6 Worst Things to Put in Your Coffee

By: Bulletproof Staff

Coffee is the morning ritual that fuels your day. And what you put into your belly first thing each a.m. can make or break your entire day — we’re talking energy slumps, irritability, and cravings. For those reasons, it’s important to choose your brew wisely. Sweeteners and unhealthy fats, for instance, can crank up inflammation levels and mess with your metabolism. Here, the six worst things to add to your coffee. (And remember to check the label on your favorite ready-to-drink cold brew — these ingredients lurk in many of them.)


This common coffee addition causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, liver damage, cancer, inflammation, and hormone dysregulation. So why is it so hard to kick that coffee-sugar combo? Coffee tastes bitter when it’s improperly roasted or contains pathogenic fungi – so make sure you are starting with clean coffee beans and a stable roasting routine. If you’re still craving a sweeter cup of joe, consider one of these Bulletproof-friendly sweeteners.

Milk and cream

This duo can be especially problematic if you have an intolerance or allergy to milk proteins (casein) or the sugar in milk (lactose). Inflammation-induced symptoms include: gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, excess phlegm, and even hives on occasion. “If someone suspects he/she has any food allergy, the best way to approach is to do an elimination diet; then do food challenges to add suspect foods back in and see how you react,” says registered dietitian Beth Sobel, who oversees a team of dietitians, diabetes educators, and wellness educators at Facey Medical Group. Sobel adds that another problem with milk products is that they may not be antibiotic- or hormone-free — so be wary of any consumption when you don’t know the source. If you’re still jonesing for milk for that coffee, experiment with coconut milk — it’s just as sweet and creamy as cow’s milk.

A note about butter: Even though butter is made from cream, it’s churned to separate the liquids from the fats. The fat, called butterfat, is what becomes butter. Butter is 80 percent fat with only trace amounts carbs and proteins — the rest is water. This makes butter a great dietary staple for those who are intolerant or have lactose (milk sugar) allergies.

Milk protein isolates

Simply put, milk protein isolates are what’s left after milk undergoes a series of processes to remove the sugar lactose. What remains is protein in the form of casein and whey, and a little fat. If you have an allergy or intolerance to casein or whey, milk protein isolates are not for you as you’ll experience the previously mentioned inflammatory symptoms. Also, milk protein isolates are common in the land of bodybuilders — who often consume huge quantities of protein — which can also cause constipation. “Milk protein isolates are considered supplements — so due to lax regulations, they can be contaminated,” adds Sobel. Instead, if you want a protein boost, add high-quality collagen to your brew. It’ll give your coffee a nice, velvety texture.

Artificial creamers

Even though these creamers are touted as ‘non-dairy,’ they often have casein in them – a milk protein that numerous people have an intolerance to. You may wonder what exactly gives these creamers their feel and flavor if they don’t have dairy. Often times it’s vegetable oils that use harmful solvents in their production, sugar, corn syrup, and food colorings that can be inflammatory to your system. If you still want a cream-like substance for your coffee, try blending BPA-free coconut milk with ghee.

Chemical sweeteners

Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, neotame, and advantame… Often disguised as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut, these sweeteners may add unique flavoring to your beverage of choice, but they can come with serious health challenges. “There’s research that speaks to an increased insulin response due to chemical sweeteners — as they actually mimic the effect of having sugar. Most people are using these to try to reduce cals, but if you’re still getting an insulin release, it contradicts the intention. This is especially problematic if you have a genetic predisposition for diabetes,” says Sobel. “While regulatory agencies say they’re safe for consumption at certain levels — we don’t know the long-term side effects of these things.” Finally, Sobel added that there’s research suggesting that chemical sweeteners disrupt the balance of the microbiome — your first line of immunity defense. 

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