information on the exact method BULLETPROOF® uses for their branded coffee, I can only assume that it is, in fact, a variation of the wet process.

    With that being said, most coffee companies don’t test their beans for mycotoxins, no matter whether they’re wet- or dry-processed. I don’t think that testing is really necessary as the mycotoxin content isn’t concerningly high in green coffee beans.

    Furthermore, through the process of coffee roasting the levels of mycotoxins are reduced by 69% to 96%.

    Overall, when I prepare my homemade Bulletproof Coffee I use the freshly roasted beans that I usually buy from the local roaster and I still get to experience the benefits of coffee.

    So it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth investing in BULLETPROOF® Coffee beans.
  • Unsalted Grass-fed Butter or Ghee.

    There’s evidence that the nutritional value of the milk and, respectively, the butter that cows produce depends on what they eat.

    Grass-fed butter is, in fact, more nutritious than conventional butter.

    For example, some studies confirm that grass-fed butter contains more omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have various health benefits, so using grass-fed butter when making Bulletproof Coffee enhances the beneficial effects of the drink.

    Butter is also a good source of vitamin A, that has various positive effects, such as improvement of the immune function, vision, and maintenance of healthy skin.

    Actually, your body converts the compound beta carotene (β-carotene) into vitamin A. Some studies suggest that grass-fed butter may be higher in beta carotene than regular butter.

    Butter also contains vitamin K2, which is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that supports heart and bone health.

    There is also evidence that grass-fed butter may also be higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (a type of Omega-6 fatty acid). CLA has been linked to number of health-promoting effects, including the prevention of metabolic syndrome.

    Butter also contains vitamins E, and B12, which are essential for the human body’s proper function.

    All in all, the grass-fed butter in your Bulletproof coffe boosts the beneficial properties of the ketogenic diet.

    Anyway, some people prefer using ghee instead of grass-fed butter.

    Ghee is actually made by heating regular butter and removing the water and milk solids from the fat. So ghee has a higher concentration of fat than regular butter. Nevertheless, the difference in fat content between ghee and butter isn’t significant. What sets ghee apart from regular butter is the fact that the former doesn’t contain casein and lactose. So ghee may be a better choice for lactose intolerant individuals.

    Related Products:

  • MCT Oil

    Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil is another Bulletproof Coffee ingredient with a meaningful purpose.

    It contains medium-length chains of fats that are known as triglycerides.

    Since they’re shorter in length, these medium-chain triglycerides are more easily digestible than long-chain triglycerides.
    Fats are broken down in the liver to be stored as body fat or used as a source of instant energy.

    MCTs don’t need to be broken down for the body to absorb them, which is why they are quickly used as energy instead of being stored as fat.

    There is also evidence that MCT oil helps weight loss by making you feel full, which leads to a reduction in your daily food intake. [5].

    So if you have a cup of Bulletproof Coffee with MCT oil in the morning, it will keep you satiated and energized, while making it easy for you to manage food cravings.

    That’s also where the name of Bulletproof Coffee comes from. After all, by having a cup in the morning, you will resist food temptations throughout the day with ease.

    Anyway:

    There is evidence that consuming MCT oil may improve the health of gut microbiota, by optimizing the growth of good bacteria.

    And over the last decade, it’s become increasingly evident that the gut environment plays a large role in maintaining a healthy weight.

    When one is in a state of ketosis, the MCT oil becomes an excellent source of energy, as it gets quickly converted into ketones in the liver.

    So as you see, there are a lot of benefits to adding MCT oil to your Bulletproof Coffee.

    With that being said, many people use coconut instead of MCT oil.

    This makes sense, as more than 50% of coconut fat comes from MCTs.

    Nevertheless, there is some evidence that coconut oil doesn’t have the same effects on food intake and satiety as MCT oil.

    In other words, MCT oil is better than coconut oil at keeping you satiated, reducing food cravings, and daily food intake.

    You can’t really experience the ‘keto’ benefits of MCT oil with coconut oil.

    Anyhow, many people add Brain Octane Oil or XCT Oil instead of MCT oil in their Bulletproof Coffee. Especially followers of the BULLETPROOF® Diet who are fans of the branded BULLETPROOF® products.

    To understand the differences between Brain octane, XCT, MCT, and coconut oil, we need to take a closer look at the main types of medium-chain triglycerides: C6 (caproic acid), C8 (caprylic acid), C10 (capric acid), and C12 (lauric acid). The number after each “C”, shows the number of carbon compounds in their trails. The larger the number, the longer the trail.

    Coconut oil contains around 42% (C12) lauric acid, 7% caprylic acid (C8), and 5% capric acid (C8). Lauric acid (C12) isn’t as easily digested compared to capric (C10), and caprylic (C8) acids. Since it’s processed more like a long-chain triglyceride oil, it doesn’t possess some of the beneficial properties of MCT oil. Therefore coconut oil has a significantly lower impact on weight-loss and brainpower.

    MCT oils usually contain around 50 to 80% caprylic acid (C8), and 20 to 50% capric acid (C10). Most companies that sell MCT oil aim for their product to be free of the ‘least ketogenic’ lauric acid (C12). BULLETPROOF®’s XCT oil (that has recently been renamed to MCT Oil) is one such product and contains only C8 and C10 MCTs.

    Nevertheless, some MCT oil bottles that you can find on the market do have lauric acid listed on their labels as part of the ingredient section. In such cases, the C12 acid content is way lower compared to its amount found in coconut oil. Still, if you want to make sure that the MCT oil you buy contains only C8 and C10 acids, make sure you check the label.

    With that being said, I wouldn’t be too worried if it turns out that my MCT bottle has some lauric acid in it. After all, even though it doesn’t promote weight loss as well as caprylic and capric acids, lauric acid may boost immunity. There are actually research papers that confirm the anti-bacterial and antiviral effects of lauric acid and its derivative – monolaurin.

    Anyway, the caprylic acid (C8), almost instantly turns into ketones, providing the quickest energy boost and performance improvement. The Brain Octane Oil by BULLETPROOF® consists of only C8 MCTs, unlike most MCT bottles which contain both C8 and C10 acids.

    Overall, if you want your MCT oil to contain only C8 caprylic acids, go for Brain Octane or another C8 MCT oil. This way you may experience a quicker increase in energy, efficiency, and productivity after having your Bulletproof Coffee.

    Here you can find a few MCT oil product recommendations and their Amazon Links:

Now we’ve covered all the details concerning the benefits and function of the main Bulletproof Coffee ingredients.

Does Bulletproof Coffee Break a Fast?

Many people who follow a ketogenic diet apply the method of intermittent fasting, which is basically cycling between periods of eating (normal food intake) and fasting (little or no energy intake).

The most common intermittent fasting method is the 16/8 one. In it, you shouldn’t consume any food within a window of 16 hours. For example, if you last ate at 8 PM, you shouldn’t eat anything until 12 PM the following day; then eating is allowed within the window from 12 PM to 8 PM. If you want to experience the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting you should continue that cycle again and again. Many people have adopted this method as part of their lifestyle.

The thing is that usually within the fasting period of your intermittent fasting cycle you can only have water, coffee, tea, or other non-caloric beverages.

One of the reasons why calorie intake is usually forbidden during this period, is because intermittent fasting may induce autophagy. The word ‘autophagy’ comes from Greek and literally means “self-eating”. When deprived of nutrients, your cells will only make the most essential molecules and recycle damaged cells or destroy cellular waste. Many people are drawn by the idea of intermittent fasting, mainly because of the fact that it may induce autophagy. This process may have many positive effects on the human body.

Now back to the question – will Bulletproof Coffee break a fast:

Since Bulletproof Coffee is a high-fat calorie-dense drink, it will technically break your fast. It won’t trigger an insulin response and it won’t interfere with your state of ketosis. That being said, consuming Bulletproof Coffee may slow down or completely stop the process of autophagy induced by prolonged fasting. It may also reduce some of the positive effects of intermittent fasting. Nevertheless, there aren’t enough scientific studies, that uncover the exact impact of Bulletproof Coffee on fasting.

Consuming Bulletproof Coffee during a fast may also slow down the process of weight loss. This may happen, as instead of using stored fat for energy, your body will process and utilize the fats coming from your butter coffee drink.

With that being said, if your only goal is to lose weight, having Bulletproof Coffee in the morning may not have a negative impact on your weight-loss journey.

It will keep you full and energized for hours which might make it easy for you to avoid binge eating when it’s time for your first meal of the day. This may improve your weight loss results in the long run.

Can I have Bulletproof Coffee if I’m not on a keto diet?

There are people who like Bulletproof Coffee simply because of its flavor. But is it good to have butter coffee if you’re not on a low-carb ketogenic diet? What I’ve found during my research was quite intriguing:

Usually, a regular breakfast mainly consists of carbohydrates, like oatmeal with sliced fruit, cereal, french toast, etc.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that eating a breakfast that is high in carbs is more likely to lead to an undesired energy crash relatively soon after the meal has been consumed.

This would make you susceptible to cravings.

Furthermore, the energy crash may boost your desire to eat more throughout the day.

A study, published in 2019, suggests that substituting a high-carbohydrate breakfast with a low-carb, high-fat alternative, may limit the post-breakfast glucose spike in patients with type 2 diabetes. According to the same study, a low-carb, high-fat breakfast replacement also reduced the desire for sweet foods at dinner.

Bulletproof Coffee is a high-fat breakfast replacement that can keep you full, energized, and productive throughout the morning even if you’re not on a keto diet. By having it instead of your regular high-carb breakfast, you may have more stable energy levels and better control over food cravings throughout the day.

Even when I’m not on a ketogenic diet, I’d sometimes have a cup of Bulletproof Coffee or tea in the morning. Whenever I do so, I feel very productive, well-focused, and efficient in executing my daily tasks effortlessly.

Hours after having this caffeinated drink, around 2 – 3 PM, when it’s usually time for the first meal of my day, I don’t feel extremely hungry and I don’t overeat.

Of course, I’d only use a teaspoon of ghee and a teaspoon of MCT oil for my Bulletproof Coffee when I’m not on a keto diet.

I bit later in this post I will share my take on the butter coffee recipe – a variation of the original bulletproof coffee that contains 200 calories and has a few extra ingredients.

How to make Bulletproof Coffee


To make a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, you need:

  • 1 cup of brewed coffee – 4 fl. oz., 8 fl. oz. or 12 fl. oz.
  • 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. of MCT or Brain Octane Oil.
  • 1 tbsp. to 2 tbsp. of grass-fed butter (or 1 tsp. to 2 tsp. of ghee).

If you’re just getting started with Bulletproof Coffee, you shouldn’t add more than a teaspoon of MCT or Brain Octane oil to your drink.

If you start by adding 1 tablespoon, you may experience digestive discomfort. Let your body get used to MCT oil and gradually increase the amount you use over time.

Here’s how to make Bulletproof Coffee:

  1. Add all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and pour into a cup.

For my homemade butter coffee, I use coffee that’s brewed in a French Press. You can check out my guide on how to use a French press to make coffee like a pro.

Instead of using a blender, I find it more convenient to use a drink mixer, also known as a milk frother.

There are battery-operated drink mixers, like this one by Zulay, or others that are rechargeable like this milk frother by FoodVille. Both are perfect for making Bulletproof Coffee and keto-friendly drinks.

Make your butter coffee taste better!

You might want to make adjustments to the original Bulletproof Coffee recipe, to make it suit your taste better. So here I decided to share some ideas that you might find helpful.

Add Salt

Even though some people are against adding salt to Bulletproof Coffee, I think it’s a great idea.

Adding a few grains of salt to your cup may suppress the bitter taste of the coffee. Salt can also make the beverage more palatable if you’re used to having it sweetened.

Furthermore, while in a state of ketosis, there is an increased sodium excretion by the kidneys.

So adding a bit of salt to your Bulletproof Coffee may help you maintain the electrolyte balance in the body and make you feel more energetic.

I have an extended post about the potential benefits of adding salt to coffee, that you can check out if you’re interested.

Sweeteners

There are a few keto-friendly sweeteners that you can add to your Bulletproof Coffee in order to make it more desirable if you prefer your drinks sweet.

Liquid stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol are all sweeteners that don’t trigger an insulin response, so they’re safe to add to a keto coffee drink.

By the way, there is a difference between keto coffees or drinks and Bulletproof coffees or drinks. A keto or a keto-friendly beverage is a low-carb drink that you can have while on a keto diet without worrying that it may break your ketosis. Bulletproof drinks contain MCT and/or grass-fed butter (or ghee) and have the ability to keep you full, energized, and less susceptible to food cravings throughout the day.

In other words, Bulletproof Coffee is a keto drink, but not all keto drinks are bulletproof.

Anyway, here you can find 3 links to Amazon that you can visit to check out the keto-approved sweeteners:

I’ve found that using a teaspoon of Erythritol and a few drops of liquid stevia per coffee serving works best tastewise.

You can also check out my post on the best keto-friendly coffee syrups. There you can find some cool sugar-free syrups that you can add to your keto coffee to make it taste nice.

Milk

There are a few low-carb milk options that are perfect for those who follow a ketogenic diet. Some of them are macadamia milk, half-and-half, cashew milk, flax milk, and coconut milk.

Nevertheless, the best and most widely-spread milk used in the making of keto-friendly and Bulletproof Coffee drinks is unsweetened almond milk. It contains half a gram of carbs in a 4 fl. oz. (120 ml) serving.

I’d only add 2 fl. oz. (or around 60 ml) of almond milk to my Bulletproof Coffee. When I make a homemade low-carb latte, I use 4 fl. oz. of (120 ml) of unsweetened almond milk.

Cream

You can add an ounce (30 ml) of heavy cream to your bulletproof or keto-friendly coffee drink. By doing so you will add 1 gram of net carbs to your coffee.

If you want to make a vegan Bulletproof Coffee you can use coconut cream instead. By adding a tablespoon of coconut cream to your coffee you will increase its net carbs count by 1.

You can check out my post on how to make keto-friendly coconut whipped cream. You can use it to top off your keto coffee drinks.

Adding more flavor

To make your Bulletproof Coffee tastier, you can sprinkle it with cinnamon or add a bit of cacao powder.

Furthermore, you can add a pinch masala chai spices, such as cardamom, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, or ground cloves.

Here you can check out a keto chai latte recipe, that’s made with earl grey tea instead of coffee.

You can, in fact, make bulletproof tea. It’s quite common for people to substitute the coffee component of their bulletproof drink with matcha. You can check out my post where I explore the differences between matcha and coffee and find out which is the better one for you.

My Take on the Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Here’s how I’d usually make a cup of Bulletproof Coffee at home:

  1. Pour a teaspoon of erythritol into 5 fl. oz. (around 150 milliliters) of coffee brewed in a French press.
  2. Add 3 to 5 drops of liquid stevia.
  3. Add a teaspoon of ghee.
  4. Add a teaspoon of MCT oil.
  5. Add a few grains of salt.
  6. Pour 1 fl. oz. (30 ml) of almond milk into the mixture.
  7. Add a pinch of cinnamon.
  8. Mix well.
  9. Pour into a cup and sprinkle with cinnamon to decorate.
  10. Use a vanilla stick for decoration and a bit of extra flavor.

Feel free to add more ghee (2 tsp) or MCT oil (1 tbsp) if you’ve been on a ketogenic diet for a while.

I’ve found that this recipe works perfectly well as a breakfast substitute for me, no matter whether I’m on a keto regimen or not.

If you’re a fan of the chocolate flavor, you can use cacao powder instead of cinnamon.

Related Post: Try This Keto Mocha Frappuccino Recipe

Final words

Now you know what Bulletproof Coffee is, why do people have it, and what are the benefits of substituting your breakfast with this low-carb high-fat drink.

You also know how to make it, so you can easily try it out at home.

There are other keto-friendly drink recipes that you can find here on The Woke Lark.

I hope that you found this post useful. Drop me a comment below if you have any questions or you simply want to share your thoughts.

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