Boom, godshot! Can bulletproof coffee really replace cake as the perfect fuel for cyclists?

I was asked to write a test piece about bulletproof coffee by a prospective client. I was reasonably happy with the result and I might even give the stuff a go…

Cycling and coffee go hand in hand, whether it’s elegant pros sipping espresso in Girona or audaxers warming up with a mug of instant. It’s an instant fix if you need perking up and it’s not going to trouble those nice chaps at WADA if they ask you to provide a sample. You can buy it hand roasted ‘by cyclists, for cyclists’ or add a pack to your jersey order. Hell, without hipsters on cargo bikes buying cold-brewed boutique single-estate the economy of Portland would collapse entirely.

If you haven’t come across it already, bulletproof coffee (or Bulletproof Coffee® as inventor Dave Asprey would prefer you to call it) takes coffee to a whole new level. It’s not just a

pleasant drink with added benefits, oh no. It’s a ‘life-hack’ that can completely change the way your body works. So what is it? Put simply it’s strong coffee blended with loads of butter or coconut oil to make a hot coffee shake. If you have a cup every morning for breakfast, instead of cereal, you’ll bounce with energy, lose weight, and improve your mental faculties. The basic theory seems to make sense, at least on an intuitive level – the fat will make you feel full and the coffee will do what coffee always does, ie perk you up. It’s basically a variation on the old low carb/high fat theme, using coffee as a delivery system for the fat. Its an idea that has been catching on with athletes, including cyclists, because of the claimed benefits. So is it worth a go?

As a cyclist, a low carb diet just seems wrong. We need our cake and maltloaf, right? Pretty much anyone who regularly rides long distance will have experienced the dreaded bonk, that awful empty feeling when your body has completely run out of energy. What you’ve done is deplete your glycogen store, which is the fuel your body runs on. Eat a piece of flapjack and your liver will kindly convert it into glycogen, which is why you have to keep eating on a long ride. In addition to glycogen we have stores of fat, which can also be used as fuel, but is much harder to burn. Glycogen is like petrol, fat is more like coal. Adopting a low carb/high fat diet will help light a fire under those flabby deposits – it won’t make you stronger, but burning stored fat means you’ll lose weight and losing weight means you need less energy to get up those hills. There are some good pieces on Cyclingtips.com which explain the science behind this.

So, is bulletproof coffee the key to a new, slim future? Well, maybe. To be honest, the official Bulletproof Coffee® site makes my teeth itch – there’s an awful lot being claimed for this stuff and the associated products the site sells. It’s too much like a New Age lifestyle cult for my somewhat sceptical taste. You don’t have to buy the super special, hand-picked, ‘passive organic’, de-toxed Upgraded Coffee® or the Brain Octane(TM) Oil though. A regular strong coffee blended with butter or coconut oil will probably help to deal with the cravings associated with switching to a low carb/high fat diet. That, for me at least, is the key. Bulletproof coffee (the non registered trademark version) isn’t a miracle solution but it might be a useful tool as part of a weight loss regime. I might give it a try but when I’m out on a long ride I’ll still be looking forward to a slice of cake & an americano.

Have you tried bulletproof coffee and did it work out for you?

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