Bloomberg News: Butter Coffee Could Make You Invincible
Bulletproof Coffee and the biohacking lifestyle made headlines in Bloomberg News this morning. Check out the story below!
By Gordy Megroz, Bloomberg Business:
Dave Asprey is following his usual morning routine: drinking coffee and doing drugs. It’s a Tuesday in March, and Asprey, who is 6 feet 4, with graying brown hair and a stubbly beard, is in his office in the countryside town of Cobble Hill, B.C., 45?minutes north of Victoria. His children play in the house just a few steps away. He reaches into a large armoire full of bottles, carefully gathers about 20?pills, and washes them down with a gulp of water. Then he takes a sip of coffee. The milky brown concoction sloshes in his clear plastic mug like a pint of Guinness.
Asprey, 42, is a self-described biohacker—somebody who uses science and technology to make his or her body function better and more efficiently. There are about 100,000 biohackers worldwide, Asprey estimates, and among them, he’s a celebrity. His website, bulletproofexec.com, drew 6?million unique visitors last year. Almost 50,000 people follow him on Twitter, and he has an additional 140,000 fans on Facebook. Since 2009 he’s posted blog entries and podcasts about things such as orange-tinted glasses, which he says block out blue-spectrum light, allowing us to sleep so well that we need only six hours or less, and the minimum number of days a man should wait between orgasms, a protocol Asprey found in an ancient Taoist text. (Age minus 7, divided by 4.) But of all his out-there health claims, it’s the coffee he’s drinking—blended with butter made with milk from grass-fed cows and a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconut oil—that’s making Asprey most famous.
He calls the mixture Bulletproof coffee. Drink it, the name implies, and you’ll feel invincible. “Fats and caffeine help stimulate the brain,” Asprey says in his office, taking another sip. The coffee, along with the drug cocktail he’s just downed, which includes vitamins K and C as well as aniracetam, a pharmaceutical designed to improve brain function, is intended to provide hours of enlightenment. “There’s a sense of cognitive ease, where everything you want to say is at the tip of your tongue,” he says. “It’s like getting a new computer—you never want to go back to the old one.”
A former technology executive, Asprey has spent 15 years experimenting with his diet, sleep, and exercise. He’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for various medical tests, from brain scans to genome sequencing, and reached some pretty radical conclusions. He’s completely dismantled the food pyramid—the 1992 chart that advised people to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and very few fats—and argues that the proper diet should consist of as much as 70 percent fat.
It’s similar to the paleo diet, the regimen that forbids any food not available to prehistoric man, with some modifications, like allowing white rice.
“Your hormones are made of saturated fat, your brain is made of fat, and the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat,” Asprey says. “When you go on a low-fat diet, you limit the performance of so many key systems in your body that it’s no wonder you have cravings and feel tired.”
On April 28, Asprey will open the first Bulletproof cafe and coffee shop in Santa Monica, Calif., where he’ll serve the coffee along with other fatty foods. He’s also expanded the Bulletproof brand to include supplements, such as his own blend of MCT oil; collagen protein, which he says is important for “counteracting the degenerative effects of aging”; and Unfair Advantage, plastic vials of pyrrolo-quinoline quinone, a co-enzyme thought to improve mitochondrial function. In December he published a book, The Bulletproof Diet, in which he claims that people who follow his high-fat diet can lose a pound a day. His ultimate goal: to someday sell Bulletproof coffee on a Starbucks-like scale.
Asprey hands me a cup, and I take a sip. “Drinkable?” he asks. It’s actually quite good. It’s creamy and leaves a palate-pleasing oil slick on my tongue and lips. “Drinking Bulletproof and taking smart drugs in the morning is epic,” he says. “There’s no better way to start the day.”
At its core, Bulletproof is an e-commerce coffee and supplement retailer, and it’s Asprey’s story of biological redemption that moves product. He travels the globe spreading the Bulletproof gospel and serving up coffee at events as diverse as the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif., and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
He also gets the word out on Bulletproof Radio, a biohacking podcast downloaded 10.5 million times in 2014. On one of the days I visit Asprey, he’s recording with Maximilian Gotzler, who’s trying to start a biohacking podcast in Germany. Asprey’s desk stands in front of a kitchenette filled with Bulletproof coffee apparatuses—a kettle, a French press, and a blender—and fixings. On top of the refrigerator is an early 1900s photo of a man firing a pistol at another man at close range. The man being shot at wears a bulletproof vest.
“I used to weigh 300 pounds,” Asprey tells Gotzler. “I worked out six days a week, and I cut my calories to around 1,800 calories per day for almost two years. And I was still fat. I’m eating salads and my friends are eating onion rings, and they’re still thin. I said, ‘This isn’t working.’”
At the same time, Asprey’s career was exploding. He’d helped found one of the first global cloud-computing companies, Exodus Communications, in Santa Clara, Calif., in 1998. “But I was getting really bad brain fog,” he says. “My energy levels were really bad. And I was a jerk.”
“I can’t imagine you being a jerk,” Gotzler says.
“It’s true,” Asprey replies. “I was a jerk.”
After he made a nasty comment to one of his mentors, Asprey decided it was time to make some changes. In 2005 a company he was working for called Speedera Networks was acquired, and Asprey walked away with $6 million. He poured some of that money into tests and medical consulting and settled on a combination of “smart” drugs, a high-saturated-fat diet, and a host of vitamins and supplements.
By 2009, Asprey was eating up to 4,500 calories a day, mostly in the form of grass-fed meat, butter, fish, and coconut oil. He eliminated “Kryptonite foods” like fruit and poultry, which he claims cause inflammation and spikes in insulin levels and contribute to weight gain. He lost so many pounds that for the first time in his life, he had six-pack abs.
That diet included buttery coffee. In 2004, Asprey had traveled to Nepal and Tibet to trek the Himalayas. “I felt like crap from the altitude,” he says. “Then I tried yak-butter tea.” Asprey says the popular local drink transformed him, making him feel almost superhuman. “I know it was the tea. And I couldn’t stop drinking it.” When he returned to the U.S., he tried to reproduce what he’d been served. Nothing worked. “It tasted like crap,” he says. He shifted to experimenting with coffee, which he’d long since given up because it made him feel sick. Doing some research, he wondered if that was because he’d been drinking poor-quality brews. “Most coffee contains mold,” he says. “And mold is toxic.” Asprey found some low-mold beans from Guatemala and blended them with the coconut oil and grass-fed butter, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acid than regular butter or cream. It was delicious. Bulletproof coffee was born. Asprey envisioned the beverage as a 450-calorie breakfast alternative that would suppress hunger and provide mental clarity.
Read on for the rest of the story about Bulletproof & butter coffee here.