A Proven Path to a High-Energy Morning
By: Dave Asprey
June 14, 2013
For years I’ve worked on how to feel top-notch in the morning to lay the foundation for an amazing day. Most often my breakfast of choice has been Bulletproof® Intermittent Fasting. In this protocol, you eat no protein and no carbs at all in the morning, instead enjoying a Bulletproof Coffee. That provides the most energy and the least hunger for about eight hours.
However, lately I’ve been skipping classical Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting on some days in order to add Upgraded™ Collagen to my Bulletproof® Coffee. It makes me hungry an hour earlier than usual, but it delivers low inflammation, high quality, and heat stable protein to my coffee without affecting the taste! On the one day a week I might work out, this is my ultimate protein and fat combination for burning fat and gaining muscle.
What to do to optimize your morning nutrition depends on your goals for the day. Because there is an incredible amount of science on this topic, this post turned out to be a pretty long one, so please accept my apologies in advance. If you’re looking for the short version, here it is: On most days, a pure fat Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting “breakfast” is an optimal choice, but on days you work out and the day after either put Upgraded Collagen Protein in your HOT Bulletproof Coffee or Upgraded Whey 2.0 Protein in your ICED Bulletproof Coffee. Getting this right seriously optimizes your body and mind in the morning!
To geek out on more of the science behind these recommendations, read on:
4 Goals of a Seriously Bulletproof Morning
- Goal # 1: Create and sustain awesome physical and mental energy for the day
- Goal #2: Live in fat burning mode
- Goal #3: Feel satisfied with absolutely no cravings
- Goal #4: Preserve or gain muscle
You can meet all 4 goals by occasionally adding exactly the right protein to your cup of Bulletproof Coffee. On most days, however, a pure fat Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting “breakfast” is an optimal choice.
Goal #1: Creating and Sustaining Awesome Energy
Whether you’re a morning person who wakes up with the birds ready to take on the day (and crash by afternoon), or a slow riser who zombie walks straight to the blender to make Bulletproof Coffee, having sustained energy throughout the day is critical for optimal performance (not to mention quality of life). This is where the specific ingredients to the Bulletproof Coffee recipe and Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting come in.
Low-toxin coffee beans, such as Upgraded™ Coffee Beans, have been shown to improve brain function, memory, and exercise performance. Caffeine is an ergogenic aid, meaning it increases power output. This is true for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. If taken before a workout, coffee could improve your performance and give you an edge. 1,2
Bulletproof Coffee drives high mental focus and sustained energy partially from the short and medium chain saturated fats from grass fed butter and Brain Octane Oil. The human brain is primarily made of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which makes fatty acids vital for normal brain and nerve function.3 Saturated fat is not only used as the raw material for a properly functioning brain, it’s also one of the best sources of sustained energy for the body – especially Brain Octane.4
Grass fed butter is also an unexpected source of cognitive enhancement because it also contains a fat called butyrate. Studies show butyrate to be beneficial for cognitive function, gut health, and some genetic neurodegenerative diseases.5
The mechanisms behind the caffeine, coffee oils, saturated fats, and Brain Octane in a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, provide some serious physical and mental energy, and there is even one more way to really optimize cognitive performance in the mornings – skip breakfast.
How Skipping Breakfast Actually Boosts Cognitive Function
Studies show that when well-nourished kids skip breakfast and have their first meal at lunch they pay attention, behave, and perform better throughout the entire school day.6
Immediately, you may think that I have these conclusions totally backwards, because we’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and kids especially need breakfast to think properly at school. The truth is, the only times breakfast actually helps cognitive function is when the individual is actually malnourished, which in those cases ANY food improves cognitive function.7
My best brain driven work is done in the morning without breakfast, without anything but Bulletproof Coffee and this goes on until as late at 2:00 PM.
The main argument behind the “breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal-of-the-day” theory is based on the notion that because insulin sensitivity is higher in the morning, we should eat a big high carb breakfast to take full advantage of the opportunity to consume a large amount of energy without the risk of gaining weight. But there is at least one MAJOR problem with this theory – insulin sensitivity is higher NOT because of a particular time of the day based on when the sun comes up…Insulin sensitivity is higher after a minimum of eight hours of fasting and when your glycogen levels are depleted (kind of like when you wake up from eight hours of sleeping). In fact, extending that fasting period beyond eight hours (typically by skipping breakfast) increases insulin sensitivity even more – AKA Intermittent Fasting.8
Insulin sensitivity via Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting is also an incredibly powerful strategy for burning fat and maintaining muscle mass while still feeling completely satisfied and energized.
Goal #2: Live in Fat Burning Mode
Great news! Typically people simply wake up in fat burning mode! After fasting throughout the night, insulin sensitivity is high, which means fat and muscle cells react strongly to insulin and soak up sugar like sponges. Insulin transports raw materials to cells, but if more material flows in the cell than the cell needs, the cell stores it as triaglycerol (fat), glycogen, or essentially non-functional muscle tissue. Eating carbs for breakfast while insulin sensitivity is high and glycogen levels are still full from a late night dinner, basically tells fat cells to convert the excess carbs to fat and store it away. When insulin levels are too high, the body increases the efficiency of fat storage, but when insulin levels drop, the body’s fat burning abilities are totally revved up!9 By skipping breakfast, and just having a cup of Bulletproof Coffee instead, you can change your metabolism and hormone levels to tell your body whether to burn carbs or fat for energy.
Three other hormones that set your body into fat burning mode in the morning are cortisol, ghrelin, and growth hormone. For people with a normally functioning endocrine system, cortisol levels slowly increase throughout a night’s sleep and reach a daily high point by morning. Being a catabolic hormone, cortisol works to break down glycogen stores to release glucose, which means releasing fat from fat cells.10
There are two caveats to this magic cortisol fat burning mechanism though: 1) cortisol levels must NOT be chronically high (like when you’re really stressed out) because in that case cortisol can actually break down triglycerides into free fatty acids and cause the body to store more fat (lipolysis), and 2) this magic cortisol high point must not be interrupted by high insulin levels.11 So what does this spell? Wake up refreshed with cortisol at a natural high point and DON’T eat breakfast, especially not carbs, to keep insulin from interfering with your fat burning mode!
In terms of accelerating fat loss, you also have ghrelin and growth hormone on your side. If you ever wake up to a growling stomach, this is because the body releases ghrelin (the hunger hormone) throughout the night, and like cortisol, ghrelin levels also peak upon waking up. The cool thing is, this particular hungry feeling, is actually ghrelin triggering the release of growth hormone, which is a powerful fat burning and muscle building hormone. With the rise of growth hormone, the body releases fat to be burned as fuel instead of breaking down protein that could be used for muscle building. Studies show that growth hormone levels peak about two hours after waking IF this isn’t interfered with eating breakfast.12
The final component to waking up and living in fat burning mode is using Brain Octane Oil in your Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting regime to help your body enter and stay in ketosis (the fat burning mode that’s good for your brain). Using Brain Octane in your Bulletproof Coffee serves to increase ketone production and boost your metabolic rate by up to 12%.13 Brain Octane is noticeably better than just grass fed butter in my coffee for this effect. This drink is so filling, I’ve had clients who drank one cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning and didn’t feel like eating until mid afternoon! This leads me right into the third goal of a seriously Bulletproof morning.
Goal #3: Feel Satisfied with No Cravings
Feeling satisfied in the mornings and eliminating cravings throughout the day is key to keeping energy levels up, staying productive, and losing fat. Here’s why thousands of people experience great satiation for hours after drinking Bulletproof Coffee.
Coffee beans themselves (not the caffeine) contain a naturally occurring chemical called, cholinomimetics, which are shown to be responsible for controlling hunger and keeping you full. (Bonus: Cholinomimetics also help stimulate the nervous system).14
Grass fed butter and MCT oil contain slow absorbing saturated fatty acids that have incredibly powerful way of satiating hunger and turning off food cravings. Eating high fat and protein meals also release leptin (the hormone that basically tells your brain when you’re full) more quickly than eating carbs. So if you’re going to eat anything in the morning, eating a high fat and protein breakfast will leave you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
Goal #4: Gain Muscle – Add Collagen or Whey Protein
This Bulletproof morning goal is all about preserving and gaining muscle while still burning fat (i.e. staying in a ketogenic state). If you’re concerned about losing muscle because of being in a catabolic state like after working out, then adding a small amount of protein to your morning cup of Bulletproof Coffee is the ultimate upgrade. I’ll explain why adding Upgraded Collagen Protein is optimal, and when adding whey protein is good, but not great.
In general, protein in an essential nutrient the body uses as a building block to repair damaged muscle, bone, skin, teeth, hair, and more. The amino acids in protein help the body create hormones that help regulate things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, metabolic rate, and muscular growth. With that said, it makes perfect sense to want to incorporate protein in your meals, but the type of protein and when you consume protein matters when the goal is to burn fat and preserve muscle.
If you’re potentially in a catabolic state, meaning that your body is breaking down material to be converted into other material, like after a workout, then adding whey or collagen protein to Bulletproof Coffee in the morning can help prevent muscle loss while NOT affecting insulin sensitivity or interfering much with your fat burning mode. Consuming protein increases free amino acid (FAA) levels, which stops the potential breakdown of muscle, and preserves lean tissue (a process called proteolysis). Just 10 grams of protein will do the trick, but what kind of protein is optimal.15 You will lose the benefits of autophagy (cellular cleaning) though if you add protein.
A high quality, chemical free whey protein like pasture raised Upgraded Whey 2.0, is a great source of convenient protein to help satiate hunger, strengthen immunity, and build more muscle. However, different people respond differently to whey in terms of digestion and insulin response, so its not the sure fire option to consume when trying to stay in a ketosis.
Another catch 22 about Upgraded Whey 2.0 comes from the bioactive immune stimulating proteins (IGG) and peptides in it (which of course took a ton of time to develop and new suppliers that could pull it off), this also means the whey must NOT be heated up to coffee temperatures without denaturing the whey. If you add Upgraded Whey 2.0, and any whey, to hot Bulletproof Coffee it WILL turn into pieces of cooked and damaged protein floating around in your coffee. Whey protein is not heat stable and should only be added to ICED Bulletproof Coffee (Instructions at the end of the post).
Upgraded™ Collagen Protein in Bulletproof Coffee is the ultimate upgrade! Upgraded Collagen IS heat stable and has virtually no added taste. This is how I get convenient, high quality, and low-inflammation protein on days when I workout or just don’t have time for full meal.
Why Collagen is A Supreme Protein for Weight Loss, Athletic Performance, Anti-Aging, and Looking Good
Collagen provides essential proteins the body uses to build and repair bones, joint surfaces, skin, teeth, eyes, arteries, intervertebral disks, and more. Collagen is one of the most important nutrients needed to maintain a strong body, stay in healing mode, and counteract the degenerative effects of aging.16
When taken long-term, it is practically impossible not to benefit from a gold standard supplement like Upgraded Collagen. Once you provide your body with the necessary building blocks, many systems can improve such as:
- Fast tissue repair – it provides the particular proteins that ensure cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of skin, cartilage and bone.17
- Greater flexibility and mobility – it makes the main building blocks of connective tissue more bioavailable and better absorbed into joints for greater flexibility and mobility.17
- Stronger bones and joints – it supports strong, heavier, denser bones and is an excellent source of proline and glycine, two building blocks of cartilage that are essential for refueling after exercise and sports.17
- Revitalized skin – it promotes skin hydration, reduces the number of fine lines, prevents deeper wrinkles, and maintains the suppleness of your skin from the inside out.18
- Weight loss – being 97% pure protein, it helps with weight loss by delivering quick satiation of hunger.19
- Build Muscle – it supports muscle building by facilitating the synthesis of creatine in the body.19
- Reduce aging – it replaces the necessary proteins that diminish and breakdown from aging.19
- Deeper Sleep – when taken at bedtime it deepens sleep, provides arginine to stimulate growth hormone release, and provides nutrients necessary to perform tissue repair while sleeping.
- Brain Function – Upgraded Collagen provides glycine, a neurotransmitter involved in motor and sensory pathways as well as ATP synthesis.
Collagen for Athletes
The field of sports nutrition has increasingly been using hydrolyzed collagen to help quickly boost lean muscle gain, decrease recovery time, rebuild damaged joint structures, and improve cardiovascular performance. Athletes are also interested in collagen because it promotes new muscle growth post workout. Upgraded Collagen is the ideal source for the less inflammatory amino acids like glycine because we use enzymes to break down the collagen, not acids and heat like most collagen on the market today. Intact, undamaged collagen tri and di peptides are valuable in their own right.
Athletes who want the healthiest training methods are learning that large quantities of pure Upgraded Collagen can be added directly to smoothies and shakes and have a much more immediate effect than the small amounts found in the processed and sugar-filled “protein bars.”20
Making Hot Bulletproof Coffee with Upgraded Collagen Protein
- Blend your coffee, 1-2 tablespoons of grass fed butter (or 1-2 teaspoons grass-fed ghee), and 1 teaspoon-2 tablespoons Brain Octane Oil until a layer of froth forms at the top.
- Add 10 – 40 grams of Upgraded Collagen Protein AFTER blended, and then LIGHTLY blend the collagen in just until it’s mixed in. Do not over blend and ruin the collagen.
Making Cold Bulletproof Coffee with Upgraded Whey Protein
- Blend your coffee, 1-2 tablespoons of grass fed butter (or 1-2 teaspoons grass-fed ghee), and 1 teaspoon-2 tablespoons Brain Octane Oil until a layer of froth forms at the top.
- Add ice to the mixture and blend until smooth
- Lastly, Add 10 – 40 grams of Upgraded™ Whey Protein AFTER completely blended, then LIGHTLY blend the whey in just until it’s mixed in.
(For an ultimate Bulletproof ice cream like consistency, blend in one or two raw egg yolks BEFORE the whey)
- Histone deacetylase inhibition by sodium butyrate chemotherapy ameliorates the neurodegenerative phenotype in Huntington’s disease mice.
- Benton D, Parker PY. Breakfast, blood glucose, and cognition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Apr;67(4):772S-778S.
- Cueto S. Breakfast and performance. Public Health Nutr. 2001 Dec;4(6A):1429-31.
- Samra JS, Clark ML, Humphreys SM, Macdonald IA, Matthews DR, Frayn KN. Effects of morning rise in cortisol concentration on regulation of lipolysis in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Am J Physiol. 1996 Dec;271(6 Pt 1):E996-1002.
- Dinneen S, Alzaid A, Miles J, Rizza R. Effects of the normal nocturnal rise in cortisol on carbohydrate and fat metabolism in IDDM. Am J Physiol. 1995 Apr;268(4 Pt 1):E595-603.
- Trumper BG, Reschke K, Molling J. Circadian variation of insulin requirement in insulin dependent diabetes mellitus the relationship between circadian change in insulin demand and diurnal patterns of growth hormone, cortisol and glucagon during euglycemia. Horm Metab Res. 1995 Mar;27(3):141-7.
- Cholinomimetic compound distinct from caffeine contained in coffee. II: Muscarinic actions.’, May 1992, pp. 449-52.
- Veldhorst, M. A breakfast with a-lactalbumin protein. Clinical Nutrition. 2009;28: 147.