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Kick-start your day the bulletproof way

Features | Published:

JEP work experience writer Patrick Swan follows in the footsteps of Silicon Valley CEOs by trying the bulletproof coffee diet.

To your black coffee add: two tablespoons of butter from grass-fed cows’ milk and one tablespoon of coconut oil. Blend until frothy. Drink.

Bulletproof coffee is certainly a strange one.

The concoction has been lauded by Silicon Valley CEOs as a miracle elixir that offers boosted, sustained energy, appetite suppression and is said to encourage weight loss through ketosis. Ketosis is what happens when your cells don’t have carbohydrates to burn, so they burn fat instead.

Could I leverage my job for the betterment of my waistline? Is that ethical? Why would anyone put butter in their coffee? These were the questions I hoped to answer by embarking on the bulletproof diet for a week.

I elected to go fully bulletproof, abstaining from carbohydrates as much as possible and getting the majority of my calories from healthy fats and protein.

Drinking the coffee would take me to 2 pm, after which I would have a diet protein shake for lunch and steamed vegetables for dinner. Also I would exercise if I could find the time (translation: if I could be bothered).

  • Day one: 14 stone 10 lbs

(Admission one: I woke up at 11 am and did not have my coffee until 1 pm, meaning I couldn’t eat until 7/8ish.)

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Surprisingly, the coffee was not the worst I’d ever tasted. The butter (which has to be from grass-fed cows) was very noticeable, but the coconut oil (preferably something called MCT Oil, which is not readily available) softened the strength of the taste and created a blended emulsification. It was drinkable at the very least.

With no meals to focus on, I exercised to kill two hours, but was still overly excitable afterwards. So I threw myself into some arduous admin that I had been avoiding for weeks.

Hunger-wise I felt nothing all day. I had the vegetables and pretended they were chips.

(Admission two: I had some chicken with my ‘chips’. To err is human...)

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In my caffeinated state, I did not get to sleep until 2 am.

  • Day two: 14 stone 7 lbs (-3 lbs)

Tony Hancock and Patricia Hayes told my grandparents to go to work on an egg, a message later tempered by concerns about cholesterol. Millenials are often called soft. Today is the day I get one up on those Baby Boomers and go to work on a stick of butter.

Apparently, the butter causes the caffeine to be released into the blood more slowly and consistently. I think I can testify to this. I was on a roll. I usually have to resort to my second coffee of the day by 11 am. No such thing happened on day two. Food didn’t even cross my mind.

First yawn of the day: 12.34 pm. I know because I checked two different clocks as soon as it happened.

In the end it was anger that carried me through to 2 pm, as I spent a grating hour listening to the same 30 seconds of classical music on the phone while on hold. The irritation temporarily killed my appetite, but when it came back I forced down a protein shake (a ghost of failed diets past). It was somehow watery and lumpy and saccharine all at once, a state that’s almost admirably unpleasant. It did the job.

I went to sleep at 2.30 am for some reason. These things are not for us to decipher.

(Admission three: Or if they are it probably had something to do with my laptop.)

  • Day three: 14 stone 8 lbs (+1 lb)

My first yawn came early on day three. I didn’t check the time because I really didn’t want to. The more I thought about yawning, the more I yawned and the hungrier I felt. I was losing the mental battle by 9.30 am. Maybe my body had gotten to grips with the fuel I was putting into it and the late nights were getting to me.

(Admission four: I stared at the office vending machine for longer than I would care to admit.)

(Admission five: It was five minutes.)

I was forced to have a nap at lunch to get through the rest of the day. I was reduced to a childlike state by Kerrygold and Nescafé.

To compound it all, I had gained weight on the day before. Day three is usually the day I start to give up on diets for these exact reasons. The dramatic early results fall off and I start to slip. Luckily, there was an article to be written, which meant I had to stay the course. This was a test of my character. I told myself I would not eat the 8.30 pm loaf of bread my body demanded.

  • Day four: 14 stone 7 lbs (-1 lb)

I bounce back. A diet’s fourth day is new territory for me. On waking I discovered I had gone down a notch on my belt, which would serve as my motivation for the rest of the week.

(Admission six: Another big motivating factor was the massive curry I had been mentally planning for Friday evening.)

Having gotten to sleep a bit earlier than I had been managing, I worked all morning without much sense of tiredness or distraction. I bravely declined a lunch-time nap like a real grown up, but annoyingly forgot to have my shake. I did not feel hungry until 4 pm. The hunger hit hard.

l(Admission seven: The vending machine at work has a row full of Thai sweet chicken McCoys – my favourite flavour.)

I hid from the cursed machine in case I did something regrettable.

  • Day five: 14 stone 6 lbs (-1 lb)

The last day! My sleep cycle finally caught up with my lifestyle. I was asleep by 11.30 pm and woke up feeling as good as I had all week.

I went through the now familiar motions that morning as my mind drifted:

Boil kettle...

I’m not sure I would do this diet again. The weight loss I achieved this week, a creditable 4 lbs, is most likely not sustainable, but we shall see. I personally think simple healthy eating would be better, more reliable and more sustainable. However, if in the future I need an extended burst of focus and energy, I see no reason not to have the coffee. And butter.

Make coffee...

On the final day I would end up catching a yawn at 9.37 am and viciously suppress it. Mind over body!

Add butter and coconut oil...

I spent the morning running on fumes until lunch. My neglected food intake from the day before was gnawing at my insides. I had energy, but felt less grounded than I had on previous days; the caffeine was bouncing around inside me with nothing to absorb it.

Blend...

I managed to stumble over the line. Lunch couldn’t have come soon enough and neither could 5 pm. The hunger and tiredness of a week seemed to hit me all at once. Plus there was light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of a chicken madras with garlic naan on the side.

Drink...

I have finally worked out how to describe the taste of this drink: it’s a sad latte. Not terrible, just a bit sad.

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