Bulletproof Diet: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
A diet that includes multiple cups per day might grab anyone’s attention. Most diets restrict the use of caffeine because of the empty calories. However, the Bulletproof Diet advocates for the coffee. In fact, the whole diet was inspired by the diet maker’s coffee recipe!
Many people may have heard of Bulletproof Coffee but not the diet. It was created by the coffeemaker, Dave Asprey in 2014. Dave Asprey was overweight at 300lbs when he was an executive in technology. He felt he needed to regain control of his life and health and began his 15-year weight loss journey.
He developed Bulletproof Coffee and posted about it on his website where he detailed the health benefits he experienced. During this time, he was working for Trend Micro. He began to develop his own coffee beans, oils, and supplements to sell on his website too. His companies started to take off and he left his job at Trend Micro.
Throughout his journey, he became a biohacking guru. Biohacking refers to changing your lifestyle to make your body function more efficiently. He has estimated to have spent over a million dollars and over 20 years into his biohacking health journey. Dave Asprey believes you can follow his guidelines to achieve the same results he did when he was at his heaviest.
Asprey makes other claims about the Bulletproof Coffee and diet. One of his claims states his IQ raised 20 points when consuming coffee and a proper 4,000-calorie diet. He even claims he sleeps five hours or less a night. He also believes that mycotoxins in regular coffee beans make people feel tired and sluggish. The claims about the diet make it appeal to many, but does it do what it claims?
What is the Bulletproof Diet?
The Bulletproof Diet takes its main concepts from ketosis. The main idea is to use your body’s fat storage as a source of fuel. You enter ketosis when you consume 0 or close to no carbohydrates. This prompts your body to burn fat instead of sugar for energy.
Dave Asprey believes this isn’t the only way you can enter ketosis. He believes in using certain kinds of oils to reach cyclical ketosis. The Bulletproof Diet is said to reduce inflammation, balance sugar and hormones, provide mental clarity and focus, and stimulate weight loss. Dave Asprey invented the diet from research and evidence of low-carb, high-fat keto diets and how they reverse diabetes.
The research showed that sugary, high-carb diets contributed to weight gain, brain fog, inflammation, and health conditions like diabetes and depression. The Bulletproof Diet takes a modified approach with the cyclical keto diet. This plan recommends only eating keto for most of the week. On the days you’re eating keto, you should consume 75% of calories from fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs.
In the other one or two days, you’ll have a carb refeed. This doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and go overboard. They’re not cheat days. You’ll eat an increased amount of carbs from 50 grams or less to around 300 grams. This is where the term cyclical ketosis means. You’ll cycle between ketosis and then have short breaks.
Dave Asprey believes the refeed helps prevent negative side effects that many experience on a long-term keto diet. While it’s not the main concept of the diet, intermittent fasting is recommended. You will consume most of your calories for the day in a short window that ranges from four to six hours. Then, you fast for the rest of the day. This ensures the body kicks into ketosis.
Benefits of Ketosis
A keto diet does offer many benefits for your health and weight loss. Most dieters of any diet complain of hunger. On a keto diet, you have a reduction in your appetite because of how much protein you consume. Keto diets drop the most weight at first. The first two weeks, you’ll lose the most. Keto diets result in less belly fat than other diets. This visceral fat surrounds the organs and causes inflammation and insulin resistance.
Keto diets raise your good cholesterol levels high than your bad ones. It’s also a diet recommended for those with diabetes. Diabetics suffer from high blood sugar levels. Cutting carbs reduces insulin levels and blood sugar levels. In a study conducted with diabetics on a keto diet, the researchers found that 95% of participants reduced or eliminated their glucose medication within six months.
Studies have found a low-carb diet can help reduce or treat metabolic syndrome. Keto may even help with brain disorders like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, but more research is needed.
Many people see the keto diet as a way for them to lose weight quickly. However, those who have certain medical conditions may benefit from a ketogenetic diet. One condition that highly benefits from the diet is glycogen storage disease (GSD). This condition lacks enzymes to break down glycogen to glucose. Patients are often advised to eat high-carb foods on the diet, but research suggests a ketogenic diet may benefit them more. Sufferers from multiple sclerosis (MS) may benefit from a keto diet. MS damages the nerves and causes communication issues between the bran and body. Studies in mice and people have found a keto diet may improve symptoms, cell repair, and improvement with cholesterol and triglycerides.
Migraine sufferers have severe pain with sensitivity to light and may experience nausea. Some studies have shown a reduction in headache symptoms in those who eat a keto diet. One study showed a reduction in pain medication when they followed the diet for one month.
Recently, more cancer patients have been consuming a keto diet along with their traditional treatments. Case studies in several patients show promising results for those who suffer from brain cancer. Patients experienced a modest response to a keto diet when combined with a cancer treatment drug. Other researchers found slower tumor growth and muscle preservation in those who followed the diet with other anti-cancer therapies.
Epileptic patients often need to take medicine for their seizures. However, some can’t handle the side effects or the drugs themselves. Research has found that 50% of patients who follow a 4:1 keto diet improves their seizures. Another study in epileptic children found that brain patterns improved by 65% for those who followed a keto diet. Some children didn’t see a reduction in seizures, however.
Intermittent fasting does have many health benefits. Intermittent fasting changes your body internally from your cells to your genes. It drops blood insulin levels to increase fat burning. Your human growth hormone levels increase to levels that increase muscle growth and fat burning. While fasting, the body repairs cells by removing waste materials. Your genes and molecules that are related to protection against diseases change.
The remaining research for intermittent fasting largely relies on animal studies and case studies. Studies in rats found that fasting helps prevents diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. It was even found to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s. Case studies in humans found short-term fasts to improve symptoms in 9 out of 10 participants.
Intermittent fasting in animal studies reduced the risk for stroke, oxidative stress, and inflammation. In human studies, fasting may have benefits for those on chemotherapy. Patients reported fewer side effects when fasting. Both human and animal studies have shown promising results in reducing the risk for cancers. However, more research is needed.
Unlike traditional diets that highly recommend exercise, the Bulletproof Diet doesn’t recommend exercise until week two. Then, you will focus on the superset of slow movements for exercise. You won’t work out for more than 25 minutes in a session. Those that aren’t keen on exercise or can’t find the time will most likely enjoy this part of the program. Active people may find this program the hardest part. You technically aren’t permitted to exercise in the beginning. Once you have made a full transition, you can become more active again slowly.
Steps of the Bulletproof Diet
A large part of the diet does include the Bulletproof Coffee that inspired the diet. The coffee is meant to act as your replacement breakfast. Unlike a traditional cup of coffee that may only have 200 calories, Bulletproof Coffee ranges from 400-800 calories. You won’t have to worry about feeling hungry or weak from not eating a traditional breakfast. The coffee will sustain you until your next meal.
The Bulletproof Diet doesn’t require you to jump right into it as keto does. Making small changes over time will help motivate you to continue it. You will feel more focused, stronger, happier, and have less inflammation even with a few changes.
How to get started?
- Eliminate Sugar – Sugar is hidden in almost anything. Even natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, and agave can spike your sugar and cause a crash. Sugar elimination will change how you feel. You won’t feel as sluggish as you once did. It won’t be easy for some to give it up because it does have addictive properties, so the lower your intake, the better. If you need some sweetness in your life, Asprey recommends Bulletproof-approved sweeteners instead. The transition can get difficult when you’ve become addicted. You will experience ill side effects like headaches, mood swings, upset stomach, and sweating.
- Replace Sugar with the Right Fats – Not all fat is bad but not all fat is good either. Quality fats can curb cravings and add more nutrients to your diet. Some examples of healthy fats are grass-fed butter, grass-fed Ghee, Brain Octane MCT oil, avocado, cocoa butter, and olive oil. Avoid unhealthy fats like soy, canola, corn, walnut, flax, and peanut oils. These fats are typically processed and just add empty calories without any benefit to the body. Some even cause health issues in those that are sensitive.
- Switch to Grass-Fed Meat and Wild-Caught Seafood – One of the main principles of the Bulletproof Diet is to remove any toxins. Food quality matters. When available only choose pasture-raised, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, pork, chicken, turkey, and duck. You don’t want to buy farm-raised fish or seafood because they have fewer nutrients than wild-caught. Wild-caught seafood and fish are rich in omega-3s.
- Eliminate Grains and Gluten – Grains don’t contain as much nutrition as people once thought. Not all grains are bad, and some are a good source of carbs. Most people do have trouble with digestion, and they can cause inflammation, intestinal damage, trigger food cravings, and full of toxins. Foods like corn, oats, barley, wheat, and cereal grains are best avoided.
- Remove Synthetic Additives, Coloring, and Flavoring – It’s no secret in recent years we’ve come to find out that natural flavors aren’t all that natural. Some companies do use them legitimately, and they’re safe to consume. Other companies don’t specify or use fake means. If you aren’t sure where these artificial ingredients come from, avoid them. Some to watch out for include aspartame, MSG, and dyes.
- Remove Legumes from Your Diet – While these foods are cheap and nutritious, they do cause issues for some people. Peanuts, lentils, and beans cause inflammation, especially in those with sensitivities. You can continue to eat beans if you cook them yourself after soaking or fermenting them. When you soak them, it removes the starchiness that sometimes causes gas and bloating.
- Don’t Consume Processed, Homogenized, and Pasteurized Dairy – Studies have shown that dairy may cause inflammation and allergies in the body. Dairy products contain two main compounds casein and lactose. When people remove dairy from their diet, they typically feel better, but some people just can’t or won’t give up their cheese. In this case, consume full-fat, raw dairy from grass-fed animals. If you want to give up dairy, then opt for grass-fed butter. It has low levels of casein and lactose due to the churning process. The churning process removes any buttermilk. When you remove dairy from your diet, you may experience negative effects like cravings, tiredness, and insomnia. These go away after a week or two.
- Switch to Organic Fruits and Veggies – Regular fruits and vegetables get sprayed with insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides to avoid damage to the craps. Unfortunately, this can seep into the food, even if you peel ones that have skin. The best alternative you can make is to choose organic options only. You can find these options online, in your local store, and in farmer’s markets. Despite what people have said, organic isn’t that much more expensive than regular produce. At most, you will see a few dollars difference on your bill. A few dollars are nothing when it comes to hospital bills! Regular produce might be the only option when organic isn’t available. If you can’t truly get organic you will have to settle for non-organic.
- Cook Food at Low Heat – High-heat cooking changes the chemical composition of your food. Smoking, frying, grilling, and microwaving meat or vegetables can potentially produce carcinogens. These stick to the surface of your food. Ideally, you want to cook your food at temperatures 320-degrees and below. If you can, try to consume your veggies raw mostly. You can eat these in a salad, on the side steamed, or raw with a homemade dip.
- Limit Fruit to One-Two Servings Per Day – Similar to the keto diet, you need to limit your fruit intake. Fruits are nutritious and do contain many vitamins and minerals. However, they also contain fructose. Fructose is a sugar that can cause damage if you consume too much. Even though fruit it is healthy, you can overeat it easily. This includes canned fruits too. You might think that since they’re pre-portion it’s okay.
Unfortunately, these fruits are condensed and contain more than fresh fruits. This means more calories and they usually combine them with high-fructose corn syrup. To get the necessary benefits and nutrients from fruit but without fructose, choose a low-fructose fruit. For example, berries and lemons should be chosen over watermelon and apples. Also, remember to always buy fresh.
What Does Dave Asprey Eat?
Dave Asprey follows his philosophy and stays true to the Bulletproof Diet. He eats tons of healthy fats, organic veggies, and grass-fed meats. He avoids sugar, grains, and anything processed. For a typical day, he starts his mornings with Bulletproof Coffee. He believes the coffee helps him regain focus, provides energy, and removes his food cravings. In an interview, he gave a breakdown of what he eats daily when he’s at home and traveling.
For lunch, he eats paleo or vegan based when traveling. He tries to consume wild fish like salmon and as many veggies as possible.
At dinner time, he enjoys cooking for his wife and children. He’ll typically make grass-fed, high-quality meat. He cites a recipe from a cookbook as his favorite meal. It consists of hanger steak with an herb butter sauce. The veggies range from greens or root vegetables based on the season.
Dave does have dessert following dinner. He usually will make his own ice cream made from eggs, upgraded vanilla, grass-fed butter, and some type of vegetable like sweet potato.
Can Bulletproof Coffee Help You Lose Weight?
The coffee only contains three ingredients: unsalted grass-fed butter, Brain Octane oil (extracted coconut oil and palm kernel), and coffee. The coffee he used was lab-tested to ensure it was free of mold from the beans. The name “Bulletproof” came from the high-performance state you’re in and is a reference for biohacking.
Asprey claims the coffee can help you to lose weight. Experts are wary. Why Bulletproof Coffee is bad? They worry about the lack of nutrients in the coffee as your breakfast substitute for real food. It’s also high in saturated fat and calories. Can Bulletproof Coffee make you fat? While it is high in calories and saturated fat, it won’t make you fat if you drink it occasionally. Those on a keto or low-carb diet may benefit from the coffee occasionally, but not daily. Those who have sensitivities to caffeine might want to skip the daily coffee and drink it once in a while.
Ingredients: one sliced leek, two chopped carrots, four chopped celery stalks, two cups of water, ½ cup asparagus sliced, one cup chopped cauliflower, one cup zucchini chopped, one-pound grass-fed lamb, one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup coconut oil, one tablespoon Brain Octane C8 MCT Oil, olive oil.
Spices: one teaspoon coriander, cumin, allspice, and sea salt, one tablespoon dried oregano, one bay leaf
In a medium pot combine carrots, leek, and celery and cook over medium-low heat until tender. Add the water, asparagus, cauliflower, zucchini, lamb, vinegar, and spices. Cover and cook for ten minutes, then stir in the MCT Oil and thoroughly mix. Serve and drizzle with olive oil.
Bulletproof Ceviche with Avocado and Arugula
Ingredients: eight oz of skinless and boneless wild salmon cubed, two tablespoons fresh lime juice, one teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, one teaspoon Brain Octane C8 MCT oil, ½ avocado cubed, one thinly sliced scallion, one tablespoon ripped cilantro, ½ cup arugula, sea salt to taste
Toss the salmon in the oils and lime juice. Add in avocado, scallion, cilantro, and salt. Refrigerate and chill for at least two hours. Stir occasionally to keep the lime juice spread throughout. Add in the arugula when you serve.
Keto Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients: two cups blanched organic almond or hazelnut meal, three tablespoons grass-fed Bulletproof Ghee or butter, three tablespoon Bulletproof Collagen Protein, stevia, two teaspoon vanilla, one pastured egg, ½ teaspoon paleo baking powder, one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, 1/3 cup of high-quality and sugar-free chocolate chopped
Preheat the oven to 340-degrees. Grease and line baking trays with parchment paper. Put the baking powder, almond meal, and collagen into a bowl. Pour apple cider vinegar on top of the baking powder. You’ll notice it starts to fizz, let it go. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Roll the dough mixture into balls and place them on the tray. Make the balls as flat or thick as you’d like. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve and store in an airtight container.
Side Effects of the Bulletproof Diet and Coffee
The coffee itself features some of the same side effects that regular coffee has. You might get jitters, diarrhea, a fast heart rate, or a headache. These side effects tend to appear in people who have caffeine sensitivities. If you do have sensitivities, you can avoid the coffee altogether.
The other ingredients in the coffee like MCT oil and grass-fed butter can cause issues on their own. You can technically skip them for substitutes but then your coffee won’t have the “bulletproof” stamp of approval. Recipes for the coffee include at least two tablespoons or more of butter and two tablespoons of MCT oil. This adds up to almost 45 grams of saturated fat in one cup.
The American Heart Association warns against high amounts of fat and only recommends 13 grams per day. This can have an adverse effect on high cholesterol and a higher risk for heart disease.
MCT oil does show some promise in aiding weight loss. However, MCT oil is derived from vegetable and coconut oil. Coconut oil does contain 90% of its composition as saturated fats. It also contains lauric acid, which takes time to metabolize in the body. MCT oil does cause discomfort for some people. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, nausea, stomach pain, and gas.
People often don’t report negative side effects while on the diet. They do find it restrictive at times. The ones who do have complaints mention gas, bloating, and stomach pain. Medical experts think the diet has extreme views on certain food groups. For example, the diet restricts legumes and grains. Legumes can help aid in weight loss because they keep you fuller longer, improve cholesterol levels, and gut health. Blood tests in those on the Bulletproof Diet have shown higher cholesterol levels than normal in the first 90 days. It’s believed to be linked to the coffee and paleo nature of the diet.
Bulletproof Coffee inspired the Bulletproof Diet. The Dave Asprey Bulletproof Diet is similar to a keto diet except you take a break for two days on ketosis. Not everyone can accomplish a full keto diet consistently. The two-day break is meant to help satisfy carb cravings, improve sleep, a healthier balance of gut bacteria, and better immune function.
The main idea of the diet is to avoid putting toxins in your body and to reduce inflammation. The diet doesn’t require you to make changes right away but the quicker you make them, the better you’ll feel.
The Bulletproof Coffee isn’t the healthiest idea, but you can always swap the coffee out for a healthier breakfast option. Bulletproof Coffee does have several side effects on its own that may make it difficult to consume. The diet does rely on Bulletproof Coffee throughout the week, but it’s noted you can skip this if you have any sensitivities.
Overall, the diet doesn’t have horrible principles. Some of the principles are supported by research and can make you healthier. The critics of the diet share mixed opinions on whether the diet is safe and healthy.