Monday, December 22, 2014

What's with all the Bulletproof haters?

I use less butter and less oil (coconut for me) than "suggested"

I posted about Bulletproof coffee in 2013. As a coffee lover fanatic, I was intrigued by this new coffee concept and loved the taste of Bulletproof (coffee blended with grass-fed butter and oil) coffee. Since then Bulletproof coffee and the Bulletproof diet have taken off.  Even the New York Times covered it recently. But you know what happens? With coverage come the haters. Even the nutritionist in the Times article said, “this is not the breakfast of champions.” I’m curious what she thinks is because this concoction makes me feel pretty well…bulletproof.

A friend posted the Times article and there were the skeptics who couldn’t imagine butter in their coffee. I get that, it sounds weird. What I don’t get is the fury that Dave Asprey was not a nutritionist (if that’s the criteria then ignore 75% of the diet information you read) and that he sells products. If you were on board with Bulletproof,  wouldn’t you want the exact items Asprey writes about? “Expensive products” people clarify as if Soul Cycle or green juices are cheap.

It wasn’t until yesterday, when I saw this article (posted by the same Facebook friend) that I realized something about this concept really polarizes people. This writer takes issue with Asprey’s claims that he has “unlocked the answer”  (want to read a book where someone starts with "I don't know the answer"?) and dismisses the concept as a “fad diet”. She points out he references animal studies. I'm sorry, find me any nutrition book that doesn't cite rodent studies...we are not that different from these creatures, sorry to say. But when I thought about where this hate could be coming from I think it’s the fact that Asprey is in favor of (good) fats and using a whole lot of them (more than I suggest using). With the legacy of fat phobia, this is far more than a fad. It’s saying that the very way many Americans structure their diet is dead wrong.

I read everything that comes my way and most of it starts to blur. There were explanations and points made in this book I had never heard. A bit about Asprey, he comes from a technology background and was an experienced and unsuccessful dieter. He used what he calls “bio hacking” which apparently is a thing (though a new one to me) to “hack” his body the way techies might a computer, to find the secrets. And yes, my first thought was who’s to say what works for Asprey will work for us? As I read further I had a list of points that couldn’t hurt to try.

I also couldn’t help but see an overlap in some of the ideas in The Little Book of Thin.
Asprey advocates carbs (and only certain carbs) consumed at night versus earlier in the day and takes an even harsher stance on fruit than I do.  Asprey wonders why we lump “fruit and vegetables” together.  I’m curious to look into a mechanism I hadn’t heard that fruit can decrease leptin transport (leptin is the hormone that makes us feel we’ve had enough to eat).  

Asprey also has some interesting points on sleep. He suggests taking both omega 3’s and vitamin D at night to help with sleep. He also feels sleep is more important than exercise, important to keep in mind if you’re chronically choosing the gym over the extra rest. On exercise, Asprey a veteran of 90-minute workouts isn’t buying the “more is better” exercise messaging. He believes in well spaced, intense workouts and my favorite quote, “go for a walk but don’t fool yourself into thinking you exercised when all you did was walk.”

Aside from the coffee (and there’s great info about certain types of coffee being less moldy and  healthier), my favorite part of this regime is that there is equal emphasis on how you feel as there is on what you weigh. Feeling vibrant, invincible and productive…or “bulletproof” is something to aspire to….unless hating is your thing.
Have you tried Bulletproof coffee? Like it? Have you read Dave Asprey’s book or listened to the podcasts? Are you intrigued or not buying it?


  1. I haven't yet tried bulletproof coffee (still staying away from coffee for the most part because I don't like being dependent on it...) but I'm intrigued by what Asprey says. I have thought for a long time that it's strange that we lump "fruits and vegetables" together... And I definitely do better with more fat. I'll have to check out the podcasts...

  2. I can't lie, I was skeptical at first, but it works (at least in terms of satiating, blood sugar, etc.). I do wonder how good fats work in conjunction with trying to build lean muscle mass...and like you, I use significantly less fat than what he recommends.

    His overall approach makes sense to me - it feels like that our diets should have a general foundation, but for the most part, should be "customized" for each individual - and that's what he did. One size fits all doesn't work with clothes, so why with our diets? Definitely will check out the podcasts too.

  3. Interesting Jen, will listen to the podcasts. Why do you think such strong negativity directed toward this regime? I think it has something to do with the $ he put into is personal quest.

  4. I hear you and you don't want to try bulletproof (as people did with red wine) simply because it's a healthier option. If you aren't on coffee, can be a slippery (and delicious) slope.

  5. Is being skeptical or critical always equivalent to being a hater? I could ask why you are such a fan, but I think you gave it away with "I also couldn’t help but see an overlap in some of the ideas
    in The Little Book of Thin." Tomato, tomahto? Or glass half full vs empty?

    As for me, I liked his food chart (which I saw years ago ... and remember when he was accusing Mercola of plagiarizing it). But that's when I was also a Paleo fan and didn't find the idea of eliminating multiple food groups for the general population problematic.

    Since then I've felt Asprey is a stronger marketer than anything else. (And when his employee, Armi Legge, left and dished in a not-favorable way, that feeling was enhanced.)

    I guess if that makes me a hater, I'll have to live with it!

  6. I haven't yet tried adding butter, but I've done coconut oil and loved it! So creamy. I like your "downsized" version, my only question would be if you would suggest this take the place of breakfast? Or be in addition to it? I think maybe the haters are coming from that angle--an uneducated one--that thinks people are just adding butter to their coffee and eating whatever they want, and thinking this is going to promote health...

  7. Hi Beth:
    Always love your commentary. No, skeptical doesn't make you a hater. With bulletproof there's something I sense that's more intense. I think part of it is people's reaction to Asprey himself. I can't pinpoint it but there's something about the marketing that people dislike that extends beyond the food plan. I admire marketing if I feel the products/what's being sold is of use. And while there are some parallel beliefs, I don't endorse or dismiss regimes based on this (it was sort of an extra). Rather- I like this biohacking idea, I don't think people fully grasp the power of fats for controlling appetite and craving and I think bulletproof coffee is fantastic for many reasons. Hope some of this makes sense. We can always agree to disagree (you're great to disagree with because you make a good case).

  8. I'm sympathetic to the idea that it's the message, not the messenger that's important. What's not to like about healthy whole foods and good fats? I mean, I like that!

    But for example, I'm skeptical of the whole question of whether or not mycotoxins in coffee is the concern Asprey makes, and if it is, whether people really need to spend $24/lb on Asprey's coffee. Google Joe Rogan and bulletproof coffee for criticism from someone who is really a hater!

    So, maybe he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. But I've read enough over the years to take Asprey with a big grain of salt. Your mileage may vary!

  9. I believe in quality coffee but don't feel bulletproof beans are needed/don't use them. I too am not convinced with the whole mold argument feel that's super individual if it is an issue at all. OK off to google based on your comments.I'm talking more of the concoction with grass fed butter/coconut (don't use his MCT either).

  10. Oh, and BTW, I'm not anti-butter in coffee (or tea). The Tibetans may well have a good idea about that!

  11. Armi Legge's criticism struck a cord with me and sealed my hatership. I am personally very anti "diet dogma" and especially skeptical of diet "gurus" in general and I would put Asprey in the guru category.

    I tried his coffee and thought it was horrible. And as a born & bread PNW-er I know my coffee. I think he is 100% marketing (he did not invent putting coconut oil in coffee) and he's blowing the mycotoxin thing out of proportion (to sell coffee)

    I like coconut oil in coffee now and again but I will not call it the holy grail of health.

    I don't mind being lumped in the "hater" category. But I would personally call myself a thinker over a hater. And I think he's laughing all the way to the bank.


  12. I'm not necessarily speaking to the selling of coffee (as I said in a comment the only bulletproof product I own is Asprey's book). I would use your commentary as precisely the type I was referring to. I don't see this with wheat belly or paleo or dukan (pretty sure he's laughing on his way to bank to). I'm not sure what guru means (am I a guru?) here but most of the comments do not have to do with the food plan but the selling and the man himself. Again, purely from an ideas perspective I think Asprey has interesting thoughts on the timing of our food, when to eat certain macronutrients etc. I enjoyed the book and enjoy the coffee (recipe not his coffee) but am still intrigued by how strongly others feel about this.Thanks for stopping by Cameo. Happy Holidays

  13. Maybe we (the people) have reached a tipping point of sorts on following regimes dreamt up by marketing mavens. Maybe bio-hackers are a little obnoxious as a group and he's getting the brunt of the backlash? Maybe we are becoming more critical (more info to sort thru). Maybe there's just something about BP that people find irksome. But good question. I personally am just turned off. I guess I'm not his demographic.

    I wouldn't consider you amongst the guru types. I reserve that term for "professionals" I don't respect.

    I do think it's interesting how strongly you've taken to defending him.

    All the love (and criticism) xx C

  14. I would argue there are many heavily marketed things in the diet/fitness space people are turned on to versus off. Again- not defending him but defend ideas I find interesting. I think from the posts you've read (and agreed or disagreed with) you know I am fairly opinionated. If I think something is iffy or dangerous I will point that out. And if I find something interesting I'm pretty vocal as well. I didn't plan on posting about the Bulletproof book until in various forums/platforms I saw what I would describe as outrage. Anyway off to biohack (ha)

  15. Interesting.

    I can't stomach fats. I just can't. I can do salmon or eggs, but limited. I can't stomach coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado. I feel better without them. I have always suffered reflux, and too much fat just makes me super ill - like spend three days in bed or (at worst) hospitalisation.

    Can I ask for clarification on the "Asprey advocates carbs (and only certain carbs) consumed at night versus earlier in the day" point. Which carbs does he advocate? I know from a lecture I attended with Nora Gedgaudas that carbs and fats are a no no, you have one or the other. This is an interesting point. I feel much better and balanced when I include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato in my diet. I don't eat gluten, but these seem to give me the energy I need with out the bogged down starchiness of potato, pasta etc.

    I also remember reading an article/interview in Well and Good, where Asprey commented he and his family "get 20 or 30 avocados and mash them up with lemon and have it on top of our meals for the whole day." I am not keen on such extremity. Perhaps in instances of illness or what not I understand, but for an everyday person who wants a social life, it seems too much.

    I have also found that I feel better in myself since dropping extremity. I have tried vegan, raw vegan, high fat, paleo etc. etc. and the stress of sticking to such dogma is in fact more damaging to your health. I now follow the LBT rules, stick to fish, eggs, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, lots of veggies, water and green juice. That's my day.

  16. I think the negativity comes from the "magic bullet" tone:

    1. He is marketing something that can easily be made at home. He would probably have more respect if he admitted to that, but the levels of negativity are extreme.

    2. Rarely do you see this backlash when Dr. Weil makes recommendations (and he seems to think bulletproof coffee might actually work) or Dr. Oz (who himself has been called into question multiple times). Which makes me think that the "professional" community doesn't like it when someone discovers something they didn't think about. Or people just don't like Asprey's public persona.

    2. Asprey needs to acknowledge in his marketing that losing 100lbs took more than bulletproof coffee. It required drastic changes in activity level, diet, and understanding what worked for HIS body (why biohacking is so important)

    3. "Hiking in Tibet" requires some serious energy. And you probably aren't carrying 30lbs of groceries with you either. The actual people in Tibet - it's likely that they have a higher daily activity level than we do without the same access to a variety of foods. So it's true nourishment for them; we don't really have that issue.

    Just a theory.

  17. This does a better job of summing up my thoughts:

  18. I have recently started using buttered coffee as a pre-workout boost while on a ketogenic diet. The feeling I get is amazing, tons of energy for workout, no hunger for hours, and massive endorphin release after exercise. I don't think people on a conventional diet will get the same results though, I believe a regular body would just store the extra fats away and call out for more carbs. I'll try it when I'm not in ketosis and see what happens.