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The how and why of buttered coffee

By Michael Buyze, L.AC., MSOM


I was in Las Vegas at a conference in 2016 having lunch with a group of friends. Two of them were enthusiastically talking about “Bulletproof,” a brand which I had never heard of. One of them ordered some really strange stuff, including sautéed duck liver, and finished off his order with coffee and “lots of butter” on the side.
When it arrived he put the butter in his coffee and invited me to try it. Not being a coffee drinker, I declined but he persisted so I tried it and liked it. I’ve been a “Bulletproof Coffee” drinker since.
Bulletproof Coffee is a brand name developed by best-selling author and self-proclaimed “biohacker” Dave Asprey, who authored “The Bulletproof Diet” as well as various other books on eating to enhance physical and cognitive performance.
As Dave tells the story, he was hiking in the Himalayas when he was offered a warm beverage at a rest stop. He was feeling some of the ill effects of the altitude, but found that the rich, creamy brew he drank made him feel better almost instantly.
He asked about what he was drinking and was told it was yak butter tea. A lover of coffee, he imagined that substituting coffee for the tea might be equally as good and he subsequently hatched the idea of Bulletproof Coffee.
Dave had issues with mycotoxins (mold sensitivity) and as it turns out, coffee beans are often contaminated with mold. Unable to find a brand of coffee that satisfied him, he set out to develop his own brand. You may have seen “Bulletproof Coffee” and related products at your local store. He guarantees the coffee is mold and mycotoxin free.
Recipes for “Bulletproof Coffee” vary, but they all contain coffee, butter (1-2 tablespoons) and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil (one tablespoon) which is best when blended in a blender because stirring does not give the same effect. Other ingredient options are collagen protein and flavorings like cinnamon or sweeteners.
This beverage is actually quite healthy if done correctly. First, you need to use mold-free coffee.The butter should be from a grass-fed cow — Kerrygold is the most often recommended but we have other options here in Wisconsin.
The MCT oil depends on your intention, but caprylic acid (MCT 8) is the best and most expensive. A cheaper version includes both caprylic and capric acid. Both are coconut oils. You need to be careful with the MCT, as an overdose can lead to urgent diarrhea withing minutes of ingesting.
This beverage has become popular with the fasting and keto crowd as there is no carbohydrates and very little protein in it ­— unless they are added in yourself.
It tends to suppress ghrelin and stimulate leptin, which helps hold your appetite in check. It is rich and sweet without carbs.
A word of caution about blending. If you are serious about blending coffee or another hot beverage, invest in a quality blender. I can tell you from experience that all of the blenders I have tried with a screw-on bottom have left me with a counter full of hot coffee within 6 weeks of daily use. The heat just seems to be too much for them and they crack.
Some interesting side notes
If you are on any type of blood thinner requiring an INR, modest to heavy consumption of butter from a grass-fed cow may be akin to eating a lot of greens. I have had multiple patients report that their INR is impacted by quality butter consumption as there is Vitamin K in the grass that cow has been eating.
If you are concerned with cholesterol, it may go up, but mostly it has been an increase in HDL and there is typically a decrease in triglycerides, especially if this is a replacement for any of the fun, flavored coffees you might have become accustomed to at your local coffee drive thru as those are typically loaded with sugar. n

Michael Buyze, L.Ac. is a healthcare entrepreneur with nearly 40 years of experience in healthcare and expertise in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, functional medicine, clinical exercise physiology, and nutrition. He owns and operates East Wind Healthcare, an acupuncture and wellness clinic with a 23-year history of helping people in the Fox Valley with offices in Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. He holds Master of Science Degrees in Chinese Medicine, Business Administration and Exercise Physiology. He and his team offer acupuncture as well as wellness programming for acute and chronic pain as well as many chronic disease states. Acupuncture consultations and wellness consultations are available by appointment. Contact information: East Wind Healthcare, 3000 N Ballard Road, Unit#3, Appleton, WI 54911; 404 N. Main St., Suite 201, Oshkosh, WI 54901 and 180 Knights Way, Fond du Lac WI 54935 (inside Fox Valley Wellness); Tel: 920-997-0511; Website:
“It tends to suppress ghrelin and stimulate leptin, which helps hold your appetite in check. It is rich and sweet without carbs.”

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