“Bulletproof coffee” (a.k.a. “butter coffee” or “fat coffee”), has become extremely trendy these days, especially amongst people who are following a ketogenic or low-carb way of eating. The recipe is pretty simple: it’s just unsalted butter blended into coffee using a blender like a Vitamix or an immersion blender). I include my preferred recipe and preparation method below, but first please bear with me as I step onto my functional nutritionist soap box for a moment…
I frequently get asked what I think about Bulletproof drinks, and my opinion is nuanced. Well, one thing is not nuanced: butter coffee is freaking delicious! But beyond taste, there are important factors to consider first depending on your goals and your current state of health.
Fat Loss & Fasting
Some claim that drinking butter coffee promotes weight loss. Others argue that―unlike eating carbs or protein―fat doesn’t kick your body out of a fasted state, allowing you to still experience the benefits of fasting (e.g. autophagy, the body’s natural cellular “housecleaning” and cancer-fighting process).
But, as a rule, I don’t think that anybody should be drinking their calories regularly unless their goal is to get big, fast. Think of bodybuilders drinking giant protein shakes, or actors drinking melted ice cream to gain weight rapidly for a role.
For the purposes of fat loss, butter coffee can be a complement to a low-glycemic diet and intermittent fasting, but just drinking it without changing how you eat is not inherently going to promote fat loss.
If your goal is fat loss, and you do want to drink butter coffee, some ways of consuming it will support your goals better than others.
Drinking it throughout the day, or with your breakfast, or as a snack in between breakfast and lunch, means that your body won’t be having much need to tap into its own fat reserves for energy, because you’re adding calories on “top.”
Instead, my opinion is that it’s better to use it as a tool when you can’t eat a full meal or are trying to ease into intermittent fasting. Some find that having the butter in their coffee can help tide them over until they eat a “regular” meal, and unlike carb-based snacks, doesn’t trigger their appetite.
For example, you could do a butter coffee first thing in the morning, in lieu of breakfast. That could tide you over until lunchtime or until dinner, where you eat a low-glycemic meal. The fat in that scenario provides you some satiation and energy until you eat your meal.
However, I’m not convinced that butter coffee allows your body to continue to be in a fasted state while still having a caloric intake, as some claim. Even if it’s low-glycemic, it’s still calories, and calories trigger the release of insulin. Carbohydrates trigger more insulin than fat, but any macronutrient intake will release some. And insulin turns off fasting.
If you want to shift your body composition and release some stored body fat, your two best tools are a low-glycemic diet and intermittent fasting.
Okay, with my soapbox speech out of the way, let’s now proceed to how to actually make butter coffee!
Tips for Success
If you decide that butter coffee aligns with your goals, let me give you two little bits of advice first. Unfortunately, I had to learn both of these lessons the hard way…
- Use a blender. Do NOT just plop butter into a cup of coffee and drink it. The fat will float on the top like an oily slick. Gross. 🤢 Instead, use an immersion blender or Vitamix to thoroughly blend the fat into the coffee, creating a delicious, creamy, latte-like consistency.
- Start with SMALL amounts of fat (e.g. ½ teaspoon) and work your way up slowly. Dietary fat gives your gallbladder the signal to release bile. Bile, in turn, increases something called bowel motility (i.e. how fast food moves through your intestines), so if you have a bunch of fat all at once―especially in liquid form without any solid food slowing down its transit time through your digestive system―it’s very likely that you will experience what many call “disaster pants.” Or at the very least, you will likely have a very long visit to the bathroom. This is especially common if your gallbladder has been chronically underutilized from eating a low-fat diet.
As mentioned above, butter coffee is extremely simple: just coffee with butter blended into it. However, there are a few ways to modify your cup of joe depending on your tastes and health goals.
- ½ tsp to 1 tablespoon grass-fed butter (I use Kerrygold)¹
- 12 to 16 oz brewed coffee (regular or decaf)²
- Optional: 1 tablespoon collagen peptide powder (I use Vital Proteins)³
³ Collagen is a source of protein that dissolves well and is flavorless. It’s good for the body’s natural gut repair process, for keeping joints working well, and adds strength to hair, skin, and nails. This is not recommended for those using butter coffee as part of a fasting strategy.
- Put the butter (and other optional ingredients above) into a glass quart mason jar (if using an immersion blender) or your blender container (e.g. Vitamix).
- Pour in the brewed coffee slowly (being careful not to splash yourself with hot liquid).
- Blend everything thoroughly together until your coffee is creamy and foamy (usually about 30 seconds depending on your blender speed).
- Pour into your favorite coffee mug and enjoy!
This post was originally from October 2013, and was updated December 2019.