Rumor has it, adding a dollop of butter to your morning cup of Joe can give you an edge in your next workout, improve your mental performance, and help you lose weight. Professional distance runners Ryan and Sara Hall are fans of the buttery beverage—but does fat-filled coffee really live up to the hype? Here’s the buzz!
What Is Buttered Coffee?
The trend to swirl saturated fat into coffee stems from Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof® Coffee. A self-identified biohacker, Asprey has spent years tweaking his daily routine and nutritional choices for optimal health. He believes you can maximize the energy boost you get from caffeine by consuming it with healthy fats.
More than just a pad of yellow stuff plopped into a mug of regular brew, the standard recipe involves combining high-quality coffee with butter and a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, such as coconut oil, in a blender. Asprey prefers butter made with milk from grass-fed cows and a blend of coconut and palm oils to get the job done.
How Buttered Coffee Works
The caffeine in the coffee stimulates your central nervous system by blocking the sleep-inducing hormone adenosine, and allowing levels of other hormones, including glutamate, dopamine, and seratonin, to surge. For most drinkers, those brain chemicals lead to feeling happier and more alert, and can explain the improved mental performance and memory retention. Adding fat to your coffee increases the rate at which your body absorbs caffeine. But not all fat is created equal—that’s where the fancy butter comes in.
Studies link the consumption of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid found in butter made with milk from grass-fed cows, to a decrease in inflammation and improved gut health; and, in research on other mammals, butyrate intake leads to an increase in metabolism. Which is why Asprey and his followers believe consuming high-quality fats fuels the brain and helps the body tackle its own fat stores.
As for the MCT oil, some research shows oils that contain MCT, such as coconut oil, are easier for the body to readily burn for energy and are less likely to be stored as fat. These oils also have the potential to increase good HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, good fats are satiating, and can decrease cravings and hunger pangs.
Still, some experts are concerned about sipping so much saturated fat. “Even through saturated fats aren’t all bad for us, it’s still a good idea to limit your intake, as the evidence backing the health benefits of diets low in saturated fat is just too strong to ignore,” says Tracy Morris, a consulting dietitian for Fitbit. If you’re going to start your day with buttered coffee, consider passing on a fat-laden snack or meal later in the day.
An Easy Buttered Coffee Recipe to Try
- 1 cup Hot Coffee
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted, Grass-Fed Butter
- 1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
- Blend all the ingredients together in blender on high for 10 seconds.