Bulletproof coffee is a high-calorie coffee drink intended to replace a carb-heavy breakfast.
It consists of 2 cups (470 mL) of coffee, 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of unsalted grass-fed butter, and 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil mixed in a blender.
It was initially promoted by Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet. The coffee produced and marketed by Asprey’s company is supposedly free of mycotoxins, naturally occurring fungal toxins in some improperly stored foods.
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 occasionally is probably harmless, it’s not advisable to make it a routine.
Here are three potential downsides of Bulletproof coffee.
1. Bulletproof coffee is low in nutrients
Asprey and other promoters recommend consuming Bulletproof coffee instead of breakfast each morning.
Although Bulletproof coffee provides plenty of fat, which reduces your appetite and provides energy, it’s lacking in several nutrients.
You are replacing a nutritious meal with a poor substitute by drinking Bulletproof coffee.
While grass-fed butter contains some conjugated linoleic acid, butyrate, and vitamins A and K2, MCT oil is a refined and processed fat with no essential nutrients.
If you eat three meals daily, 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. Bulletproof coffee is high in saturated fat
While the health effects of saturated fats are controversial, many health professionals believe that high intake is a significant risk factor for several diseases and should be avoided.
Although some studies associate a high intake of saturated fat with an increased risk of heart disease, others have found no significant links.
Nevertheless, most official dietary guidelines and health authorities advise limiting your intake.
While saturated fat can be part of a healthy diet when consumed reasonably, it may be harmful in massive doses.
If you’re 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. Bulletproof coffee 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 indicates that these diets do not increase your total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — at least on average.
Among other potential benefits, your triglycerides and weight will likely drop, while your HDL (good) cholesterol will likely rise.
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 increased LDL cholesterol by 13% compared to whipping cream. The researchers hypothesized that this could be related to butter’s fat structure.
Suggested read: Butter vs. margarine: Which is healthier?
Also, remember that not everyone responds to a high-fat diet the same way. Some people see dramatic increases in total and LDL cholesterol and other markers of heart disease risk.
For those with cholesterol problems while on a low carb or ketogenic diet, one of the first things to do is avoid excessive fat intake (such as 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. You may want to avoid Bulletproof coffee if you have elevated levels.
Should anyone drink Bulletproof coffee?
Bulletproof coffee can work for some people — especially those following a ketogenic diet who don’t have elevated cholesterol levels.
Bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight and increase your energy levels when consumed alongside a healthy diet.
If you find that this morning drink improves your well-being and quality of life, it may be worth the decreased nutrient load.
Just to be on the safe side, if you drink Bulletproof coffee regularly, your blood markers should be measured to ensure you’re not increasing your risk of heart disease and other conditions.
Summary: Bulletproof coffee may be healthy for some people, 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 ketogenic diets.
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 and those who follow a low carb or ketogenic diet.
Suggested read: A ketogenic diet to lose weight and fight metabolic disease
If you’re interested in trying Bulletproof coffee, it may be best to consult a healthcare professional to get your blood markers checked.