Adding butter in your coffee has been credited to weight loss and other health benefits for quite some time and is seeing a resurgence due to the keto diet. But are the claims behind this trendy drink actually true?
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By this point, you've likely heard about people putting butter in their coffee and calling it "healthy." Initially pegged as "bulletproof coffee," this drink trend is getting a new influx of attention thanks to the keto diet, which focuses on high-fat foods and drinks and limiting carbs. What's in it? Bulletproof keto coffee typically blends a cup of black coffee with 1 to 2 tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter and 1 to 2 tablespoons of something called medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, a type of easily digested fat. (Note: Trainer Jen Widerstrom followed the keto diet for just 17 days, and she says it totally transformed her body. While on the keto diet, she created her own go-to keto coffee recipe that used cacao butter, collagen peptides, and vanilla protein.)
The man behind the popular coffee concoction is Dave Asprey, a tech entrepreneur who claims the 450-plus-calorie brew suppresses hunger, promotes weight loss, and improves energy and performance. He credits bulletproof coffee for helping him lose more than 100pounds, plus helping him get more sleep and boosting his brainpower. (Coffee has, actually, been shown to help you burn fat.)
Drink devotees include business execs, professional athletes, and celebrities alike. Asprey now sells a variety of Bulletproof-branded products and opened Bulletproof Coffee shops on the West Coast. (Related: This Secret Starbucks Keto Drink Is Insanely Delicious)
If you're still not jumping on the bulletproof coffee or keto coffee bandwagon (for reasons that are likely either due to taste or health questions...or both), here's what a healthy eating pro had to say about the high-fat coffee trend.
Are the bulletproof coffee health claims legit?
"Fat is more satiating than nothing, so if you add it to your morning cup, you may feel full longer," says Jenna A. Bell, Ph.D., R.D., a sports dietitian and author of Energy to Burn: The Ultimate Food & Nutrition Guide to Fuel Your Active Lifestyle. “However, turning your 80-calorie cup of coffee into a 400-plus-calorie mug is unlikely to promote weight loss given that its ingredients—coffee, butter, and oils—have not been shown to promote weight loss independently or when stirred together. Rather than refer to science here, I’d like to consider it logically—without exercise, is anyone out there losing weight by eating more calories?" (OK, once and for all: Is butter healthy?)
What are the health benefits (if any) of bulletproof keto coffee?
"While caffeine-containing beverages, like coffee and tea, do have health benefits—antioxidants, enhanced cognitive function, mental acuity, and even a lower risk of total mortality—it’s hard to call Bulletproof coffee ‘healthy,’" says Bell. "You need to eat fat for our body to function properly—especially the essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) found in fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds—but adding it to your coffee doesn’t provide any additional health benefits."
Are there any health risks to drinking bulletproof coffee?
But what if you're on the keto diet and can't seem to get enough fat into your day? Is it OK, then, to drink bulletproof keto coffee? "Clinical studies have shown that for many individuals, eating too much saturated fat can contribute to high LDL-cholesterol," says Bell. "If you fall into that category, you may not want to add butter to a drink that you were satisfied with already."
Bottom line: If you’re going to drink bulletproof coffee, do it for one reason only—because you think it tastes good.