I’ve heard about this thing in which people were putting butter in their coffee. The idea comes off as some sort of life hack that, when done, allows a person to lose weight and live healthier. Supposedly, a person who does this gets more out of their coffee by feeling alert longer and feeling fuller and more energized. Some even say that they can pretty much skip breakfast by drinking this so-called “bulletproof coffee”.
It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a bit of a try to see whether the claims are true. I was a bit skeptical. Wouldn’t that be a little fattening? Wouldn’t such a thing be of little nutritional value?
The results? I’m not sure whether it’s connected, but for the time that I’ve been trying it, I haven’t been feeling very good. Actually, I’ve felt bloated and somewhat sluggish while trying it (which, for me, might be a little hard to imagine).
As it turns out, I was doing it wrong. To truly drink “bulletproof coffee”, I had to use grass-fed butter. Also, the coffee had to be a certain variety. Specifically, the same kind of coffee sold by the company that primarily encourages the fad of adding butter to coffee.
I don’t mean to say that a person can’t lose weight by having only buttered coffee for breakfast. If that buttered coffee is a replacement for bacon and eggs, it’s possible that such a diet could result in weight loss. However, that might have more to do with a person eating less of what they were eating before than a supposed benefit of an alleged miracle diet.
Could it be that many people have been had? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time.
Decades ago, the Beechnut corporation had large quantities of pork belly. Pork belly was viewed as discards, but it was also the usual ingredient for bacon. Beechnut hired Edward Bernays, the man credited as the father of public relations, to market bacon to an American people who, while it may be hard to believe today, largely didn’t want it. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, so he knew a few things about how people think, including that people tended to put a lot of trust in professionals. The usual breakfast at the time was a slice of bread and a cup of coffee before rushing out the door to work in an increasingly industrialized America. Bernays sought out doctors in an effort to find some that would agree with him that Americans would benefit from a heavier breakfast. He would then use this as the basis for his push to market bacon. How successful were his efforts? America seems to be much heavier for it. Bacon, which is usually mostly pork fat, appears in many food items and many consider bacon and eggs to be breakfast staples. Many even came to think of breakfast as being the most important meal of the day. Beechnut made off well, as they found that an effective way to dispose of pork belly is straight down the throats of millions of impressionable people, and they even convinced them to pay them for it!
Fast-forward to today: Dave Asprey, CEO of Bulletproof Coffee, wants you to believe that he “learned about the power of butter at 18,000 feet of elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet”. His corporate logo appears to be a man in meditation with a round symbol on his chest that might bear resemblance to some kind of far-east mystical symbol, which may be an indication of the kind of people that he’s looking to take advantage of.
In the article linked to above, Asprey cites a fictional character when making his point that cheap coffee steals a person’s mental edge and “makes you weak”. He links to the Wikipedia article for that fictional character, but he doesn’t provide scientific or scholarly citations to back up his claim. What he does link to is his online store.
Incidentally, as I was looking at his online store, I found this warning:
California Proposition 65 WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.
This may sound a little picky, but I prefer to drink coffee without being concerned about whether it damages my parts.
I went back to normal coffee, without the butter. And it tasted far superior. Still, I think that, like many fads, this fad of putting butter in coffee might last a while, even though it seems pretty weird to see someone do. Kind of like wearing one’s pants under their buttocks so their boxers are showing. From what I can tell, that was a trend that started about two decades ago, and people have since then found out how ridiculous it looks (but not quickly enough), but there are still a few people who do it anyway. Maybe if there were more occurrences of wedgies, they’d stop doing that.