How Bulletproof Coffee Shoots You in The Foot
This coffee drink is promoted as a replacement for breakfast by Dave Asprey of the Bulletproof Executive as a way to feel “lean, focused and energized” and helps you “transform your diet without chewing on sticks of butter”.
While I have no doubt that this choice of morning beverage will indeed produce a high level of focus and intensity due to the quick injection of caffeine and medium chain triglycerides (used by the body for energy rather than fat storage) to the bloodstream, any weight loss benefits to a bulletproof coffee habit over the long term are completely ludicrous.
At the very least, bulletproof coffee certainly won’t be helping you lose weight and keep it off. Yes, it’s just another yo-yo scenario and here’s why.
Skipping Breakfast a Big No-No for Sustainable Weight Loss
According to Julia Ross, best selling author of The Diet Cure, skipping breakfast and replacing it with coffee or a drink like bulletproof coffee is a big no-no and not just because it increases your chances of overeating starches and sugars later in the day.
Skipping a nutritious morning meal particularly one with a quality source of protein does a number on your body’s ability to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin which is derived from the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan, like all the amino acids, is contained in protein. Meat is the best source of tryptophan but only from animals roaming on pasture.
Healthy Fats Added to Coffee Do Not Make it Breakfast!
Adding a bunch of healthy fats to coffee in no way redeems the situation and bulletproof coffee does not qualify as a meal replacement!
Protein (food) —–> Tryptophan (amino acid) —–> Serotonin (neurotransmitter) —–> Melatonin (hormone for restful sleep)
Serotonin is what helps you feel happy, calm, and self confident even in the face of stress. Moreover, ample serotonin is important for a restful night’s sleep as the body converts serotonin into melatonin at dusk.
Inadequate melatonin results in insomnia problems.
Please note that adding collagen hydrolysate or gelatin to your bulletproof coffee does not solve the problem as these protein sources are completely devoid of tryptophan containing primarily the amino acids glycine and proline in large amounts.
Protein powder would be the worst choice, however, as all brands are highly processed (don’t be fooled!) with the delicate protein molecules denatured even if processed at low temperature due to the powderizing process.
Skipping Breakfast in favor of Bulletproof Coffee
Skipping breakfast in the morning short circuits the body’s ability to produce adequate serotonin throughout the day. While eating protein later in the day definitely helps, because none was consumed at breakfast, your body ends up playing serotonin catch up all day every day.
Ms. Ross says that we all need about 20-30 grams of protein 3 times per day to fulfill the body’s requirement for amino acids in order to produce adequate neurotransmitters like serotonin.
Drinking coffee even if it’s bulletproof coffee first thing in the morning instead of breakfast has the double whammy effect of suppressing appetite as well. It’s the caffeine that reduces appetite so not only aren’t you getting the protein you need in the morning, but you likely won’t eat enough throughout the rest of the day either which further impacts serotonin and melatonin production in a negative way.
What good is feeling “energized and focused” from bulletproof coffee during the day if it also leaves you irritable, stressed, emotionally unstable and unable to get a quality night’s sleep when you get home?
Serotonin Deficiency Harms Sleep Quality
The research is ominous regarding serotonin deficiency causing insufficient melatonin production with the resulting effect of unwanted weight gain – even obesity over the long term.
According to Dr. Mercola, “it’s also well proven that lack of sleep is linked to obesity, while if you’re not getting enough sleep, there’s a good chance your melatonin production is not up to par either. The disturbance to your melatonin levels caused by lack of sleep may be one more reason why it leads to weight gain, and this could have far-reaching impacts on your health.”
In addition, Science Daily reported that scientists found that proper melatonin levels stimulate the production of beige fat, a heat-generating type of fat (also known as “good” or “thinning” fat) that helps your body to burn calories rather than store them.
Must Have Your BulletProof Coffee?
Long story short, if you must drink bulletproof coffee, at the very least, wait until after a protein rich breakfast to do it!
This way, the impact on your serotonin and melatonin levels will not be as severe as drinking it as a replacement for breakfast with its appetite suppressing effects affecting the rest of the day’s protein consumption as well.
You may find that this one simple change alone will leave you feeling happier, more emotionally flexible, less stressed, and with increased ability to tackle whatever challenges you face each day with improved self confidence.
BulletProof Coffee Already Wrecked Your Sleep?
If you suspect that your serotonin levels are in the tank and you need neurotransmitter supplementation to help you with worry, anxiety, OCD thoughts or actions, depression, panic attacks, and/or chronic insomnia, Julia Ross recommends this dosage with the amino acid tryptophan:
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP – sources): 50 mg in the mid-afternoon and before bedtime.
- L-tryptophan (sources) : 500 mg in the mid-afternoon and again before bed especially if insomnia is a problem.
Note that 5-HTP is cheaper than L-tryptophan but some people get nausea from it, so switch to L-tryptophan if 5-HTP doesn’t work for you.
Raise the dosage as needed to eliminate low serotonin symptoms.
Once You’ve Got Your Serotonin Deficiency Under Control, Now What?
Once you’ve started eating breakfast again and eliminated or at least delayed your cup of bulletproof coffee until after you eat in the morning, you might perhaps feel motivated to try and wean yourself off coffee completely.
According to Julia Ross:
People who crave chocolate, coffee, alcohol and even exercise are typically low in the neurotransmitter endorphin.
Using supplementation of the amino acids that are precursors to endorphin may really help in trying to shake the bulletproof coffee habit.
- Amino acid d-phenylalanine (DPA): 500 mg, 2-4X/day (sources). Use DPA if you are addicted to coffee and also an anxious person.
- Amino acid d-phenylalanine (DPA) bound to the amino acid I-phenylalanine (LPA) – known in combination as DLPA: 500 mg, 2-3X/day (sources). Use DLPA if you crave the energizing effects of coffee and are not typically an anxious person.
Do you think a deficiency of neurotransmitters might be the reason some folks love their bulletproof coffee so much?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sources and More Information
Coconut Oil Capsules: As Beneficial as Straight Up?
Since 2002, Sarah has been a Health and Nutrition Educator dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, her work has been covered by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.