Is There Any Nutritional Benefit To Adding Butter In Your Coffee?

Coffee is no stranger to funky add-ins, with cream, sugar, and milk only the beginning. Sweet syrups, mixed-in jellies, and plenty of whipped cream are on offer at local coffee shops and Starbucks branches alike, allowing you to tailor your drink to your own preferences.

If you're looking for some coffee inspiration, pick your favorite place. Vietnamese coffee incorporates sweetened condensed milk and makes your morning cup akin to dessert. Meanwhile, Italy's trademark espresso is perfect for grab-and-go drinkers short on time. Down a shot of espresso, no milk necessary.

Yet one of the more curious coffee trends originates from Tibet. Per Business Insider, it was there that author and Bulletproof coffee founder Dave Asprey first tried tea mixed with yak butter. Asprey later experimented with his own take on the drink, eventually developing Bulletproof coffee — also known as coffee with butter. Asprey's recipe consists of coffee beans, water, his company's Brain Octane Oil (MCT or refined coconut oil), and a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter or ghee (via Bulletproof's website).

This drink has certainly turned heads — and filled cups — though its health benefits remain up for debate.

Bulletproof coffee claims to have health advantages

Bulletproof coffee's health claims stem from its keto nature. According to the NY Times, a keto diet consists predominantly of fat-based calories rather than those from carbs or protein. Such eating patterns aim to bring the body into a state of ketosis, which is when the body burns fat to fuel energy. The diet has gained in popularity for short-term weight loss.

Because Bulletproof coffee is all about the butter, it's believed to offer all the benefits associated with keto. Per Taste of Home, butter coffee's alias as "bulletproof" endorses what the drink claims to achieve. The combination of butter, coconut oil, and coffee supposedly enhances mental function and increases energy, thereby rendering its drinkers bulletproof. According to Bulletproof's website, the drink's use of fat should essentially increase focus, reduce hunger, and burn fat.

To get such benefits, Bulletproof ascertains that you don't even need coffee; rather, the oil and butter can be combined with tea, hot chocolate, and the like for similar advantages. The only caveat is to use grass-fed butter, which not only blends better with the coffee but has added nutritional value.

Is Bulletproof coffee as bulletproof as it claims?

Whether or not Bulletproof coffee (or similar blends) scientifically holds up remains unclear. Although the drink is keto — and has amassed a fair share of supporters — there's not enough research to confirm its nutritional impact. According to BBC Good Food, Bulletproof coffee is a lacking substitute for a healthy breakfast; you're consuming mostly saturated fat without other significant nutrients. Likewise, drinkers who have high cholesterol will not benefit from high-fat coffee. Healthline states that the body's reaction to foods high in fat differs on a person-to-person basis, so Bulletproof coffee is surely not a one-size-fits-all morning ritual.

Meanwhile, Asprey's research into Bulletproof's merits may not be as compelling as it seems. Dr. Lydia Bazzano, Tulane University's director of the Center for Lifespan Epidemiology Research, told Vox that researching the health benefits of individual foods is challenging and often misleading. Such research typically doesn't indicate long-term effects on a widespread population.

Like any diet, Bulletproof coffee markets itself as the ultimate drink alternative, but may not be a long-term, sustainable approach for overall improved health. Those looking to change their eating patterns should take Bulletproof coffee with a grain of salt ... or perhaps a pad of butter.