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Take your morning cup of joe, add two tablespoons of butter, some oil and call it Bulletproof Coffee. No doubt it’s an interesting flavor, but it’s the claims of increased energy and weight loss that seem to be giving this morning jolt traction. Bulletproof Coffee even replaces breakfast for many fans of the drink.
But it’s not just any old butter and coffee. Those supporting this idea say it has to be unsalted, grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT) added to low-toxicity coffee beans.
Can a mixture like that really live up to this claim to fame?
What happens to butter in your body?
“There’s no real research into whether butter-spiked coffee is good for you, but we do know some things about how butter affects your digestion,” explains Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD.
According to research, fat in butter contains glycosphingolipids, which are fatty acids that ward off gastrointestinal tract infections, especially in very young children and older adults.
Its omega-3 and omega-6 fats also slow down your body’s metabolism of caffeine, so you hold on to the energy longer and avoid the crash that comes later on when the stimulant wears off.
How MCT oil works
MCT, most commonly found in coconut oil, is also good for our bodies and brains. When it comes to our bodies, we don’t store MCT in our adipose tissue (the fat around and inside our muscles) like the other dietary fats we eat.
Most of those fats are long-chain triglycerides, but MCTs are much shorter. They travel directly to the liver where they’re processed into powerful energy particles called ketone bodies. MCTs are easily digested and quite a few health benefits are linked to the way our bodies process these fats.
In addition, if your brain loses the ability to break down its primary fuel source, glucose, due to cognitive impairment or some other disorder, it can use ketone bodies as an excellent, alternative source. Research shows that people with cognitive impairment who ingest MCT experience an almost immediate improvement in mental function.
The verdict – not enough evidence to support
So do the health benefits of butter and MCT oil mean you should start adding them to your morning coffee?
If you drink coffee you might want to skip this trend, as there just isn’t enough research to back up the claims.
However healthy fats and oils do have a place in our daily diets, but there’s no research proving that adding both to your coffee is the best way to incorporate them. There’s also concern that buttered coffee is very high in saturated fat and dietary guidelines advise people to limit their intake as they can lead to heart disease and other conditions.
So in the end, having Bulletproof Coffee on occasion is fine, but it’s not advised to make this part of a healthy eating (or drinking) routine.
Instead, focus on eating a well-rounded diet and incorporate coffee sparingly.