Today’s wellness trailblazers will try anything in pursuit of better health, and coffee is no exception. Bulletproof coffee is one wellness-promoting drink that’s meant to energize and nourish the body for more healthy and productive days.
Characterized by putting MCT oil in coffee, along with grass-fed butter or ghee, Bulletproof coffee has transformed not only coffee, but the way we think about breakfast in general. Here’s a look at why so many people are swapping carb-heavy breakfasts for this elixir — plus why you should consider putting MCT oil in coffee.
What Is MCT Oil?
Let’s start with the basics: MCT oil is a fatty acid. It’s comprised of medium-chain triglycerides (also known as medium-chain fatty acids), which can bypass the ordinary digestive system. Instead of going through the intestines first like most other foods, MCT oil is absorbed immediately and delivered directly to the liver where it’s converted into energy.
MCT occurs naturally in butter (making up 8% of butter to be exact.) Yet it’s most concentrated in coconut oil and palm oil, which contain 55% and 54% MCTs respectively. The MCT oil found in stores has been isolated and then extracted from either coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or a mixture of the two. Isolating MCT oil helps the body receive its benefits in much higher concentrations than simply ingesting one of the oils.
Benefits of MCT Oil
One of the greatest benefits of MCT oil is that it helps the body easily and safely absorb fats without intestinal discomfort, explains nutrition specialist Lindsay Cotter. In turn, the body is able to experience the benefits of a high-fat diet more effectively.
One of the main benefits of MCT oil is that it increases energy quickly, warding off fatigue and providing an extra boost. This makes it a great choice for athletes — especially high-endurance runners or cyclists — as it provides a fast and efficient source of fuel. It has also been shown to improve recovery among such athletes.
Beyond providing energy, MCT oil is thought to increase satiety or fullness, reducing instances of snacking and overeating while supporting healthy weight loss. Similarly, MCTs are known to support ketosis, a metabolic process by which the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
Ketosis occurs when there isn’t enough glucose (from carbohydrates) to burn as energy. When the body burns fat instead of glucose, acids called ketones are created. The goal of the ketogenic (keto) diet is to starve the body of carbohydrates and kick ketosis into motion through the consumption of high-fat foods like avocado, olive oil, unsalted butter, meat, and eggs.
Low-carb keto diet followers believe that the body’s production of ketones (and spending time in ketosis) can support weight loss by helping the body burn fat faster. An increase in ketones is also known to boost metabolism reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce instances of disease.
MCT oil has been shown to increase metabolic rate and make it easier to manage metabolic diseases — especially those that contribute to obesity. This is why paleo diet followers also support the incorporation of MCT oil into daily meals. MCT is a healthy fat that promotes lean muscle mass and weight loss, and it’s certified paleo according to most standards.
MCT oil is also thought to improve brain functioning and promote better memory, mental clarity, and focus. Preliminary research also shows that MCT oil can improve memory and support people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Why Put MCT Oil in Coffee?
Putting MCT oil in coffee creates a supercharged drink that promotes focus and provides energy. To see why this is so powerful, let’s take a look at the lesser-known health effects of coffee.
A cup of coffee alone can make a person more productive and efficient at their daily tasks, thanks to caffeine. But aside from having caffeine that promotes energy and alertness, the antioxidants in coffee are known to have several health benefits.
For one, antioxidants fight free radicals. These are what’s responsible for damaging DNA and proteins, increasing a person’s risk of aging, cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and macular degeneration. Therefore, antioxidants from coffee can lower a person’s risk of developing these increasingly common diseases.
Plus, coffee has the ability to increase short-term memory, which can be particularly helpful when drinking MCT oil in coffee at work. Coffee has also been shown to regulate blood sugar, prevent tissue damage, and ward off inflammation. This makes coffee a beneficial dietary addition for people with diabetes (albeit without the milk and sugar).
Other studies show that coffee can reduce instances of depression. While the link isn’t explicit, researchers believe coffee boosts mood by activating neurotransmitters responsible for mood and emotional regulation.
How to Make Bulletproof Coffee
While anyone can put MCT oil in their coffee, the trend became famous through its association with Bulletproof — a coffee and health food supplier. According to Bulletproof (whose founder Dave Asprey trademarked this drink) it’s best to start with one teaspoon of MCT oil per cup. Then you can slowly increase the amount of MCT oil over time.
People respond to MCT oil in different ways, and it can cause bodily distress if too much is introduced too quickly. The standard Bulletproof coffee recipes (also known as keto coffee recipes) stress the importance of opting for grass-fed dairy or ghee (for the lactose-intolerant). While you can add a sweetener, choose a low-carb option like Stevia or low-sugar almond milk.
The benefit of adding butter to your coffee is that it fills you up to keep you full until lunch time while also fueling you with energy. This butter coffee isn’t just about keeping you awake either. “Grass-fed butter is a good source of butyrate and contains important nutrients like Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and the fatty acid CLA,” says the Bulletproof team. Additionally, as people on the keto diet understand, filling up on healthy fats helps reduce cravings to support healthy weight loss.
Other MCT Oil Recipes
In addition to putting MCT oil in coffee, it can be added to other meals throughout the day. For example, some people choose to put it in a smoothie to get a few more nutrients in the morning than what a Bulletproof latte can provide. Another idea is to use it in place of olive or canola oil in cooking. It can be added to salad dressings or created as a dip for veggies for those who don’t drink coffee or find the Bulletproof coffee recipe too intense.
Cautions When Using MCT Oil in Coffee
While MCT oil does have a wealth of benefits, it may not be the best choice for everyone. For example, since Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat (thanks to the butter and MCT oil), people with existing heart conditions may be increasing their risk of heart attack or heart disease by consuming MCT oil. This is also true for people who have high cholesterol, where consuming high amounts of butter and MCT oil daily may only exacerbate the condition.
Secondly, MCT oil in coffee is often touted as a proper substitute for breakfast. While it does contain filling, healthy fats, it isn’t necessarily a nutritious swap for breakfast — especially for someone who normally eats a healthy diet and feels energized when eating in the morning. Plus, people with hypoglycemia or low blood pressure may feel tired, dizzy, or irritable when skipping breakfast.
Should You Put MCT Oil in Coffee?
Whether you want to boost your cognitive function or you’re in it for the fat burning capabilities, it’s clear that MCT oil has many benefits. Moreover, adding this healthy fat to hot coffee in the morning could help you stay fuller for longer, lose weight, and steer clear of disease.
As with any dietary change, adding MCT oil to your coffee requires caution and consideration. If you’re not struggling with a condition like heart disease or high blood pressure, trying MCT oil in coffee might help you elevate your productivity and achieve optimum health like never before.