Butter Coffee: Is It Good for You?

While people have been adding butter to their coffee for hundreds of years, today’s “butter coffee” refers to bulletproof coffee, which is also known as keto coffee.

Dave Asprey published his recipe for butter coffee in 2011, promoting it as a breakfast replacement. Both the recipe and Asprey’s associated line of wellness products quickly became popular. 

A cup of butter coffee contains:

  • Coffee
  • 1 tsp - 2 tbsp MCT (Medium-chain triglycerides) oil
  • 1-2 tbsp grass-fed unsalted butter

MCT oil is a rapidly digested oil that is usually made from coconut or palm kernel oil. 

Many claims have been made on behalf of butter coffee. However, unless a doctor has put you on a keto diet, there are healthier ways to get the same benefits a cup of bulletproof coffee will give you.

Nutrition Information

Recipes vary, but these are the basic ingredients for butter coffee. The amounts listed vary depending on the recipe used.

Coffee

A cup of coffee contains:

  • Calories: 2
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

Coffee is a good source of

MCT Oil

A tablespoon of MCT oil contains:

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 14 grams
  • Saturated fat: 14 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

MCT oil is a good source of:

Butter

A tablespoon of butter contains: 

  • Calories: 102
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 12 grams
  • Saturated fat: 7 grams
  • Cholesterol: 31 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

Butter is a good source of:

Butter also contains small amounts of vitamin E, vitamin B12, and vitamin K. Grass-fed butter may contain higher amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.

At this point, nothing has been published in a peer-reviewed journal that supports the claim that any advantage is gained by combining these ingredients. 

Potential Health Benefits of Butter Coffee

Butter coffee may provide some health benefits, particularly to people whose doctors have put them on a ketogenic diet. However, more research is required to validate this claim. 

Reduced Time to Ketosis and Reduced Symptoms of Keto-Induction in a Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet designed to make your body break down stores of fat and protein, a process that is called ketosis. When supervised by a doctor, a ketogenic diet can help obese individuals lose weight.

Continued

People beginning a ketogenic diet may benefit from MCT oil, which can shorten the time it takes for the body to stop burning blood sugar reserves and start burning fat and protein. It has also demonstrated the potential to reduce the symptoms experienced by those beginning this diet, which can include fatigue, nausea, constipation, and headaches.

Reduced Hunger

Consuming butter coffee results in feelings of fullness associated with the high fat content. However, if you are drinking butter coffee, you should pay attention to your calorie count throughout the day to make sure that the addition does not push you over your recommended daily amount.

Potential Risks of Butter Coffee

Butter coffee is likely safe for most people. When incorporated into a person’s diet, MCT oil has proven comparable to olive oil, producing no additional health risks.

However, butter coffee is very high in fat, which makes it a poor choice for people who are concerned with the following:

Weight Gain

The high calorie count and high amounts of saturated fat can lead to weight gain and health problems associated with obesity. Moreover, a ketogenic diet is not recommended for everyone. Consult your doctor to see if a ketogenic diet is a good option for you.

Healthier Alternatives

A Healthy, Balanced Meal

There are certain benefits to the various ingredients of butter coffee, and it may help those transitioning to a ketogenic diet. However, you would generally be better off consuming a nutrient-dense and balanced meal. A solid breakfast will provide you with the same feelings of alertness and fullness while providing additional nutritional benefits.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 30, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “Medium chain triglyceride oil consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil.”

Journal of Dairy Science: “Quality characteristics, chemical composition, and sensory properties of butter from cows on pasture versus indoor feeding systems.”

Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: “The Effect of Medium Chain Triglycerides on Time to Nutritional Ketosis and Symptoms of Keto-Induction in Healthy Adults: A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial.”

New England Journal of Medicine: “A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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