Bulletproof Coffee: Worth the Hype?

Posted on: November 2nd 2014

Do you love coffee? Are you always on the search for the most delicious way to brew it or the best espresso joint in town? Well, instead of adding your normal cream and sugar next time, perhaps you should try putting some butter in your coffee. Yes that’s right, butter. 


There’s a pretty recent trend amongst foodies, fit-nuts, and the like, of putting grass-fed butter and MCT (or coconut oil) into their daily cup of joe.  The practice was popularized by Founder and CEO of The Bulletproof Executive, Dave Asprey.  He learned about adding butter to coffee on a mountain-climbing excursion in Tibet, where locals and sherpas often add yak butter to their tea.  Sounds crazy?  Well, let’s see what they claim this coffee can do:

To make a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, you will need (italics denote quotes from the Bulletproof Exec site, who brought bulletproof coffee to popular consciousness):

  • Low-Toxin, High-Performance Coffee (they sell “upgraded coffee” on the Bulletproof Exec website)

“toxins in cheap coffee steals your mental edge and actually makes you weak, but clean coffee actually fights cancer and provides antioxidants.”

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted grass-fed butter

“Grass-fed butter is much healthier than other butter.  It doesn’t make cholesterol levels worse, it optimizes them!  Starting your day with grass-fed butter will give you lots of energy and it will give your body healthy fats that it will use to make cell walls and hormones.”

  • MCT Oil  (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) or Coconut Oil (MCT Oil is more potent – 100% MCTs, Coconut oil is cheaper and about 60% of the fat in coconut oil are MCTs)

“extract of coconut oil that improves brain energy”

  • A strong blender (Oil and coffee don’t want to mix – you’ll need power to froth them together)

“ It makes for the creamiest, most satisfying cup of coffee you’ve ever had.”


Allegedly, adding butter and MCT Oil to your daily cup of coffee will:

“…keep you satisfied with level energy for 6 hours if you need it, and because I’m having it for breakfast, I’m programming my body to burn fat for energy all day long!”


“You will experience one of the best mornings of your life, with boundless energy and focus. It’s amazing.”

To recap, this coffee will:

  • Keep you alert, energized, and mentally acute for 6 hours
  • Help you burn fat
  • Help you gain muscle
  • Optimize your cholesterol levels
  • Help fight cancer, and provide you with antioxidants

That’s a whole lot of claims for one cup of coffee to make.  Let’s see how the supporters of Bulletproof Coffee back them up with science:

Keep you alert, energized, and mentally acute for 6 hours: The caffeine in the coffee, and MCTs help to boost energy levels and mental clarity.

Help you burn fat: Compared to longer-chain fats, MCTs are digested more quickly and are less likely to get stored in fatty tissue.  Large amounts of saturated fat from the butter act as an appetite suppressant, leaving you feeling full from comparatively less calorie-intake.  Since you’ll have less carbs to burn (from not eating them), you’ll burn fat.

Help you gain muscle: You’ll have more energy and lowered perception of exertion from the caffeine in your coffee, allowing you to exercise more vigorously.  

Help fight cancer, and provide you with antioxidants: There are many studies that correlate coffee (in moderation) with cancer-fighting ability due to its antioxidant content. 


Is it junk science?  Not entirely, but here’s the super-important part that folks sometimes miss:

“Try this just once, with at least 2 Tbs of butter, and have nothing else for breakfast.”

Bulletproof coffee is meant to be a meal-replacement, not just a delicious drink you add to your daily breakfast.  The claimed weight-loss benefits are, at the very least, partially a factor of eating less overall.

The Risks (and there are quite a few):

  • Your body (and your digestive system) likely isn’t used to that much fat in your diet.  Couple that high-fat intake with caffeine, and a lack of fiber, and you might experience some, shall we say, expedient intestinal turn-around.  
  • If you’re not down with a ketogenic diet, or intermittent fasting, all you’re doing is adding more calories and a big old blast of fat to your regular diet – which likely won’t help as far as body composition goes.  
  • There are no peer-reviewed studies done on Bulletproof Coffee – only the elements that make it up.  We don’t yet know any long-term effects, only anecdotal evidence (on both sides of the issue).  Even the studies on MCTs are pretty mixed in terms of their effects on satiety and body composition.
  • With any diet, balance is key.  Since you’re taking in, more or less, all of your saturated fat at breakfast, you’ll need to lower your fat intake (and limit it to PUFAs and MUFAs) in your other meals.  You’ll also need to significantly increase your vegetable and protein intake at those subsequent meals.
  • Replacing your breakfast with Bulletproof coffee might give you some additional nutrients found in grass-fed butter and MCT oil, but you’ll be missing all of the nutrients that would come from a whole-food breakfast.

If you don’t eat breakfast to begin with – but you do drink coffee, or some coffee-related beverage, let’s see how a Bulletproof coffee stacks up against a regular coffee:

Coffee Product


Fat (Sat)





Bulletproof (with MCT)

468 cal

52g (44g)





Bulletproof (with Coconut Oil)

424 cal

47g (33g)





Tim Hortons Double Double (Lg)

270 cal

14g (9g)





Tim Hortons 2 Cream (Lg)

180 cal

14g (9g)





Tim Hortons 2 Milk (Lg)

60 cal

2g (1g)





The argument from the Bulletproof camp is that your upgraded cuppa will have, “All the benefits of healthy milk fat with none of the damaging denatured casein proteins found in cream.”

To be fair, butter has more vitamins than cream, including A, D, and K2, and is lower in sugar.  However, trading a gram or two of sugar per serving (more if you’re rocking a Double Double) for 44 grams of saturated fat might be a trade worth examining.

Is Bulletproof Coffee worth the risk?  I don’t know.  In our next, Derby in the Kitchen, Booty will test it out and let you know!  The proof is in the pudding (or in the buttery coffee).  


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