Guide to Keto Coffee
Written by Sara McEvoy
on November 15, 2019
What happens when one of the world's most popular drinks meets one of the latest "trends" in health and weight loss? You get a delicious, creamy, filling drink called keto coffee!
We say "trends" because the ketogenic diet (aka "keto") isn't exactly a trend in the usual sense of the word. It's actually been around since the 1920s as a heavily studied and effective treatment for epilepsy. But the recent resurgence of keto as an effective weight loss tool has many people interested in the diet.
Keto coffee, also called butter coffee or bulletproof coffee, is the latest iteration of the low-carb lifestyle. In this article, we're going to talk about what keto coffee is, why it's so beneficial, the potential drawbacks you should be aware of, and how to buy it or make it yourself at home.
- Keto coffee, also called butter coffee or bulletproof coffee, is a type of drink made with coffee, butter (or ghee), and MCT oil (or coconut oil).
- There aren't any studies yet investigating the health effects of keto coffee specifically. But there's lots of evidence showing the health benefits of ingredients used in keto coffee, including MCT oil and coffee itself. Proponents of keto coffee regularly cite positive effects including increased mental clarity, focus, energy, and satiety.
- It's easy to make keto coffee at home with some simple ingredients from your own kitchen, but you can also buy products specifically marketed and designed for keto coffee.
What is Keto Coffee?
Keto coffee is a fat-rich beverage made with coffee and the following add-ins:
- Butter or ghee (clarified butter, or butter with the milk solids removed)
- Medium chain triglycerides, aka MCT oil (a type of fatty acid derived from coconut oil)
Keto coffee was originally intended to be a stand-in for a regular breakfast—which in the traditional Western palate is pretty carb-heavy (think bagels, cereal, and orange juice). It's popular among ketogenic diet fans and others.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Keto Coffee
So, why drink keto coffee? Here are a few reported benefits of keto coffee and its ingredients:
- This drink—and specifically the MCT oil added to it—can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control, which may reduce your risk of diabetes and help keep your blood sugar levels steady and low
- Fans of keto coffee commonly say it helps improve mental focus and energy levels—a logical claim because of the stimulating effects of caffeine and the enriching and satiating effects of dietary fat
- Coffee has been shown to promote autophagy (the body's method of clearing away damaged cells), improve cardiovascular health, and lower the risk of a wide range of chronic health conditions including metabolic syndrome, heart failure, liver cancer, and even Parkinson's disease
- Since it's high-fat and virtually zero carb, this drink may support weight loss by helping you enter the fat-burning state known as ketosis, where your body turns stored fat into compounds called ketones for fuel
Even if you aren't following a ketogenic diet, keto coffee is still a great addition to a weight loss journey since it helps you feel fuller longer and suppresses your appetite!
Of course, keto coffee may not be the right pour for you if you don't like the taste, and some people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of putting butter into their morning cuppa. Plus, some people experience mild diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues when they first start using MCT oil or initiate a high fat diet—so introduce keto coffee slowly if you're new to it.
The Saturated Fat Debate
Concerned about saturated fats? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should only consume about 13 grams of saturated fat per day, a little less than the amount found in just one cup of keto coffee. AHA's argument? Eating too much saturated fat raises cholesterol and allegedly increases your risk for heart disease.
But lots of research, including a major 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, doesn't support this claim and actually shows that eating less saturated fat doesn't reduce a person's risk of heart disease anyway! Instead, stronger levels of evidence show that cutting down on things like sugar and artificial trans fat is much more important for protecting your heart.
Keto Coffee and Fasting
Another potential drawback of keto coffee is that it breaks your fast, since a typical serving contains around 320 calories (of mostly fat and a little protein). So, early morning consumption of bulletproof coffee will kick you out of a fasted state if you're practicing something like time-restricted eating.
That said, as the popular fasting app Zero notes, drinking keto coffee may not technically disrupt your fast if your primary fasting goal is weight loss or improved metabolic health. This is because the high fat, low protein content of this delicious drink won't spike your blood sugars and can therefore keep you in an ideal fat-burning metabolic state.
But, if your goal of fasting is to promote longevity or give your gut a digestive rest, this drink will definitely end your fast—so, you should only consume keto coffee within your scheduled feeding window, which is usually between midday to early evening for most fasting practitioners.
Which brings up our last point...
Keto Coffee and Caffeine
Did you know coffee has a half-life of about 5 to 6 hours? This means that if you drink a cup of keto coffee at two in the afternoon, you'll still have about 45 mg of caffeine in your system at 8 p.m. that night (since one cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine). This is why drinking coffee—bulletproof or otherwise—too late in the day can seriously disrupt sleep. And given everything we know about how important sleep is for your health, enjoying your keto coffee too late can be a big problem.
Fortunately, this is a relatively easy fix—simply consume keto coffee in the morning and/or opt for decaffeinated coffee, instead. Don't worry, research indicates that most of the health benefits of coffee come not from the caffeine itself but from other compounds in the popular beverage, including polyphenols and antioxidants.
DIY Keto Coffee:
3 Interesting Recipe Options
Keto coffee has the consistency, taste, and appearance of a latte—decadent and delish! With a few simple tools and ingredients it's actually super easy to make at home. Here's how:
- Pour about 8 to 12 ounces of freshly-brewed black coffee into a durable mug.
- Add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter or ghee (pro-tip: use room-temperature butter so it melts easier and make sure it's unsalted).
- Add in another 1 to 2 tablespoons of MCT oil. Don't have MCT oil? Try coconut oil instead (it's solid at room temperature but melts pretty easily).
- Use a handheld milk frother to mix all the ingredients together until it has a creamy and foamy consistency (usually about 10 to 30 seconds). If you don't have a handheld frother, you can also use a blender or try mixing it in a pot with an immersion blender. A frother is nice though because it leaves you with a lot less to clean up!
As with most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to quality and taste. If you want to really make sure your keto coffee tastes good, be sure to use high quality coffee beans, grass-fed butter, MCT oil sourced exclusively from coconut oil, and/or unrefined, virgin, and cold-pressed coconut oil.
Want to add something special to this already tasty treat? Try using:
- Flavored coffee beans
- A dash of cinnamon or turmeric
- Maybe a non-caloric sweeteners like Stevia or erythritol—but keep in mind that reigning in on your sweet tooth may help you lose weight, and unlike the evidence for a high-fat diet, there's not a ton of good evidence showing that non-caloric sweeteners actually help with weight loss anyway
Where to Buy Keto Coffee
These days, it's pretty easy to find everything you need to make keto coffee at home at your local grocery store or health food market. You can also buy things like MCT oil and ghee online. A lot of companies like Onnit and Bulletproof also offer keto-friendly creamers that you can add to your coffee as an alternative to the conventional homemade version.
Lastly, don't forget to check your local cafe. Many hometown coffee shops now offer their own versions of bulletproof coffee for health-conscious consumers!
As for enjoying your keto coffee, most experts recommend to stick to just one or two cups per day as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. And remember to introduce this beverage to your daily routine slowly so as not to upset your stomach with a sudden influx of high fat, at least if you're not already livin' la vida low carb.
Yes, we know: putting butter in your coffee sounds weird at first glance.
But scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that keto coffee can be a valuable tool for promoting weight loss, improving energy and focus, and optimizing blood sugar or even cholesterol levels. So, consider making a toast to your health with this healthy and satisfying drink, and let us know what you think about it in the comments!
Author: Sara McEvoy
|Sara McEvoy, PT, DPT is a licensed and board-certified doctor of physical therapy. She earned her degree in 2011 from Boston University. Sara is also a professional freelance writer and copywriter. She researches and writes almost exclusively within the health and wellness field.|