I started this blog as an outlet for discussing nutrition fads and trends, with the hope of helping people sift through all the misinformation out there. Sadly, I haven’t been short of things to write about!
One of the craziest nutrition trends of 2014, that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, is ‘Bullet Proof Coffee’. For those of you who don’t know, Bullet Proof Coffee is your morning ‘pick me up’ with a little added extra…. 1-2 table spoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglycerides for the science nerds out there) to be exact.
Yep. You read that right. Coffee with BUTTER (And some more fats for good measure).
Apart from the fact that I can’t see any reason to ruin a perfectly delicious drink by adding butter to it, this addition makes your morning brew a little more calorific than it would otherwise be, and raises the fat content rather substantially.
1 cup of bullet proof coffee contains on average around a whopping 400Kcal and 40g of fat, 28g of which are saturated fats. Thats 57% of your RI for fat and 200% of your RI for saturated fat.
Actual ‘Bullet Proof Coffee’ is a trademarked brand. Advocates claim that a morning dose of their special blend of ‘high performance’ beans plus grass fed butter & MCTs will:
- Program your body to ‘burn fat’ for the day
- Promote weight loss
- Keep your appetite at bay
- Improve your ‘brain power’ & focus
- Help you avoid ‘toxic’ moulds found in regular coffee
It sounds crazy, but ‘Butter coffee’ is a trend that has been accepted widely and promoted, particularly among proponents of high fat diets such as Paleo.
So what’s the logic?
Why all of a sudden, in a world where many people struggle to control their energy intake and weight, are people so excited about a product which provides us with a bucket load of calories, most of which are fat?
Bullet proof coffee was started by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Asprey (A business man, not a Nutritionist/Dietitian) who has special interest in health – his own actually. He first came across yak-butter tea in Tibet and he credits this discovery with his invention of the buttery coffee he swears is a fast track to good health, weight loss and improved focus.
Since he is a business man, who has made a nice profit form his bullet proof products and trademarked goods, I’m sure I don’t need to spell it out that there is a component of money making involved in these claims. However, I’d say it’s overall success is down to some seriously good timing and a big dose of confusing nutrition quackery….
And here’s why…
2014 was an interesting year in the world of nutrition research.
Back in the 80’s fat was deemed the bad guy. Research showed that a high intake of saturated fat was linked with raised cholesterol levels – a risk marker for heart disease. Doctors and Dietitians raised the alarm and the advice to lower our saturated fat intake was embraced with gusto. Low fat diets were everywhere and the food industry responded with a plethora of low fat products to replace the high fat foods in our diet. Low fat yoghurts, cheese, bacon….you name it, there was a low fat version of it and we were eating it.
Then the science evolved (as it does) and in 2014 saturated fat was back in the news in a big way.
I’m you sure saw the headlines….
“No link found between saturated fat and heart disease”
“Saturated fat in dairy ‘may protect against diabetes”
“Saturated fat advice ‘unclear”
YES!! The nutrition quacks and high fat diet lovers cried! So if saturated fat isn’t bad for us, it MUST be good. The more of it the better! Lather it on your toast, pile it onto your potatoes….stick it in your coffee!!
Unfortunately, as with many nutrition stories, the scientific findings (of some perfectly reputable scientific studies) were mis-reported and the message got lost amongst the headlines. Contrary to what the papers would have you believe, the new research didn’t show us that saturated fat was good for us, or that we should be eating MORE of it. Rather that when we reduce saturated fat in our diet, what we replace it with matters.
It showed us that replacing saturated fat with lots of refined carbohydrate does not improve our risk for ill health.
It looks like that old ‘good for me bad for me’ routine has backfired once again.
Needless to say, the other claims surrounding this coffee are sketchy and at best based on flawed interpretation of other scientific research.
For a run down on the problems with the rest of the claims about Bullet Proof Coffee, see this great post.
Despite the new research, the UK guidelines on fat intake remain as they are. A reasonable amount of fat (including saturated fat) in your diet is fine. However, if you replace your usually nutrient filled breakfast with a bullet proof coffee, you’re not only taking in a massive amount of fat in one go, your missing out on all the other good stuff your breakfast could provide you with. If you want to try butter in your morning coffee, go ahead (I don’t recommend it). Personally I’ll take mine minus the extra fat and Kcal thanks very much.
Have you tried Bullet Proof Coffee? Would You?
Bullet Proof Coffee Recipie
Telegraph: No Link Found Between Saturated Fat And Heart Disease
NHS Choices Behind The Headlines: Saturated Fat in Dairy May Reduce Diabetes Risk
BBC: Saturated Fat Risk Unclear
NHS: Fat The Facts http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/goodfood/pages/fat.aspx
Bullet proof Coffee Nutritional info
NHS Reference Intakes Explained
Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease.