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The Buzz: Bulletproof Coffee

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What’s the buzz? Bulletproof Coffee™ claims to offer more than just a morning caffeine jolt. But what does the science say?

Bulletproof Coffee™ is a combination of coffee, grass-fed butter, and medium chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil) and is promoted as a way to boost cognitive function and weight loss. Users are to drink this mix in lieu of breakfast, with the goal of putting the body in a state of ketosis, a process that may lead to some weight loss. What’s ketosis? Typically, our brain uses glucose (from carbohydrates) as a source of energy. But when our bodies are short on carbohydrates our brains, which are very energy-hungry, use stored fat for energy. The breakdown of fat releases ketone bodies into our blood in a process known as ketosis. However, it takes over 48 hours of extremely low carbohydrate intake for the brain to fully switch to ketosis, and it’s a difficult state to maintain. Once carbohydrates are replenished, the body transitions back to utilizing glucose as its primary source of energy.

As for the benefits of medium-chain triglycerides (such as the type of fat found in coconut oil), research is still preliminary but some believe it could aid weight loss and boost cognitive function, among other potential health benefits. Unfortunately, trials are small, have shown minimal benefits, and only tested the effects of MCTs on individuals with mild to moderate mental decline (think Alzheimer’s disease and dementia). So, it’s a big leap to say MCTs boost brain function.   

What’s the takeaway?

Substituting your morning meal and coffee for Bulletproof Coffee™ won’t deprive your body of carbohydrates long enough to put you in a state of ketosis, so weight loss is not guaranteed. And while consuming MCT is generally considered safe for a healthy population, all fats, especially those from plant sources, are good for brain function. So, incorporating moderate amounts of plant-based fats, such as nuts and avocado, into your meals is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet and will give you the boost your brain is looking for.

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