Have you tried bulletproof coffee yet? The media and fitness world has been praising it for a few years, but its popularity seems to have reached an all-time peak these last few months. Let’s dig in and see if it really is the new magic pill for fat loss.
What is this voodoo? Very simply put, it’s black coffee mixed with butter or coconut oil and MCT oil and many promote having this instead of breakfast or as a boost before a heavy workout.
Its promise is that you become more focused, you will feel a boost in your energy levels and that you’ll burn more fat through your workouts. However, by adding butter and oils high in calories to your normal cup of coffee will increase its calorie content significantly.
After having spoken to a few people who do consume the fatty hot drink, they reported that they feel more energised and they experience weight loss. Research on coffee from the 1980’s show that caffeine can increase the metabolic rate and promote weight loss. However apart from administering caffeine and checking against a placebo control group, no other factors, like the number of calories consumed or type of meals have been assessed in this trial.
Let’s look at the bulletproof coffee experience from a nutrition point and paint a picture.
The Math’s behind BPC
Think of how much you normally eat for breakfast. An average balanced meal would be around 500 calories. If we add your mid-morning snacks, the odd biscuits and teas or anything you eat, that will leave you around 800-1000 calories before lunch.
Now imagine you decide you would replace the whole morning’s food intake with bulletproof coffee. Black coffee won’t account for much calories, but the added fats and oils, when following the original recipe (2 cups of coffee, 2 tbsp butter or coconut oil and 1-2 tbsp of MCT oil) you can end up taking in 400-500 calories with one mug of hot drink.
No wonder you feel like a Duracell bunny for half the day but if you check the numbers, you also consumed 300-500 less calories than you would with your normal meals. If you can maintain that process, in a week time you will have consumed 2100-3500 fewer calories. That is a significant enough calorie deficit that you will notice weight loss results. Boom!
Instead of thinking that bulletproof coffee is finally a magic weight loss solution, it’s worth to look at the details and understand what makes it work when people follow the plan. Now, let’s see three reasons why you should be cautious and ditch the idea.
1. Calorie deficit without nutrient load
If you compare the nutrient specs of your normal breakfast and a bulletproof coffee you will find that instead of having a variety of nutrients including protein, carbs, fiber and fats, you only take a high amount of saturated fat, no protein, carbs or fiber. That’s a 400 kcal meal which doesn’t provide essential nutrients your body needs. This puts pressure onto the rest of the meals in the day as you want to make sure they provide you with sufficient macro- and micronutrients.
2. Saturated fat is not evil, but nor is needed in such amounts
Luckily, we finally have seemed to overcome the saturated fat myth and people started to have some butter and other animal fat again. We do need some of them in a balanced diet, but having a bulletproof coffee every day would be an overkill. I mean, there is no scientific proof that consuming high amounts of saturated fat could pose any risks, but for that same reason you don’t know what might happen 10 or 20 years down the line.
3. Calorie deficit can be achieved in many other ways
If you’d like to cut about 500 calories per day, you’re better looking at what type of foods you are eating. Choosing lower fat ingredients, working on your portion sizes, cutting back on sugary drinks and snacks, creamy coffees and alcohol can already do a lot for you to move to the right direction. Once you mastered that you can work on choosing leaner cut of meat, lower calorie carbs, and generally educate yourself on food.
No, bulletproof coffee is not the new elixir to lose weight and become healthier. There are many other ways to achieve your fitness goals and by no means would I stop you from having one every now and then if you like it. I just want to make sure you understand what it means for your body and how it works.
Finally - one thing I want to encourage you to do more is to start to question things you either read online, in magazines or hear from a "friend".
Be open minded and think critically.
Look for more sources of info with regards a fat loss product or diet promise.
If you're not sure and would like help with anything you can always ask us. Ok? :)
David Knowles is the owner, lead Coach & trainer, Dad x 5 & wannabe singer songwriter!