At last coffee lovers can rejoice: there is a way to have your favorite morning wake up necessity and not feel so guilty about it: Bulletproof CoffeeTM allegedly provides a way for that morning cup of joe to be healthier. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? And what about the Bulletproof Diet? Let’s take a look behind the hype of the Bulletproof Coffee and Diet, and see whether these new food fads can help you get fit.
Think about it: you drink your coffee and it gives you a boost, but before long, that boost is gone and you may even experience a slump and crave more coffee. This problem was tackled by Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of The Bulletproof Executive and coffee lover. He believes that the toxins found in traditional conventional coffee are what cause that slump. Asprey recommends using his trademarked Bulletproof Coffee, which is sourced from organic Central American estates and processed with their “Bulletproof ProcessTM”, to avoid the molds, bacteria and toxins that the traditional coffee contains. Asprey then recommends you carefully brew your coffee in a French press and add in his Brain OctaneTM formula, which provides medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and grass fed unsalted butter or ghee.
Obviously, organic coffee with lower toxicity is a good thing, but what about the rest of these ingredients? According to NYU’s Langone Medical Center, MCTs can provide the body with a healthier fat substitute that is easier for the body to digest. It may even have some benefit in helping the body burn fat and improving endurance, however, not enough research exists at present. We also know the value of organic, grass fed butter or ghee in providing healthy cholesterol. It’s hard to tell, though, what the taste would be like. Organic coffee infused with grass fed fats and dairy products do make for a healthier choice over conventional dairy, sweeteners and creamers, as does brewing your coffee with clean water in a glass French press.
The Bulletproof Diet
Coffee, however, is just the beginning of Asprey’s healthy offerings for consumers. His Bulletproof Diet is meant to reduce toxicity in your diet and include more “brain boosting” foods. The diet is very high in protein, as well as healthy oils & fats, nuts & legumes, and dairy products. You don’t have to count calories and there are options for those who are working out or attempting to reduce inflammation. The bulk of what you’ll be eating on this diet is organic vegetables.
Bulletproof’s “What to Eat” chart shows daily recommended portions of various food groups (i.e., 4-6 servings of proteins, 5-9 servings of oils & fat) and provides a a guidelines for how toxic they are. For example, many green vegetables are labeled as “bulletproof”. The middle range, including raw kale and spinach, is considered “suspect”, and the bottom range is “toxic”. Toxic veggies here include corn, soy and canned vegetables. I take issue with the term “suspect”, but I agree with most of his other assessments. Another thing I liked is that the chart has a “Cooking” section. Foods that are served raw are considered bulletproof, while charred and microwaved foods are toxic.
So, what’s Mamavation’s take on the diet and the coffee?
- Healthy Fats
Bulletproof Coffee and Diet emphasize healthy fats: grass fed butter, pastured eggs, grass fed red meats, avocados. These are filling and are the cleanest versions of the kinds of fats your body requires, so we like this aspect of it.
The diet encourages you to eat organic – no argument here! It’s interesting that it only lists “organic vegetables”. It doesn’t specify buying other types of organic produce, but I am happy to see organic used as much as possible.
- Low Glycemic Sweeteners
The diet itself is very low in sugar, which is a good thing for those fighting inflammation, gut imbalances, candida issues or belly fat. The bulletproof sweeteners are low glycemic and some, like xylitol or Stevia, may even have health benefits.
The diet provides fasting options for those fighting inflammation or interested in fat loss or improving focus, allowing you to target those specific areas.
- You’re in Control
Just because something is listed as toxic it doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. The Bulletproof Diet provides fairly accurate awareness of the toxicity or benefits of different foods and their cooking processes so that you can make your own choices.
- Soy Not Encouraged
The research I’ve done shows that while GMO-free soy can be healthy, it can also interfere with your estrogen levels, so I’m happy to see that soy is listed in the “toxic” section in all its forms.
Certain items are starred and have details or warnings, such as how they should be cooked, which kind is best, which can be toxic, etc. This extra detail provides plenty of information for you to make the best choices.
- Low Nutrient Fat in Bulletproof Coffee
While the fats in the coffee are better fats, how “healthy” is Bulletproof Coffee? Authority Nutrition makes a compelling argument for eating an organic, pastured egg, cooked in coconut oil for breakfast rather than drinking Bulletproof Coffee. That is far more filling and nutritious than the coffee, which contains minimal nutrients for the amount of fat in it.
- Saturated Fat at Possibly Unsafe Levels
MedPageToday reported that a 39-year-old patient and Bulletproof Coffee drinker with no prior cardiovascular risk factors “developed elevated and at-risk levels of LDL”. Further blood level testing indicated that the high fat content of the coffee could have been the culprit for the spike in the patient’s cholesterol, raising it to abnormal levels.
- Very Little Fruit
I’m not arguing with limiting starches and refined, processed foods, but eliminating fruit is not a good idea. Natural fructose is not bad or unhealthy. Dr. Robert Lustig’s work, one of the original founders of today’s anti-sugar movement and has written extensively on the effects of processed fructose – like high fructose corn syrup. People have mistakenly credited him with claiming that all fructose is bad. Dr. Lustig actually writes that fruit is good for you and does not contain harmful amounts of fructose. The New York Times’ “Making the Case for Eating Fruit” cites other expert doctors who agree. I think removing fruit from your diet is short-sighted – and you probably couldn’t get the kids on board.
- Vested Interest in Recommended Foods
Many of the top-level Bulletproof food suggestions are sold by Bulletproof, making the motivation for the science behind the diet a bit more questionable.
- Digestion Issues
Some of the Bulletproof sweeteners, like stevia, are not digestible for some. In addition, many of the sweeteners are sugar alcohols which can also cause stomach issues for some and are known to be a problem in excess.
- Chelator Questions
I was surprised that cilantro was high up on the Bulletproof list in both vegetables and spices and had no warning note. Cilantro is a chelator – that is, it binds to heavy metals that are in your systems and can move them around your body. People who chelate are attempting to detox these metals out of their bodies. However, if you are carelessly eating chelators, these metals can simply float in your blood stream causing danger. You should be careful with your cilantro intake, especially if you are already detoxing heavy metals.
The Bulletproof Diet seems to have some benefits, in terms of focusing on the right kinds of foods and switching to more healthy fats, organic produce while encouraging less toxic sources and processes for all your foods. That said, it does seem too extreme to me – far more than the Paleo diet, which allows more fruit. Bulletproof Coffee does not have as many benefits and may be unsafe. If you are considering the Bulletproof Diet or adding butter to your coffee, please do consult with your healthcare provider to make sure it is a good fit for you, or consider a less extreme diet.
Have you tried the Bulletproof Diet or Bulletproof Coffee? We’d love to hear your reaction to it and whether or not you’d recommend it.