Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey café mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. ― Sarah Vowell
Ahhhh coffee, oh how I love thee.
As my friend Tyler once told me, “It’s life’s blood that fuels me.”
I don’t know about you but drinking coffee for me has become a source of:
- Meditation and relaxation
- Relationship building
- Performance enhancer… whoa whoa whoa, mentally and physically in the gym people… geez.
- Among a host of other things.
It’s safe to say that I’m in love with the drink, so much so that I had to write a post on it.
This one isn’t so much about whether or not it’s good for you, the benefits and dangers, or if you should consume it (for the record I think you should). Although I will cover some of those things for the most part they’re mute. You can find a good and a bad for anything by googling it and long story short either you’re going to drink the stuff or you’re not.
This is a post for those that are looking to get the most out of there cup of joe in the morning or whenever else you drink it so that you can maximize your energy, performance, and productivity over the course of a say… or if you’re just interested in having the best cup of coffee in your life.
I’ve talked about it before on this site but I wanted to get a little more in-depth with it today.
BULLETPROOF COFFEE…. leggo!
THE INS AND OUTS OF CAFFEINE
Caffeine is the most commonly consumed drug in the world and in the United States over 90% of adults and children consume it on a regular basis. The most popular way to consume caffeine is via coffee (especially for adults) but it is also found in tea, chocolate, cacao, guarana, mate, and soda (the most popular source of caffeine for children). You can even find it in soap, candy, and beauty products… cray cray!!
Caffeine can really give you a boost physically and mentally. It helps you get motivated, build habits, work hard, exercise, and so many more amazing things. But over the course of the day as you’re working hard, running errands, and participating in a host of other activities a chemical known as adenosine builds up in it and makes you feel run down.
This is where caffeine comes into play. A cup of coffee or most other caffeinated beverages are actually adenosine blockers and thus keeps the chemical from binding to receptors in your brain and causing that groggy, tired, and lethargic feeling.
Caffeine creates increased neuron action in the brain which makes your noodle think that an emergency is happening. This leads to a signal being sent to your adrenal glands to release adrenaline (or the fight or flight hormone) causing the following reactions.
- Your pupils dilate.
- The airway opens up (this is why people suffering from severe asthma attacks are sometimes injected with epinephrine).
- Your heart beats faster.
- Blood vessels on the surface constrict to slow blood flow from cuts and increase blood flow to muscles.
- Blood pressure rises.
- Blood flow to the stomach slows.
- The liver releases sugar into the bloodstream for extra energy.
- Muscles tighten up, ready for action.
- Caffeine also releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine that activates pleasure receptors in the brain creating that good mood feeling.
BENEFITS OF CAFFEINE
Various studies have shown the positive benefits of caffeine consumption:
- Coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease
- It reduces the risk of colon cancer
- Cuts the likely hood of developing gallstones in half
- Helps to treat asthma
- Stops a headache
- Boosts your mood
- Reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s
- Helps with concentration
- Improves motivation and energy
- Boosts metabolism
Caffeine can even help to improve your workouts:
- In one study caffeine was shown to improve performance in various strength lifts.
- In another study caffeine was found to improve endurance.
THE DARK SIDE OF CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION
No matter what historians claimed, BC really stood for “Before Coffee.” ― Cherise Sinclair, Master of the Mountain
Unfortunately a good cup of calorie free coffee has now turned into a sugar loaded drink most of us can’t pronounce containing 400 or more calories per beverage, most of which is from sugar and carbohydrate. Just take a look at this chart and this one too. (Sorry Starbucks…but I had to keep it real here)
Even a little table sugar, creamers, or milk can really start to add up. If fat loss is your primary goal then keeping your coffee and teas calorie free is the way to be. Remind yourself what you’re drinking caffeine for, a boost in mental and physical performance.
Too much caffeine can lead to: (short-term side effects)
- Restlessness — this is basically difficulty relaxing and calming yourself down.
- Nervousness — this is a sense of mental uneasiness, a kind of restlessness of the mind, that often goes hand in hand with anxiety.
- Excitement — although excitement is often a positive experience, after too much caffeine, you can get overly excited about trivial events, which can be awkward in social situations.
- Insomnia — this can manifest in many ways, but overall, it adds up to having difficulty getting enough sleep. Because coffee has a half-life of about 6 hours you’ll want to consume your last caffeinated beverage no later than 2PM
- Diuresis — another embarrassing side effect of too much caffeine, you can end up running to the bathroom and urinating more fluid than you consumed.
- Gastrointestinal Disturbance — there are a range of gastrointestinal disturbances that can be side effects of too much caffeine, including stomach-aches, gas, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. However, while stomach-aches are quite common after a lot of coffee, vomiting is quite rare, and if you have this reaction, you should avoid caffeine completely until you have discussed this with your doctor.
- Muscle Twitching — involuntary muscle twitches are an annoying side effect of caffeine for some people, but there are other causes, so try abstaining from caffeine if this is an ongoing problem for you, and see if the twitching subsides. If it does not, talk to your doctor about treatment for this common problem. (Source)
There are other negative short-term side effects but for the most part as long as you keep your consumption in check you should have no problems with any of these.
SO HOW MUCH IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT
When used properly and in the right amounts caffeine can become an ally for helping you suppress appetite, jump-start your metabolism, or give you that little boost in motivation and energy that you need for your workout.
The idea is to consume as little caffeine as possible to reap the benefits. The most bang for your buck in a sense.
100mg-300mg of caffeine (typical for a regular cup of brewed coffee) per day is the recommended dose for most Americans looking to reap the benefits but each individual should consider their tolerance to caffeinated beverages and adjust accordingly.
Chris Chatham says that 20-200mg of caffeine per hour is the ideal amount to enhance cognitive function.
Here is a listing of the amounts of caffeine in some of your favorite beverages.
If you are noticing any withdrawals, adverse side affects like restlessness, irritability, or headaches slowly cut back your dosage.
- One major drawback to caffeine consumption is that the more often you use it the higher the dose you will need to take advantage of its benefits.
- Use caffeine sparingly and to increase mental alertness, productivity, and motivation when you really need it.
If you are now consuming more than 300mg of caffeine per day and are looking to cut back here are a couple of options you can try:
Slow and steady: If you’re drinking 3 cups per day and looking to cut back start by reducing one cup at a time or replace one regular cup with one decaf cup. Keep this up for a week, during week two reduce by another cup, and keep moving forward in this fashion until you are consuming an amount of caffeine you’re comfortable with.
Cold Turkey: This could either be super easy for you or super difficult. It usually depends on how much caffeine you are now consuming. Expect some headaches, possible flu-like symptoms, and maybe some fatigue or foggy brain. Drink more water than you typically would and maybe include an Advil or two if you really need it. Consistent exercise will also help.
INTRODUCING BULLETPROOF COFFEE
Dave Asprey, otherwise know as the Bulletproof Exec came up with the concept for Bulletproof Coffee while up 18,000 ft near Mt. Kailash in Tibet. Coming out of -10 degree weather, Dave entered a guest house in which he was served a cup of piping hot Yak butter tea.
After feeling completely refreshed and energized the bio-hacker in Dave wanted to understand why this butter tea made him feel so sharp and alert mentally as well as physically ready to go.
His research led to what is now Bulletproof Coffee and a part of his Upgradedself business.
I’ve received some emails from you all expressing your love for Bulletproof Coffee and experiences with it as well as some inquires about what all the hubbub is about.
For me personally it is how I start my day, every day. Because of its ability to enhance cognitive function I use it before I write.
WHAT IS BULLETPROOF COFFEE?
Most coffee consumed worldwide is full of toxins and compounds created by molds known as mycotoxins due to the way that it is processed.
These compounds cause all sorts of health problems like cardiomyopathy, cancer, hypertension, kidney disease, and even brain damage. They also make your coffee taste bitter, like it needs sugar. This is one reason after drinking a cup you may get headaches, feel tired, or have a crash later in the day.
In my personal experience I would get jittery, stomach discomfort, joint pain, and anxiety (I still do if I drink cheap coffee).
For you coffee connoisseurs this is why a cup of black coffee almost never seems to taste the same. More toxins the worse it will taste, the same goes if cheap beans are used.
The various processing methods introduce different types and amounts of toxins depending on fermentation time and damage before roasting the beans.
Decaf coffee is actually the worst culprit as caffeine actually acts as a defense mechanism for the bean to keep it getting consumed by insects and other predators.
When caffeine is removed from the bean it lowers its antioxidant levels and introduces the susceptibility to more environmental toxins. Some beans found in the tropics are set outside as part of the roasting and fermentation process where it is easy for them to collect debris and even feces (gross).
Bulletproof Coffee is roasted in a way that toxins and molds do not accumulate so what you get is very clean bean.
You can often avoid these toxins by using one source coffee. The beans used in Bulletproof Coffee are just that which can give you the benefits:
- Brain function/memory/clarity
- Fat loss
- Disease fighting
HOW TO MAKE BULLETPROOF COFFEE
Dave has a pretty sweet resource that you can view here that outlines how to make Bulletproof Coffee. Below is how I like to rock it every morning.
- Measure out 2-3 tablespoons of ground Bulletproof Coffee and place it in your filter.
- Brew coffee as your normally do at home. I use a drip coffee maker like the one you see here. I recommend about 12-16oz of hot water.
- After your coffee has brewed or while you are waiting Add 1-6 tablespoons (the smaller you are the less you’ll need) of grass-fed butter. I use Grass-fed Kerrygold silver label unsalted butter, it can be found in Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and most major grocery stores.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil. You can usually find liquid MCT oil at any health food or nutritional supplement store. You can also order it from Updradedself. Coconut oil is also another option. It is usually less expensive, and easier to get your hands on but it doesn’t have the same benefits as MCT (more on this later).
- I like to add a tablespoon of organic grass-fed whey protein concentrate and even a little cinnamon which has been shown to extend the caffeine life of coffee in your system for a longer sustained energy boost.
- I highly recommend using a magic bullet to blend this together but you can also use a traditional blender or hand-held blender, although they will not give you the same cappuccino link effect that the magic bullet does.
WHOA DUDE! YOU WANT ME TO PUT BUTTER AND WHAT IN MY COFFEE?
Most of you have probably heard that saturated fat is bad for you. Well it’s bologna. In particular, it does not contribute to chart disease but it is trans fats and polyunsaturated industrial seed oils that do.
Most of us under eat healthy fats tremendously and especially the healthy saturated fats found in grass-fed animal products like beef and butter, as well as coconut and MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil.
Our brains are made up largely of fat and need dietary fats and cholesterol to run optimally.
Grass-fed animal products like butter have a very different fat composition than grain, soy, corn, or other types of feed for animals. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, CLA content (conjugated linoleum acid), and vitamins like beta carotene, A, K, D,and E make up of grass-fed animals is far superior (1).
The fat soluble vitamins found in grass-fed products help to protect you against heart disease, osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis, as well as a host of other diseases. The higher concentrations of vitamin K2 help to combat arterial plaque (2).
Grass-fed butter in particular contains butyrate; a short chain fatty acid that has been shown to help with mental illness, energy, type-1 diabetes, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
MCT oil is a high healthy fat energy source that helps to support healthy cholesterol levels, nutrient absorption (especially E, calcium, and magnesium). It is also extremely satiating, which means if fat loss is a goal for you your hunger will be smushed :). Very little of MCT is stored in the body because it is so easily converted into energy. When combined with the grass-fed butter you have a super meal of sorts that promotes brain function and metabolism function like no other.
Something to remember is that 1/2 the calories from mothers milk is from saturated fats. That just goes to show you how important it is for development of the Limitless self.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE COFFEE BUT WANT TO TRY THIS?
If you don’t like the taste of coffee or the jolt of energy that coffee can give you is too much you may want to try a more sustained boost of tea.
Tea has an amino acid in it called L-Theanine that is calming and helps to smooth out the effects of caffeine. Thus, giving you a more even buzz or boost of energy.
Green tea in particular is a great option because you’ll benefit from the EGCG compound found in it which has been shown to help reduce body fat by slowing down how fat cells respond to insulin. It also has been shown to inhibit the enzyme that forms triglycerides (win-win).
WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD BULLETPROOF BEANS
The Bulletproof beans are a little bit more expensive then you are probably used to but only about $1 more than Starbucks beans.
If you want to give this a shot and still feel some of the benefits try to find single estate or single-origin coffee from Whole Foods or a Mothers market near you. You can also try this link if you need a little help finding low toxin single estate coffee near you.
Watch out for “fancy buzz words” like fresh, organic, and low-acidic. If you really want low toxin great tasting cup of coffee search your city for a good caffeine shop that serves single-estate coffee. I’ve also heard good things about Allegro beans found at Whole Foods but have not tried them myself.
I definitely recommend giving Bulletproof a shot. Try drinking a cup of black Bulletproof coffee and then the next day go back to a traditional black cup of coffee. The difference in taste will blow you away.
If you want to try a cup without ordering the Bulletproof beans or MCT oil you can try these little hacks as well. It should be noted that I have tried the substitutions myself and although fairly effective the Bulletproof stuff is in a league of its own. I’ve never felt more energized, mentally alert, and in such a positive mood.
- Coconut oil is a suitable substitute for MCT oil but has up to 6X’s LESS of the essential fatty acids that help with energy, cognitive function, and satiety of appetite. If you do go this route try liquid coconut oil instead.
- Your insulin response is changed if you add cream, milk, or sugar to your coffee. Stick only with the grass-fed butter and MCT oil. If you need a little extra flavor try a tablespoon of organic grass-fed whey concentrate protein powder and/or cinnamon.
- Start out with only a tablespoon of both grass-fed butter and MCT oil. Most of us are starved for healthy fats and adding a ton in all of a sudden my cause some digestive stress (nothing crazy so don’t worry). You can also take a betaine HCL supplement which will aid in digestion of the extra fats (most of you will have no issues at all).
Have you given Bulletproof Coffee a try yet?