What’s this rubbish about butter coffee?

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Earlier this week a friend posted something on Facebook about a butter coffee. This is not rocket science in any shape or form (despite what is being claimed), you make a cup of coffee and then………….wait for it……….add butter to it!

Mmmmm I hear you all say! Or was that Eeeuuuwww?!

Dave Asprey who claims to have developed this drink is no doubt making a nice tidy profit from his ‘special blend’ of coffee he calls Bulletproof coffee.  He shares a recipe that he’ skilfully’ created on his website. I refuse to put the link to his site on here as I think advertising his product any more than he does already would be irresponsible for me to do, plus he just annoys me!

There is a shed load of complete rubbish available on the World Wide Web about this latest craze but here is a list of the most laughable quotes I found on Mr Asprey’s website. Are you ready for this? Excuse my sarcasm, I’ve had a tough week and have little time for niceties!

I learned about the power of butter at 18,000 feet of elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet.

Are we supposed to be impressed about your trekking adventures Mr Asprey. Does this make you a nutrition scientist? OK so Tibetans may drink tea with Yak butter at altitude (and adding butter to drinks has been around for ages) but that doesn’t mean we all have to do it, particularly as they have a relatively high incidence of heart disease linked partly to a fatty diet! The high altitude they live at means their metabolism is quite different as less oxygen is available for the body to use. And  I very much doubt they eat all the processed c**p we do in our diet, so they are not exactly a comparable as a population.

It will give you lots of energy and it will give your body healthy (omega 3)  fats that it will use to make cell walls and hormones.

Firstly, the caffeine in the coffee gives you the ‘energy’ is a bit dubious.  It is not energy rich itself but the caffeine in the coffee will perk you up! The stronger the brew, the greater the caffeine content and so the greater the stimulatory effect. Caffeine is well known to perk you up; it acts on your central nervous system and can improve learning, memory, performance and coordination, if this is what he is really referring to?

The other ingredient he adds to ‘boost brain power‘ in his bulletproof cocktail is ‘Brain Octane‘ . At only £30 a Litre its a bargain isn’t it?! Perhaps this is what makes it so much better than the traditional coffee and cream combo? Brain Octane contains MCT (Medium Chain Triglyeride) oil – basically a blend of coconut and palm oil which Mr Asprey says is “digested faster than other fats” (true, because they are relatively soluble in water) “and therefore boosts energy and promotes weight loss” (because there is evidence that these fats bypass our fat stores). My understanding from a health perspective is that MCT may increase fat burning and our increase metabolic rate as well as reduce food intake but the jury is definitely still out on this one due to the lack of research. In my mind how can these benefits possibly outweigh the effects from the amount of fat added in the form of butter?!

So this brings me onto the fats………..yes we need to consume more ‘healthy fats’ in the form of  polyunsaturated fats (and omega fats are good) as they can improve our blood lipid profile but when did we start to completely ignore saturated fats?! The butter he is suggesting we add to our coffee is rich in saturated fats which can raise blood cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease.  I know we are hearing confusing things about saturated fats being bad for us one day, then OK the next (as its all about sugar being the bad guy) but until I read categorically in black and white one way or the other, the evidence that links saturated fat with heart disease and stroke is far too compelling.

He then goes onto say “the good fats in the butter help you lose weight” (well, to give him his credit, he actually says  it reduces body fat mass in overweight individuals). Now excuse me for thinking, but with 2 Tablespoons of butter in your morning coffee, at around 200 Calories a pop and ~14g saturated fat, how is this going to help weight loss or improve heart health?! In fact it’s more likely to cause weight gain! Arrrggghh plus women should have no more that 20g saturated fat a day, men no more than 30g so this wee drink will get you well on your way to your full day’s allowance!

Oh but hold on, Mr Asprey provides this brilliant advice –

Try this just once, with at least 2 Tbs of butter, and have nothing else for breakfast. 

This advice is so wrong, on all levels! What about all the evidence that promotes the consumption of a decent healthy breakfast?! On his advice we might as well all go out and have a can of energy drink for breakfast. Let’s see what everyone thinks about that shall we?

Now of course Mr Asprey goes on to say we must buy his special coffee…………

‘Tademark Upgraded Coffee’ – made from ‘low-toxin beans’ that make it ‘cleaner’ than Starbucks coffee. That’s because toxins in cheap coffee steals your mental edge and actually makes you weak, but clean coffee actually fights cancer and provides antioxidants.

I laugh at the wording as I imagine us all becoming frail and pathetic sitting in a Starbucks or Costa Cafe. And at $79 or nearly £50 a 5lb bag plus shipping costs I bet he will be laughing all the way to his grave! With the Brain Octane, we are now £80 out of pocket!  But there’s still more………..

After a couple of years of careful research (ooh, extensive eh?!), that was the genesis of my recipe which is today used by Billboard recording artists before they go on stage, world champion athletes, and some of the world’s top executives, because it has a massive impact on cognitive function.

Go on then, tell us about this research Mr Asprey!  Who exactly are these billboard recording artists (not taking any other stimulants!) and who are these athletes and executives? I bet you didn’t undertake a double-blind randomised controlled trial? What was your methodology? Where are your peer-reviewed papers? He may have the gift the gift of the gab but that’s about it!

To most people, putting butter in their coffee sounds skeptical (yup!) if not borderline dangerous (yup again!), but not all butters are bad for you. In this case, there is only one kind of butter you should put in your coffee: grass-fed butter. Kerrygold unsalted brand is probably the most common that you can find in stores.

Oh so you are sponsored by Kerrygold butter?! Well that explains it all then. Apparently other butters don’t make you feel bulletproof. Ha ha ha

Grass-fed butter is much healthier than other butter.  It doesn’t make cholesterol levels worse, it optimizes them!

Really?!  There have been some studies to show that beef from grass-fed cattle  may be better than grain fed cattle and could be used in our diet like lean chicken and fish but this does not necessarily transfer to the butter too. Can someone tell me any more about this please?

So you get the gist. I am against this. My advice is simply don’t bother! Please cut down on saturates, get your good fats from traditional sources like oily fish, seeds and nuts and limit your caffeine intake a little.

BUT if you have any concrete evidence to disprove my views, please do tell and comment below. I would love to know if I have missed something obvious. I am open minded and don’t mind being disproven!

At least I feel better for having a rant!



Chocolate facts of the day

I wrote this in April 2014 when Easter was approaching and the choccy eggs were in the shops (didn’t they appear on boxing day?) so I posted a fact(s) of the day. There are ‘National Chocolate Days’ in various countries across the World so this should stay pretty relevant beyond Easter!

So which is your guilty pleasure? Dark, milk or white chocolate?

What is chocolate?

First we need cocoa beans. Chocolate is a blend of fat (in the form of cocoa butter which is the fatty part of the cocoa bean), cocoa solids (the non fat part of the bean which is ground into a powder) and then some added sugar.  The amount of cocoa solids very much influences the sweetness of the chocolate as the more cocoa put into the chocolate, the less sugar is added, the more bitter the flavour.  The cocoa butter melts at body temperature and gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel mmmmmm.

Dark Chocolate


European regulations state dark chocolate should have a minimum of 35% cocoa solid. This is the amount of cocoa you would find in a bar of Bournville chocolate for example.  These days though, the popularity of the more expensive, gourmet chocolate with 70-85% cocoa has become very popular. High quality dark chocolate should ‘snap’ cleanly when you break it or bite it – it takes longer to melt in the mouth compared to milk or white chocolate as it also contains less cocoa butter.  It is also better for you than milk or white chocolate (more on that later this week). Now this is not an excuse to go mad on the dark stuff, what I am saying is if you are going to eat chocolate, good quality dark chocolate is probably the way to go.  I found an interesting blog about dark IQ Chocolate so have a look!

Milk Chocolate


Milk chocolate must have a minimum of 25% cocoa solids.  It contains more sugar and cocoa butter than dark chocolate and so is sweeter and smoother as it melts more easily in the mouth. This is still the most popular type of chocolate at the moment and is partly to blame for some of those expanding waist lines….

White Chocolate


White chocolate is based on sugar, milk, and cocoa butter only; it contains no solids.  In fact it’s not really chocolate at all! It has a high cocoa butter and sugar content and will often have other ingredients and vanilla flavouring added so is super creamy and sweet – probably why kids love it so much.

Chocolate style, chocolate flavoured and chocolate alternative

These may contain some cocoa powder but they also contain vegetable fats to supplement or replace the cocoa butter. While often used to cover confectionery or ice cream products, they can be molded into solid bars or shapes. They cannot be called chocolate as they do not meet the minimum requirements that defines dark or milk chocolate in terms of the % of cocoa solids.

Carob is a chocolate alternative; made from the carob pod. It is noted for its similarity to cocoa powder; made by drying, roasting and grinding the carob pod after the beans have been removed. The colour and flavour of carob vary according to the roasting process—the longer carob is roasted, the darker its colour and the blander its flavour.

So whether its cocoa beans or carob pods, unfortunately these do not count towards your 5 (or 10) portions of fruit & veg a day! I am a big fan of eating things in moderation though and don’t believe in complete denial of certain ‘bad’ foods. I just don’t think you can beat real chocolate.  For me, I love it, but I want different types of chocolate at different times, depending on how I feel.  After a meal, or when I am full I prefer a little bit of extra dark chocolate; something not too sickly, that provides a sweet ending to a meal.  If I’m watching a film on the sofa, it will generally be milk chocolate (ideally combined with some form of nut………….thinking of M&M’s now……………where was I?………………but I also like white chocolate. It reminds me of my childhood I think; the milky bars are on me!  Those giant white buttons are rather nice…………so that’s it for today, anyone for chocolate?

Find out more with these posts I also wrote  chocolate is addictive, chocolate and migraines, chocolate and heart health, chocolate and diabetes