.@chrisgayomali slurped Bulletproof Coffee, Silicon Valley's power drink, every morning for 14 days. And? http://www.fastcompany.com/3034539/coffee-week/what-its-like-to-drink-bulletproof-coffee-every-morning-for-two-weeks #CoffeeWeek

What It's Like To Drink Bulletproof Coffee Every Morning For Two Weeks

A fortnight with Silicon Valley's fuel du jour. Could it make our writer faster, smarter, and more productive?

Coffee. Butter. Oil.

Separately those ingredients don’t exactly tick all the traditional boxes for a balanced breakfast. But together they are the three components you need to make Bulletproof coffee, a frothy, energy-igniting beverage that has surged in recent years to become the toast of Silicon Valley. Its promises are multitude, at least according to its creator, cloud-computing pioneer and "Bulletproof Executive" Dave Asprey, who refined his recipe after trying a tea made with yak-butter in Nepal.

Among Bulletproof coffee's listed benefits: It triggers weight loss by way of ketosis, a metabolic state triggered by a lack of carbs that kicks fat-burning into overdrive; it kills pesky cravings; and it boosts cognitive function, mainlining a shining dose of mental clarity into your foggy morning skull. Maybe it would even fold my laundry.

Most of all, though, Bulletproof coffee is intended to be efficient, an easy way for the biohacking crowd to slurp down fats and calories (460 of them!) without so much as sniffing a processed carbohydrate. Why eat a muffin that goes straight to your muffin top, the thinking goes, when you could drink down the metabolic equivalent of supercharged battery acid every morning?

I was curious. I wondered: Is Bulletproof coffee a hyper-efficient, power-packed breakfast taken to its logical end? Or is butter-coffee something more insidious, the latest in a long line of snake oils intended to charm overwhelmed customers looking for the next big diet shortcut?

To find out, I recently gave up breakfast for two weeks and decided to dive headfirst into the (dark, mysterious, hot) Bulletproof hoopla. My goal was to assess a few things: How did I feel by lunch time every day? Did I feel notably sharper at work in the morning? And was brewing a cup of Bulletproof coffee anymore convenient than, say, pouring myself a bowl of cereal? Who knows: maybe I'd even drop a few pounds.

I began by ordering the starter kit from BulletProofExec.com, which has dozens of Bulletproof-branded products listed. The $38 kit includes:

1. Upgraded Coffee, which Asprey says is free of harmful mycotoxins, which are essentially fungi and mold, thanks to his top-secret roasting process. (More on this in just a bit.)

2. Brain Octane Oil, a supercharged version of MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride) oil. It's supposed to be kind of like coconut oil, but it "works directly in cells to give you an extra boost to maximize your performance." (Whatever that means.)

Finally, I went over to Whole Foods in search of butter. But not just any spread would do! It had to come, per BPC's recommendations, from the milk of grass-fed cows. I ended up going with a $7 pack of Organic Valley.

I guess now would be a good time to reveal my eating habits: I usually take my coffee black. I used to adhere to the paleo lifestyle, and later PDH, but now I eat anything. That is to say, mostly garbage. Luckily I still have the metabolism of a fresh-faced twenty-something. I’m not a gym rat like I used to be, but I do play basketball a few times every week, which is just about the only thing that keeps me in shape.

There, glad that's covered.

Now, here is a vastly oversimplified and unscientific diary of what I learned from drinking Bulletproof coffee for two weeks.

Day 1
Most days I wake up at 6:30 and try to get into the office by 8:00. Today, though, I decided to wake up at 6:00 and brew my first cup of Bulletproof coffee at home. After grinding the beans and brewing the coffee in a Chemex, I eyeballed a tablespoon of butter and a splash of MCT oil, figuring I would work my way up to the recommended two tablespoons of butter and tablespoon of oil from there. I opted not to blend it together—as BulletProofExec.com recommends—figuring I’d be making coffee at the office most of the time and didn't want to cause a ruckus.

I squinted into my cup. The result was something that resembled an oil slick, with a yellowish sheen glazed on top of a dark murk. I gave it a few stirs and took a sip. It tasted wonderful. Butter tends to do that. It was thick, warm, and fatty, kind of like a Tonkotsu broth. The mysterious alchemy slid effortlessly down my tongue and esophagus, lubricating my throat and insides. I felt awake by 6:45.

On my commute into the office I felt more alert than usual—though it may well have been a placebo effect. Reading the morning news was a breeze, and I was burning through my Instapaper queue.

But by the time I arrived at work, I was already hungry; by 10 I was famished. When it came time for my 1 p.m. lunch meeting at a fancy Midtown gastropub, I wolfed down what should have been a decadent burger, barely even tasting it. I spent the rest of the afternoon gazing into my screen, debilitated with a severe case of the itis.

Day 2
I decided to try and make Bulletproof coffee in the Fast Company kitchen with a Hario hand-grinder and an Aeropress. And I upped the butter and MCT oil to the recommended levels of two tablespoons and one tablespoon, respectively. Have you ever used a hand-grinder? Grinding enough beans for a single cup is a workout in itself.

Taste-wise the BPC was fine (less bitter, actually). And I was somewhat surprised by how quickly I’d gotten used to Bulletproof coffee’s broth-like consistency. I felt sharp as a tack. But by the time 10:30 rolled around I was hungry again, and had to fight with all the willpower I could summon to not take lunch before 11:00. Basically I was this guy.

Days 3 and 4
Work was fine. I didn’t feel my usual morning grogginess. But feeling hungry by 10:30 was beginning to pose a problem. On the fourth day I had tiny a stomach ache from what I suspect was the coffee’s acidity.

I decided to email Asprey—or at least the press address listed on his website—to ask for advice on how to optimize my Bulletproof experience and perhaps do away with the stomach pains in the process. While waiting for an answer, I browsed through forums and came across what seemed to be one of the more popular solutions for dealing with hunger pains among the BPC crowd: throw a raw egg in it. Here’s what Asprey recommended in the forums:

I've done it with eggs quite a few times. The issue is that if the coffee is really hot it will oxidize the cholesterol in the yolks. You're whipping it with air when you blend it...oxygen + heat. But if the coffee is just really warm it won't be a big issue. Then if you want protein, it's fine, but I find that adding protein to the morning fat meal will definitely end the Bulletproof Intermittent fast, so you lose the autophagy benefits. So for protein breakfast days, go for it, but not every day!

I couldn’t muster the courage to put an egg in my coffee; as one poster mentioned, wouldn't dropping an uncooked egg into hot coffee result in egg-drop soup?

But protein? That I could do.

Day 5
It was a Saturday so I slept in. When I woke up I did the least Bulletproofy thing possible: I ate a piece of toast. The goal was to give the coffee and its acid a spongey cushion, so as to avoid the stomach ache from the day before. At the advice of one of the forums, I also slightly decreased the amount of MCT oil.

And I can’t lie: After eating toast and slowly drinking down a cup of coffee, I felt great—the best I’d felt yet. Alert, strong, ready for life.

Day 6
I had a basketball game at 9 a.m., for which I was running late. I brewed a weak cup of coffee, added in a sloppy spoonful of butter and coconut oil (hey, I was in a rush?) and chugged it all down. On the way to the game my stomach grumbled.

So I cheated. I ate a hoighty-toighty artisanal donut made with hibiscus flowers. Things got a little weird: Sugar in the morning tasted goddamn amazing. I suddenly felt amazing. Everything was amazing. I had tons of energy during the game. Was my body trying to tell me something?!

And the game? We lost.

Day 7
Monday. I decided to wake up early again and brew the coffee at home. I thought: Maybe the deliberateness of the brew method would trick me into feeling fuller longer, like the act of cooking dinner before eating it, or chewing something 24 times before swallowing.

Didn’t work. I was hungry by the time my commute was over. Emerging out of the subway station, I passed by a bakery and caught a whiff of croissants. Flakey, buttery, carb-loaded croissants. I lowered my head and fast-walked to work.

I needed help. I asked Asprey on Twitter if he’d be open to chat. He told me to email him (for the second time), so I did.

No response.

Day 8
I had a bit of extra coffee in the Chemex from the day prior, so I microwaved it, dumped it into a to-go cup, threw in a few spoonfuls of butter and MCT oil, and shook the thing like a maraca. Drinking butter-coffee on public transit is strange. I felt like my lips were extra shiny, as if I were wearing lipgloss.

When I got into work, though, I somehow found myself with a gnarly stomach ache. And—surprise, surprise—I was ravenous. At around 11, when a company-wide email pinged my inbox and said there were free bagels on the snack table, I was the first one to zip out of my seat, pouncing on the table like a lion stumbling upon a fresh zebra carcass. My zebra had poppy seeds.

I felt guilty. This "experiment" was going south. Fast. One thing was clear: Something essential had to change.

On the way home that night I bought some organic whey protein. A friend recommended I try switching to Kerrygold grass-fed butter, so I bought a stick of that, too.

Day 9
Before going into the office, I first stirred a scoop of whey protein into a glass of water and guzzled it down. At work, I made a perfect little cup of Aeropress coffee with two tablespoons of Kerrygold butter, along with the full recommended amount of oil.

And guess what? I felt fantastic. I'd reached a new plateau: My stomach didn’t hurt. I wasn’t super-hungry by noon. My writing-brain was firing on all cylinders, effortlessly bending metaphors and contorting sentences to do whatever I wanted. I felt a sustained burst of energy that felt as if it might never taper off. It was as if I had hit the gym hard that morning, and then dumped a bucket of ice over my head.

Had I finally unlocked the secret formula?

Days 10, 11, and 12
I was ‘effing crushing it at work, bro! Hundreds of not-awful words were being transposed perfectly from my brain, through my fingertips, and organically arranging themselves into phrases on the Internet. At that point I was all in on the Bulletproof express, and it was trickling into other aspects of my diet. I was drinking less beer, eating less carbs, and feeling better overall.

One night, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror. Holy hell. Is that an ab? It wasn't. But I sure felt like a million bucks.

Asprey still hadn’t responded to my emails, so I decided to ask how other people acclimated to drinking BPC.

"I've been drinking it for the better part of two years now," says Jeff Ake, a personal trainer and fitness coach based in Denver, Colorado. "I don't drink it every day. But I was waking up, putting things like grains and simple carbs in my stomach in the morning, and I would burn through those really, really quickly."

Ake says before BPC he felt lousy. Drinking it was a revelation: It kept him full for five to six hours at a time and gave him a bundle of energy, allowing him to stay on the training floor with clients for long and demanding stretches. He preferred his BPC with Stevia, coconut oil (instead of MCT oil), and a little bit of vanilla extract. I made a note to try it.

Then I asked Ake: "Do you remember how you first heard about Bulletproof coffee?"

"I heard about it through whatever his name is," he said, referring to Asprey. "He was on the Joe Rogan podcast probably two years ago."

Once we were done chatting, I Googled "Joe Rogan" and "Bulletproof coffee." This was one of the first search results:

Watch it. Rogan is livid.

I fell down a rabbit hole. Apparently Asprey had appeared on Rogan’s podcast a few days prior, expounding on Bulletproof’s many miracles. Ever the charmer, Asprey had converted a wide-eyed Rogan to the Church of Grass-Fed Butter, and Rogan would go on to sing BPC's praises anywhere he had a pulpit.

The singing didn’t last long, though. Rogan soon discovered that one of Asprey’s key claims—that 70% of all coffee beans were laced in vitality-sapping mycotoxins, which he claimed also makes coffee bitter—turned out to be false.

"Good coffee providers know how to eliminate this from coffee," Rogan said on his show, citing a study he found on PubMed from the 1980s. "They've been able to solve it [for decades] with something called wet processing." When the coffee plant's berries are picked, the cherry (or bean) is "washed" in running water before it's left to ferment and dry, reducing mycotoxin levels to negligible amounts. Everyone from Stumptown to Starbucks washes their beans this way.

That's why Rogan was pissed. He felt betrayed, and accused Asprey of spouting pseudoscience veiled as fact. "There's some bullshit there, for sure," he said. "He used my platform in a way that's non-ethical."

Days 13 and 14
It was the weekend. Since I had time in the morning, I made BPC the way it was intended: Slowly, using a pour-over, with all the ingredients dumped into a blender. The resulting sludge was thick, like a milkshake. Drinking BPC this way did have one surprising side-effect: The fridge-cold butter made the normally hot coffee lukewarm, barely above room temperature.

I still had plenty of energy. But I missed eating solid food in the morning.

Day 15
Figuring my two weeks drinking attempting BPC were basically up, I caved and decided to celebrate that morning in the form of a breakfast sandwich—an egg and cheese on a croissant from that bakery. In a cosmic fit of groggy clumsiness, the croissant exploded like a flakey piñata, sprinkling crumbs all over my keyboard.

An hour or so later I felt noticeably sluggish; my brain was a step behind, like its cogs were bogged down by the drink.

So at around 10, I went to the office kitchen to make a cup of BPC. When I opened up the fridge, my fancy-schmancy Kerrygold butter wasn’t there. I leaned into the fridge, looking behind every sad tupperware.

Someone had either thrown it out or taken it home.

My feelings about BPC are mixed. On the one hand, it gave me lots of energy (even if I should get my cholesterol checked). On the other, like an increasingly vocal group of critics, I’m wary of the claims that Asprey—a very smart guy who is obviously onto something with his Bulletproof empire—uses to market it.

"I would most certainly not recommend it," says Christopher Ochner, a nutrition expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. "Now there is a little bit of data on the use of medium-chain triglycerides for weight loss and regulating cholesterol. But the effect is very, very small."

A few days after the experiment concluded, I asked Dr. Ochner why I was still hungry after drinking down hundreds of calories worth of saturated fat every morning. "Well, that’s not actually surprising," he says. "The people making these claims know there’s a lot of evidence that drinks and shakes don’t really make people feel full. Even if you drink a big Coke with your meal or whatever, and that could be 400 calories or more, it doesn't really make a huge dent in people's appetite. It’s the same concept."

All told I probably wouldn't cough up $40 again for the special mycotoxin-free beans (the process of which Asprey won't share publicly) or MCT oil. I'd probably stick with non-Bulletproof-branded ingredients.

Brewing BPC every morning wasn't very convenient either. As a meal replacement, drinking down whey protein and then making a steaming cup of BPC was more work than it'd take to say, scramble a few eggs. (In fact, brewing coffee this way gave me more dishes to wash.)

Unless I dramatically overhauled my diet and lifestyle—and I'm keenly aware that I didn't during my Bulletproof fortnight—I don't think strictly adhering to the butter and oil approach would make anyone feel invincible, or noticeably healthier. The good news is that at BulletProofExec.com—on the same page as the Bulletproof T-shirts ($20), travel mugs ($30), and anti-aging skin creams ($99)—there is a Bulletproof Diet Roadmap poster ($9) that shows you how to perform just such an overhaul.

I'll still drink a cup of Bulletproof coffee from time to time. But the truth is, I'd much rather eat breakfast.

Have you tried Bulletproof coffee? Did you love it? Decide it’s not for you? Share your tips/stories in the comments below.

[Base Images: Jeehyun via Shutterstock, Thammasak Lek via Shutterstock, Photo Illustration by Joel Arbaje for Fast Company]

Add New Comment


  • Kathy Valker

    The bulletproof coffee is meant to be used in conjunction with the bone broth soup 5 day detox, where your entire system is reset. Your stomach shrinks so the BPC will actually make you feel full longer. My boyfriend and I, both in our 50's are having great success with this and have lost several pounds and inches each. No easy feat in your 50's I can assure you. The people trying to debunk the claims are idiots who are not even following the recipe correctly. Get back to me when you do it right.

  • Gabriella

    Hi, I can't find any mention of bone broth on the creator of bulletproof coffee's website. I have no qualms about bone broth and drink it all the time and love it, and I'm sure doing it with bulletproof is a great idea, it's the "Meant to be used" statement that is confusing me? I can't find anything where Dave Asprey has recommended bulletproof with bone broth.

  • Scott Conway

    I have followed the exact recipe for the BPC on found it puts me to sleep. I did not buy the upgraded beans. However I still make the coffee but modified, I use fresh honey from local Bee keepers and grass fed butter. I also use a two speed hand plunger type blender. I have made the coffee using different types of coffee makers and tonight tried a stove top espresso maker. The best tasting so far. I enjoy the taste of the BPC made this way.

  • Lars Barry

    The idea behind this BP coffee, is it almost acts like a mini fast.

    For those of you that don't know, a lot of the fasting supposedly depends on what's called our circadian clock, which basically dictates our sleeping and eating cycles. This dictates that we are generally meant to sleep when it's dark and be awake when it's light. This also means that we are meant to eat the bulk of our food in the evening hours before bed, while eating very little throughout the day.

    Sound strange? Not so much, we have 2 nervous systems, a sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is built to resist stress and hunger throughout the day. Parasympathetic is meant for replenishment and relaxation which occurs at night.

    Ultimately what that means is, we are meant to eat very little throughout the day, then eat the bulk of our calories at night. BP coffee, is basically life fasting, yet can carry you throughout the day till the evening hours when you "should" mainly eat

  • Heather Barker

    I was actually just listening to the book while casually researching and dissecting all the truths/"sales hooks" about this bulletproof stuff and found your article. I shortly became more interested in your feed back than the actual product at sale. Laughed out loud a couple times. Catchy writing sir.

  • Heather Barker

    I was actually listening to the book while reading this article, casually dissecting the information in the book to find the truths/"sales hooks" and half to admit I was more excited to read what you wrote than anything. Laughed out loud a couple times. Good writing sir!!

  • Nancy Dorn

    Honestly, seems more labor intensive than needed. I drink strong coffee- every morning, just have never tried the bullet proof method. You can still find other ways of incorporating good fats into your diet, other than mixing it into something you drink (which will ultimately be less satiating). Why not have some of the fats you can actually chew- nuts for example everyday? Or even for a "dessert" I'll have a plain scoop of coconut oil w/ a little fruit on top. He's got it right in that fats absolutely will keep you full for extended periods, but is mixing it within coffee really necessary or the best way to incorporate those fats in your diet? I'm not convinced.

  • Gabriella

    I agree. What is the point of mixing it together. Or just drink a cup of coffee, shove 2 tablespoons of butter and a Tsp of Coconut oil in my mount and be done with it. Why all the "frothing." There doesn't seem to be any scientific evidence that the coffee, butter and oil react together to give you any other kind of effect than taken separately. I'm not convinced either. Caffeine kills appetite and fats fill you up. I don't think there is any magic to this. The same effect can be done in other ways.

  • Mark Rutherford

    This has beenmy default breakfast for three years. Everyone's metabolism is of course different but here's my experience, which varies somewhat from this author's experience. First I agree- use any high quality coffee you prefer- you don't need to buy this guys stuff. I have two large cups with a total of 4oz of butter/oil around 8am. I am usually hungry by 1 or 2 pm and eat as much as I want in one large meal or smaller portions until 8pm. So I'm basically fasting 18 hours a day. My energy and mental clarity is excellent. My weight is as it's always been- no loss or gain- but I was never overweight. (BMI-21) My blood and urine tests confirm I'm in mild ketosis and my bilirubin is slightly elevated beyond normal which is consistent with ketosis or fasting. Like I said this is going on three years now. I feel great and have largely lost my cravings for sugar and bread. I eat lots of other omega 3 fats from pasture raised livestock and minimal processed carbs.

  • Justin Berkovi

    Why not keep it simple - to kick start your metabolism you should do the following: Go for a 30 minute run when you wake (early) before any food. Make sure the run involves a few hills so you get a decent workout but no need to go crazy. When you come back for breakfast make a 6 egg white omelette with 1 yolk, some chopped up chives and use coconut oil to cook it. Maybe throw in some lean bacon or turkey bacon. Have a good strong black coffee (In the UK I recommend Mission Coffeeworks as it lends itself brilliantly to Americano style coffee).

    I guarantee you will speed up your metabolism and feel more alert, lose body fat and feel fitter. You don't need a gimmicky coffee to do this.

    Keep carbs for later in the day and stick to things like sweet potato and brown rice and avoid sugar as much as you can.

  • Phoenixwmn

    Your point about running is well-taken but not everyone can DO that, for various reasons. For me it's because I'm disabled. I never had any weight /energy issues prior to menopause and becoming disabled, but once those two bugaboos became part of my life, my lovely svelte figure went south in a BIG way. :( Related to the severe limits my disability imposes , I cannot exercise the way I used to or enjoy. Some days I can walk a bit but that's not anywhere near consistent enough to haul me out of the dark hole of zero energy & extra poundage. I'm a retired health care professional & take health claims about foods/supplements very seriously; I do my homework. I'm astonished by the difference BPC has made; I have actual energy & can hang onto my thoughts; I make my lists of To-Do's & efficiently get them done. The best part: I don't feel like a 50 lb sack o' spuds any longer, am not depressed any longer. I use good beans,Kerry-Gold & MCT, all I need, and it WORKS; is a God-send for me.

  • Donna Silveira

    @Phoenixwmn -- I'm curious as to what the rest of your diet is like -- I'm likewise disabled and know I need to make a change -- are you adhering to the whole no-carb paleo-diet thing? I'm sure this coffee isn't going to be some miracle cure if I'm at mcDonalds the rest of the day.... but shy of the workouts that I can't do, I'm trying to determine what I actually CAN do. --- not sure that eliminating carbs is something I can do, either!

  • Steve R

    I drink bullet proof coffee every morning and love it. I use regular beans and coconut oil versus MCT, so its a modified version. And I eat a huge breakfast with it - like scrambled eggs and pork sausage (both pastured) with spinach. Skipping breakfast strikes me as an asinine thing to do - its the days most important meal after 10+ hours of no food and gets the metabolism going. Just skip the grains and get some protein, fat and veggies on your plate plus BPC - that my friend is breakfast of the champions. I view BPC as a way to make coffee better (and avoid milk) not a meal replacement. Its super easy to make, but you have to use a blender. Stirring it in doesn't work. And if the coffee cools a bit, just pop it in the microwave.

  • I've got to say, this was a poorly done experiment. First and foremost, you MUST blend the coffee.

    Second, eliminating gluten is key. The first few days, you were experiences withdrawals from the lack of grain that you were eating previous. Eating the toast and the donut would've made the hunger pangs worse!

    Allowing your body to become 'fat adapted' would've been key. Staying off of grain for 4 days or so could've done the trick.

    It seems like you felt the mental benefits of the BPC somewhat partially. I hope you give this a try without the poor diet and see what it can do for you!