Many people regularly include coconut oil in coffee, especially first thing in the morning. If you’ve never tried it, that trend might seem odd. But, there are some distinct advantages to doing so.
This post takes a look at those benefits, along with what you can expect and various recipes.
But, don’t worry, we’re not going over-the-top (this is a nutrition site, after all). In fact, we talk about some of the limitations to the idea and why adding coconut oil won’t help everyone, including the review of a recent study.
Benefits of Coconut Oil in Coffee
For the most part, adding coconut oil to coffee is about the health implications. There are two main areas to consider:
- Benefits from the coconut oil itself
- Advantages that are specific to coconut oil and coffee
We’re going to look at each of these. But, there is one other area as well – enjoying the drink.
If made right, coconut oil coffee can taste really good. Many versions have a light and creamy texture, along with the flavor from the coconut oil. This is much more interesting than just coffee on its own.
There are also some powerful recipes that take the drink much further.
The Advantages of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is considered a healthy fat. This is a topic that we’ve covered before, as have many other authors. Key advantages include the following.
- Coconut oil is unrefined (as long as you choose a good brand). It also promotes various health benefits and contains useful compounds.
- Coconut oil contains many MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). MCTs are metabolized differently than other types of fat and offer a fast source of energy. They’re particularly relevant to a keto diet but they are still significant to other eating approaches too.
- A source of lauric acid. Lauric acid is technically an MCT, although it behaves in a slightly different manner. Lauric acid offers some health benefits that other MCTs don’t (1,2,3), including more sustained ketosis (4,5).
- It’s a source of healthy fats. Coconut oil is an easy way to increase your fat intake. This is particularly important on a ketosis diet.
- Promotes ketosis. The metabolism of MCTs produces ketones, which helps people get into ketosis faster.
Coconut Oil Coffee Benefits
The combination of coconut oil and coffee also has some specific advantages.
- Increases energy. Coconut oil is a fast source of energy, partly due to the MCTs it contains. This makes it powerful as a pick-me-up, especially when combined with coffee.
- Can improve brain function. Caffeine and coconut oil both have impacts on concentration and productivity. The coconut oil helps produce ketones too, which have additional implications for the brain.
- May help weight loss. Coconut oil and MCTs have many direct (and indirect) implications for weight loss, which includes boosting your metabolism (6,7,8). Coffee affects weight and metabolism too, with some studies linking caffeine to weight loss.
- Sustained impacts. Coffee provides an energy spike that typically doesn’t last long. Coconut oil produces more sustained outcomes and helps prevent a crash when the caffeine wears off.
- More satisfying. The fat content of coconut oil creates a satisfying drink. You’ll find it often decreases appetite too, which is important for weight loss.
- Decreases acidity. Some people find coffee to be too bitter or acidic on its own, often leading to heartburn or digestive issues. Adding coconut oil may help to create a less acidic and more enjoyable drink.
The Bulletproof Coffee Trend
Adding fat to your coffee isn’t a new concept. But, the idea has become immensely popular due to Bulletproof coffee, developed by Dave Asprey.
The coffee is promoted as a high energy drink – one that boosts cognitive function and energy, while helping with weight loss as well. Many people drink it daily.
Keep in mind though, I only recommend Bulletproof coffee and variations of it when you are following a low carb or keto lifestyle. Too much fat, combined with too many carbs is not a healthy approach.
Bulletproof Coffee Recipes
The official recipe for Bulletproof coffee has three components, which are as follows:
- 1 cup of coffee made with Bulletproof Coffee Beans. These are meant to be higher quality than regular coffee beans and are free from herbicides and toxins.
- Brain Octane Oil (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons). This is a type of MCT oil that only uses caprylic acid (C8) MCTs.
- Unsalted grass-fed ghee or butter (1 to 2 tablespoons).
French press is the recommended brewing method for the coffee and you need to mix the finished product in a blender to ensure a smooth drink.
The video below highlights the process as well, although Dave tends to be a bit long-winded.
As Gizmodo points out, the Bulletproof-branded products tend to be hyped and don’t offer that many benefits (that’s particularly true for the coffee beans). If you like the coffee – great! But, there’s no evidence that you need Brain Octane Oil and Bulletproof Coffee Beans to get all the desired outcomes.
MCT Oil and Bulletproof Coffee
You’ll notice that Bulletproof coffee doesn’t actually use coconut oil. It’s made with a form of MCT oil instead.
MCT oil offers most of the same benefits as coconut oil. It may create a more significant energy boost and promote ketosis better. But, the effects don’t seem to be dramatic.
Because the oil is always liquid, it can be easier to use than coconut oil. The coconut flavor is less significant as well.
Even so, many people use coconut oil instead. You can choose based on your own preferences. If you do this, you just end up with butter and coconut oil in coffee, instead of butter and MCT oil.
Actually Making the Coffee
Making coffee with coconut oil isn’t as easy as it sounds. The oil often doesn’t mix well and can create an unpleasant texture.
Thankfully, there are many different recipes and techniques to choose from. These help you get a great tasting drink each time.
Ways to Blend the Coffee
Regardless of your recipe, blending the coffee is important. Mixing with a spoon doesn’t create an appealing drink. The Bulletproof Blog recommends using a blender, which does produce the best result.
But, a blender isn’t always practical, especially if you’re in a hurry or are traveling. Besides, the blender technique tends to be messy and involves significant cleanup.
The video below shows one other approach that can work well.
You can also use MCT oil powder instead of coconut oil. The powder is easier to blend than MCT oil or coconut oil and is a great addition to smoothies.
Recipes for Coconut Oil in Coffee
Recipes come in many different styles. Some just use coconut oil in coffee. Others include various extra ingredients to improve the flavor or to provide extra benefits.
For example, the recipes below are all basic variations on Bulletproof coffee.
Alternatively, there are some more complex coffee variations. These tend to involve a little more effort but create a more powerful drink.
And finally, some recipes don’t use coffee at all. Instead, they apply the same concepts to other types of drinks.
Coffee, Coconut Oil and Weight Loss
Adding coconut oil (and possibly other ingredients) sounds like a horrible idea for weight loss. You’re just increasing your calorie intake. Yet, the process is often used as a weight loss tool.
This is partly because coffee and coconut oil can both improve your metabolism. Coconut oil coffee can help decrease your hunger as well.
Besides, fat doesn’t make you fat anyway. Obesity is the result of your overall diet and isn’t defined by your fat intake alone. In fact, many people lose weight on a high fat diet.
Including the Coffee in a Diet
The idea is a particularly good fit for some eating approaches. Keto dieters often rely on Bulletproof coffee or alternatives with coconut oil. The approach helps them to keep their macronutrient intake balanced.
There is also an official Bulletproof diet. There are multiple variations, but they all rely on Bulletproof coffee as a key component. The diet approach isn’t ketogenic but it tends to be low carb and heavily relies on whole foods.
Coconut oil coffee can also be consumed instead of breakfast. This creates a variation on intermittent fasting. The idea isn’t as powerful as intermittent fasting but may be relevant for people who struggle with a fasting approach.
In contrast, coconut oil is a poor addition to a high carb diet. If you’re following this type of diet, the coconut oil becomes just an extra source of calories and is unlikely to promote weight loss.
There are certainly benefits to coconut oil in your coffee. But, there are some additional factors to consider too.
Digestion and Side Effects
Coconut oil (and MCT oil) can sometimes affect your digestion, causing diarrhea and stomach cramps. Other side effects exist too, including allergies and acne.
The best way around this is to start off with a low dose and increase it from there.
Even so, some people experience persistent side effects. If that’s the case for you, coconut oil may not be the right choice.
Allergic reactions can also occur. If you’re concerned, try applying a little coconut oil to your skin first and watch for any reactions.
Coconut oil is calorie-dense. The same is true for butter and ghee.
As the site Emily Kyle Nutrition discusses, calories don’t really matter. Your focus should always be on choosing healthy whole foods, ones that are going to promote your health.
That being said, excessive calorie intake will contribute to weight gain, even if those calories are from healthy foods.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid adding coconut oil to your coffee. But, you should be careful. If you have three or four cups with coconut oil each day – you’re probably overdoing it.
The Saturated Fat
Recent research has shown that fat (including saturated fat) can be healthy (9,10). Healthline talks about this topic in depth, highlighting various studies. Wellness Mama also discusses many important details.
So, the fat in your coffee isn’t a bad thing.
That being said, there’s still a lot we don’t know.
Most studies have focused on dietary intakes of saturated fat. They haven’t looked at the implications of adding coconut oil and butter to your coffee every day. Consuming this much saturated fat regularly could promote health problems.
A new study was released recently that provides a glimpse at the effects of Coconut oil consumption.
The study was a randomized trial comparing the effects of extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and butter on cardiovascular risk factors and blood lipids.
Although the study was short-term, lasting only 4 weeks with 91 final participants evaluated at the end of the study, the results were interesting.
Each person consumed 50 grams daily of one of the three fats for 4 weeks.
The final outcome of study revealed butter significantly increased LDL-C compared to coconut oil. Coconut oil significantly increased HDL-C.
The effect coconut oil had on LDL-C was similar to that of olive oil.
There were no significant changes in BMI, weight, fasting blood glucose, or blood pressure in any of the three groups.
The results indicate that there is a unique relationship between fats and their impact on health.
There’s a great article on Healthline that covers this exact topic. Like me, Kris Gunnars is an advocate of healthy fats – but feels that coconut oil in coffee may have some additional risks.
What Should You Do?
None of the issues mean that you should avoid coconut oil in your coffee.
Many people do experience increased energy and quality of life as a result. The idea seems to work for anyone on a high fat diet, especially if they’re following ketogenic approaches.
But, it’s still important to be careful.
Think about your overall energy intake and whether this concept is right for you. Pay attention to how your body responds too.
If you see significant increases in your weight or cholesterol levels – coconut oil may be a poor choice for you.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.