Bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace breakfast.
It consists of 2 cups (470 ml) of coffee, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of grass-fed, unsalted butter, and 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of MCT oil mixed in a blender.
It was originally promoted by Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet. The coffee produced and marketed by Asprey’s company is supposedly free of mycotoxins. However, there’s no evidence that this is the case.
Bulletproof coffee has become increasingly popular, especially among paleo and low-carb dieters.
Although drinking Bulletproof coffee on occasion is probably harmless, it’s not advisable to make it a routine.
Here are 3 potential downsides of Bulletproof coffee.
1. Low in nutrients
Asprey and other promoters recommend that you consume Bulletproof coffee in place of breakfast each morning.
Although Bulletproof coffee provides plenty of fat, which reduces your appetite and provides energy, it’s lacking in several nutrients.
By drinking Bulletproof coffee, you are replacing a nutritious meal with a poor substitute.
While grass-fed butter contains some conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), butyrate, and vitamins A and K2, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is a refined and processed fat with no essential nutrients.
If you eat three meals per day, replacing breakfast with Bulletproof coffee will likely reduce your total nutrient intake by about one-third.
SUMMARY Promoters of Bulletproof coffee recommend that you drink it instead of eating breakfast. However, doing so will significantly reduce the total nutrient load of your diet.
2. High in saturated fat
Bulletproof coffee is very high in saturated fat.
While the health effects of saturated fats are controversial, many health professionals believe that high intake is a major risk factor for several diseases and should be avoided (
Nevertheless, most official dietary guidelines and health authorities advise people to limit their intake.
While saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in reasonable amounts, it may be harmful in massive doses.
If you are worried about saturated fat or high cholesterol levels, consider limiting your intake of Bulletproof coffee — or avoiding it altogether.
SUMMARY Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat. Although its health effects are highly controversial and not firmly established, official guidelines still recommend limiting saturated fat intake.
3. May raise your cholesterol levels
Many studies have been conducted on low-carb and ketogenic diets, which are often high in fat — and may include Bulletproof coffee.
Most of this research confirms that these diets do not increase your levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol — at least on average (3).
Among other benefits, your triglycerides and weight drop while your HDL (good) cholesterol rises (
However, butter seems to be particularly effective at raising LDL cholesterol levels. One study in 94 British adults showed that eating 50 grams of butter daily for 4 weeks increased LDL cholesterol levels more than consuming an equal amount of coconut oil or olive oil (
Another 8-week study in Swedish men and women with excess weight found that butter raised LDL cholesterol by 13%, compared with whipping cream. The researchers hypothesized that it could have something to with its fat structure (
For those who have cholesterol problems while on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, the first thing to do is avoid excessive intake of butter. This includes Bulletproof coffee.
SUMMARY Butter and ketogenic diets high in saturated fat may increase cholesterol levels and other heart disease risk factors in some people. For those who have elevated levels, it’s best to avoid Bulletproof coffee.
Should anyone drink Bulletproof coffee?
All things considered, Bulletproof coffee can work for some people — especially those following a ketogenic diet who don’t have elevated cholesterol levels.
When consumed alongside a healthy diet, Bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight and increase your energy levels.
If you find that this morning drink improves your well-being and quality of life, perhaps it’s worth the decreased nutrient load.
Just to be on the safe side, if you drink Bulletproof coffee regularly, you should have your blood markers measured to make sure you’re not raising your risk of heart disease and other conditions.
SUMMARY Bulletproof coffee may be healthy for some individuals, as long as you consume it as part of a balanced diet and don’t have elevated cholesterol levels. It may be especially appealing for those on keto diets.
The bottom line
Bulletproof coffee is a high-fat coffee drink intended as a breakfast replacement. It’s popular among people who follow a ketogenic diet.
While it’s filling and energy-boosting, it comes with several potential downsides, including reduced overall nutrient intake, increased cholesterol, and high levels of saturated fat.
Still, Bulletproof coffee may be safe for those who don’t have elevated cholesterol levels, as well as those who follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
If you’re interested in trying Bulletproof coffee, it may be best to consult your healthcare provider to get your blood markers checked.