Iterative Health Beverages, Coffee, Diet, Measurements, Paleo, Quantified Self The Infamous Month Long Coffee+Butter Experiment – Blood Test Results

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.  




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