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Will Adding Butter to Your Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

Fitday Editor

For those who can't go a morning without their cup of joe, many are now a-buzz about the benefits that come from Bulletproof coffee: an old world tradition that has re-emerged as a potent performance enhancer.

The drink was coined by Dave Asprey, an American technology entrepreneur, who claims to have lost 100 pounds by eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. His inspiration for Bulletproof coffee came from his experience of drinking yak tea with butter in the high elevations of Tibet. Thousands of people credit this high-fat, calorie-dense breakfast replacement with increased energy levels, better focus and major weight-loss results.

What's in Bulletproof?

The recipe combines black coffee, unsalted (preferably grass-fed) butter, and an extract of palm and coconut oils, all mixed together in a blender.

Looking at the ingredients on their own, each possess well-documented health benefits. Caffeine is a known performance enhancer which works to increase metabolism and keep energy levels up. Grass-fed butter boasts cancer-fighting antioxidants and also contains Vitamin K, which helps prevent clogged arteries. Coconut and palm oils, which contain medium-chain triglycerides, contain small amounts of other micronutrients and serve as another healthy fat source for your body.

Unfortunately, over the years saturated fat has been unfairly demonized, thanks to misguided campaigns and shaky research results. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition came out with a recent study that found "no significant evidence" that dietary saturated fat is associated with increased heart disease risk. However, it's important to note that fat is a calorically-dense nutrient and that these individuals were only eating modest amounts of saturated fat - not pouring excessive amounts into their coffee.

So, How Does It Help You Lose Weight?

This question seems to be the most popular one from individuals looking to try this high-calorie concoction. Well, the answer lies in Asprey's adherence to a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When consuming few calories from carbohydrates, your body's main source of energy, you instead will turn to burning fat. This switch lowers blood sugar levels and increases the production of ketone bodies. The heart, muscle and brain then stop burning sugar and instead use the ketones as an alternative fuel.

While the health implications of such a diet are widely debated, the weight-loss results are consistent. Starting your day with Bulletproof coffee, if your body is already in a ketogenic state, will provide you with an extra source of fat, theoretically boosting your energy levels and jump starting your fat-burning capacity.

On the opposite end, if an individual is consuming a normal amount of carbohydrate in their diet, their body will select this fuel over the excess fat, storing that high-calorie coffee instead of burning it.

Keeping all of this in mind, it's important to remember that nutrition is largely about dosage and context. Smaller amounts of these ingredients added into your diet are undoubtedly healthy. However, replacing a normally nutrient-dense meal with a high-fat replacement may not be ideal.

Should You Try It?

Even though Bulletproof coffee may contain small amounts of certain nutrients, this completely pales in comparison to what you get from a well-balanced, nutritious breakfast. If you're eating three meals per day, then replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee will reduce the total nutrient load of your diet by a third.

So, the bottom line? If you're trying to cut calories or saturated fat, Bulletproof coffee is not the brew for you. While it may provide energy or weight-loss results when used with certain diets, caution should still be advised. It's important to remember that you can still get plenty of benefits from modest amounts of these ingredients without necessarily going all-in on this breakfast replacement.


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Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.

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