Bulletproof coffee, anyone? Pros, cons and considerations


Just when you finally nailed down your favourite coffee order, there’s a new option on the menu. Social media is buzzing about bulletproof coffee, a morning pick-me-up that’s nothing like the rest.

It’s regular coffee, but with the addition of unsalted butter or ghee and medium chain triglyceride oils, or MCTs. One of the most common MCTs is coconut oil, a modern-day pantry staple.

The suggested ratio is two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of MCT oil, mixed into two cups of coffee.

This mix of caffeine and fat is said to provide an ongoing blast of energy that helps you stay on task and keeps hunger pangs at bay. But health experts are sceptical, unconvinced that the purported bulletproof coffee benefits are worth the downsides.

Bulletproof coffee benefits

To understand the benefits of bulletproof coffee, we should first talk about those MCTs. They’re a type of fat made up of 6 to 12 carbon atoms, which is a chain of medium length. Compare this to short-chain fatty acids (6 or fewer atoms) and long-chain fatty acids (13 to 21 atoms).

The body processes MCTs differently than other fats, sending them directly to the liver, which converts them to ketones. The brain then uses these ketones as energy, which means that the fat you’ve just ingested is being burned rather than stored.

The energy is said to be released slowly over a period of time, in contrast to the immediate peaks and slumps you might have experienced from a sugar hit. MCTs are also thought to slow down the absorption of caffeine, so you’re maximising the energy from both sources.

Along with the energy boost, bulletproof coffee-lovers claim that it can also bring heightened mental clarity. Not only will you feel good, but you’ll allegedly benefit from a laser-like focus on the tasks at hand.

But wait, there’s more! Bulletproof coffee is also said to have weight-loss benefits and metabolism-boosting powers. Sounds great, right?

Before you start spooning butter into your coffee, let’s look at the other side of the story.

Cons of bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof coffee is loaded with saturated fat (see: tablespoons of butter) and calories. While these elements do keep you feeling full for longer, they can also have detrimental health benefits.

If you’re used to having several cups of coffee throughout the day, it’s probably best not to make them all bulletproof. The added calories could backfire, especially if you’re hoping for weight loss. Just one cup of bulletproof coffee comes close to 500 calories – the same as you’d find in two Snickers bars.

If you’re drinking bulletproof coffee instead of eating breakfast, you could be missing out on nutrients. If you’re drinking it and eating breakfast, you could be loading up on calories.

Dietitians suggest you’d be better off getting a balanced mix of nutrients in your breakfast, not a hit of liquid butter.

And then there’s the matter of saturated fats, which can up your risk of heart disease. While we’re not saying that butter should be off limits, it might not be a great idea to overdo it in your coffee.

Alternatives to bulletproof coffee

Looking to jazz up your coffee without loading it up with fats? There are plenty of alternatives you can try. If black coffee’s not your thing, swap cow’s milk for a dairy-free milk alternative like almond or oat milk.

For added flavour without the calories, sprinkle some cinnamon in your morning cup of joe. It could help you moderate blood sugar levels, giving that energy boost you’re craving. Or try cacao or honey for a bit of sweetness.

If it’s the energy you crave, look for it in your breakfast, not your brew. Aim for a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fresh fruits or vegetables. It’s hard to beat a bowl of oats sprinkled with nuts and fresh fruit, especially with a cup of your regular go-to coffee on the side.

Curious about bulletproof? Keep it to one cup per day. And remember that when it comes to coffee, moderation is important. Too much java – no matter what you put in it – can make you anxious, jumpy, and lead to headaches.

There’s one more thing to consider when we’re talking about the cons of bulletproof coffee, and that’s the taste. Of course, it’s a personal matter, but for many coffee drinkers, the thought of coffee swimming with oil isn’t exactly appetising.

Although there are plenty of devotees for bulletproof coffee, the scientific evidence is still lacking. If you’re looking for a magic health bullet, it’s more likely to be found in the old standby – balanced nutrition and exercise.

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