Among the countless diets to choose from, the Bulletproof Diet has gained increasing attention. This diet, known as Bulletproof Coffee, was created in 2014 as a new approach to losing one pound a day fast.
The Bulletproof Diet shares some similarities with the keto diet and the Atkins Diet – the original diet high in protein and fat. The main difference is that the Bulletproof Diet is more restrictive, limiting some major food groups like most grains and beans and some proteins like chicken, turkey and most fish.
“It’s common for people to be tempted by the latest in quick weight loss solutions,” says Ruth Lahmayer Chipps, a registered dietitian with Lahmayer & Associates in southern Minnesota. “What we do know is that there are no easy answers to losing weight and, most importantly, maintaining weight loss. It requires a healthy lifestyle, balancing eating with activity, to maintain a healthy weight.”
What is a bulletproof diet?
Developed by tech entrepreneur David Asprey, the Bulletproof Diet is best known for its claim to rapid weight loss. Asprey weighed 300 pounds by his mid-20s and was unable to lose weight with his current diets. In his bestselling book, The Bulletproof Diet, Asprey describes his weight loss journey and discovery of a new immunological approach to weight loss. The diet claims to allow weight loss without counting calories or the weight of food. It also claims to boost energy and willpower, increase cognitive function and mental performance, increase nutrient stores and strengthen immune system function.
The centerpiece of the diet is to drink bulletproof coffee as an alternative to breakfast. The drink combines coffee, grass-fed unsalted butter, and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, usually from coconut oil. The ingredients are mixed together and served hot like a creamy latte. The drink is touted for its ability to stave off hunger, provide long-lasting energy, and better mental focus.
“Eating carbohydrates in the morning will set people up for an energy surge and accompany cravings throughout the day,” Asprey says in his book. He suggests drinking Bulletproof Coffee in place of your usual breakfast. “Find out how long it takes to get food. For most people, it stops the urge to eat for at least five to six hours.”
In contrast, other diet experts caution against cutting out carbohydrates from your eating plans.
“Carbohydrates have a bad reputation,” says Miami-based board-certified nutritionist Roxana Ehsani. “They (carbohydrates) are an essential food group for consumption and are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants – and they are found in some of our healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils and in some dairy products such as milk and yogurt.”
How does the bulletproof diet work?
The Bulletproof Diet focuses on eating foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates for five to six days a week, then eating a day or two of carbohydrates that may be associated with high-intensity exercise. A high-carb day might have 50 grams of total carbs.
An essential part of the diet is intermittent fasting – which means eating only during a certain number of hours each day. This could mean skipping breakfast, having lunch as the first meal, then eating dinner and fasting the rest of the night. The goal of intermittent fasting is to provide the body with energy by burning fat stores and losing excess weight. The other benefit of intermittent fasting is called metabolic switching. This happens when the body, after hours of not eating, depletes its blood sugar stores and switches to burning fat.
The goal of the diet plan is to eat very few carbohydrates to reach ketosis – a metabolic state in which the body burns fat and ketones instead of carbohydrates and sugar for energy. Ketones are chemicals in the liver that are produced when there is not enough insulin in the body to convert sugar into energy.
Another goal of the diet is to reduce inflammation, so the diet recommends limiting certain foods known to cause inflammation such as fried foods, soft drinks, processed meats, and alcohol.
The Bulletproof Diet classifies foods into three categories:
- Green or “bulletproof” foods can be eaten at any time except during fasting.
- Yellow or “suspicious” foods should be limited.
- Red or “toxic” foods should be avoided.
Under this classification, walnuts, winter squash, carrots, chickpeas, peanuts, and eggs are all suspect foods. Chicken and turkey—a mainstay in most meals—are also included in the suspect category. Poultry is fine a few times a week, but it’s not as healthy as grass-fed meat because poultry fat is rich in omega-6 fats, according to Asprey.
While omega-6 fats can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol and improving insulin sensitivity, high levels of omega-6 fats are also linked to inflammation and sometimes blood clotting. The Bulletproof Diet also recommends against boiling meat, grilling, stir-frying and the microwave because it claims that some of the proteins and fats in some foods may spoil during the cooking process.
Soy milk, corn, rice, beans, kale, raw spinach, raisins, manna, and cheese are all classified as toxic. Asprey revealed in his book that the classification system is based on the inflammatory properties of each food.
Some examples of foods to eat and avoid are given below with the complete food guide available over here.
Bulletproof foods to eat
- Avocado, raspberry, blackberry, coconut, cranberry, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberry.
Nuts, seeds and legumes
- Almonds, cashews, chestnuts, coconut, coconut flour, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds.
Oils and fats
- Avocado Oil, Butter, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil, Ghee, Egg Yolk, Medium Triglyceride Oil.
- Collagen, beef, haddock, sardines, wild fish.
- Asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, cooked cabbage, spinach, zucchini.
Bulletproof foods to avoid
- Dried fruits, canned fruits, dew, jelly and raisins.
- Bacon, canned meat, sausages and sausages.
- Packaged snacks, pasta, pastries and white bread.
What do you know about the bulletproof diet?
The restrictive nature of the diet has raised alarms from some nutritionists. “A healthy eating program involves the balance of food groups and individual foods should not be restricted or condemned,” says Chips.
Ehsani says that only having coffee with butter on an empty stomach without eating any other food will give you a false sense of energy from caffeine. “You might get a caffeine spike, but not giving yourself a carb or a protein source won’t keep you satisfied for long and doesn’t fuel your brain.”
In addition to Bulletproof coffee, there is a whole range of Bulletproof products. The product line ranges from MCT oil and herbal ghee to a full range of supplements containing collagen and magnesium for sleep, stress relief and other benefits. The products cost anywhere from $36.99 for collagen protein for stress relief to $132 for MCT Brain Octane Oil.
Some nutritionists have expressed caution about a diet plan that requires buying branded products. “Alarm bells should go off any time someone claims that you should buy their expensive products for your diet,” says Chips. “Especially when products come with miraculous promises like Unfair Advantage, which they claim helps with the growth of new mitochondria – the energy centers of cells.” Chips thinks the product is totally questionable in its claims to grow mitochondria.
The diet recommends incorporating organic foods into your daily meals. While organic foods are recommended when they are available, they also come at higher price tags—which typically don’t fall into the average American dining budget.
The Bulletproof Diet: Does It Work?
Can any diet help people lose one pound a day? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who lose weight gradually and steadily — about 1 to 2 pounds per week — are usually more successful in the long run. Most of the weight lost in rapid weight loss efforts is usually known as water weight.
“Rapid weight loss generally includes fluid loss and results may appear on the scale, but the amount of actual fat lost is often limited,” says Chips. “Weight loss requires a consistent focus on reducing total calorie intake while increasing physical activity.”
A modest weight loss of 5% to 10% of total body weight is likely to produce health benefits, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing weight will lead to improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Like many diets, there is no rigorous research examining the benefits of the bulletproof diet and its inflammatory approach to weight loss. Even the keto diet, created in 1924 at the Mayo Clinic for children with severe epilepsy, lacks long-term studies of its overall effect on weight loss.
Each individual needs to assess whether or not a bulletproof diet is appropriate for them. Ehsani’s recommendation: “If you are looking for help choosing the diet best for your individual needs, work with a nutritionist who will help you find a healthy, balanced diet that fits your unique health needs and health goals.”