I Tried Butter Coffee for a Week. This is What Happened.

I Tried Butter Coffee for a Week. This is What Happened.

I’d been reading about “butter coffee” for a while, and it always sounded super gross.  I know, a fermenter should keep an open mind but it sounded decidedly like a way I would NOT like to start the morning. Add to that the fact that I normally consume one cup of coffee or less per week,* and you’ll understand why I held off for a while, despite the unbelievable anecdotes from people I know (and people on the internets) about what Bulletproof© Coffee (or a derivation) has done for them.

Not initially my idea of a good breakfast.

Not initially my idea of a good breakfast.

Finally, I bit the bullet (hardyharhar) and committed to a week of drinking the stuff. My always wonderful and up-for-adventure mate was in as well, so we started last Sunday, ditching our daily green smoothie for a pile of fat and caffeine. Here’s how the week went (please be aware that there is some graphic information about the effects on my body on day 1. Read at your own risk):

Frothy, like a yummy latte.  Doesn't exactly feel like you're eating tablespoons of fat.

Frothy, like a yummy latte. Doesn’t exactly feel like you’re eating tablespoons of fat. At least not for the first few days.

 DAY 1 of Bulletproof Coffee

Made coffee. Tasted absolutely delicious, like a frothy, rich, latte from a fine cafe. It’s not a giant quantity in the mug, but it isn’t something you just toss down the hatch, either. Husband Jake and I were both ravenous, having had both a late night and an early dinner the night before. I wasn’t convinced that my body would be satisfied with a liquid breakfast. But we drank, and headed out for the farmer’s market, about a mile and a half away. About half way there, my stomach started cramping. Bad. None of the glowing accounts I had read said that horrible stomach cramps were a side effect, and my husband was okay, so I pushed through and walked another half mile in some pain. Finally it became clear that I wasn’t going to make it to the farmers’ market. Not only was my stomach cramping, but it was obvious that I was going to be hit with a lovely bout of diarrhea. As someone who eats fermented vegetables and drinks kefir every day, I am really not prone to intestinal discomfort or issues of any kind. This was freaking me out. I made it home in time, barely, and then curled up in bed with Lucky Peach while my gut pain subsided. After that initial trouble, I didn’t feel particularly good, but I wasn’t in any pain. My vision was definitely clearer (I know it sounds weird, but it’s true).

My husband experienced only good effects. He said he did feel mentally more clear and felt very energetic. We both experienced intense satiety. I come from a long line of people who are ALWAYS hungry, but I genuinely experienced about five minutes of hunger all day Sunday. For the rest of the day, we ran errands and did some back-breaking yard work and never really experienced hunger. For lunch, we were in need of groceries and busy running around, so we got sandwiches. We normally devour these particular sandwiches but we were both totally stuffed after half. We finished them off for dinner and ate nothing else all day, completely full and satisfied. The only cravingof any kind that I experienced all day was liquid.  Both my husband and I were crazy thirsty, which may be because we normally drink a large green smoothie, packed with watery greens, for breakfast, but whatever the reason, we were thirsty. Obviously eating a more normal-for-us diet laden with vegetables could have helped cure the thirst, but we were not hungry enough to make a salad for dinner on that first night. This excessive thirst persisted for me all week, even days I spent mostly inside.

A small amount of googling revealed that my stomach issues were not unique. Apparently for some people the MCT can cause trouble when first ramping up. I eat coconut oil regularly and obviously take care of my guts, so I was surprised to be among the afflicted. It didn’t happen any subsequent day, though, so I’m glad I persisted.

Not everyone we know who has tried this had stunning things to say.  A few people said nothing really happened to them. One thing was sure after Day 1 for us. Something happened. It was not a neutral experience by a long shot.

DAY 2 of Bulletproof Coffee Test

Concerned that my stomach might be an issue again, I ran the dog early and worked out before drinking it. I needn’t have worried. Although I could kind of feel my body digesting it, I didn’t experience any serious discomfort or actual problems as I had on day 1.

I had the same thing with my vision. Lights looked very bright and things seemed very clear. I wasn’t even remotely hungry all day. I craved raw veggies and water and nothing else.

Day 3

Feel pretty amazing. My outlook is sunny, normal stresses aren’t really bugging me and my productivity is very high. I don’t feel wired or noticeably productive, but my to-do list keeps dwindling and I feel like distractions aren’t an issue. Satiety is insane! I ate samples and potluck goodies at the food swap and a smoothie afterwards. Just wasn’t hungry from 8:30am until 7pm. Crazy.

Drop it in there. Do it.

Drop it in there. Do it.

Day 4

A little wired. I slept badly last night (rare for me) so that extra caffeine could be the issue. Again, very productive, undistractable and generally a little more optimistic. Notice people smiling at me on the street, which made me realize that this used to happen a lot in the old days and hasn’t happened as much lately. Workout was kind of bad. Not a lot of oomph. Satiety still out of control. Ate half of a lunch I usually eat all of and was very fully satisfied with a dinner salad.

Day 5

I really did not want to drink this today. It tastes super good, but it’s hot out. I wanted a delicious piece of fruit or veggie-filled smoothie. My stomach got a little crampy when I started drinking it. It took me a long time to muscle it down.  Only two more days of the test and then I may need a break.  I love the effects but the cure itself is a little heavy.

Had another poor night of sleep last night, which is probably because of the my massive caffeine increase, but whatever it is. I’m not loving it!

Day 6 

Not as hard to take as it was yesterday.  Feel good, happy, social, and whatever the opposite of anxious is. Sateity continues.

Day 7

Same as the rest of the week. I felt really great!

Overall Pros of Butter Coffee

  • Mental clarity
  • Focus
  • Improved Mood
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • SATIETY!!!!!!!!

Overall Cons of Butter Coffee

  • Stomach issues (first day only)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Not great workouts. Not sure what the cause was.
  • Not the world’s best breakfast in the summer/Very heavy

Will we keep doing it? A qualified yes. Jake says yes, although maybe not every day. I’m going to start trying it with tea (the traditional drink from Tibet is actually made with tea: pu-erh, the only fermented tea!) to see how that goes. If I can get away with that, I’ll be happy to continue and I’m sure in the colder months, this will be purely fantastic. However a few other dietary things will need to change as well to make sure that I’m getting sufficient protein and vegetables. That is totally a trade-off I’m willing to make for the increased mental clarity, energy and satiety. Obviously, individual results may vary. I noticed a change right away and I hope you do too!

Coconut oil contains MCT which are supposed to help with a whole host of ailments.

Coconut oil contains MCT (so does butter) which are supposed to help with a whole host of ailments.

BUTTER COFFEE RECIPE

Adapted from Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof© Coffee

The dude who started the trend, Dave Asprey,  sells special, premium ingredients to make this. I’d love to hear how it goes with those if you make the investment. It seems pretty easy to get a good version going without special ordering, so that’s what we did. The key element here is ingredient quality. Single-origin coffee beans from a trusted source are reportedly important (I have some issues with the reasoning behind this requirement, but that’s another post, and we buy good coffee anyway, so it wasn’t an issue). Organic, grass-fed butter is another. And finally, the source of medium-chain triglicerides (MCT) coconut oil. I chose the highest quality I could easily find that was unrefined. Dr. Bronner’s is a brand I like and trust for other things. It’s fair-trade, organic and unrefined, so it worked for me. Here’s how we did it:

Per person**:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter (I used cultured for part of the week and Kerrygold at the end of the week. I didn’t notice a difference.)
  • 2 tablespoons Dr. Bronner’s unrefined coconut oil
  • 2.5 tablespoons Rival Bros. Honduran coffee (any high quality, single origin coffee should be fine)

How-To

  1. Brew coffee in one cup of boiling water. We use an Aeropress, but French press is fine, too.
  2. Put coffee, butter and coconut oil in the blender*** right away. Blend on high until super-frothed.
  3. Drink right away.
*I’m prone to caffeine addiction. I had a long commute at my old corporate job and it required a 6:30am latest departure from home. Any night I had to work even the teensiest bit late, I had to stay really late to avoid insane return traffic. At those times, I would consume inhuman amounts of coffee to avoid, you know, falling asleep on the drive home. I would actually get flu-like withdrawal symptoms if I stopped cold turkey. So, once I quit that job, I pretty much quit caffeine overdoses. I love tea and I drink green tea most days, but my coffee consumption is rarely more than one cup a week.  That coffee day, though. It’s so good! I call it Superwoman Day, because it means the most amazing workouts, confidence and productivity. My quick-to-grow coffee tolerance means that I never got Superwoman Day when I was consuming coffee more regularly, so I really adore this system. Deviating from it for this experiment was a bit challenging.
**On days one and two, we did 1.5 tablespoons of each
***One article I read posited that one reason for increased energy could be that the coffee is emulsified into the fat, and therefore does kind of a slow-release over the course of the day. As far as I know, that’s possible. In any case, making sure that your coffee is well-mixed is essential.
Drinks Paleo Vegetarian

9 comments

  1. I’m so glad you posted about this–I was curious. I read an article on Mind Body Green (pre-bullet coffee internet phenomenon) about adding coconut oil to your morning coffee for satiety and tried it, but didn’t blend my coffee so I had a layer of fat on top after the stirring wore off. I’ll have to give this a try, being that I have both butter and coconut oil on hand (and I drink plenty of coffee anyway). Definitely curious about the vision/clarity and the energy factors, as I seem to be suffering in all those departments. I’ll report back!

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks, Kelly! I’d love to hear how it goes for you. I’m on day one of doing it with tea, so we’ll see how that goes!

  2. Becky says:

    I wonder, if as someone not used to drinking caffeine daily, it was the caffeine that gave you the clarity. I drink several cups of coffee in the morning, usually with whole milk or half and half and coffee is never an actual substitute for breakfast, even if breakfast is just toast (usually home baked bread, sourdough) and butter.

  3. Charlene Jaszewski says:

    I can’t drink drip coffee (makes me nutty) but espresso doesn’t bother me. Wonder if it would work the same with espresso?

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