I Drank Butter Coffee For A Month And It Was More Magical Than I Expected


3. Let me
explain why I did this.

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5. Maybe
you’ve heard of
Bulletproof Coffee, which is a branded version of butter
coffee created by a businessman named Dave Asprey.

Asprey came up with the idea for Bulletproof Coffee after
trying yak butter tea in Tibet. It’s something Tibetans have
been drinking since about the 7th century: a special
kind of black tea, yak butter, salt, and milk, mixed in a
churn.

Asprey swapped the tea for coffee, used unsalted grass-fed
butter (because it’s higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins
than butter from grain-fed cows), and added an oil derived from
coconuts (medium-chain triglyceride, or MCT oil) into the mix
because of its potential
fat-burning
properties and its ability to provide lasting energy quickly.

Asprey’s recipe has become the blueprint for butter coffee, but
it can be tweaked to your personal taste or needs. For
instance, you could use more or less butter, you could swap the
butter for ghee, or you could use regular coconut oil instead
of MCT oil.

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6. Here’s
how I made it:

• Brew 16 oz. of coffee (I used a French press and this dark
roast)
• Add brewed coffee to blender
• Add 1 tbsp. Kerrygold unsalted butter
• Add 1 tbsp. MCT
oil (this is a kind of oil found in coconuts and some
other foods)
• Blend until the mixture is a beigeish color
• Pour and drink!

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8. For
context, here’s how I incorporated butter coffee into my
life:

• For six weeks I would replace my normal black coffee and
breakfast routine with butter coffee. If I was still hungry
after drinking it, I’d have something high in protein like
Greek yogurt, per Matheny’s suggestion.

• I’d use a tablespoon each of butter and MCT oil — because
after reading up about other people’s butter coffee
experiences, it seemed like starting out with any more than
that would be asking for trouble (gastrointestinally
speaking).

• I would take notes throughout the day on the taste and
experience, as well as my energy, mood, hunger levels,
alertness, sleep schedule, etc.

• After six weeks, I’d check my cholesterol levels to see if
adding two tablespoons of saturated fat to my daily diet had
any impact on my cholesterol.

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9. SO, here’s
what butter coffee did for me:

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10. 1. Wow,
did it ever make me feel full.

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Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed News

I was nervous to replace my usual hearty, high-fat,
high-protein breakfast with basically a cup of liquid fat,
especially because I think of a hearty breakfast as insurance
against intense mid-morning hunger. But I found that even on
days that I worked out (when I typically start getting
hungrier earlier), the butter coffee invariably kept me mega
full for 4 to 6 hours. This is unheard of for me — breakfast
usually holds me over for maybe a couple hours tops. I never
once had that just-in-case Greek yogurt.

I didn’t end up eating less food than usual — whatever
calories I would’ve normally had in the morning I basically
just ate later on in the day — I just no longer had to stop
my life every couple of hours because a gnawing hunger was
distracting me. If you have the constant urge to snack or
struggle with feeling really, truly full after a meal, I can
definitely see butter coffee helping.

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11. 2. It
kept my energy levels high and even.

2. It kept my energy levels high and even.

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Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

Before butter coffee, I’d start to feel my energy dip around
mid-morning, especially on days I worked out. And then again
around 3 p.m., and then around 7 p.m. Most weekend afternoons
I napped hard. I know, it’s a lot of fatigue.

While I was drinking butter coffee, I simply felt
consistently good and up with no major dips in my energy
levels. I felt energetic and alert from the early morning
(around 6 a.m. when I drank it) through the entire work day
and up until I went to bed. I napped only once the entire
time I was drinking butter coffee.

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12. 3. When
I was sleep deprived it was basically a magical potion.

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Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed News

Around the fourth week of my experiment, my schedule was
really hectic for about five days — I was way busier than
usual and had a few nights in a row when I got only about
five hours of sleep. As someone who must must must have at
least seven hours of sleep per night to function cognitively
and feel okay physically, I was expecting to feel how I
usually did when I was underslept and overworked, which is
basically like I have a hangover — exhausted, jittery, sour
stomach, and a general feeling of being “off.”

But butter coffee made my sleep deprivation meaningfully less
miserable. It gave me sweet jitter-free energy. And even
though I wasn’t so sure about pouring liquid fat into my
slightly off stomach, it actually made my stomach feel
better. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I felt and
functioned that week.

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14. 5. I
actually liked the taste of it.

5. I actually liked the taste of it.

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Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

Before I drank it, I thought it sounded gross. The idea of
butter in coffee was just really unappetizing (actually when
I think about it, it still kinda is). But I was surprised at
how pleasant the flavor turned out to be. It was almost like
drinking a foamy latte — sort of milky, slightly muted coffee
flavor, and lotsa froth.

Fair warning: After you drink the froth, you notice an oil
slick sheen on the surface. (I advise not looking too much at
the surface.) But it didn’t feel oily in my mouth and it
didn’t leave a greasy feeling on my lips, which I think has
to do with the fact that I used 16 ounces of coffee. If you
like drinking a regular mug of coffee, which is about 10
ounces, your butter coffee is going to be pretty g.d. greasy.

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15. OK, but
is this real? Or am I just super susceptible to placebos?

Is it all in my head that I am in fact functioning at
Bradley-Cooper-in-Limitless level?

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16. I
decided to run the apparent benefits by some experienced
experts to see which ones (if any) were supported by science
or their own clinical experience. Here’s what they said about
each of my takeaways:

Lasting, level, jitter-free energy:
According to Matheny, “The caffeine is released more slowly
because fat slows down digestion,” says Matheny. So fatty
coffee means a “slower release [of caffeine], less intense
energy spike, and longer-duration energy.”

Satiety and a suppressed appetite:
“Taking in a fatty meal in the morning is definitely going to
make you fuller quicker,” says Dr.
Lisa Ganjhu, D.O., associate professor of medicine at NYU
Langone Medical Center in New York City. And because the fat
slows down gastric motility (aka filling and, ahem, emptying
of the digestive system), you feel fuller for longer.

That said, Brian St. Pierre, registered dietitian and
Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition
points out that butter coffee’s effect on satiety has yet to
be proven: only
1 in 14 studies on medium-chain triglycerides (aka MCT
oil) found that it had a positive effect on satiety.

Alertness / mental boost:
St. Pierre and Ganjhu explained that the way MCT oil is
processed by the body could make you feel an energy boost
more quickly. Basically, it bypasses the normal multi-step
digestion process and is transported directly to the liver,
where it is converted into energy. So our body’s response to
MCT oil is closer (in how we feel its effects) to medication
and alcohol than to other foods, says St. Pierre. Perhaps for
some people (like me), the combination of quick-hitting
caffeine and long-lasting energy translates to enhanced
alertness and performance.

I didn’t track this but I know people are interested:
Enhanced calorie-burning and weight loss:

If butter coffee is enhancing your satiety to the point that
you’re eating fewer calories overall, well, then you will
lose weight.

But as far as MCT oil directly impacting weight loss, the
effect may be minimal, says St. Pierre. He cited a 2012
review of
the MCT oil literature which found six studies that showed
weight loss in participants. However, the review concluded
that further controlled studies with standardized amounts of
MCT were needed before any legit claims could be made about
its impact on weight loss.

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17. So,
should you try it?

So, should you try it?

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Because butter coffee hasn’t been thoroughly studied, it’s
tough to make any evidence-based claims that everyone
should try it (or that no one should try it). Neither St.
Pierre nor Ganjhu were about to recommend butter coffee to
the people they treat and work with, but they also said it
was neither harmful nor dangerous. “If someone is doing it,
enjoys it, and finds benefits, I’m not going to talk them out
of it,” says St. Pierre.

But do keep in mind that adding butter coffee to your day
means adding a not insignificant amount of fat to your diet.
The butter coffee I made every morning contained 26g of fat
(12g from the butter and 14g from the MCT oil), most of it
saturated fat. However, St. Pierre says that in “reasonable
amounts,” MCT oil does not seem to be terrible for
cholesterol. In fact, it’s thought to increase HDL (aka good
cholesterol).

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18. Before
you take the butter-coffee plunge, you should take a look at
how much fat (and what kinds of fat) you’re currently eating.

Before you take the butter-coffee plunge, you should take a look at how much fat (and what kinds of fat) you're currently eating.

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St. Pierre told me that the most important thing about fat
consumption is to get your fats from a variety of sources. A
tablespoon each of butter and MCT oil is probably no big deal
if your saturated fat intake is otherwise low or moderate,
and as long as you’re
eating a diversity of fats overall, especially
unsaturated fats like those found in avocados, nuts, and nut
butters.

But if most of your fat comes from animal sources (red meat,
cheese, milk), butter coffee might not be for you — unless
you plan to tweak your diet to eat less saturated fat from
animal sources and/or take in more heart healthy fats. Even
though saturated fat probably isn’t quite as terrible for
cholesterol and heart health as we used to think, experts do
believe that
having too much saturated fat from animal sources and not
enough unsaturated fats from plant sources is bad for your
health.

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19. It’s
also a good idea to talk to your doctor and get your
cholesterol checked before jumping in.

It's also a good idea to talk to your doctor and get your cholesterol checked before jumping in.

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And St. Pierre recommends continuing to get your cholesterol
checked as you continue your butter coffee regimen just to
make sure everything is a-ok.

Basically the deal is that some people’s cholesterol levels
are quite responsive to their
diet and lifestyle, cardiologist Dr.
Howard Weintraub of NYU Langone Medical Center tells
BuzzFeed Health. If you’re one of these people and you have
high cholesterol, Weintraub would recommend
changes like eating less saturated fat from animal
sources, exercising, and maybe losing weight, if you want to
drink butter coffee regularly.

Other people’s cholesterol might not necessarily respond to
diet and lifestyle changes — perhaps because they’re
genetically predisposed to having high cholesterol — and
might need to
take meds to bring it down. For those people, your doctor
might suggest not drinking butter coffee, unless you’re also
taking steps to reduce your cholesterol.

Get this t-shirt for $14.95 at Etsy.

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20. So, I
got my own cholesterol checked after my sixth week of
drinking butter coffee.

So, I got my own cholesterol checked after my sixth week of drinking butter coffee.

View this image ›

Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed News

(Granted, it wasn’t a super reliable indicator of how the
butter coffee alone affected my cholesterol because the last
time I’d had it checked was in 2013 when I was vegan and
therefore not consuming any cholesterol-containing foods at
all. But I still wanted to get a sense of where I was as I
wrapped up my butter coffee experiment.)

The lab that analyzed my blood had marked “below average
risk” on my results, but I wanted to understand each number —

HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol), and
triglycerides (fats in your blood) — so I went over the
2013 numbers and the 2016 numbers with Weintraub.

And let me tell you, he was not pleased. For my 2016 numbers,
my LDL — or, bad cholesterol — was 168, just above the 160
cutoff for what’s considered an OK range (my HDL and
triglycerides were fine). But he also wasn’t that psyched
about my 2013 numbers — they were in a healthy range but
should’ve definitely been lower for someone on a vegan diet,
he said.

After I told Weintraub about my diet and lifestyle — pretty
much the only saturated fat I eat is what’s in butter coffee,
plus low-fat Greek yogurt, and that I exercise regularly — he
said that my numbers were most likely the result of having a
“genetic pre-disposition toward cholesterol elevation.” He
explained that even though my cholesterol doesn’t seem to be
totally unresponsive to diet — my numbers have gone up since
I stopped being vegan — it probably wasn’t the most important
factor in my cholesterol. “You may have this problem where
your body will assemble cholesterol from even small amounts
of saturated fat ingestion,” he said.

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21. So, in
conclusion, will I stick with it?

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

You mean will I keep my new lifestyle of feeling full of energy
and never hangry?

When I originally started writing this up, my response to the
question above was: “Duh.” But now that I know cholesterol
levels, I’m not so sure. I’ll need to go over my bloodwork
thoroughly with my own doctor, who knows the rest of my medical
history and all about my health and lifestyle generally, in
order to figure out if butter coffee is a thing I can keep
doing.

But if my doctor tells me it’s OK, there’s no doubt that I’ll
be starting each day with a mug of that sweet, sweet fatty
coffee.

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