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Forget Toast: Why You Should Put that Butter in Your Coffee

May 1, 2014

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For many of us, our morning coffee is a necessity: the day can’t officially begin until we’ve had a strong cup of joe. In the past, most nutrition experts have recommended waiting on your morning cup until after you’ve had breakfast. However, a new trend suggests that ditching breakfast foods altogether and instead adding butter to your brew might be the best way to start your day.

Some, especially those that follow a Paleo diet, argue that this new mixture may not only make your coffee more delicious and filling, but also quite nutritious. On the other hand, many of us—including some health professionals—are skeptical about the idea of skipping a wholesome breakfast in favor of two somewhat nutritionally controversial foods.  So what’s the deal?

The Confusing History of Fats

Fats, including butter, have not had great press over the years. In the 1950’s, studies linked saturated fats and cholesterol with coronary heart disease, a theory known as “the lipid hypothesis.” In turn, fats in foods were replaced with sugars, a major factor in creating the health crisis in America today. Now, many years later, the plethora of health benefits of fats and oils are coming back in to the spotlight. Both holistic practitioners and traditional MD’s alike are touting things like fat’s therapeutic effects on the brain and ability to kill bacteria in the body, making foods that contain saturated fat a popular grocery store staple again and replacing those once-popular alternative oils (cough, cough, canola).

How Buttery Coffee Came to Be

Adding butter and oil to coffee was initially popularized by Dave Asprey, the man behind Bulletproof Executive, who dubbed the drink “Bulletproof Coffee.” Asprey first came across the notion of adding butter to caffeinated drinks while trekking in Tibet, where he noticed that a cup of yak butter tea revitalized him in a way he had never previously experienced. The concoction that he eventually perfected and now sells contains a blend of grass-fed butter and MCT (a mix of palm and coconut oil). He claims that drinking this mixture daily will bring you lasting energy and help keep you full while shrinking your waistline.

So, Really, Why Should I Drink This?

First, the fats in butter may slow the absorption of caffeine, causing less of an energy spike and subsequent crash, and instead helping to keep energy levels even. Second, the high nutrients may cause an increase in metabolism and fat burning, resulting in weight loss. Finally, healthy fats have been associated with increased brain processing and creativity. 

Quality Counts

One important distinction to make before you try this is in recognizing the difference between grass-fed butter and the highly processed butters and margarines that fill our dairy aisles. Cows fed corn and wheat will produce a different quality product than those fed grass; the nutrients that come from grass and good soil are key to the coffee-butter benefits.

It’s equally important to choose quality oils and organic coffee, as coffee crops contain some of the highest levels of pesticides and toxins. Asprey sells the products you need on his site, but you could just as easily (and more affordably) purchase the ingredients on your own.

What to Watch Out For

Those with high-carb diets who don’t have an active lifestyle might want to think twice before trying this trick, since their bodies may store the fat instead of creating energy with it. If you do decide to try butter in your coffee, listen to your body and pay close attention to the reaction that you have during the first couple of tries. The butter may be hard for your body to process at first, and you may need to add digestive enzymes at first. Be sure to stick to those that are that are plant- or fungus-based, as they are thought to be most effective.

Have you tried adding butter and or oil to your coffee? Share your experience in the comment section below!