The brew makeover – My version of the Bulletproof Coffee recipe
Would you like some melted butter with your coffee? If you are new to the Bulletproof Coffee movement this question might sound irritating. A scoop of sugar? Fine. A little dome of whipped cream? Why not. A splash of hippy almond milk? If you insist. But a spoonful of melted grass-fed butter?
Well, you better get used to this question. Because Bulletproof Coffee has become super popular and is the latest addition to gyms and wellness centers in Los Angeles. The celebrity entourage that endorses the Bulletproof Coffee recipe is not limited to Arianna Huffington, Jimmy Fallon and Shailene Woodley. So it is just a question of time until this trend spreads over to Vancouver, the Canadian equivalent of L.A. the land of health nuts and fit bodies. (By the way it already has, to be exact to West Vancouver. Try your first cup at Active Body Nutrition, 1517 Bellevue Ave.).
After losing 100 pounds the creator of Bulletproof Coffee, Dave Asprey, went on a challenging trip in 2004, climbing Mount Kailash in Tibet. There he was introduced to the idea of a yak-butter infused tea by locals. The caloric energy from yak butter tea is thought to make life at extreme altitudes easier. And apparently it did the trick for Dave because the experience of this delightful elixir ignited Dave to experiment. And the result was the Bulletproof coffee recipe.
Mr. Asprey’s concept entails blending freshly brewed high quality mold-free coffee with grass-fed unsalted butter and coconut-oil extract for 20 seconds. Not only will that leave you with a foamy low-carb latte but is also believed to
- Give you incredible alertness for hours
- Decrease your appetite for the whole morning
- Increase brain activity
- Curb sugar cravings
- Aid in weight loss
Intrigued? I was too.
Especially after we were thrilled on a recent trip to Vietnam by their version of the Bulletproof coffee recipe, which substitutes another type of fat: egg yolk.
What science says about the Bulletproof coffee recipe
Why does it aid in weight loss?
Our body needs to burn food for energy. Preferable these are carbohydrates. But our body does not prefer carbohydrates because they are necessarily the better fuel. Your body prefers carbohydrates just because they are an easier fuel and they mean less converting work.
So if we now reduce the amount of glucose (from carbohydrates) in our diet, our body has to provide the fuel from a different source and will burn fat for fuel instead.
Why does it decrease your appetite?
Large amounts of fat and oil create a filling effect and make you feel satisfied.
Why does it curb sugar cravings?
It’s a combination of question 1 and 2. Fat and protein does NOT influence blood sugar, only carbohydrates influence your blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops you crave sugar/carbohydrates. Since there are no carbohydrates in the Bulletproof recipe, the blood sugar is untouched by carbohydrates.
However, caffeine from coffee does influence blood sugar but it’s affect is probably delayed due to the fat. Later in this post you will read that Matcha green tea does NOT affect blood sugar.
Why does it give you incredible alertness for hours?
Butter and coconut oil are rich in short-chain and medium-chain saturated fatty acids and are easily digested. The body prefers to use them immediately as energy. The caffeine is believed to help with the uptake of fatty acids. Also, because of the lack of carbohydrates/sugar there is no blood sugar crash, which contributes to trouble concentrating.
Why this might increase your endurance performance
When I did my first experiments with my version of a Bulletproof concoction I was not so much interested in the affects of weight loss but in the affects of training my body to use fat for fuel for my first upcoming marathon. After all the body can store only approximately 2,000 calories in form of glycogen (glucose) but a whooping 82,000 calories in form of triglycerides (fatty acids).
If you are a runner you know that eating and digesting glucose becomes mission impossible as the number of miles increases. You also know that when blood glucose drops into critical levels you have the joys of experiencing the affects of “hitting the wall”, which basically means GAME OVER.
So wouldn’t it be brilliant, if your body would not depend so much on glucose but actually burn fatty acids for fuel? By the way this approach is not new. Top athletes like Ben Greenfield – one top endurance triathlete – is experimenting with a low carb diet and performs outstanding after a fat adaption period.
However, my first trials are being processed as we speak. I’ve been following a lower-carb diet for quite a while now (meaning little starch, no processed sugar and only low glycemic fruits). But actually including more fat is news. Stay tuned for my verdict. However, if you want to start your own experiment, here is my Bulletproof Coffee recipe makeover.
Energy Boosting Runners Matcha Latte the Bulletproof Way
- ½ to 1 tsp. Matcha green tea powder
- ¼ tsp. turmeric spice optional
- ¼ tsp. chaga powder optional
- 4 oz. of hot filtered water
- 1 Tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil
- 4 oz. coconut milk, heated or cold
Mix Matcha green tea powder and optional powders with a small amount of water to make a smooth paste, add more hot water (best around 80C) and dissolve coconut oil. Add coconut milk and whisk until frothy (with Matcha whisker or a blender like the Magic Bullet).
Why I use Matcha green tea instead of coffee
I will not touch the controversial topic of coffee in this post. Let’s just say, I don’t enjoy the taste of coffee without sugar. But as a runner of course I’m delighted by the idea of including a legally permitted performance-enhancing component like caffeine into my diet. So my nutritionist mind had to come up with a substitute, which is Matcha green tea.
The benefits of Matcha green tea powder in short:
- Matcha gives you a longer-lasting energy boost than a cup of coffee without the extreme rush and crash.
- Matcha is nutritious. It’s equipped with 130+ times more of the potent antioxidant EGCG than regular steeped green tea. It’s also rich in chlorophyll.
- Matcha has no effect on the glycemic index and doesn’t spike insulin levels.
- Matcha boosts metabolism and helps control body weight.
- Matcha is alkalizing and detoxifies the blood.
Why I use organic virgin coconut oil instead of butter
Butter and coconut oil are both short-chain saturated fats, which are easily digested and used by the body rather than stored as fat. They also have vital and protective properties, which we don’t have time to discuss further in this post.
The Bulletproof coffee recipe asks for organic grass-fed butter or organic ghee (clarified butter). The icky thing about butter is, that dairy cows store many chemical pollutants in their fat, including their milk fat. So if we enjoy dairy items, we also may get an extra serving of toxins. Does organic or grass-fed butter lower the exposure to these toxins? Who knows?
However, during my experiments I have discovered that organic butter – or any kind of dairy – actually congests my throat, which is nothing you appreciate especially when you gasp for air during a hard run. With coconut oil this doesn’t happen.
Coconut oil and coconut milk are plant based and also believed to stoke ketosis, which is the fat burning mode of the body and exactly what I want. Bingo! MCT oil is a concentrated form of the medium-chain fatty acids of coconut oil. Science and I haven’t decided if MCT oil is a money grab or actually more potent.
Note that margarine is a deadly fat and not to be compared with butter at all. Never substitute margarine for any kind of butter.
Depending on the amount of butter and coconut oil you’re using, this cup of Joe can have between 100 to 500 calories from fat. This is why makers of the Bulletproof coffee recipe recommend it as kind of a breakfast replacement.
Again, fat is awesome. But we also should consider two facts:
- The general lack of nutrient balance. The Bulletproof coffee recipe has no fiber, close to zero grams protein and provides very little in regards to vitamins and minerals.
- Are we humans meant to drink large amounts of fat? As we now know the correct balance of fatty acids is essential to health and wellbeing.
It seems like a fat induced hot beverage is a stable drink in some cultures, especially with inclement weather and lifestyle conditions. So yes, experiment but don’t overdo it. Don’t make the Bulletproof coffee your everyday substitute for breakfast.
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