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What is Butter Coffee?

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018

The idea of adding butter to your coffee may sound like a strange way to start your day but for people all over the world, it is just what they need to put a little extra pep in their morning.

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Butter coffee was created by Dave Asprey after he tried yak butter tea on a trip to Tibet. After trying the drink he took on the mission of figuring out why it made him feel so good and looking for a way to improve upon it. After years of research and testing, he released the recipe for his branded Bulletproof coffee on his blog.1 Since then, the drink has steadily gained popularity from people who claim it helps them stay focused longer, lose weight, and think more clearly.

The Tibetan tea that started it all is a traditional drink that Tibetans have enjoyed for centuries and is a combination of black tea, salt, butter, and milk. After enjoying this drink so much, Asprey created his perfect combination and the basis for his company, Bulletproof. His blend contains low-toxin coffee, unsalted grass-fed butter, and Brain Octane oil (an enhanced form of MCT or medium chain triglyceride oil) which is derived from coconuts and is reportedly much stronger than coconut oil. This simple recipe was the stepping off point for an empire of body and mind enhancing products from ‘Upgraded Coffee’ and ‘Unfair Advantage’ to protein bites.

With a physical coffee shop in Santa Monica, California and an ever-growing band of famous and noteworthy consumers, we are wondering what all the hype is about and whether these claims actually hold true.

There are many claims made by butter coffee enthusiasts, including helping you burn fat, lifting the brain fog, limiting your food cravings, and the avoidance of the dreaded caffeine crash.

Many nutritionist and dietitians are skeptical about these claims. A few of their biggest concerns are the high levels of fat that you will be consuming if you are adding 1-2 tablespoons of butter to your coffee every morning and the idea that a cup of butter coffee is a good substitute for breakfast in the morning.

Many of the studies that have been conducted around the claims of butter coffee aficionados have resulted in the need for even more research, as the results were inconclusive.  

Cholesterol is an important substance that our bodies need for everything from making vitamins to helping you to digest the foods you eat. Our bodies produce their own cholesterol, but you also get cholesterol from a lot of the foods you eat.  The two type of cholesterol is LDL (bad) and HDL (good). When you have too much cholesterol in your body, your arteries can become clogged and your risk of heart disease increases.2

This does not mean that adding those 1-2 tablespoons of butter to your morning coffee will necessarily raise your cholesterol to an unsafe level. This is because everyone’s bodies react to what we eat and drink in different ways. If you are considering adding butter coffee to your routine and cholesterol is something you are worried about, it is a good idea to consult your doctor.

The cholesterol you get from foods is actually from the combination of carbohydrates and fats in your diet.3 Both the butter and the MCT oil contain fats, and while this is touted as a reason the coffee will keep you full, limit your cravings, and keep your energy levels up, it is also an important health consideration to take into account. High-fat consumption is detrimental to your health and if your diet consists of a lot of red meat and dairy products, butter coffee might not be the best addition.

The idea that a cup of coffee with butter in it is a good replacement for a balanced breakfast is one of the issues that most nutritionists have a problem with. A good way to build a healthy breakfast is looking at the macronutrients, fat, protein, and carbohydrates, that it contains. A breakfast balanced with macronutrients will provide you with lasting energy and fuel your body. Butter coffee has fat, but it fails to include protein or carbohydrates. So, while the fat content of the coffee may, in fact, leave you feeling full for a while, you will not be getting the balanced mix of nutrients your body needs to function properly.

While there are plenty of potential health and productivity benefits touted by butter coffee enthusiasts and the people behind the Bulletproof brand, is it still up in the air whether all of these claims ring true. There are concerns of health and nutrition experts that should be taken into consideration if you are considering adding butter coffee to your diet. And, as always, it is best to consult a doctor before making a considerable dietary change as everyone’s body reacts differently to what we consume.

Coffee not your thing in the morning? Try these delicious smoothie recipes!


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1. Asprey, Dave. "Recipe: How To Make Bulletproof Coffee Recipe." Bulletproof. Bulletproof 360, Inc., 27 June 2016. Web.

2. Gibbons, Gary H. "What Is Cholesterol?" National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web.

3. "Cholesterol - The Nutrition Source." Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Harvard University, 09 June 2014. Web.

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