Why Would You Put Butter in Your Coffee? Bulletproof Coffee Pros & Cons

A few years back Bulletproof coffee became popularized by Dave Asprey and nationally the concept of adding butter to your coffee became “a thing”.

If you haven’t learned already Asprey taught us that there are a number of distinct benefits to putting butter in your coffee… but not just any kind of butter.

Most regular butters that you use in cooking aren’t going to do anything to improve your coffee. They may make you less healthy too!

Certain types of butters are far better like clarified Ghee, Kerrygold, or Yak’s butter. These are really the only types of butter that are worth using in your coffee if you want to maximize the benefits with minimal health risks.

In addition to the special butter used MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride oil) is mixed in.

This is usually derived from concentrated coconut oil.

Some people just skip the butter all together and just supplement MCT oil directly into their cup.

This is a popular MCT oil on Amazon that is specifically made by the Bulletproof brand for supplementing in coffee.

So, why put butter in coffee at all you ask?

Well I have researched every aspect of making butter coffee and in this article I’m going to try my best to convey everything worthwhile on the topic without getting too technical or boring.

Let’s first take a look at the popularity of butter coffee and its stated associated benefits per Bulletproof coffee devotees.

Want to skip the history lesson?

Click through to jump to the benefits of putting butter in your coffee.

The story behind butter in coffee

Butter in coffee? It sounds oily and greasy.

Not to mention that coffee has natural oils, already.

However, the concept of adding butter in coffee was popularized by Bulletproof executive and founder, Dave Asprey.

It was an instant hit among paleo eaters.

At the same time, integrative physician Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, New York chef Seamus Mullen and Gwyneth Paltrow’s chef Ariane Resnick loved the idea of using butter in their coffee.

However, it is not your ordinary butter or coffee.

Asprey got the inspiration from the yak-butter tea, a traditional Tibetan drink. He optimized the recipe and created a version that would replace tea with America’s favorite morning drink, coffee.

He suggested that the best coffee should be organic, the butter should be unsalted grass-fed like Kerrygold or ghee and MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil, the kind of oil extracted from coconut oil.

Blend it all together and create a frothy, latte-like consistency.

When I’ve made it [the drink] with the MCT oil, it was like a kick in the pants in terms of energy.                 – Stephanie Gaudreau, health coach-founder of Stupid Easy Paleo

It’s like rocket fuel! – Dr. Jeffrey Gladd

Based on that alone you should know that its best to not just use regular butter, Mr. Asprey is advocating the use of a special kind of butter called Ghee, which can usually be found at your local supermarket. Here is an example of Ghee butter that can easily be bought online.

Before we get to Asprey’s salespitch on the Bulletproof brand I wanted to show you a video on the scientific side of butter coffee, how it is supossed to work, and why it’s benefits may outweigh it’s risks.

What Dave Asprey and the Bulletproof Coffee Brand Have to Say

Why Put Butter in CoffeeBulletproof coffee has been synonymous with butter coffee and has been the standard in terms of making butter coffee at home.

Asprey talked about butter coffee extensively during an interview with Fox News. He related how he discovered the benefit of butter in coffee and shared the recipe in making butter coffee at home.

Asprey explained that the best kind of butter coffee uses MCT oil.

While caffeine in coffee is a good boost for the body, you can eventually crash when the caffeine effect wanes off after a few hours. With the use of butter in coffee, this initial buzz is extended so you can get the maximum benefit from every cup of coffee.

According to Asprey, normal coffee tends to give you food cravings and your body consumes the caffeine quickly. After a couple of hours, you start to feel the “crash”. But with butter coffee, it gives you more boost over normal coffee.

This is due to the presence of MCT oil.

The body digests this kind of oil quickly and uses the energy. It also helps in weight loss because it curbs your appetite.

MCT oil and low-toxin coffee are the perfect combinations to turn off your food cravings and provide you with micronutrients.

Additionally, it helps turn off the inflammation in the brain.

Asprey also suggests that grass-fed, unsalted butter is better than your regular household butter. So, don’t just throw in a chunk of butter in your coffee.

You need to know the right ingredients to make proper butter coffee and benefit from it.

If you are worried that your coffee will taste like ghee, no. Asprey said that it would be the “creamiest latte” you have ever tried.

The practice of putting butter in coffee is not new. In fact, for generations, Tibetans have been using yak butter in their tea.

Today, butter coffee lovers have grown to over 3 million and most of them are paleo enthusiasts although you don’t have to adhere to a strict paleo diet to benefit from this recipe.

Now, let’s look closer at some of the benefits claimed by Bulletproof coffee drinkers.

Click through here to jump straight to the risks.

7 Healthy Reasons to Add Butter in Your Coffee

Butter in Coffee Benefits
Coffee alone is already healthy and beneficial. However, there are some ingredients, like butter, that can increase and maximize coffee’s health benefits.

1. Butter is a Better Alternative to Sugar and Cream.
Adding butter to your coffee gives it a creamy, latte-like texture. You can say goodbye to sugar and cream and still get the same creamy coffee without the sugar rush. That’s about 17 mg of sugar freedom compared to a grande latte from Starbucks. Plus, you know that sugar can lead to obesity, dental problems like cavities and tooth decay, as well as diabetes and liver disease.

2. Clarified Butter is Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are an important compound that play an essential role in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, arthritis, inflammation, cancer, and hypertension. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot produce this essential fatty acid. We can only get it from foods we eat. Therefore, it is important that our daily diet consists of good sources of Omega 3 fats. Aside from deep-sea fish, grass-fed, unsalted butter provides you with the needed boost of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6. The combination of these two fatty acids takes good care of you. And since you cannot really add deep-sea fish in your coffee, opt for butter coffee if you want your morning drink to be boosted and optimized for your health.

3. Ghee Can be a Good Source of Vitamin K
Known as ‘the forgotten vitamin’ as it is so often overlooked, Vitamin K helps in blood clotting and keeping the bones strong into old age. Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables, natto (a type of fermented soy bean), blueberries and grass-fed animal products, such as butter.

4. The Healthy Fats can Helps in Weight Management
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has long been touted as a ‘miracle’ weight loss aid. In a 2004 study, a group of overweight women lost 9 percent body fat in just one year thanks to CLA supplementation – without making any changes to their dietary or lifestyle habits. CLA is present in grass-fed, unsalted butter. Not only does CLA burn belly fat, but it protects against cancer and encourages muscle growth.

5. Bulletproof Coffee Curbs Appetite and Cravings Better Than Normal Black Coffee
Naturally, drinking black coffee alone won’t keep you full. However, when you add butter to your coffee, you’ll be increasing its caloric and fat value – stopping hunger pangs kicking in. In fact, fats are an important component of a healthy breakfast as they provide the most concentrated source of energy and prolong emptying of the stomach after eating.

6. Adding Butter to Your Coffee can Reduce Caffeine Sensitivity & Crashes
A lot of people complain about coffee, saying it’s too acidic for them. They feel a jittery sensation, especially if they take coffee on an empty stomach. Adding butter to your coffee can reduce this sensation since the fatty acid acts as a lining in your stomach and protects you from shake and nausea.

Quick Tip – You can also enhance this effect by making sure to only brew low acid coffee.

7. Ghee Butter & MCT Will Help Increase Energy Levels
While we all know that coffee alone provides a quick energy boost, this can often be short-lived. But adding butter to your drink can provide more sustained energy, as fat is the most energy dense macronutrient.

If you have not tried butter coffee yet, give it a go. Remember, for a proper health benefit, do not use just any kind of butter. It must be grass-fed and unsalted, like most organic butters. Also, choose a quality type of coffee, preferably organic/gourmet so you can achieve the best results if you want to replicate Asprey’s Bulletproof coffee.

Now let’s move on to the risks associated with supplementing your coffee with a hunk of butter.

The Case for Why Bulletproof Coffee is Bad

If anything is for certain its that this is not a one-sided argument. The case against putting butter and MCT oil in your coffee is also strong and filled with opponents.

The most common concerns professionals have with the butter coffee recipe include the following:

It’s just not healthy to ingest so much saturated fat into your body on a daily basis.

In addition to the increased fat intake the caloric increase is enormous and suggests that buttered coffee is a replacement for your meal rather than a supplement to it. This of course means you will be consuming far less nutrients than you would be getting from regular black coffee and a healthy breakfast.

The last main point brought up by virtually every opponent is that MCT oil is simply not necessary as it doesn’t provide substantial nutrition and only increases your consumption of fats and calories that can easily be obtained from other sources.

When looking at MCT oil from an energy enhancing standpoint its easy to dismiss this as unnecessary because getting a better night sleep and staying physically active in your day-to-day life is really all that’s necessary in life to maintaining healthy levels of energy on an ongoing basis.

To get into the scientific details about these main concerns however you should watch this short video from Authority Nutrition on the case against drinking butter coffee for breakfast.

So now that you have a solid understanding on the benefits and reasons behind taking your coffee with clarified grass-fed butter and the risks of doing this regularly let’s now explore the most common questions people have on the practice.

Common Questions People Have About Making Butter Coffee at Home

Obviously mixing butter or ghee into your coffee is a controversial topic and many people have lots of questions before they try it for the first time.

Below I’ve indexed out a lot of most common questions we’ve seen on this topic.

Does Putting Butter in Your Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

One of the main reasons why people drink buttered coffee is for the weight loss effects… problem is the weight loss effects only happen if a lot of stars align.

First of all putting butter and MCT oil in your coffee loads your morning drink with calories and is supposed to suppress your appetite for food. People tend to only lose weight when they drink this style of coffee as a meal replacement and not along side a plateful of breakfast.

With calories only coming from fat the whole point is to get your body away from using carbohydrates and sugars as a primary source of fuel so when this drink is paired with carbs of any kind the opposite effect typically happens.

The body will burn the carbs in your breakfast (sugars, cereals, breads, etc.) and store the extra fats from the butter and oil as fat in your body.

Bulletproof coffee is best at helping you lose some weight when you are following a more strict Ketogenic diet devoid of carbs.

What is the Point of Bulletproof Coffee?

There are really two main reasons to drink Bulletproof coffee or any buttered coffee for that matter.

Most people try it out of curiosity but they are usually looking for a stronger and more sustained boost in energy throughout the day that doesn’t leave them feeling the caffeine crash by the afternoon.

Buttered coffee complete with MCT oils can spread the caffeinated effect out throughout the day making the crash all but disappear.

Many people also think the energy surge in the morning is more pronounced and because it staves off your appetite it can make mornings easier and can help with weight loss if extra nutritional steps are taken.

I suppose the other main reason why some people drink Bulletproof coffee is because of the taste! It tastes like a really really rich latte which many people love.

What is it Called When You Put Butter in Your Coffee?

When you only put butter in your coffee it’s just called Buttered Coffee.

If you instead put grass fed ghee butter in your coffee with an MCT oil supplement then you are drinking the basic recipe for Bulletproof Coffee.

There are other additions that can be made to the recipe to make bring different flavors to the drink without adding carbs or sugars.

Common additions include clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger just to name a few.

Should I Put Salted or Unsalted Butter in My Coffee?

There is extreme controversy over the healthiness of drinking buttered coffee with MCT oil but despite the strong case for health benefits there is no doubt that salted butter does not make the drink any better… it only makes the drink less healthy.

In fact there is almost no case in any food or drink where more salt makes the consumable healthier.

Salt can help preserve foods as in the case of sausages and jerky and it serves its purpose in pickling and canning but in fresh foods it is simply a flavor enhancer in most cases that makes everything a little less healthy.

Can you use salted butter in your Bulletproof coffee? Yes.

Should you use unsalted butter instead? Yes, absolutely.

There’s no reason to add salt to your coffee from the table shaker or your butter in my opinion.

Does Starbucks Put Butter in Their Coffee?

Starbucks makes black coffee and they have butter packets in the store which are typically used as a condiment for customers buying various breakfast items.

If you were to ask a Starbucks barista for a Bulletproof coffee they wouldn’t be able to make it because they dont carry MCT oil or the proper kind of butter to add to the coffee.

They also won’t usually put butter directly into your coffee for you because the butter they have in the store are packaged for the customer in the little foil wrappers we all know.

If you want buttered coffee at Starbucks and are fine knowing that the butter they have is plain salted butter and not grass fed ghee butter… and you are ok plopping the butter in yourself and not having it blended in with the MCT oil then go ahead and ask for a cup of black coffee with a packet or two of butter and get the job done yourself.

I wouldn’t advise it though.

Can Bulletproof Coffee Make You Fat?

If your diet is in line with the Ketogenic diet then it is unlikely to make you fat because the body will use up fat sources for energy instead of carbohydrates.

If however you are not following a low-carb lifestyle then chances are good that buttered coffee can and might make you gain fat that you didn’t otherwise have.

There is an in-between however.

If you follow a moderation diet including everything in moderation and reserve bulletproof coffee for breakfast by itself then it is unlikely to contribute to much if any weight gain.

Drinking buttered coffee with cereal in the morning, toast, or a bagel however will probably result in added pounds however because after a moderate fasting experience (sleeping) the body will not store the fat as readily but rather use the fat from the butter and oil for energy.

Once simple carbs are introduced however the energy source from carbs because to easy for the body to resist and the fatty coffee will likely contribute to fat storage, which can cause weight gain.

Its tricky, just stay away from carbs for breakfast on days when you have a Bulletproof buttered coffee drink.

Can You Add Milk to Bulletproof Coffee?

You sure can add milk to Bulletproof coffee but don’t expect to be able to drink it and lose weight at the same time.

The whole point of drinking coffee with the added butter fat and MCT oil is to boost energy while pushing the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs.

Milk or cream, although most people would consider it to be healthy, contains plenty of natural carbohydrates that will negate the fat-for-energy concept behind the Bulletproof coffee phenomenon.

If you add milk or cream to your coffee your body will find carbs in your stomach and will immediately start burning them for energy pushing the added fat content to long term storage on your hips or booty.

How Does MCT Oil Help With Weight Loss?

MCT oil is though to aid in weight loss due to the way the body processes M8 and M10 the medium chain acids found in the oil.

These medium chain acids are absorbed directly in the gut and are sent to straight to the liver and processed for energy rather than fat storage.

The immediate burning of energy is said to help increase metabolism which can help you burn more energy throughout the day while also curbing your appetite.

When you burn more energy, store less fat, and consume fewer calories then it can be a lot easier to lose weight!

Here’s a quick video explaining in more detail how this works:

Can You Make Bulletproof Coffee With Decaf?

True Bulletproof coffee is a mixture of grass-fed butter like ghee and MCT oil. This can be any brand of MCT oil but the Bulletproof brand uses a product they make called Octain Oil which is their in-house version.

These fats are then blended into a high quality (typically single-origin) organic coffee which can be either caffeinated or decaffeinated.

When you remove the majority of caffeine from the coffee you will obviously experience a lot less of the mental clarity, stimulation, and increased energy but the remainder of the benefits should be similar albeit muted.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the decaf coffee beans or grind you use because decaf coffee can sometimes be processed in ways that aren’t as healthy and pure as you like.

Does Coffee Take You Out of Ketosis?

It’s a well known fact that sleeping and going without food overnight for 10-12 hours puts your body into a mild state of ketosis regardless of the diet program you are on.

By morning after having taken at least ten hours away from consumption of food or drink your body begins slowly burning fat for energy instead of glucose and Ketones begin to rise.

Coffee has a calorie content of zero, or at least less than 5 per cup and their is no carbohydrates in it at all unless you grab the sweeteners or cream.

What coffee does have in it however is caffeine as we all know and according to a recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in November of 2016 (source) more caffeine first thing in the morning actually increases the ketones released from the liver more than skipping it.

In fact more caffeine is associate with even larger increases in ketones so it may make sense to have two cups of coffee instead of one… or three cups instead of two!

Assuming you don’t add carbs to your coffee or eat a carb filled breakfast with your morning coffee then you should expect to remain in a state of ketosis in the morning if only drinking coffee.

Does MCT Oil Have Carbs?

MCT oil is 100% fat. There are no carbs of any kind in pure MCT oil supplements.

What Does Brain Octane Oil Do?

The most basic recipie for Bulletproof coffee calls for organic mold-free coffee beans brewed and blended with grass fed butter and MCT oil which is usually derived from coconut oil.

MCTs however are a term used for four different types of medium chain triglycerides and in many cheaper blends of MCT oil you get some of all four different types of MCTs.

Of the four however one doesn’t settle in the stomach very well and it stinks and two of the remaining three chains
caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are odor-free and tasteless while also being much faster at converting to ketones than lauric acid (C12).

Because lauric acid is easier to find in coconut oil and cheaper to add to MCT oil supplements it’s often included to keep costs down. Unfortunately it isn’t as effective as caprylic and capric acids.

In fact of those two acids caprylic acid is the most efficient at ketone conversion and as a result the Bulletproof brand produces their MCT oil using only caprylic acid (C8).

They call their “blend” of MCT oil Brain Octane oil because it is marketed as the most pure form of acrylic acid and the most potent.

According to the Bulletproof company it’s just better than the other MCT oil blends because it’s targeting only those carbon chains that are most desirable.

Other than that distinction Brain Octane Oil doesn’t do anything differnt than regular MCT oil, it’s just supposed to work better.

Is it OK to Drink Bulletproof Coffee Every Day?

For people who are following a very low carb diet regularly or those following a full blown keto diet plan then drinking Bulletproof coffee daily is probably safe so long as you are using the exact correct ingredients.

Grass fed ghee butter is much healthier than regular table butter and so long as sugars and milk or creamers are omitted from the drink and it’s consumed as largely a meal replacement in the morning the drink is not likely to affect your health negatively any time soon.

Most people get into trouble by adding this drink to a morning routine without changing the morning routine enough to make this drink a healthy daily drink.

If you want a Bulletproof coffee every now and then just be advised that it won’t be as healthy for you as it could be and it could be a bit bad for your weight situation too… but then again there are quite a few Starbucks drinks that aren’t very healthy either.

Everything in moderation – unless you are following a very specific and regimented plan.

How Much Butter Goes Into Bulletproof Coffee?

Typically butter-coffee contains 1-2 tablespoons per 6-8 ounce cup of coffee.

For people who are fully replacing breakfast and following a low carb lifestyle then a full two tablespoons my be great for for casual drinkers then one tablespoon per 8-ounces of coffee might be better.

Can You Substitute MCT Oil with Coconut Oil?

MCT oil is usually a derivative of coconut oil and sometime palm oil.

It is different through because it is concentrated in such a way that you get a more efficient distribution of the medium chain triglycerides than you would get with coconut oil.

In Coconut oil only a little over half of the oil consists of MCTs. And of the four main types of MCTs you get mostly lauric acid (C12). Only about 22% of coconut oil is capric acid (C10), caprylic acid (C8), and caproic acid (C6).

Conversely with MCT oil 100% of the oil are MCTs and you only get the capric and caprylic acids (C10 & C8). These are the two chains that are most efficient in conversion to energy.

To get the same amount of beneficial MCTs from coconut oil you would have to use roughly 18-times as much which would make your drink all but undrinkable.

On the other hand if you substitute MCT concentrate with coconut oil then you just wouldn’t get as much in your drink to make a meaningful difference and the coconut oil would impart extra flavors that you may not want in your drink..

What are the Side Effects of MCT Oil?

For the vast majority of people there really aren’t any side effects to worry about when taking MCT oil.

MCT oil is a natural substance made from regular foods and it’s a good source of healthy fats whether you take the oil in your buttered coffee or elsewhere.

Its usually recommended however that people who are just starting to take MCT oil should begin with a smaller dose and work up to a full size dose. This is to minimize the effect of digestion changes in the body with the consumption of abruptly higher levels of fats.

Jumping from supplementing with no MCT oil to consuming a full dose overnight can result in mild diarrhea or lose stools but only while the body adjusts to the new supplement level. This effect is usually minimal when taking a smaller dose and working up to a full size dose.

What is the Best Recipe for Making Bulletproof Coffee?

Do I Need a Blender to Make Butter Coffee?

If you strictly follow the recipe then yes, a blender will get you the consistency that you want. Blending will mix the fats into the coffee in such a way that you will get micro-bubbles with some foam. It basically changes the texture and allows easier digestion or absorption in the stomach.

Although this may be true at some level the importance of this extra step is unlikely to make a major difference to the vast majority of people.

When the butter melts and the oils are added they will want to rise to the top as any oil would want to float on top of water (or in this case coffee).

Without using a blender you would likely have a texture that isn’t as creamy as you might prefer and you’d likely have to keep a spoon handy to mix the oils in prior to taking sips so that your mouthful won’t be overloaded with just oil and melted butter.

Long story short, the texture and drinking experience may be less than ideal without the use of a blender but it’s not necessary if you don’t want to use one.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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