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Bulletproof, the brand behind the butter-coffee craze, just launched its first cafe, in Santa Monica, Calif. — but it’s not just “another Starbucks,” says its founder.
Take, for example, the little metal platform that you can stand on, which vibrates up and down 30 times per second, the same frequency that NASA uses to help astronauts recover and improve circulation after spending time in space, Bulletproof founder and CEO Dave Asprey told TODAY.com. “You feel rejuvenated. You could never jump and down 30 times in a second, but it’s pretty cool what technology can help you do.”
Light bulbs in the store subtlety change color from morning through noon and night: “They give off the kinds of colors your brain expects to see at sunset versus the middle of the day,” Asprey says.
There’s also a grounding zone — a giant metal plate — that’s meant to help reduce inflammation by discharging the energy that builds when walking in rubber shoes. “It’s like why you feel good walking on the beach,” Asprey explains. “Some doctors may make fun of it, but just because we don’t have the research yet, doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
And, of course, there’s the menu, featuring the signature coffee, blended with unsalted butter from grass-fed cows and the proprietary XCT oil (similar to coconut oil), as well as a host of other drinks that fit the “biohacking” lifestyle, including a new line of flavored FATwater, intended to be more satiating than regular water with, yes, about 2 grams of fat per serving.
Biohacking — a practice that aims to optimize one’s own biology mainly through controlling one’s own environment and what goes into one’s body — is popular in Silicon Valley, where lots of tech workers are looking for efficient ways to eat healthfully, stay energetic and be in shape, all while logging long hours behind computers.
Nutritionists, to be fair, do offer both pros and cons of drinking butter coffee.
For most of us, we drink coffee, get a buzz, then our energy crashes. But the Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids in the unsalted, grass-fed butter can slow down your metabolism of caffeine, letting you hang onto the buzz longer and avoid the crash when the stimulant wears off, says Laura Jeffers, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.
Sounds good, right? Well, not so fast, says Jeffers, who says she doesn’t endorse the diet. “By getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods, you should feel energized. Also, by incorporating exercise into your lifestyle, you will be able to maintain a level of energy and may not need to rely on any caffeine.”
OK, but what if you’re already a coffee addict and want to make the switch to butter coffee?
Instead of solely drinking butter coffee for breakfast, maybe incorporate an egg or peanut butter or Greek yogurt, on the side, Jeffer advises, while stressing the importance of making protein part of every meal and managing carbohydrate intake for sustained energy and weight loss. (Under the Bulletproof diet, butter coffee—which contains about 230 to 460 calories—is intended to be a satiating breakfast-in-a-cup.)
“When it comes to sources of fat intake, you can certainly try a buttered coffee and see how you feel,” she says. “Make sure it is worth the calories and energy before you make it a staple.”
If you stir cream enough, it turns into butter after all, so what’s the difference between putting cream and butter in your coffee?
“Nutritionally speaking, adding butter to your coffee is essentially the same as adding heavy cream to your coffee,” says Monica Reinagel, licensed nutritionist and author of NutritionOverEasy.com. But Bulletproof coffee also contains XCT oil, its patented oil similar to coconut oil.
“A lot of the lore around Bulletproof Coffee had to do with the purported ability of medium-chain triglycerides to boost energy and focus,” Reinagel says. “Frankly, I think a lot of that effect is power of suggestion.”
As for biohacking in general, Reinagel says, “It’s a fascinating trend and I think we can learn a lot from self-experimentation!” But she cautions: Just because it worked for you, or you perceived a benefit, doesn't mean that others will.”
Asprey is no stranger to critics — after all, when you build a company around the idea of adding butter to coffee, you are guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.
“People say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s a fad diet,’ and they are kind of dismissive. But fad diets come and go, because they make you hungry, you run out of willpower,” Asprey told TODAY.com. “But I get excited when I see people on Facebook say, ‘I’ve been Bulletproof for two years.’ I challenge anyone to find a way to turn off hunger more.”
What do you think? Do you hope a Bulletproof Coffee cafe opens in your town? Tell us in the comments below.