This post is going to document my experience with MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil, specifically Bulletproof™ Brain Octane Oil.
I’ve tried “bulletproof” coffee quite a bit over the last several years using a tablespoon of organic coconut oil with a tablespoon of Kerrygold® butter in a standard 6 oz cup of coffee. After some recent study I’ve learned there is a chemical difference between coconut oil and true MCT oil that causes MCT to be absorbed more readily (for a description from the Bulletproof guys, check out this link). I decided to give it a try.
Why Bulletproof Coffee?
The first question I should answer is why upgrade my coffee? I typically drink one cup of coffee right after my feet hit the floor. The only things I do before i drink my coffee is pee and drink a glass of water. And I drink my coffee black. I buy a lot of locally (Memphis) roasted specialty coffees and I don’t want to ruin them with cream and sugar. So why would I add oil and butter?
Bulletproof is a “bio-hack”, a way to upgrade your body’s performance in some way. And even though there are purported benefits like weight loss and appetite suppression, there is only one hack that I want: brain function. MCT, broken down into ketones, is supposedly a quick, ideal energy source to get your brain going in the morning. That’s what I’m after. I’d argue that that is the same reason why most of us drink coffee in the first place. If I can amp up the caffeine boost and get a sustained benefit, then count me in.
Day 1 (Saturday)
Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil arrived on Friday. Saturday morning I was excited to give it a try. I brewed a pour over of French Truck Coffee’s “Big River Blend” for my wife and I. As it turned out, we were out of Kerrygold butter. Huge buzz kill.
I mixed 2 tablespoons of MCT oil in 14 oz of coffee (Bulletproof’s recommended serving size is 1 Tbsp, but since I’m making two cups of coffee, I’m using 2) and used my mixer wand to blend it together. (You must do this, or you’ll have a cup of coffee with an oil slick on top). My wife and I sipped on the coffee, as usual, until it was gone. It had the same kind of “oily” feel on my lips as my coconut oil coffee, but didn’t have the coconut taste.
Results – First of all, take note that “disaster pants” is real. Within an hour of finishing my coffee, it was time to go! Don’t mean to gross you out, but had a pretty loose stool. Not long after, my wife (perhaps not making the connection) told me her stomach wasn’t feeling well. (I hadn’t told her about this possible side effect and still haven’t. Shh…) I was a little crampy as well, but this faded within a couple of hours.
Second, I would say that yes, my brain was high functioning, but I was also to the point of being over-stimulated. This could be related to the coffee; “Big River” is a light roast and gives me a bigger caffeine jolt than my typical dark roast blend. I ended up with two cups of coffee Saturday morning (one light, one dark) and I could have been over-caffeinated. But I was edgy and super irritable, to the point of being a jerk. I’ve got to nail this down. If this is what bio-hacking my brain is going to do, then I’ll pass.
Day 2 (Monday)
Over the weekend I did some research on disaster pants. I found two things I could try to keep this from being so bad: 1) Take MCT oil in smaller dosages. 2) Get used to it. Most people adjust to the MCT oil and the very unpleasant side effects subside over time. Good news.
This morning I brewed a dark roast Rwandan through my drip coffee maker. I managed to get my hands on some Kerrygold butter this weekend, so I’m prepared for the full experience (well…except for disaster pants). I mixed 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tsp MCT (instead of 1 Tbsp to lower the dose) and 6 oz. coffee. Sipped as usual while I got to work.
Results – It’s 12:45 pm and I’ve had a second cup of coffee now. My brain is in pretty high gear, and has been all morning. No, I don’t feel jittery like I did on day 1. Yes, I still had a pretty good BM about an hour after my first cup of coffee, but no cramps. Here’s hoping this gets even better. NOTE: I did not give my wife any MCT oil this morning. I’d feel really bad if she had an attack at work…
11 pm, no afternoon crash. Usually by 2 pm I need a hit of sugar and another cup of coffee or I’ll fall asleep on my keyboard. I’m actually afraid I won’t sleep tonight because my brain is still so sharp. Pretty remarkable for me.
Day 3 (Tuesday)
Today’s dosing was the same as yesterday’s: 1 Tsp Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil and 1 Tbsp butter in 6 oz coffee at around 6:30 AM. In addition to my first cup of coffee, I had a wonderful pour over of Dr. Bean‘s Burundi brewed by my favorite barista, @ethan,makes.coffee around 11 AM.
Results – Still had a loose BM about an hour after my first cup, but no stomach cramps. One thing I altered this morning was my breakfast. Today I decided to go to rugby practice, and – knowing what my carb needs would be – I scarfed down a baked sweet potato and had a sardine on toast for breakfast instead of my usual morning shake. Deep down I was hoping that having a solid meal rather than a shake would firm things up. Not so, unfortunately. But I’m only 3 days in, so I’m sure my body still has a bit to go.
Once again, my mind is still very clear as I write this at 10:59 pm after dragging in an hour ago from rugby practice and a two mile run. I had a bit of a crash at about 2 pm today, but part of that is due to a poor night’s sleep (I woke up in the MIDDLE of a REM cycle this morning, and it killed me) and part of it was because I was chained to an office chair all day in a warm server room. But again, it seems Brain Octane Oil has really cut through my brain fog.
[UPDATE Wednesday Morning] It appears I lied. Or, in political speak “mis-spoke”. I didn’t sleep at all last night, and as I lay on my pillow cursing Brain Oil, I realized that I had thrown off my experiment Tuesday. Looking at the prospect of two hours of high-intensity rugby practice from 6:30-8:30 pm, I stopped by my favorite coffee shop around 5:30 pm and grabbed a shot of espresso. Stupid, stupid move. I’m pretty caffeine sensitive and generally won’t drink coffee after 2 pm. Now I remember why. But that means that my clear, energized mind of 11 pm Tuesday night could actually be attributed to late afternoon espresso, NOT MCT oil.
Day 4 (Thursday)
I took the day off, at least from Bulletproof Coffee. I wanted to see if I could tell a difference in my energy level, clarity, and digestive tract. Let’s start with that last one, first. I couldn’t tell much difference because we grabbed a dozen doughnuts for my son’s “birthday breakfast”. As it turns out, the fat from the fried doughnuts had essentially the same effect as the fat from the MCT oil. One and 1/2 doughnuts and I’m headed to the toilet. My body is just sensitive to fats. As far as my brain’s clarity, I could tell a difference. MCT keeps me just at the edge of “too much”. I mentioned in Day 1’s post that I was downright irritable, overly caffeinated. Although I haven’t been at that level since, I feel like I’m right at the edge of the cliff. And I stay there throughout the entire day. Thursday I didn’t have that feeling.
Friday (Day 5)
I’m back on MCT this morning. 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tsp Brain Octane Oil in 6 oz of coffee. I added my second cup of coffee (no MCT) around 11 AM.
Results – 1/2 hour after my first cup I was off to the bathroom. I’m beginning to think that this isn’t going away and I’m going to have to choose between a morning run to the toilet and a day’s worth of brain clarity. Or maybe I just accept it as the price of doing business.
But my brain’s buzzing today.
One more thing: I do notice a difference in appetite on MCT days. I’ve been continuing my morning breakfast routine for the most part: coffee at 6:30 AM, breakfast (protein shake, sardine on toast, a handful of walnuts, and a couple of avocado slices) around 9:30 or 10 AM. This week, however, I feel so dang full after breakfast that I don’t feel like eating for several hours afterward.
Monday (Day 6)
First of all, What happened to Saturday and Sunday?, you may be asking. Saturday and Sunday I took a short vacation with my wife to celebrate 29 years of marriage. There was plenty of coffee to be had, but no MCT. There was no guarantee that a blender would be available at our AirBnB, and frankly, the thought of two days of potential diarrhea over a romantic weekend wasn’t appealing to me.
So here we are on Monday afternoon. I had my customary first cup around 6:30 AM with 1 Tsp Brain Octane Oil and 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter. As I write, it’s 12:15 PM and I’m drinking my second, and last, cup of coffee for the day.
Results – At this point I’m glad to report no digestive distress. Perhaps taking the weekend off helped my stomach get back in shape. There’s still time in the day to lose my bowels, but right now they’re hanging in. Beyond that, I don’t have that “over caffeinated” feeling, but I’m well alert and motivated. Even though I wasn’t terribly hungry, I ate lunch (it’s a workout day, so I need carbs!). We’ll see how long my energy level keeps going.
I have now finished my first bottle of Bulletproof Brain Oil. Last week I ordered, and received, my second bottle. I’m pretty cheap, so that means I see value in it.
Here are a few final, most likely subjective, observations:
- My mind is definitely sharper. This is probably the most subjective finding I’ll report, but I feel clearer. My morning work goes by faster. I don’t feel “foggy” in the morning. My ability to communicate verbally is easier (less grasping for words).
- Stomach issues have gotten better. In fact, my overall digestive system feels better. I’ve been nursing some stomach issues for a couple of months now, easing foods in/out of my diet to see if I could pinpoint the source. I can’t definitively say that MCT oil has been the fix; I’ve been tinkering with lots of things in my diet. But I’m definitely better off.
- I could live on one cup of coffee/day. That hasn’t been true in the past. I love coffee, and often need it to keep going. Usually by 2 pm in the afternoon, I simply must have a second cup. I’m now drinking a second cup, usually around 11 am, just because I like it. However, I don’t need it in the afternoon now; I’m still mentally sharp.
- I am less hungry. I still keep my same eating routines, because I know my what my body needs nutritionally. But I often eat my breakfast and lunch begrudgingly because I’m just not hungry.
One final note: I’m still not taking the full recommended dose of Brain Octane Oil. I’m taking a teaspoon per 6 oz cup, instead of a tablespoon. I believe in a minimum effective dose, so if this is working, I’ll probably stay at this dose rather than move up.
Give Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil a try and let me know your results in the comments, below.
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