It may be a little hard to swallow, but this latest trend is receiving praise from not only butter lovers, but the integrative health and fitness communities as well.

The concept is simple. Most of us should start our day with a heavy dose of fats versus carb-heavy cereal, toast and bagels known as The American Way.

Butter coffee is no new phenomenon as people from the Himalayas, Ethiopia, Nepal, Vietnam, and Singapore have been enjoying the benefits for centuries. The craze has been commercialized in the last decade as Bulletproof Coffee by Bulletproof Executive Dave Asprey, but it is simple to make on your own.

Why should we start our morning with butter in our coffee (oh, and did we mention the oil)? It will give you sustained energy, cognitive improvement, autoimmune and inflammatory disease repair, lower triglycerides, increased happiness, and even weight loss.

Before we explain how it works…

To make a delicious and effective butter coffee, you need 1-2 cups of coffee, 2 tablespoons of unsalted grass-fed beef butter (or ghee if you are dairy-free), and 1 – 2 tablespoons of MCT oil, a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides from coconut and/or palm kernel oil. MCT oil is recommended over plain coconut oil as it is utilized easier and faster by the body. If you are new to fats, work up to 2 tbsp, and please note that 100% coconut oil MCT is more eco-friendly than palm oil (one of the benefits of Bulletproof’s Brain Octane).

Simply place all ingredients in the blender (maybe add a dash of cinnamon, turmeric or other beneficial spice) and blend to create a frothy latte-style
cup of goodness.

So how does it work?

By now, we all know that the fat-free craze took all the fat out of our diet, added sugar, and helped create today’s obesity and diabetes epidemics (see Candy Coated in the last issue). Reality is, starting your morning with “healthy whole grain” cereals, breads – even fruit – causes your body to start the day burning sugar for energy and can lead to mid-day hunger pangs or that mid-morning crash after the desired fuel source burns off. You need more sugar and just don’t feel good.

On the flip side, starting your day with a healthy amount of fat depresses your appetite – especially for people who eat a low-carb diet – and elevates ketone levels in the blood, increasing energy and providing fuel for the brain to work more efficiently which contributes to the happiness (your brain’s way of thanking you!).

Yes, butter coffee actually does make you happy, less hungry, and with sustained energy throughout the day. That’s why it’s the new craze of Silicon Valley (and millions more around the world).

The best part is that your body starts the day in fat-burning mode and will continue to burn fat as long as you don’t interrupt the process by downing sugar and carbs; thus, many experience weight loss.

So what do you eat when you get hungry? Low glycemic foods like protein, vegetables, avocados, nuts, seeds…and if you are ready to try butter coffee, hopefully this is what you are already eating.

Integrative practitioner Hessam Mahdavi, MD, DC, CNS, recommends the morning beverage to many of his patients, but only those who are already on a low-carb, Paleo, or ketogenic diet, or transitioning to this lifestyle.

“If you eat bread, sugars and other [high glycemic] carbs, or have a sedentary lifestyle, butter coffee is not for you,” he says, adding that it may have an opposite effect. He does, however, feel that butter coffee can help those transitioning to a keto lifestyle as it decreases your appetite and helps stave off cravings. “The brain prefers to burn ketones as fuel,” he notes, “so you feel good and don’t need additional food for energy or to feel better.” He also recommends it for sharpening the brain, referencing the success of Dr. Dale Bredesen’s work treating Alzheimer’s by increasing ketogenesis (for more on this see pg. 12).

Mahdavi does not recommend butter coffee for those who do better on a low-fat diet; those who cannot metabolize caffeine; and people with gallbladder issues or heart conditions.

“There is a subset of the population that cannot metabolize coffee easily [due to a gene called CYP1A2]; they get insomnia or jitters. I don’t recommend it for them because the MCT oil maintains the coffee in the body for longer periods of time so they may develop anxiety or heart arrhythmia.”  He adds that there is also a subset of the population that does much better on a low-fat diet, so the idea of ketosis or a low-carb diet is not for everybody.

Those who are prone to excessive phlegm may want to avoid the practice as well since dairy (even ghee) and oils can cause phlegm production.

“But for the majority of the population, this type of diet, and starting your morning with butter coffee, can be very helpful in lowering inflammation, addressing autoimmune issues, improving brain function and losing weight.”

And did we mention that it makes you really happy?

Sources: 1) Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE, CLT.; 2); 3) Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition.; 4) Save the Rainforest! Brain Octane is Palm Oil-Free.

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