What you didn't know about bulletproof coffee

If you've ever been on a ketogenic (low carb, high fat) diet — or followed someone on Instagram who has been — chances are you've at least heard of bulletproof coffee. If not, bulletproof coffee is a drink made of coffee, grass-fed unsalted butter, and medium chain triglyceride coconut oil (via Huffington Post).

As strange as it might sound to mix two different kinds of fats into your morning cup of joe, many people swear by it as a meal replacement to fuel them up before a workout or get them ready to take on a long day. The Huffington Post says that this is because, on a ketogenic diet, the body is trained to burn fat for energy instead of the usual carbohydrates. So starting the day with pure fat and caffeine provides fuel for both sustained energy and an instant kick. What's even more interesting is that some acolytes of bulletproof coffee believe this drink can provide a wide range of other health benefits, from improved cognitive functioning to a boost in mood and metabolism, appetite suppression, weight loss, and even anti-inflammatory properties. However, whether or not bulletproof coffee is definitively good for you has yet to be proven.

The known health benefits of drinking bulletproof coffee

While there haven't been many studies on the long-term effects or purported health benefits of bulletproof coffee, there have been studies on its components. Consuming coffee, for instance, can possibly help reduce your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, liver disease, and even Parkinson's disease (via Medical News Today). Then there's the MCT oil, which is made up of shorter chains of fat than other oils, meaning the body breaks it down more quickly, thus providing energy more efficiently. The ingredient may also increase feelings of satiety and promote weight loss (via Byrdie). Finally, grass-fed butter provides more omega-3 fatty acids than traditional butter, as well as nutrients your body needs like vitamins A and K2 which help maintain bone and heart system health, and protect our immune system.

Unfortunately, while bulletproof coffee is a good, quick source of energy for people practicing keto, there are several reasons you might not want to start every day with a cup of the stuff.

The known health drawbacks of regularly drinking bulletproof coffee

If you're now enamored with the idea of bulletproof coffee, there are definitely a few facts you should be aware of before mixing up your first cup. For one thing, it contains a lot of saturated fat. A cup with just one tablespoon each of the MCT oil and grass-fed butter contains a whopping 22 grams of the stuff (via Eating Well). Keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends that the average person not consume more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. Not only that, but some studies have found a link between eating butter and increased cholesterol (via Healthline). Then there are the calories. Just those two fats alone will crank up the calories of your coffee from essentially zero to anywhere between 250 and 500 calories. Drinking all these calories first thing in the morning can cause some people to feel less satiated and then even hungrier later in the day (via Good Housekeeping).

Finally, Healthline points out the issue of the minimal nutrients present in this high-fat breakfast substitute. Simply consuming fats for a meal means you're missing out on other nutrients your body needs to function. Good Housekeeping recommends healthier (but still keto) breakfast alternatives to bulletproof coffee using those same healthy fats, suggesting you cook some eggs, fish, or veggies with a cup of coffee on the side, sans butter. They say a high-fiber, protein-heavy breakfast is likely a much healthier choice than a bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning.