Add Butter to Your Coffee to Lose Weight? Really?

Coffee is good for you. Coffee is bad for you. The debate, it seems, is always changing. It doesn’t matter to me. I am, and will always be, a devout coffee drinker. I plug my ears when I hear that to lose weight you have to cut out coffee. And I cheer when I hear that people who drink coffee have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s (That’s because my mom has it, and she never drank the stuff, by the way).

But what if drinking coffee could actually help you lose weight? That’s what piqued my interest on a recent episode of Healing Matrix called "The Hidden Power of Coffee".

Hosted by Regina Meredith, the Gaiam TV show featured Dave Asprey, a self-described bio-hacker. As a Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur, he spent 15 years and over $300,000 to transform his body: dropping 100 pounds, increasing his IQ by 20 points and lowering his biological age.

While at 18,000 feet elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet, Asprey was offered a creamy cup of yak butter tea. He was amazed to feel instantly rejuvenated, despite the cold weather and energy-sapping altitude. Back home, he worked backwards from the ingredients to figure out why and ultimately created Bulletproof Upgraded coffee.

One cup is supposed to give you sustained energy and improved cognitive function throughout the day. What’s the secret? According to Asprey, it’s butter. Not just any butter — grass-fed butter, which has all the benefits of healthy milk fat with none of the damaging denatured casein proteins found in cream. It’s the healthy fats that boost your metabolism.

What’s in a cup of Bulletproof coffee?

  1. Coffee beans free of mycotoxins, so natural antioxidents can work their magic.

  2. Grass-fed, unsalted butter like Kerrygold to program your body to burn fat.

  3. Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) from coconut oil to boost energy and cognitive function.

I decided to test out the claims with the leftover coffee from the shoot. So one snowy Friday, I brought in all the brewing ingredients, asking my coworkers to skip their regular morning java in our own pseudo- science experiment. It was almost like filming an old Folgers® coffee commercial ("We’ve secretly replaced so-and-so’s coffee with Folgers crystals…").

I followed the official directions on the Bulletproof Executive Web site: grinding the beans and steeping them in boiling water inside a French press. Next, I added the butter and the MCT oil to the coffee, whipping it up in a blender so the fats emulsified.

For a non-morning person like me, the process was painstaking. Especially because I skipped my regular cup of coffee. My first mistake: not making sure I was fully caffeinated before I had to make the coffee for the group. What a mess I made.

Happily though, the coffee tasted good. A bit weak for me, as I also didn’t realize you have to let the coffee steep longer when using a French press if you like it strong, which I do.

How did Bulletproof make us feel?

The first thing I noticed was that I became hungry shortly after drinking it. This is significant for me because I have what’s called a weak digestive fire, according to Ayurveda. Instead of hunger pangs, I feel weak and faint when I need to eat, something I suspect makes my metabolism sluggish.

My energy level remained high throughout the day too, and I even was able to stay alert until 10 p.m. I did end up having two cups of coffee, though because I normally drink a boatload of caffeine in the morning and stopping after one cup was hard for me.

And my coworkers? Well, two of them agreed with me that stronger coffee would have improved the overall taste and caffeine level, but both felt they had decent energy throughout the day.

"Didn’t really hit a slump," reports Carly. "Not sure if that’s a combo of my lunch not being too heavy or my Friday afternoon acupuncture appointment, but I’m feeling pretty good and not fatigued (which is impressive for a 7+ month preggers lady)."

Of course, one day is not long enough to test the coffee’s weight-loss claims. But the idea of eating more healthy fats to burn calories does have merit. Alternative wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil weighs in with his opinion.

One final note: it wasn’t a cheap cup of coffee, costing $15.95 for 12 ounces of Upgraded coffee beans, more than $5 for grass-fed butter and $24.95 for 16 ounces of the MCT oil. (I bought Asprey’s own Upgraded Brain Octane Oil from his Web site.)

That being said, I might try adding in the butter at home, using a handheld milk frother on days when I feel I need a boost. I usually heat up old coffee in the microwave, so the grinder and blender additions were too much for me to handle first thing in the morning.

What about you? Have you tried it? What did you think?

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