Can Bulletproof Coffee Help My Running?
Dave Asprey came up with a special coffee recipe after an inspiring high-altitude climb in Tibet where he drank yak butter tea by the cupful. The entrepreneur, biohacker and best-selling author quickly saw his “Bulletproof Coffee” craze go global in a short matter of time. Touted as a solution for weight loss, fatigue elimination, and improved memory and concentration, executives and elite athletes alike have backed up the trend in high numbers.
The recipe calls for the addition of grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil blended with your coffee, but not any old coffee will do. The coffee beans must be of the highest quality, free from standard processing techniques, free of mold growth and the other toxins common to standard mass-marketed coffee.
How do I make Bulletproof Coffee?
Asprey explains the reasoning behind the art of selecting appropriate bulletproof coffee. Foods that are improperly stored or processed with something containing low dose toxins can multiply in toxicity over a short time frame. Different types of mold found in foods and coffee have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, and other health conditions. Thus, the highest standards possible in organic bean selection are an important part of the process.
The addition of grass-fed butter is an important part of the creation. Proper “real” butter should be yellow in color, unlike the light-colored cheaper butter or butter alternatives. High quality unfractionated MCT oil is also key. MCT oil is composed of certain fatty acids, and one great source of MCT’s is coconut oil.
Asprey also recommends that Bulletproof Coffee be prepared in either a French press or via the pour-over method with a metal filter for a 4 minute brewing time. The hot coffee should then be blended thoroughly in an actual blender with 2 tablespoons butter per 1 tablespoon MCT oil (for an 8 oz. cup of java). (Start out easy/gradual on the MCT oil… it can definitely get things moving in the gut!)
The result is a creamy and delicious combo that should be consumed without any additional sweeteners or creamer. When blended correctly, the coffee should be light in color and should not have large floating fat molecules in the cup, but instead a nice smooth layer of foam which indicates that it’s a quality bean source.
What’s the logic behind Bulletproof Coffee?
Both grass-fed butter and MCT oil are two important fats that help the coffee to slowly release into the blood stream over time, which can explain why fans of Bulletproof Coffee claim that it eliminates the standard “coffee crash” that occurs so commonly. These fats may also help with satiety and reduce sugar or other food cravings. While the standard Western diet focuses on “low-fat” options, more and more research is showing that a high fat and low carb diet free of processed foods can provide numerous health benefits.
Asprey compares his concept of performance-enhancing resources as a hardware upgrade that gives you the energy to face whatever life brings your way. “Bulletproof is about being super resilient, with limitless strength and energy” he claims on his website. He is the founder of the Silicon Valley Health Institute, a non-profit research center, and his personal story includes overcoming obesity and brain fog via relentless self-experimentation with nutrition, exercise and supplements. What was his key? It didn’t just come down to what type of food he was eating, but the quality of where it came from – a trademark concept of his coffee creation. It’s about changing aspects of your environment and what you’re exposed to, in this case nutritionally and in terms of food-based toxins.
So how can this enhance my running?
It’s well-documented that caffeine and/or coffee can positively impact athletic performance in the right quantities. The old myth that coffee dehydrates you has been proven to be incorrect when athletes consume a cup a day. Caffeine has been shown to improve blood flow and circulation, decrease muscle pain, and burn more calories with exercise, to name a few benefits. Benefits are noted in numerous studies for caffeine’s role in enhancing short and long distance running performance, and the benefits are more pronounced in people who occasionally drink coffee compared to those who are habituated to having it daily.
Studies have found that MCT oil can enhance endurance during high-intensity exercise, and it also acts as a quick food source, like carbohydrates. Fatty acids in butter have been found to enhance the fat-burning effects of exercise, and the butter itself lends to the extended release of the coffee in the bloodstream. This can help stabilize your blood sugar reaction from caffeine and can also help you with bursts of energy later on in your run. While the recipe itself appears to promote weight loss, it’s important to note that one cup provides significantly more calories than traditional coffee, and it’s not designed to be consumed all day long, but rather as one 8-ounce cup in the morning. For those who are avoiding dairy, I was surprised to learn that the butter has almost zero lactose, so it’s still a safe bet for most.
Bulletproof Coffee experts recommend that it’s consumed within one hour of starting your morning run for best benefits. The general consensus is that the jury is still out on whether you’ll enhance your athleticism from Bulletproof Coffee. Is there a certain mileage distance or workout time frame that is ideal when combined with the beverage? I could not find any studies that specifically tested athletes on performance with and without Bulletproof Coffee.
In my opinion, changing one aspect of diet or nutrition is just the tip of the iceberg. Once I went grain-free, dairy-free, processing-free and sugar-free, I felt a much better kick in my workouts and mental clarity from my dose of Bulletproof Coffee than before I made the change. Perhaps this is because once I began eating that way, my body shifted to a more high-fat and low carbohydrate model and a completely different utilization ratio of energy sources for my workouts.
The bottom line is, Bulletproof Coffee is delicious, nutritious, and it can’t hurt to give it a shot! Just make sure you pay the extra bucks for quality organic beans, grass-fed butter, and fractionated coconut (MCT) oil.