One of the fun aspects of working in the nutrition field is trying to make sense out of the latest fad diets and food trends. The current ‘it’ beverage is a recipe for something called bulletproof coffee. Proponents of the craze claim it can do everything from improving focus to melting fat. But, is this really a magic bullet?
The fad started with Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof Digital, Inc. The company’s website has a recipe for Bulletproof coffee that uses its Bulletproof® branded coffee beans, grass-fed unsalted butter or ghee, and its product called Brain Octane oil that’s made from coconut or palm. Other knock-off recipes combine coffee, coconut oil and/or butter that are blended into a frothy, creamy drink, similar to that of a full fat latte. Some recipes call for vanilla or other flavors to be added. A typical serving is about 250-300 calories. From a nutrition standpoint, it offers few vitamins or minerals, but may cost you 25 grams of saturated fat. That’s more than you should have in a day.
But what about the claims? Can it really help you lose weight or make you more focused? Some dieters use the drink as a morning meal replacement. They claim that its richness, combined with caffeine (a natural appetite suppressant,) helps keep them full all morning. There are no clinical studies to date linking this beverage to weight loss, and any perceived benefit in this area may just come down to math. Drinking 300-calories in place of a typical meal (generally 350-500 calories for breakfast), may help promote weight loss due to the reduction in calories. But be cautious in using this type of drink as your breakfast as it provides little nutritional value.
As for the claims about improving focus, many studies have demonstrated a connection between caffeine and mental, as well as physical, performance. Increased cognitive function, improved memory, and increased alertness are just a few of the benefits seen from caffeine intake. Physically, caffeine may also improve muscle endurance. However, these benefits can be gained from drinking any coffee (or other caffeinated beverages).
The bottom line: This drink is no magic bullet. Like anything with caffeine, it will help wake you up and keep you alert. And like all low-calorie meal replacements, it may help you shed a few pounds. But it’s not a nutrient-rich meal substitute, and its high saturated fat content could have a negative effect on blood cholesterol levels. Finally, without a commitment to exercise and reducing calories overall, it probably won’t make a big difference in your waistline.