When people hear more than half my calories come from healthy fats, one of the most common questions after “why?” is “how?”
Enter: Bulletproof Coffee.
What Is Bulletproof Coffee?
I start every day with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee made with Certified Clean coffee beans blended with grass-fed unsalted butter or Grass-fed Ghee and Brain Octane Oil (see recipe below).
I first learned about the power of butter at 18,000 above sea level, near Mt. Kailash in Tibet.
I staggered into a guest house from the negative 10-degree weather and was literally rejuvenated by a creamy cup of yak butter tea. The biohacker in me asked, “why?” and after a couple years of careful research and recipe testing, Bulletproof Coffee was born. Today, this powerful brew is used by Billboard-topping recording artists, world champion athletes and some of the world’s top executives because of its massive impact on energy and cognitive function.
It all starts with the beans. Clean coffee beans give you the mental edge and energy you need to perform.
That’s why I use the lowest toxin, highest performance coffee there is (I know because I created it and test it constantly). Bulletproof coffee uses the highest quality beans, unsalted, grass-fed butter, and Brain Octane Oil – an extract of coconut oil that improves brain function and supports ketosis.
You read that right. I said butter. Butter has all the benefits of healthy milk fat with none of the damaging denatured casein proteins found in cream. This mixture also makes for the creamiest, most delicious cup of coffee you’ve ever had. You’ll feel satisfied and have sustained energy for hours.
The science behind Bulletproof Coffee
When I first tried that yak butter tea in Tibet I felt like a million bucks. I had to know why. When I got back home, I began researching butter, tea, types of fat, how fat affects your brain, etc. I began experimenting in my kitchen, looking to recreate that mental and physical boost I felt back on that mountain. I eventually moved away from tea in favor of coffee (not that I’m hating on tea; green tea in particular is great for you. If you don’t like coffee, try swapping in green tea or matcha in the recipe below. But you really owe it to yourself to try the coffee!).
Anyway, during my research and kitchen experiments I discovered a lot of powerful science around coffee, butter, and Brain Octane Oil. I’ll break it all down for you here:
Bulletproof Certified Clean Coffee Beans are free of mold toxins
* My biggest concern when designing Certified Clean Coffee Beans was minimizing contamination from mycotoxins (mold toxins). One study that tested 60 coffee bean varieties found that 91% of green coffee beans were contaminated with mycotoxins.
* Another study found only 52% contamination in green coffee beans, but also found that ~50% of brewed coffee contained mycotoxins.
* Levels of mycotoxin contamination vary. In the two studies above they were relatively low, but contamination can be much higher, especially in lower-quality beans that are not processed with care.
* The European Union has set relatively high standards for mycotoxin contamination in coffee, but in the U.S. standards are much more lax. In fact, many companies try to sell coffee to Europe first, then take the coffee that Europe rejects, turn around, and sell it to the U.S.
* Bulletproof Certified Clean Coffee is from high-elevation, Rainforest Alliance certified, single-origin coffee estates in Guatemala and Colombia. It contains high-quality Arabica beans (which are less likely to grow mold) and it’s produced using a special method (The Bulletproof Process) that minimizes mycotoxin contamination. Bulletproof Certified Clean Coffee Beans are also tested for mold contamination and held to stringent quality standards.
Grass-fed butter is full of high-quality fats and nutrients
Cows evolved to eat grass, not factory farm lot feed. Grass-fed cows are healthier than factory-farmed or grain-fed cows, and the butter they produce reflects their good health. Check out this infographic for all the information that follows, as well as the scientific sources backing them. If you’d rather read a recap on this page, though, here it is:
Grass-fed butter is higher than grain-fed butter in omega-3 fatty acids, CLA, beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin E, and antioxidants. You can actually see the difference in the butter: grass-fed butter is a sunny yellow color, while grain-fed/factory-farmed butter is almost white. The lack of color is a sign that the butter is coming from sick, nutrient-depleted cows.
* Grass-fed butter is high in butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid. Studies show that butyrate can both prevent and decrease inflammation in humans. In rodents, studies have shown butyrate to protect against mental illness, improve body composition, increase metabolism, and improve gut health.
* Butter is nutrient-dense. A single tablespoon of butter contains:
* 500 IU vitamin A
* More carotenes than carrots
* High amounts of vitamin K2, vitamin D, and vitamin E
Grass-fed butter is a superfood. It’s also much easier to come by than yak butter is. Kerrygold is an excellent grass-fed butter brand, and it’s stocked in most supermarkets.
Brain Octane Oil provides fast energy with no crash
Brain Octane Oil is a purified form of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. MCTs have carbon tails that come in various lengths, from C-6 to C-12. The shorter the tail, the faster your body can absorb the MCT and convert it to ketones, little molecules that can fuel your brain instead of glucose. Brain Octane is pure C-8 MCT – it has 18 times the C-8 of coconut oil. Why not C-6, if your body processes it faster? C-6 tastes and smells terrible; C-8 is nearly tasteless and odorless, and you can still convert it to energy quickly, speeding up your metabolism and giving you a cognitive boost.
* It takes just 3 steps to convert Brain Octane to ATP (cellular fuel for both your body and brain). For context, it takes sugar 25 steps.
Brain Octane bypasses liver processing entirely, making energy rapidly available to the brain. The same is not true for long-chain fatty acids. It’s also not true for lauric acid (C-12), the main MCT in coconut oil. That’s why you won’t get the same rapid energy boost from imitations of Bulletproof Coffee that use coconut oil instead of Brain Octane. Don’t get me wrong: coconut oil is very good for you, and it’s a superb addition to the Bulletproof Diet. It’s just not ideal for mixing into your coffee
Brain Octane is a key part of Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting, a protocol that boosts metabolism, burns fat, improves cognition, builds muscle…the list goes on.
Bullet proof intermittent fasting
Fasting has been around for centuries. In the last few years, a new spin on traditional fasting called intermittent fasting has become popular, and for good reason: not eating for anywhere from 16-48 hours (or longer) can profoundly impact your body and brain
* Intermittent fasting increases lifespan in rats by 15-20%. 
* It can improve cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood triglycerides. 
* It gently stresses your cells, making them more resilient. [3,4] This includes neurons (brain cells). 
* It can also promote autophagy in your neurons – that’s when they get rid of damaged cells, toxins, and waste.  Autophagy is partially responsible for the boost in mental clarity you may experience during intermittent fasting.
If you’ve tried intermittent fasting, you know that it works…and that it’s inconvenient because you run out of energy right in the middle of your day, and you don’t enter ketosis (fat burning mode) fast enough.
There’s a hack for that.
Here’s a way to upgrade an intermittent fast to make it easier and more effective with less effort. It’s something brand new and worth knowing about.
The Downside of Plain Intermittent Fasting
For all its benefits, plain intermittent fasting isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Starving yourself for 18 hours takes extra effort. You get hungry. Distractingly hungry. With hunger comes loss of focus, grumpiness, and decreased productivity, and that’s no fun for anyone. There is actually a technical name for it, derived from Greek roots. It’s called “hypogly-bitch-ia”!
The reason for your hunger lies in two hormones: ghrelin and CCK. Your stomach and intestines release ghrelin when they want nutrients. Ghrelin then makes its way to your brain, where it sets off alarms telling you to eat. This little hormone is largely responsible for the sensation of hunger. When you’re 14 hours into a standard fast, your body is producing A TON of ghrelin, and you fritter away your day’s willpower saying no to it. But at least you’ll grow abs.
Along with ghrelin is cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is the opposite of ghrelin, in a way, and is not manufactured by Calvin Klein. While ghrelin makes you feel hungry, CCK makes you feel full — so much so that injecting people with CCK mid-meal causes them to stop eating. 
When you’re on a generic intermittent fast, your “labrador brain” mistakenly senses that you’re starving to death and stops your body from producing much CCK. When your CCK levels drop, you no longer feel full so you start craving. Pair that with increased ghrelin and you’re left feeling famished, daydreaming about bacon instead of working.
But you’re not angry enough yet! Your body senses the lack of fuel, so it goes into adrenaline mode and secretes adrenaline and cortisol (you know, the hypoglybitchy hormone) in order to raise insulin and blood sugar levels. Those hormones give you energy but make everyone around you full of crap and annoying (on the other hand, they also help you burn fat when they aren’t chronically elevated).
Fortunately, there’s a hack for hunger and the hypoglybitchy “energy crash” state. You can manipulate your hormone levels to your advantage, so you feel full and focused the whole time you fast.
The key lies in Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. This is something new, first published in the Bulletproof Diet, but derived from the work of Robert Atkins. Atkins described an induction diet that was high fat but contained inflammatory protein (casein). I experimented with using Bulletproof Coffee during an intermittent fast, which met the same criteria, except it had none of the inflammatory protein, and the fats were higher quality. The result was Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting: Hack Your Hunger With Ketosis and MCTs
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting is NOT intermittent fasting. It’s a whole new ball game. It lets you fast for hours without feeling hungry; it torches fat; it builds muscle; and the odd effects on your hunger are likely because it helps you into a hard to maintain biological state, where you’re almost in full-blown ketosis. You achieve this with one special ingredient in Bulletproof Coffee: Brain Octane Oil.
The normal way to get into ketosis is to eat zero carbs, moderate protein, and lots of fat for several days until your body switches into burning fat for fuel. When that happens, a blood test for ketones will read 0.8 (that’s mmol/L) or higher. You’ll never get there if you’re having moderate or even low carbohydrates. You’ll probably have levels of 0.2 or nearly none at all.
However, for most people, the right amount of Brain Octane can drive your blood ketone measurements to at least 0.5. It’s not nutritional ketosis, the aim of most ketogenic diets, but it’s way more than you can naturally get from just eating coconut oil or butter. And what a difference that makes!
If you can just dip into ketosis a little bit, you automatically reset your hunger hormone (ghrelin) and your satisfaction hormone (CCK).
The trick is getting deep enough into ketosis. Here are the stats:
* You can measure ketosis on a scale of 0.0 to >2.0
* The average person on an average day clocks in at around 0.1 to 0.2
* Both ghrelin and CCK reset at 0.48 or above [8,9,10]
The problem is that you’ll never hit those numbers unless you’re following a strict ketogenic diet, which shoots you way above what it takes to reset ghrelin and CCK. To get the benefits of Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting, you want to be in the Goldilocks zone for ketones – not too much, not too little, just right.
How do you exceed that magic number, 0.48, resetting your hunger hormones so you feel great while burning fat? And how do you do it if you eat carbohydrates (which I recommend on the Bulletproof Diet, but not all the time)?
Brain Octane oil.
Brain Octane is different from generic MCT oil because it only contains the most effective fat, the rarest one with 8-carbon chains, which makes up about 6% of coconut oil. Your body converts them into energy much faster than it does chemical MCTs or saturated fats. XCT Oil is more affordable because it contains C8 and C10 and may work for you, although the C10 doesn’t peak as quickly.
Within minutes of consuming the right amount of Brain Octane for you, your body can process these fats, and your ketone levels can go into that Goldilocks zone where you have more ketones than someone who eats carbs, but less than someone on a ketogenic diet. That means you stop craving food, and you reset your hunger levels and feel full. Boom!
Best of all, if you consume fat while you’re fasting, but don’t eat protein or carbs, your body will essentially stay in a fasted state without raising insulin or digesting protein in the liver. You can still reap the benefits I list at the beginning of this article while avoiding major downsides.
Intermittent fasting is good for your body and brain, but it can be hard to do, and it tweaks your adrenaline levels to turn you into a hypoglybitchy troll, especially at 11am.
Ghrelin and CCK are the hormones that make you hungry or full and you can hack them.
Taking Brain Octane oil can send you into the goldilocks zone of ketosis, resetting your hormones so you stay in high-energy fat-burning mode without feeling hungry.
Brain Octane is the key to Bulletproof Intermittent fasting. It’s life-changing stuff.
Can You Get Into Goldilocks Zone Ketosis Without Brain Octane?
Maybe. But it’s a lot harder.
XCT oil contains the C8 MCTs that are in Brain Octane, but it also has the longer C10 MCTs.
Your body takes longer to convert longer MCTs into fuel, so you don’t get the larger, immediate spike in ketones that Brain Octane provides.
Generic MCT oil often contains chemical MCTs that are processed in the liver like other fats, defeating the purpose, but it may work for you. You also have a much greater chance of getting “disaster pants” because of traces of C6 and C17 from manufacturing processes. (Generic MCT often comes from China and can have solvent-derived oils; Bulletproof makes ours in the USA without solvents)
Coconut oil contains some MCTs, and it’s great for you, but it doesn’t have enough C8 and C10 MCTs to affect your ketone levels much at all. You’d fill your pants and barf if you had 18 Tablespoons of coconut oil, but 1 Tablespoon of Brain Octane is easy!
In short, MCT oil could save you money and get you enough into ketosis to curb hunger. Coconut oil probably won’t get you into ketosis at all unless you’re on a zero carb diet.
Can You Get Into Ketosis Without Any MCTs?
Sure. It’ll take some time and effort:
You have to eat a very low-carb diet for several weeks, gradually training your body to burn fat instead of carbs.
Super low-carb diets dry out your eyes and skin by impairing mucous production.
They also decrease your sleep quality. That’s why the Bulletproof Diet includes a carb re-feed day once or twice a week.
Brain Octane is powerful enough to drive you into the Goldilocks zone even after you eat a bunch of carbs. You can have your cake (gluten- and sugar-free, hopefully), eat it too, and still wake up ready to burn fat and seize the day.
How Do I Know How Much Brain Octane To Take to reach the Goldilocks zone?
The short answer: you pee on sticks. Ketostix are sold online, as well as in most pharmacies. They change color according to the number of ketones in your urine.
Start with a small amount of Brain Octane – say, half a teaspoon – in the morning, preferably as part of a foamy cup of Bulletproof Coffee. Gradually increase the Brain Octane each morning, using Ketostix to check your ketone levels.
When you find a dose that gets your ketone levels above 0.48 you’re all set. Take that much every morning to curb your hunger and make fasting easier than ever before. It may take you a teaspoon, or it may take you two tablespoons. Just keep going up until you reach that magic 0.48 level. Don’t take too much too quickly, though! If you jump the gun you risk disaster pants, and then nobody’s happy
Have you tried normal intermittent fasting? What about Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting? I appreciate hearing about your experiences in the comments, along with any of your own tips and tricks. Stay Bulletproof!
By Dave Asprey