An Experiment: 30 Days of Bulletproof® Coffee

We live in a fat phobic society, for me at least. My only source of dietary fat used to be just peanut butter. I do not mind animal fat (not a chicken breast fan), but I certainly make a conscious effort to stay away from fat sources like butter, oil or avocado (nature’s butter!). Who needs a heart attack, right?

WRONG.

Sometime in April, Chris on my twitter feed mentioned “Bulletproof® Coffee“. I had no idea what that meant so I asked my best friend Google and BAM BAM BAM, the volume of information on the Bulletproof® Coffee (I called it BPC for short) was just overwhelming. Though I was still utterly shocked by the unusual notion of drinking a cup of fat, Steve and Cheryl assured me that they have tried it and loved it. One of my good friends have also tried the Tibet butter yak tea which inspired BPC. I was intrigued, but laziness triumphed and I did not bother trying out this phenomenon.

At approximately the same time, my parents were starting to eat more coconut oil for health reasons. I grew up loving coconut everything but never really ventured into the world of coconut oil so in late April, I went to the store and got a tub of Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO). Nothing too fancy, conveniently available at Zehrs. I googled on what’s the best way to eat it and some people said to eat it straight. Since I am coconut fanatic, I thought that will be a good idea but two tablespoons made me utterly sick! Definitely go slow (start with about 1/4 tbsp) if you are not used to coconut oil. Since BPC uses EVCO / MCT oil in its recipe, I brushed off the urge to try BPC on the excuse that “coconut oil hates my gut”.

Then, fast-forward to end of May. I kept seeing/hearing more BPC news all over the place and just got increasingly curious. Everybody is different, so you can never tell whether something works for you or not without trying it. Therefore, I decided to give BPC a go – a 30 day BPC experiment for June 2013. I was most interested in BPC’s claim of improved cognitive focus and sustained fullness.

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Recipe that I follow:

  1. 500 ml coffee
  2. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  3. 2 tbsp MCT oil

I have to admit that I did not follow the BPC recipe strictly though. The official recipe for BPC:

  1. At least 2tbs unsalted grass-fed butter
  2. 1-2tbs of Upgraded MCT oil
  3. 2 cups (~453g or 500ml) of hot coffee brewed with low-toxin beans

Dave’s recipe calls for low toxin beans. He did a lot of research to back up his claims but I am too lazy it is just too sciency for me to process. I usually buy my beans from Matter of Taste, and recent ones are from Detour. Hence, even if the beans I have are not as “clean” as Dave’s recommendation, I did not really bother scouting out other beans.

For butter, Cheryl recommended Organic Meadow’s, the most widely available grass-fed butter in our area if you shop retail. I started out the first few days with coconut oil just to ease into the transition, then I began looking for a good MCT oil brand. As good as Dave’s MCT oil looked/sounded, I wanted this bottle of oil immediately so I headed over the Eating Well Organically and Fiddleheads to scout for a bottle. None of the stores knew the differences between various brands so I had to try it for myself. Aha, the beauty of experimentation.

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Price Comparison (before tax):

  • NOW Sports – $0.81/tbsp
  • Omega Nutrition – $0.54/tbsp
  • New Roots – $0.68/tbsp

New roots’ oil only has MCT from coconut, but Omega and NOW have both coconut and palm sources. I can’t really tell the difference between energy levels even after rotating between the different brands for 1.5 months. If you don’t mind waiting or buying in bulk, Dave offers 3 bottles for $25.95 each (plus shipping & tax). For me, I just prefer the convenience of being able to buy them at the store down the street.

The price/cup of BPC each morning is roughly $2+.

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Phase 1: Start of Experiment

After my horrific EVCO experience, I started really slow with 1/4 tbsp coconut oil. Over the first week, I finally got up to the full dose of 2 tbsp MCT oil.

Taste

I started drinking coffee four years ago. Since Y has always taken his coffee black, that was also how I drank my coffee. The only time I’d put things in it is when I head out for cappuccino. Sugar? Eew no. Going back to the idea of being afraid of fats, simply thinking about eating a tablespoon of butter daily is sufficient to give me a slight panic attack before I even got started. But, bite the bullet and go go go!

As many reviewers said, BPC just tastes like an ultra creamy latte. Once you get past the idea of drinking a whole cup of fat, it is really quite delicious. My favourite part is the foam!! I try to blend it a little longer each time to get more foam. Sometimes, I’ll throw in another teaspoon of coconut oil to get that coconuty taste.

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Phase 2: 15 days into experiment

Equipment

I started out using the magic bullet since I already use it regularly for smoothies. However, the magic bullet is really not bulletproof. As there is no vent to allow hot air building up in the cup to escape while blending, coffee will start leaking all over the place if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, it might even explode in your face! I love my bullet and don’t want it to explode, so I just bought a 2nd hand Delfino glass blender from Kijiji for $20. Love it! I was lucky to have found that deal.

Fullness

I am a huge breakfast eater, but even with a solid breakfast of eggs and oatmeal, I still feel jumpy or weird hunger at approximately 10am if I eat breakfast at 7am. I was really curious about the idea of sustained satiety with BPC, and how it would compare with my traditional high protein/carb breakfast. Clocking in at about 460 calories (2 tbsp Organic Meadow unsalted butter & 2 tbsp of MCT oil), since the calorie level was approximately the same as my usual breakfast, I did not think/expect that there will be a huge difference in fullness levels.

Lo and behold, I was pleased to discover that I did not need my 10am snack/coffee! Yeeehah! However, at around noon for the first week, I would become extremely restless. I wanted to have lunch! Lunch time at noon has been hardwired into my system and it was tough to change that. However, I noticed that I was not really hungry. This would be my daily conversation with Y at noon:

M: Its noon!! I wanna eat.

Y: Oh you’re hungry?

M: No… but I am so bored.

(!!!!!)

That answer was like a “eureka” moment for me. Do any of you think like that too?? Try it! At meal times, think about whether you are bored or hungry. Unfortunately (fortunately) for me, I realized that most of the time I was bored. After the first week of boredom transition, I can easily last till 3pm with a cup of BPC at around 7.30am. It is good and slightly annoying at the same time because lunch and dinner times were so crammed together that there was barely any time to get hungry.

Focus

If you follow my blog entries, you will know that I do not react to caffeine in coffee at all. Drinking 10 cups of espresso and going right to bed is easy peasy. Hence, I cannot really comment on whether I felt improved energy from BPC. The first few times I had MCT oil, I did feel a warm comforting feeling in my tummy. I still yawn during morning classes, but one thing is for sure, BPC did not generate that same sleepy digesting mode feeling I would have after eating my normal oatmeal & eggs breakfast. So, I guess general alertness is pretty good. I also do not feel much cravings for afternoon coffee/snacks.

Other Observations

One thing I really enjoyed during this experiment was the constant questioning of my current mood/ energy levels/ state of mind. We always ask others “how are you” when we see them, but rarely do we ask ourselves “how are we” eh?

This may be over-sharing… but I did not have to pee use the washroom as much on BPC as I would if I drank normal black coffee. I thought this was really weird! My bladder is not exactly the strongest, so I was not sure what changed. Was my body absorbing all the coffee!? That was a good thing though, so I did not bother investigating much into it but just thought it would be fun to share in case you were wondering whether 500 ml of coffee in the morning would ruin your whole morning schedule. ;)

Since I am only getting fats for breakfast, I make a real diligent attempt to eat tons of vegetables for lunch and dinner. However, I get full so quickly, especially with all that fibre, so it sometimes gets a little frustrating that I am unable to eat as much as I would like to. I think a lot of people started on BPC to lose weight (ironic but yes, eat fat lose fat!), but I was more interested in the improved cognitive function. Weight loss is probably a bonus, since whatever weight loss I would like to have are just vanity pounds. Therefore, if you are looking to lose some weight, BPC (or just a general increase in fat intake) might be good since satiety is so much higher. I’ve found that it does take a while to get used to though, given the concept drilled into our heads about satiety is mostly from protein/carbs.

In 2 weeks, I finished almost two blocks of Organic Meadow butter and lost about 2 lbs. However, there were so many variables that I cannot absolutely conclude on whether BPC was the root cause of weight loss. I am certain that it did help though.

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Phase 3: 30 Days Check-In

  • Finished 4 blocks Organic Meadow butter, almost 2 bottles of MCT oil, and a third jar of EVCO.
  • Lost 4 lbs.
  • Can last till 3pm easily without feeling true hunger.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to measure energy levels so that is the best concrete results I can provide. Some things to note/recap:

  • Do not really react to caffeine so 500ml of coffee just feels like water.
  • Did not really consume much dietary fat before this.
  • Unknowingly did Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting.

The BPIF protocol is simple – drink BPC, then eat as much as you’d like from 2-8pm.

When I started doing the BPC experiment, my goal was to, at minimum, last till 2pm before I have lunch. This is because I am due for a huge exam in September which goes from 9am – 2pm. Prior to this, I was the eat-every-3-hour kinda person. Therefore, I really wanted to get rid of that unnecessary habit to make life easier when September rolls around so that I am not starving in my examination chair. I have also been eating dinner at 7.30pm for the past two years because… (don’t judge) Big Bang Theory shows on CTV at 7.30pm! Ahaha, yea… don’t judge but I eat while watching TV. Not the best habit but that is a great show! Anyway, I was randomly doing this protocol without realizing it until towards the end of June. Hence, I cannot conclude if the weight loss was because of the breakfast coffee or the intermittent fasting. Probably a combination of both.

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Conclusion

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this 30 day experiment. Like I said before, we are not cookie-cutter humans so you really can’t tell if something will work for you or not unless you try it. BPC has appeared on numerous news/talk-shows recently and it is really annoying that the newscasters always talk about how disgusting BPC is when they are doing it wrong! The show usually just dumps a lump of butter into the coffee, then have the host take a sip of the oil film and gags on national TV. C’mon… read the instructions people, blend blend blend! You’re just missing out on the best foamy part if you skip that step.

Dave’s site has a wealth of information. Even if you do not like BPC, it is still a great read – plus he features knowledgeable guests every now and then. Through this experiment, I really learned the valuable lesson of “fat is not the enemy”. Butter, coconut oil, avocados, nuts etc., these are just amazing whole foods that will boost your health and performance. “Biohacking” is just too cool. Soylent is another interesting “biohack” that my siblings shared with me, but I probably will not try that simply because Soylent is tasteless but BPC is yummy.

Even though I benefited greatly from Dave’s research, I have no contributed a single cent to his wealth. Hence, I really think it is unnecessary to say that Dave Asprey is just promoting BPC to sell his products. I have no doubt that his products are of extreme high quality, but results can be seen by just loosely following his protocol like I did. I’ve also tried Bulletproof hot chocolate and Bulletproof green tea but nah, I’ll stick with bulletproof coffee for now.

Focus? Check.

Satiety? Check.

Quick & easy? Check.

Delicious? Check check check.

I definitely see myself continuing with BPC in the long run, maybe not everyday but often enough. It has been a fun experiment and I hope that this un-sciency review of BPC will encourage you to try it out. If you like it like I did, great! If not, no biggie. Have a curious mind! Our bodies are just so amazing.

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Other related reads:

The Kitchn

The Paleo Mama

Breaking Muscle

Life is a run

 

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**Legal Update: Upgraded™ and Bulletproof® are trademarks/service marks of Better Baby LLC

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