Bulletproof Coffee - Weight Loss Hype or Fact

by John Diaz

I was watching Hawaii Five–O the other day when in a scene one of the stars (character name Steve McGarrett) cut a large piece of butter and plopped it into his coffee. When asked by the squeamish character Danny what the heck he’s doing he explains it as a Navy SEAL trick to boost cognitive function, alertness and energy. This practice with historical origins in Ethiopia and Tibet using tea with yak butter is now being brought to you by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey.

The Coffee

Asprey’s version utilizes allegedly special coffee beans, 1 tablespoon MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.  MCT stands for medium chained triglycerides. This form of fat molecule is shorter than other forms of fat which means it undergoes fewer digestive processes and believed to release usable energy sooner. The three tablespoons of total fat slow down the caffeine’s effect causing a less peaked but more prolonged release.

The Claims

Asprey claims that Bulletproof Coffee will turn your body into a fat burning machine and eliminate hunger for hours. That you can lose up to a pound a day. Another claim is that this formula improves focus and brain power. Keeping you alert and on your game for hours. Do a quick search of dedicated blogs and you can see that there are many indeed who expound its benefits. Another, perhaps more financially based claim is that most coffee is too high in mycotoxins (secondary metabolites produced by microfungi capable of causing disease or death in humans) and therefore you should buy his specially processed coffee beans. The fact is all coffee is regulated nationally and internationally and roasters have followed special washing practices for years to eliminate mycotoxins. Lastly, his special blend of MCT oil is no different than any other quality brand other than cost. Both his beans and MCT oil are twice as expensive as other high quality brands with no verifiable benefit in taste or safety.

Bulletproof Coffee - Weight Loss - Ultimate Health Personal Training Center in Los Angeles, CA

The Science

Other than greasy lips and some possible queasiness Bullet Coffee should be relatively harmless. There is a significant amount of fat and saturated fat, however, research is showing that fat is not the demon it was made out to be. As far as the claims according to researcher Jeffrey Gladd MD a high dose of almost pure fat in the morning may stimulate the body’s fat burning potential. He also felt that Bullet Proof Coffee indeed increased his mental clarity and sharpness.

Most studies on the energy and fat burning effect of MCTs have been done on mice. There are a couple of studies showing that mice were able to swim for a longer period of time when supplemented with the fat leading to the claims of greater endurance or energy. As far as fat burning a very small study comparing it to olive oil found that those supplemented with the MCTs lost slightly more weight vs the olive oil group.  The results were not profound on their own.   

MCT brain cognition effect studies have been done, but the studies were done using Alzheimer’s patients and in another type 1 diabetics. Though there was some noted benefit of improved cognition the benefit may not translate to the healthy. In both test groups the subjects suffer from diseases that prevent the use of glucose as a fuel by brain cells. MCT’s broken down by the body into ketones became the alternate fuel source which likely lead to the observed improvements.

The Take Away

If you would like to try Bulletproof Coffee for yourself there is certainly no reason not to. You may not get the fat burning, energy boosting effect you want, but then again believing is half the battle. I would recommend buying a quality organic coffee and non-salted organic butter. 

I preach that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and as such should be nutritious with adequate amounts of protein (also brain stimulating) some health fat and low in sugar. So, for me a fatty caffeine laden drink breakfast substitute sounds a little crazy.



Ncbi.nlm.Nih.gov  Mycotoxins – National Center For Biotechnology Information

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov  Medium-Chain Fatty Acids Improve Cognition

Ncbi.nlm.hih.gov  Weight –loss Diet That Includes Consumption of MCT’s

Gizimodo.com  - Bullet Proof Coffee -  Debunking the Hot Buttered Hype

dr.weil.com – Should I Drink Bullet Proof Coffee