I’m going to be honest with you – I’m a little worked up about this topic, and it may turn into a bit of a rant. I’ll try to maintain a sense of calm, but no promises guaranteed. And apologies in advance for the swearing. BUT if you have followed me for a while, then you have hopefully come to accept me for the person I am – a crazy, sweary (AKA passionate) person.

bulletproof-coffee

So….I was just chatting with a lovely client of mine, and the conversation went a little like this:

Her: I just wanted to check something with you, because I think it’s probably a load of shit, but I’m not sure because a lot of top wellness people are promoting it, but what do you think. It’s about bulletproof coffee…

Me: Hmmm. Go on…

Her: Well they are saying that it is an awesome thing to have for breakfast, and it’s great at balancing hormones, and some have even said that it helps to get their period back, but I just wonder “how!!?”. So – is it a load of shit?

Me: Yes – it’s a load of shit.

We continued to have quite a rant together about how unfortunate it is that these VERY influential wellness women are promoting this as something that is healthy, especially given their HUGE following, many of whom would be young, impressionable females who would take whatever these very attractive, seemingly healthy, seemingly very knowledgable women say and do as gospel. And I take issue with that.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not bulletproof coffee, per se, that I have an issue with. It’s replacing breakfast with bulletproof coffee that I think is f-ing ridiculous, and I am going to discuss why in this post.

But first – what the heck is Bulletproof Coffee?

coffee2

Let’s just refer to it as BC, if that’s OK? BC was invented by self-confessed bio-hacker Dave Asprey and involves making your coffee from low-toxin coffee beans, and blending it with grass-fed butter and MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride oil – these are the kind of fats found in coconut oil).

Having this first thing in the morning is supposed to encourage fat burning, improve memory function, and keep you focused and rearing to go for work and play, without the usual pitfalls of coffee (energy spikes and crashes, exposure to toxins etc). PLUS having the butter in there provides an array of nutrients often lacking in the diet, such as conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, butyrate and antioxidants.

Sounds pretty good, right? Yeah, I guess. BUT think about what you’re NOT getting when you replace an ENTIRE MEAL with coffee.

Let’s take my client’s breakfast, for example. She had 2 eggs, a pile of veggies, some avocado, tahini and good quality bread with butter.

So she’s getting the benefits of the butter that are in the coffee, but she is also getting a vast array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, proteins, fats and carbs that are not in the BC.

You can see here that the potential costs of replacing a meal with coffee probably outweigh the benefits, regardless of how “bulletproof” it is. If you’re not diligent about making up for those lack of nutrients in subsequent meals, then you could lead yourself down the road of nutrient deficiency. Unless you’re having Coco-Pops for breakfast, in which case, BC is probably a better option, but hopefully you’re not doing that, right?

But what about the effect of BC on your hormones?

Coffee, in any form, on an empty stomach is not going to do wonders for your hormones. Here’s why:

When you have coffee, the caffeine stimulates your adrenal glands to secrete your stress/awake hormone cortisol. This signals to your brain and central nervous system to head into “fight or flight” mode (or the sympathetic arm of your central nervous system). Simultaneously, it gets you out of “rest, digest and reproduce” mode (the parasympathetic arm of your CNS). This increase in stress hormones simultaneously decreases sex hormone production at the level of the adrenal glands, via something known as The Pregnenolone Steal (which I write about a lot in my book – check out the visual below), and it also signals to your brain to downregulate communication to the ovaries, thereby depleting sex hormone production there, too. Why? Because when you are in this stressed state, your body perceives it to be a sub-optimal time for reproduction, which makes sense, right? 

pregnenalone-steal-t-nation-com
Image via t-nation.com

So, in short, BC on an empty stomach shoots your body and brain straight into “fight or flight” mode and contributes to a downregulation in sex hormones, which means hormone IMBALANCE!! This is NOT something I would ever recommend to someone looking to get their period back. Ever! And this is what I do, people – I specialise in hormone balance. I went to university for 4 long years and studied my arse off to know the ins-and-outs of how the body works and what it needs to work optimally. No, my Instagram feed might not be as pretty, and no I don’t have abs or a thigh gap (anymore), and no, I don’t share a lot of acai-goji-chia-matcha-bee pollen smoothie bowl pics. This is because I am busy continuing to learn, continuing to disseminate my learnings to the wider population, and working with real-life people to get their health back on track with things that actually work. #sorrynotsorry

I think BC is a great alternative to other types of coffee (if you are going to drink coffee, which you probably shouldn’t if you have no period or other hormone imbalance), but just keep it to mid-mornings or after you have some real, nutritious food….even if it is just a plate of veggies and a couple of eggs. Do keep in mind, however, that some people do not tolerate BC very well. Personally, I love the taste, and I am all for healthy fats (and yes, that includes butter, for sure), but BC does not agree with me. Last time I had it, I almost passed out in Office Works. I’m not even lying! It was a scary experience, actually. My client I spoke to just before (that instigated this rant) also said it tends to make her MORE anxious and jittery than normal coffee, which is the opposite of what BC claims to do.

So there you go. Long story short, in point form:

  • Do not replace a meal with BC. If you want the nutritional benefits of butter, add butter to your veggies. Simple as that
  • Do not have BC (or any caffeine, ideally) on an empty stomach
  • Listen to your own body, not some “guru” – just because she has a good body, and posts lots of “super-foods”, doesn’t mean she knows what is best for your body
  • If it doesn’t agree with you, don’t do it
  • Just eat real food. K?

Hope this helps and wasn’t too ranty. Haha. Who am I kidding? I love me a good rant! Your thoughts? xx Kate

6 Comments on Is Bulletproof Coffee Good For You?

  1. Lacey
    February 2, 2017 at 7:25 am (3 weeks ago)

    Love this Kate! I love that there is someone prepared to go against the grain and provide the facts.

    Reply
  2. Sara
    February 2, 2017 at 2:10 pm (3 weeks ago)

    I agree about eating whole foods & how some wellness gurus are misleading people. But there are a vast variety of hormonal issues. A lot of naturopaths recommend intermittent fasting once or twice a week for women that are suffering from PCOS as this deals with reducing insulin resistance. They recommend bc during the fast. Personally I use a blend of half coffee with half dandelion tea & coconut oil. Every body is different but I love your take on this post!

    Reply
    • Kate Callaghan
      February 2, 2017 at 8:15 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Hey Sara!

      Absolutely there are SO many hormonal issues. PCOS is an interesting one. I would agree that in many cases, intermittent fasting can be very helpful for controlling insulin resistance/sensitivity, however caffeine triggers the release of blood glucose from muscles and liver (although this would be slightly mitigated by the fat in BC), so this could potentially have a negative effect on insulin/glucose control and PCOS. BUT as you said – everyone is different, and some people might find it works wonders. In my experience, women do not respond well to it on an empty stomach. Thanks for your feedback! Kate x

      Reply
    • Ivy
      February 7, 2017 at 2:15 am (3 weeks ago)

      Interestingly, the stress of going low-carb/ fasting raised my blood-sugar to levels equally or higher than before I quit sugar and carbs. fasting doesn’t work well for me due to adrenal and thyroid, but sadly this wasn’t picked up until it was too late. All I did was follow the advice of my then naturopath.

      Reply
  3. kate
    February 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm (3 weeks ago)

    I’ve never heard of it! I love coffee. And I wake up slowly. My day starts 7:40 waking up kid to school. Breakfast for him and coffee for me. I can’t eat in the morning. Never could, ever since I remember. So usually it is 2-3 cups of coffee until my brunch about noon. I am on antidepressants and birth cont. and month after month my hormones give me hard time. Week before my period I can’t control an anger for example. What do you suggest?

    Reply
    • Kate Callaghan
      February 2, 2017 at 8:16 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Hey Kate,

      I would try and get SOME sort of nutrition into you, other than coffee. Would a little smoothie be an option, perhaps?

      Kate x

      Reply

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