Lots of talk lately about bulletproof coffee and people putting butter in their coffee, huh?
People drink it for energy, focus, mental clarity, metabolism and satiety. While there are absolutely health benefits derived from butter (especially from the short chain fatty acid butyrate) and coffee (it’s packed with antioxidants and polyphenols), the heavy hitter in bulletproof coffee is the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
MCTs are naturally abundant in coconut oil or you can purchase straight MCT oil, a more concentrated delivery of medium chain triglycerides.
Bulletproof coffee is made by blending coffee with butter and either coconut oil or MCT oil. There are dozens of variations possible including egg yolks, collagen, cacao powder, whey protein & more.
For today, we’re looking just at MCTs. What are medium chain triglycerides and what do they do?
A Word of Warning
Let me start out by making one thing incredibly clear: there is NO magic weight loss secret. There is nothing that can replace a consistently clean, fat-loss friendly diet. You can’t workout enough to compensate for a diet full of garbage. You can’t supplement to counteract the damage caused my constantly eating junk. Bulletproof coffee is not a fairy dust drink that will trigger fat burning.
The only magic is YOU and the decisions you make.
Bulletproof coffee doesn’t burn fat. It’s not a hack or weight loss quick fix.
With that said, there are certainly individual factors that have the power to magnify the results of your clean eating and intelligent exercise. There are ingredients that can increase energy & mental clarity.
However, if you haven’t mastered eating clean 80% of the time or more, THAT is where you need to invest your energy. THAT is where you will get your results. Don’t think that adding something like bulletproof coffee will have ANY impact if you aren’t eating clean.
For the Science Folks
Let’s talk about medium chain triglycerides. One of the ways we classify dietary fats is by the length of their fatty acid chain. Like carbohydrates and proteins, fats are chains of their building blocks – fatty acids. We characterize fats as either short chain, medium chain or long chain. The majority of the fats within the foods we eat are classified as long chain fatty acids. These long chains require an intricate digestive process to allow them to be digested and absorbed.
Medium chain fats (we’ll refer to them as MCTs – medium chain triglycerides) are metabolized very differently than long chain TGs. Because of their shorter length, they’re more soluble in water, allowing them to be metabolized much more easily. In fact, MCTs bypass the long digestive process that LCTs have to endure.
They are absorbed rapidly into the blood stream. When you consume these MCTs you get a quick energy boost and, because fat is such a long-burning fuel, you don’t get the energy crash that follows carbohydrate consumption (or the rise in blood sugar and insulin).
MCTs give you instant fuel the way carbohydrates do, but without the energy crash, insulin response or potential for fat storage. Not only that, but studies have shown that MCTs actually improve your metabolism of glucose (sugar) by enhancing insulin sensitivity.
MCTs are sent directly to the liver where they are processed to provide immediate fuel for our muscles, cells and brain. Our metabolic rate increases, our energy increases and we get much more mileage out of MCTs as fuel than we ever would from carbohydrate.
Because they bypass the “traditional” digestive process, they are often tolerated more easily by people without a gallbladder or with other digestive challenges and sensitivities to dietary fat.
Best of all, because they avoid they long digestive process of LCTs and are used more immediately for fuel, they’re very unlikely to be stored as fat, in so long as you don’t consume MCTs with a moderate or high carbohydrate meal. They should be consumed only with other fats, proteins or non-starchy vegetables.
Where Do You Find MCTs?
MCTs occur naturally in coconut oil, however you can also buy pure MCT oil. Medium chain TGs are also naturally occurring in other foods like dairy products, but in far lower amounts than what we see in coconut oil.
For more on bulletproof coffee, check out one of my most popular podcast episodes! It’s all about bulletproof coffee, MCT oil and how it has helped my fat loss journey!
You might have questions about alternative variations of the traditional BP coffee, decaf coffee, bulletproof tea or the use of sweeteners and you can read my thoughts on those questions in this bulletproof coffee Q&A post.