(This post was originally written in August 2015 and has since been updated to reflect more recent thoughts & resources.)

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Bulletproof Coffee Basics

Question: What is bulletproof coffee & why do you drink it?

Answer: Bulletproof coffee is high quality, low toxin coffee blended with grass fed butter and coconut oil or MCT oil.

Why does low toxin coffee matter?
Traditional coffee can be packed with toxins from the mold that grows on the coffee beans. Analysis of standard beans shows that more than 90% may have mold growth. If you want to be sure your beans are low toxin, you can’t go wrong with the true bulletproof coffee.

What’s with the butter and what does grass fed mean?
Butter is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Butyrate, one of the ingredients in butter, has powerful cellular-protective effects, especially on cells within breast tissue. You want your butter to come from grass fed cows (I use Kerrygold unsalted butter) and not from conventionally fed cows. Conventional butter will be high in pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids because those cows are fed grains. Grass fed butter is naturally high in anti-inflammatory omega 3s and free from the pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

What’s MCT oil & why is it included?
MCT refers to medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat found in coconut oil. The fat in coconut oil is about 60% MCTs and coconut oil can be found in traditional grocery stores. MCT oil is pure MCTs but isn’t available in most grocery stores. I buy mine online . It is a great source of energy that is burned for IMMEDIATE fuel and is highly unlikely to ever be stored as fat due to the unique chain length of the fatty acids.

If you are new to bulletproof coffee and want to understand the basics, start by listening to episode 446 of the Primal Potential podcast (you can click the play button below to listen). That’s my most recent episode on it.

One you hear the basics, if you have questions about whether you should be using MCT oil or coconut oil, you’ve got to take a listen to episode 450. You’ll love this one.

Let’s get to the dos and don’ts, shall we?

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The Dos and Don’ts of Bulletproof Coffee

Do: Try it.

People will ask, “what does it taste like?” or freak out and say, “I’m terrified to put butter in my coffee!” Let’s take a deep breath and realize that no one is going to force you, you certainly don’t have to try it, but I mean, what’s the worst case scenario? You take a sip and you don’t like it? Just freakin’ try it for yourself. If you hate it, pour it out. No harm, no foul. Living in curiosity is an odd choice. Just try it.

Don’t: Stir it.

Coffee is water based. MCT oil/coconut oil/butter butter are fats. If you stir it, the fats will melt and sit on top and your first sip will be pure fat. Use an immersion blender or traditional blender. Shaking is better than stirring, but still not optimal. When I’m traveling, I’ll take one of these guys with me (no blade, easy for security) so I can mix it up in my hotel room.

Do: Start slowly.

People tend to get really hung up on things like, “How much butter?” or “how much oil?” Just like people put different amounts of sugar, cream or milk in their coffee, make it to your own tastes. If it’s your first time, I don’t recommend starting with 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil, though that is a common recipe you’ll find online. So, what’s the right amount? Again, that’s like asking how much cream and sugar you should put in. Tweak, adjust and find what tastes best to you and what makes you feel the best. Start slow. Put in a teaspoon, see what you think and you can slowly increase the amount of butter and/or oil you add over time.

For those of you who have experienced stomach cramping or diarrhea – check the quality of  your MCT oil. I go into the different forms of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in episode 450 and that will help you see why some versions might upset your stomach and others won’t.

Don’t: Let it get cold.

You might be used to letting your coffee sit for a couple hours while you go about your morning. What happens when melted butter cools? It solidifies. Take it from my experience – drink it while it’s hot!

Do: Pay attention.

How do you know if you’re overdoing it? How do you know if it is working for you? How do you know if you’re eating too much fat? You’ve got to pay attention. Adding a few tablespoons (or even less) of fat to your diet every day, with no other changes, means you’re increasing the amount of fuel you’re giving your body. Is it too much? Your body will tell you.

Write down what you eat, how much, and when. Measure your waist and hip circumference and recheck it every couple weeks so you can determine if you’re making progress towards your goals. BP coffee is not a magical drink that doesn’t “count”. It’s fuel. Give your body more fuel than it needs and the extra gets stored.

Don’t: Think of this as “fasting”

If you use a couple tbsp of butter and couple tbsp of oil, that’s a good 400 calories. Just adding this to what you normally eat for breakfast without making any subtractions could set you up for energy overload. This is not a fasting meal. It is a meal. It is a highly energy dense meal. Refer to the previous “do”.  Monitor your progress and adjust accordingly.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. If I only have it for breakfast, am I still fasting?
    Nope, you’re not. Any time you add fuel (calories), you take your body from fasting mode to digesting mode. Just because it’s liquid doesn’t mean you’re still fasting. However, it is a fat loss friendly option compared to oatmeal, cereal, bagels, etc. When you add calories, you break your fast. Period.
  2. Does it matter if I use coconut oil instead of MCT oil?
    Yes. I go into these details in episode 450.
  3. What is the best type of coffee to use?
    Ah, the subject of so much debate. I consider this also a small rock. You can make bulletproof coffee with any kind of coffee. It is true that there is low quality coffee and high quality coffee, coffee with more toxins and coffee with fewer toxins. I really emphasize degrees of improvement. If you’re switching from a Chick-fil-A breakfast (like I did), any coffee is going to be a significant improvement over your previous choices. With that said, there are lots of organic coffee options out there.
  4. How much is too much?
    There is no black and white answer here because it depends on what else you eat throughout the day, your goals, your activity level, your sensitivity to caffeine, etc. This is where you have to do the work for yourself. If your goal is fat loss, monitor your progress via waist and hip circumference. If you aren’t losing weight, you might be drinking too much of it but it might also be because you’re eating too much throughout the rest of the day. If you aren’t able to fall asleep at night, it might be too much. If you feel really jittery, it might be too much. If I drink a lot of bulletproof coffee, I am mindful of how much I eat throughout the rest of the day. If I drink less, I eat a little bit more. If I’m more active, I have more wiggle room. There are a ton of factors here and it boils down to monitoring your progress, your hormonal biofeedback and adjusting accordingly.
  5. I don’t like coffee, can I make bulletproof tea?
    Absolutely. You can substitute tea for coffee. But remember, you can also make great, whole food choices in the morning and those will be great for fat loss and energy as well. Check out Q&A 6 of the Primal Potential Podcast for lots more fat loss friendly breakfast options.
  6. Is it wrong to have food alongside my bulletproof coffee?
    This totally depends on how much butter and oil you put in your coffee, what you plan to eat, what you eat throughout the rest of the day and how active you are. If I decide I want whole foods for breakfast, I’ll typically scale back the amount of butter and oil in my coffee or drink it black. You have to account for all the other factors and then monitor your progress. Your body and your results will give you this answer.
  7. Can I add sweetener to my bulletproof coffee?
    You can do whatever you want, haha. First try it without sweeteners. You’d be suprised how palatable it is on its own. If you do add sweetener, make it non caloric. Adding sugar (or eating carbohydrates) kind of defeats the purpose.
  8. What’s the difference between bulletproof coffee and keto coffee?
    Well first of all, bulletproof coffee is obviously ketogenic diet friendly. However, if you were to google the two, you’d see that keto coffee just adds more fat via egg yolk and or heavy cream. Keto coffee therefore has more fat and more calories (energy).
  9. I am hungry a couple hours after I drink it, am I doing something wrong?
    Nope, not necessarily. Some people respond better to whole foods and a lot of that has to do with psychological satisfaction that comes with chewing. You’ve got to do what works for you. Also, some people really need fiber (from non-starchy veggies) to help fill them up in the morning. Eggs don’t work for me for breakfast because they don’t fill me up. That doesn’t mean something is wrong with me, it just means I make other choices. If bulletproof coffee doesn’t work for you, no worries, just make a different choice.

Have more questions? Let’s hear them! I’m happy to share my $0.02!

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Want to learn more about butter coffee and bulletproof coffee? Start here! 

Blog: MCT Oil – The Power Behind Bulletproof Coffee

Podcast: A Closer Look at Bulletproof Coffee (Primal Potential Podcast Episode 446)

Podcast: What is Bulletproof Coffee & Should You Drink It? (Primal Potential Episode Q&A 5)

What’s a Fat Loss Breakfast (Primal Potential Podcast Episode 290)