Whichever way you take your coffee—whether black, with a scoop of sugar or with just a splash of almond milk—it likely doesn’t involve a spoonful of melted grass-fed butter. But could this unlikely combination suppress hunger and promote weight loss? Marketed as Bulletproof coffee, we once thought that this was a diet fad ready to lose traction and disappear altogether. Yet it’s still something that pops up on health blogs and Instagram accounts the world over. In fact, health fanatics, celebrities and other insiders (basically everyone in L.A.) still swear by it. So we set out to investigate what all the hype is about and whether we should finally jump on this wellness bandwagon.
Keep reading to learn about Bulletproof coffee—and if it can actually help you drop pounds.
What is bulletproof coffee?
The brainchild of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey, a health and fitness fanatic, Bulletproof coffee is a mixture of coffee, butter, and medium-chain triglycerides oil. The drink is part of his Bulletproof brand, which includes lifestyle changes and products that claim to help you take control of your body and biochemistry, keeping you healthy, trim and happy.
Asprey came up with the concoction after an intense hiking trip in Tibet, where locals fed him yak butter tea, a creamy cup of tea made from tea leaves, fresh yak butter and salt. Nomads from the region are said to drink tens of cups of yak butter tea a day, as it provides caloric energy for life at extreme altitudes.
Finding the drink to be restorative, Asprey tweaked the recipe to involve low-mold coffee beans (caffeinated Arabica beans tend to be lower mold) so it’s as pure and toxin-free as possible, unsalted grass-fed butter (such as Kerrygold), and MCT oil, which contains a blend of coconut and palm oils and is thought to boost the brain's cognitive function.
How does it work?
The creamy, frothy drink contains healthy fats that are supposed to keep you fuller longer, help you avoid crashes and sugar cravings, provide an energy boost and improve mental clarity. Asprey says that after consuming a cup of the coffee, you’ll have no interest in food for four to six hours, which contributes to the purported weight loss. Coffee is a known appetite suppressant, but the way it’s traditionally prepared involves lots of sugary add-ons and is often followed by an early afternoon crash.
But won't drinking butter make me gain weight and raise my cholesterol?
Asprey says that the specific kind of butter (grass-fed and unsalted, or ghee) and quantity (two tablespoons max, once you build up to that) will put your body into fat-burning mode for the rest of the day. He compares it to other healthy fats (like the kind in avocados and nuts), which optimize cholesterol, and don’t raise it. Keep in mind that Bulletproof coffee itself is meant to be a meal replacement, so you’re only supposed to drink the coffee for breakfast, not have it alongside other food.
Actress and natural health maven Shailene Woodley swears by Bulletproof coffee, saying she starts almost every day with the drink. In Los Angeles, the land of health nuts and fit bodies, a Venice coffee shop called Another Kind of Sunrise serves a “Buttery Brew” on its menu. It’s a blend of “quality coffee made with a spoon of raw coconut oil, grass-fed ghee and fresh organic coffee” that patrons can’t get enough of. In the UK you can get coffee with “Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil” or “Bulletproof Upgraded MCT Oil” at Crussh.
The market for the coffee shop is already in place. As we prepared our first-ever cup of Bulletproof coffee in the Byrdie office kitchen for this story, we discovered three colleagues who drink the concoction daily and say they feel incredible and alert six hours after doing so—not only that, but they say they aren’t as hungry and crave less sugar. They keep a jar of ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil (which they use instead of MCT oil, as many Bulletproofers do) here at the office and whip it up in the mornings at work.
Keep scrolling to get our favourite recipe.
How do you make Bulletproof coffee?
Brew the coffee in the hot water and combine with the MCT oil and butter or ghee in a blender to get a frothy, creamy mixture like that of a latte. If you just stir the butter and oil into the hot coffee, the oil won’t blend and will sit on the surface of the drink. Then drink up!