Iterative Health Beverages

February 15th, 2013, 07:02:33 Beaker

[Updated to fix images which were accidentally uploaded as TIFF and one correction to testing date]

During the last half of November and the first half of December, 2012, I undertook an experiment wherein every day I enjoyed a breakfast which consisted of fried chorizo, onions, some kale, and sweet potatoes, topped with 3-4 cage free, omega3 enhanced eggs and often some avocado.  This was accompanied by 3-4 shots of freshly made espresso.  Every day.

Actually, this is my normal breakfast, except what I failed to mention is that I also added 4 TABLESPOONS of Kerrigold Irish grass-fed butter to my espresso in a blender and drank it along with my breakfast.

The short version of the reasons for doing so were to evaluate the claims relating to health and general euphoria by  consuming elevated levels of these healthy fats as part of the recipe described as “Bulletproof Coffee.”

I can tell you that the visceral results of the test lived up to the hype; I felt less hungry during the day, no desire for additional caffeine consumption and generally felt more “even keeled” and energized during the day.  It delivered on those claims absolutely.

You can read all about that in this blog post here.

What I really wanted to know was what this was doing to my body.

It seems that many of you do, also, especially since I’d not seen anyone else (include Dave) publish before and after numbers relating to this activity.  Since I always made the disclaimer that I enjoyed the butter+coffee but that *I* was going to test myself to assess the impact, I don’t feel particularly guilty for getting about 100 people to try (and apparently very much like) this concoction thanks to Twitter.

My *guess* as to what would happen to my bloodwork was that my total cholesterol would be elevated and that I would have elevated LDL-C, just given the amount of additional fats I was ingesting.

Now, before anyone starts in on the lack of actual scientific method and how this wasn’t a double-blind study…let me fully admit that they’re right.  I spent $900 of my own money to learn something about my body.

My results are specific to me.  They may not matter to you and you may exhibit different responses than I did.  I spend a lot of time measuring things relating to my health and well-being, and I do it for myself.  Your mileage may vary.

I will immediately point out a bit of a flaw in my “testing.”  Specifically, the sequence of events went something like this:

  • November 15-December 15 20, 2012 Added 4 Tablespoons of butter to my 4 shots of espresso and changed nothing else in my diet
  • December 21 – Used WellnessFX “Baseline” blood draw to assess current Lipid & LDL blood panels, ceased intake of butter with coffee
  • December 21-February 11 (2013) After no butter and NO other changes to my diet, used WellnessFX “Performance” blood draw to assess same


What’s missing is clearly a test “BEFORE” I started the coffee+butter, but since the ONLY thing in my diet that I changed was adding butter to my coffee each day, I expected that I’d understand the baseline after 30 days of consumption, stop cold turkey for at least 30 days and measure again to chart the deltas.

You could suggest that because I didn’t perform a “before,” that there could have been something else I was eating to deliver the initial results.  That’s true.  You could.  But since my diet is highly controlled, I can tell you with confidence that this is not the case.  My diet has been the same for a year (in terms of breakfast.)

I think it’s reasonable that since the only variable I changed was the butter, ANY delta between the first and second measurements could be reasonably attributed to butter (good, bad or otherwise.)  It’s an assumption.

For those of you not familiar with my diet, I basically eat a Paleo diet; lots of healthy fats (including saturated fats,) lots of meat and veggies and some nuts.  I don’t eat grains, legumes or most starchy vegetables.  I don’t eat dairy.  I eschew most sweeteners save for the odd bit of agave syrup or fruit product.  My diet is generally “low” carb, even with my strength training and jiu jitsu.  I consider myself reasonably healthy.

Most people who see what I eat (and I’ve been eating this way for nearly 6 years which has seen me go from 230 pounds down to 164) exclaim with some certainty that my cholesterol must be atmospheric and that I’m sure to spontaneously burst into a fat-fueled inferno at any moment.

If you look at the tests I just did (once OFF the coffee+butter) which I will use as my normal baseline, I think this reasonably demonstrates that this is not the case.

The results appear below.  I’m going to let you draw your own conclusions.   Again, the ONLY change to my diet between the first and second measurements was the removal of the butter daily.

I hope you enjoy the $900 I spent on my bloodwork.  I really enjoy the WellnessFX service and this was a fascinating experiment.

To briefly let you know what I learned: I will, every once in a while, enjoy a cup of coffee+butter, but I won’t be making it a staple of my diet.  It’s a shame, really, because I really liked the way it made me feel and I enjoyed the beverage.  I think that the potential long term increase in cholesterol-related counts, despite my low carb diet, would ultimately be unsustainably unhealthy…for me.

Again, your mileage may vary.  I’m happy to see the Apo B readings plummet as frankly this is the result that worried me most.  Per the WellssFX panel description:

“Apolipoprotein B, or Apo B, is the protein in bad cholesterol that binds to arteries to create clogging cholesterol deposits. Because it causes LDL binding to blood vessels, studies have shown that your ApoB level may be a better measure of cardiovascular risk than even LDL cholesterol.”

The potential of which, at almost 43 years old, I can do without…

Pay attention to the legends to the right.  Some numbers as they increase are better, whilst the inverse is also true for others.  




December 23rd, 2012, 10:12:49 Beaker

Bulletproof_Exec_003For the last three weeks or so, I’ve started my day by blending up to 4 tablespoons (about 60 grams) of unsalted Kerrigold Irish grass-fed butter with four shots of Barefoot Coffee’s Haiku espresso.

The idea for this insanely delicious beverage came from @bulletproofexec and his Bulletproof Coffee recipe.  Dave Asprey who created it (a fellow quantified-self enthusiast and biohacker) also has a specific brand of coffee beans (upgraded coffee) that he sells (as well as MCT — medium chain triglycerides — oil) and his recipe calls for.  You can find Dave’s full Bulletproof Exec site here.

I tried his coffee beans but prefer my own, despite Dave’s claims of the benefits of being free of mycotoxins.  I can’t measure or assess these assertions and this isn’t anything I can currently quantify as impactful to me at this point, but I prefer the taste of @barefoot’s beans anyway.  I’m also awaiting my shipment of MCT oil so I can supplement the concoction with additional healthy fats.

Here’s the link to the genesis of Bulletproof Coffee, but let me just tell you that I will find it hard to drink straight coffee again.  After weaning myself from dairy (cream) and any sort of sweeteners (Splenda – gack!) over the last year and a half (see “Hoffaccinos”) I’ve enjoyed straight espresso every day.  So why try this?

Why would I take perfectly delicious coffee and dump 4 Tbsp of butter in it?  Doesn’t it taste gross?  Isn’t the mouthfeel oily?  Isn’t fat/dairy bad for you (and not Paleo!)  Won’t you jack your cholesterol!?  These are all great questions.  Some I can answer now and some will require the results of medical testing both while on the “sauce” and then off again.

For one thing, I find it hard to eat enough given my strength & conditioning and jiu jitsu programs to eat enough food and gain lean muscle mass, especially healthy fats.  Secondly, espresso is nice, but even I have to admit it’s hard to beat a really rich latte.  This experiment has successfully addressed both of those issues and has had the unexpected result of lowering my bodyfat — with no other dietary or fitness changes.  I’ll also be posting the results of my blood panel that I just had processed after the last three weeks of this coffee regimen.*

The short list of benefits is the healthy fat concentration without casein proteins.  It tastes great and imparts a great, rich foamy texture.  It fills me up.  It also seems to have a buffering effect for the caffeine to the point that I don’t want or need any additional throughout the day and I don’t feel twitchy.

I’ve tried this coffee alone without anything else, but find for my liking that I must eat a normal breakfast along with it as it tends to kick up my metabolism to the point that I get ravenous if I don’t.

You should know that if you aren’t used to this amount of fat, you should start with 2 tablespoons or so, else you may experience some digestive discomfort…and as Dave says, use a blender…it’s NOT the same if you don’t.  You’ll just get oil slicks in your Joe.

Here’s the original recipe.  I’ve made it my own by varying concentrations and trying different combinations, but I find this as a great starting point.  If all you have is your favorite coffee (drip or espresso,) get some good GRASS-FED, UNSALTED butter (like Kerrigold, available in most grocery stores) and throw it in blender :

Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

  • Start with 500 ml (2 mugs) of black coffee brewed with mold-free beans (important)
  • Add 2 Tbs (or more, up to 80 grams, about 2/3 of a standard stick of butter) of Kerry Gold or other UNSALTED grass-fed butter
  • Add 30 grams of MCT oil for max energy, weight loss and brain function (optional if you have none)
  • Blend with a pre-heated hand blender, Magic Bullet, or (best) counter top blender until there is a creamy head of foam. (It doesn’t work well if you mix it with a spoon)

I’ve been tweeting about this and many folks have asked about cream, ghee or even goat-butter versus bovine grass-fed butter.  People have begun to also blend cold-drip coffee with hot water.   I have not tried these things.  It’s unclear that I will as I find the above base recipe perfect.  I might mention that you can add organic cocoa powder for a mocha-like drink, but you’ll likely need to add some sort of sweetener like Agave or Stevia as this would get bitter without it.

This drink certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had a many more positive versus negative responses for folks who have tried this.

I’m looking forward to your comments and reviews and I again thank Dave Asprey for the awesome motivation.  TRY IT!  You won’t be sorry.


* I’ve got a feeling that I’ll see elevated cholesterol figures but I’ll be interested in whether this will show up as LDL (bad) or not…we’ll see.

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