Why BulletProof Diet/Coffee is based on BS.
I apologize to those who come here for good track or athletic related training advice. Bare with me for this post as I take on something that has been bugging me for the past few weeks. Once again, it’s from someone who makes claims that running the crazy high mileage of 50mpw is unhealthy, but that’s not my gripe.
I’m not normally one to venture into the world of diet. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, or that it matters, as it most certainly does. In fact, I love looking at diet and performance and understanding what matters and what is simply hogwash. Instead, I don’t like venturing into the world of dietary advice because it’s a place rife with pseudoscience, exaggerations, and lots of polarized arguments. I hate the fact that we vilify things acting like they are the devil, only to switch what is hated a decade later. In many senses, talking about diet is like talking about politics, no one really wins and no one is ever really convinced.In fact one of my favorite charts in grad school was a list of dietary trends where we flip-flopped back and forth between what macronutrient (fat or carbs) was out of favor. The professor traced it back to the 1850’s and it was a great demonstration of this polarized behavior and cyclical nature of dietary trends.
But I’m not hear to talk about diet. I’m here to talk about a diet, but not the merits of that diet. I feel like commenting because, while the information is out there, no one really seems to give it credence.Without further ado, let’s talk about Bulletproof coffee and the Bulletproof diet.
I’m not going to discuss the scientific merits or lack thereof of the diet but instead look at it as an example of marketing, psychological bias, and why people believe dumb things.
At one point in time, my favorite conversation starter was to ask people about their story. Why? Because it’s the story that is interesting and what matters and everyone has one. The people who are good salesman, marketers, and the like know how to bring this story to life and when to put it out there.
Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey is no different. For those who don’t know, Bulletproof is a brand that started out with coffee that combined butter and what is essentially coconut oil. It’s reached fad level with people all over jumping on the bandwagon. Recently, he published a diet book to go along with his coffee product. Asprey’s story is one that people can relate to while at the same time having some mystical mysterious components to it that add intrigue. It starts with the classic relatability of him being an overweight overworked individual. He paints himself as the guy who battled the middle age weight gain and health problems that so many people face.
That’s fine. But then we add in his unique component, which was as a tech guy, he declares that he spent years of his life and hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is a hat tip to Tim Ferris’ style of writing and selling in the 4-hour body where he conducted the ultimate self-experiment.
This appeal to self-experimentation creates a nice sciency feel to his work. It’s the “quantified self” movement on steroids essentially. Asprey is essentially saying that he went through all of this work, experimentation, and tracking of health numbers and weight to find out what works. Now he’s passing on that information to you.
To top off this “sciency” sounding experiment, he backs it up with obscure ideas include toxins and other buzz words that make it seem like we are simply poisoning our bodies with foods.
But wait, we’re not done. We have something we can relate to, some sciency sounding process, self-experimentation, and finally the missing piece of mystery, self-discovery, and taking an extreme position.
Asprey ties it all together with a wonderful story about trekking in the Tibetan mountains and noticed that the Tibetan people added butter to their drinks. This yak butter must have been the secret to their endurance and abilities. No, it couldn’t be that Tibetan’s because of living at such high altitudes have specific genetic and epigenetic changes that have made their bodies adapt to the low Oxygen environment in a completely different way than we westerners do. Instead, it was the Yak butter, which upon drinking, Asprey felt magically better.
Thus Bulletproof coffee with special butter and MCT oil was born. Of course, it couldn’t be a small quantity, it had to be a whopping 2 tablespoons of butter. Why? Because you need to go big or go home when marketing things.
Not surprisingly, Asprey lost a significant amount of weight, looks ripped, and brags about his health. He’s got the 6 pack abs that many people dream of and furthermore he claims it came as a result of only a few minutes of exercise a day. The classic, you can get this for less work sell that works so well in America.
Summing it up we’ve got a great story filled with treks to far away lands, sciency sounding words and experiments, big gains for less work, and a magic answer to all of our problems.
The problem with all of this is that Asprey doesn’t portray the whole story accurately. As I said, I’m not going to even delve into the diet, as that can be handled by experts who care about that such thing, instead, I want to delve into the story.
You see it wasn’t the magic butter coffee that gave him boundless energy.
It wasn’t the bulletproof diet aimed at taking away all of those toxins that changed his physique to that of a ripped gym rat.
No. It was none of those things. What was it?
Testosterone. Modafinil. Thyroid Meds.
That’s right. Part of the story was that all of that self-experimentation included taking drugs.
And I give Asprey credit, he has acknowledged their use openly, which means there’s no blatant fraud going on. But it’s not part of the story he’s selling. He mentions the use in order to acknowledge it but then he simply downplays how much of a role it plays in his own energy and physique changes. Whenever asked about it Asprey simply mentioned “I monitor my blood levels, and the physique remains whether they are at 2,000 or 10,000 (of testosterone)” So, therefore, it can’t be the testosterone right?
This is akin to the argument that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire still had to hit all those baseballs right! It wasn’t the steroids, they still did it.
I’m sorry sports fans, but that argument is bunk.
The point is this. Asprey may have gone on exotic trips to Tibet, but his most productive trip was the one down the street to his anti-aging Doctor.
You see, Asprey was on modafinil daily for 8+ years. What is modafinil? It’s an anti-narcolepsy drug that is the ultimate stimulant. It’s banned by WADA as a performance-enhancing drug. Some might remember it from the BALCO era when world-class sprinter Kelly White got busted for using it.
We all know what thyroid meds are and you can read more about them on my blog here. In small doses they are used, dangerously I might add, to manipulate metabolism. Sounds like a simple way to get that metabolism going and cut some fat, right?
And the mother of them all, testosterone. If you don’t know what this is or does, then you’ve been living under a rock. But the simple fact is that it helps with strength gains, recovery, and a whole slew of other things. It’s the drug of choice for most athletes and it’s derivatives have been used for years by athletes to cheat and enhance performance.
And this is the credibility issue I have. Most people are going to do this diet program or drink this coffee and assume that they are doing the same things Asprey did to reach his own current state. They’ve been sold that these few secrets are what it will take to get their brain and body running at full capacity.
The simple truth is that if we looked at Asprey himself, the things that made the vast majority of the difference are the drugs.
Let’s relate this back to athletics.
If I gave you Liliya Shobokhova’s training program and said, this is what it takes to run 2:18 in the marathon. If you follow this program, you too can maximize your potential. I sold this program as the holy grail and you bought into it.
The problem though is that Shobokhova performed that training on EPO, among other drugs. Could a normal person without supraphysiologic values of blood and hormonal parameters complete the program? Probably not. Would they benefit in the same way? Most likely, they’d be over-trained and would fail miserably.
In this case, most coaches would simply state that we have no idea how good the training actually was, as the drugs allowed her to do things and improve performance in ways that normal people can’t. Who’s to say, she isn’t a 2:25 marathoner without the drugs?
The point is that we can’t actually evaluate the efficacy of the training program because it wasn’t the main factor. The outside variable that had a huge impact was the drugs.
In the case of Asprey’s Bulletproof diet, it’s much the same only to a larger degree. You see, the drug impact would have an even bigger impact on the weight and appearance change than they would on an endurance performance level.
While maybe not to this extreme, what we get from Asprey is focusing on the things that maybe had 10% impact on his health and appearance, and ignoring the variables that had a 90% impact, the drugs.
This would be akin to me telling you that the 1:06+ half marathon I ran off of half-ass training was a result of the foot mobility exercises I did, and not the 60-70 miles per week with random tempo runs with my collegiate kids that I actually ran (and the years of 100+mpw under my belt before…).
That’s what Asprey is doing. He’s selling us the extra stuff as if it was the most important .So it annoys me when he makes claims that you can have shredded abs off of almost no exercise because of one of the most pseudoscientific explanations ever known to man…” I stack mTOR by using coffee with Bulletproof Intermittent fasting. mTOR builds muscle.” (Also, ignoring that caffeine is generally an mTOR inhibitor ).
The reality is that, yes you can have shredded abs off of almost no exercise….if you also take testosterone! It’s like me pointing to someone taking EPO and running a 4min mile off of 30 miles a week and saying that 30mpw is the best training ever…ignoring the EPO.
It makes no sense.
While this has been somewhat of a rant, I hope you all get the point. It’s not to offer a critique of the actual diet. That is done elsewhere but others more qualified. Instead it’s to point out that based on the story Asprey sells, he’s missing the key components. Which annoys me when he falls in line telling people they need to do less work for more gain, and that running 50mpw will destroy you.
And this bothers me even further because he portrays himself as a “biohacker” who has found out all of these secrets about diet, exercise, and such. When the reality is he’s simply a guy who took and continues to take PEDS. No offense to Mr. Asprey, I’m sure he’s smart and is successful in his own domain, but would you listen to recently busted doped athletes on the best way to train?
So yes, Mr. Asprey, we can get “less is more” if we take drugs.
Yes, you can feel like you’re 20 when you are actually 40 when you are on 2k-10k worth of testosterone to get your Testosterone levels to that of a 20-year-old…
… But in the real world, most of us aren’t hopped up on testosterone to supercharge those workouts, and anti-narcolepsy drugs to keep us wired day in and day out.
Perhaps he should have written a book about how he reached the state he is in by taking narcolepsy drugs, thyroid hormones, and testosterone.
That’s what we’d call the Russian Doping program….We already know it works…Though most of us have some ethical problem with that…
Plus, the book wouldn’t sell…
So, Mr. Asprey, you can call yourself a BioHacker, but the reality is in my line of work, we’d just call you a Performance Enhancing Drug user and coach. That’s not biohacking. That’s simply falling in line with the BALCO’s, Barry Bond’s, Jon Drummond’s and Ben Johnson’s of the world. Your product of coffee, butter, MCT’s, and so forth might be great though I would severely doubt it based on not only science but just the general rule of thumb that taking the extreme position rarely works out, but we’ll never know with the drug use surrounding them.
P.S.- Normally I wouldn’t call people/things out, I have a particular hatred for people who use/push drugs and then try and sell themselves as an expert when the results are from the drugs. This is why I hate drug athletes and coaches. It skews the results. When we see what drugged up people do, it skews what correct training is…
(Sources: talks about testosterone and modafinil use here)
For more on the psychology of performance, check out my NEW book Peak Performance. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold! For more on training, check out my first book The Science of Running.
Steve, I love this.
Education is key here. Thanks for encouraging others to use logic to dissect Asprey's ridiculous claims (or any claims for that matter). Look beyond the buzz words and rhetoric.
Great post. I was noticing the same thing when I looked at this book and diet a week ago. I knew it wasn't for me, that and I don't like or drink coffee!
Great post. I was noticing the same thing when I looked at this book and diet a week ago. I knew it wasn't for me, that and I don't like or drink
1:06 on 60 to 70 mi/week?….is this foot mobility exercise book in the same aisle with the buttered coffee? I guess I should try both.
Well don't Steve for pointing out this.
Great post Steve. I understand your annoyance with Asprey and his pseudoscientific claims, but how do you claim that 90% of his 100 lbs weight loss is due to drugs? Do you have evidence that testosterone, thyroid, and modafinil can cause that much weight loss? Seems like it'd be a pretty potent alternative for someone looking into extreme measures like bariatric surgery.
Regarding your thoughts on mileage; sometimes I feel that there is a cognitive bias towards wanting to believe that higher volume in-and-of-itself will always pay-off. The bias is similar to the sunk cost bias: "where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit." (source wikipedia).
It's like someone who pays extra money for a luxury item tries to convince themselves that it is in fact better in some way, but it really does the same thing as the generic brand. When you pay a lot for something (in this case putting in miles) you want to believe it was not in vain. Could it be that a more relaxed approach to your training allowed your body to reap great benefits, which allowed you to run a 1:06 (what is your PR by the way)?
Would you be willing to come back on my podcast to discuss some of these issues? I'm also curious about your thoughts on Tim Noakes conversion to a Dave Asprey style high-fat diet and if you think that it allowed him to lose weight or if it was due to something else. I'd also like to talk about your thoughts on adjusting running form, and your last post on antifragility.
I find that people who argue against high mileage have "a cognitive bias towards wanting to believe that higher volume in-and-of-itself" won't pay-off. They're not dedicated enough to put in that type of work and want to believe that they're still reaching their full potential without it. Even though all the evidence points towards high mileage being a key factor in improvement.
Steve has ran 4:01 for the mile in high school and I would expect a 4:01 miler to run a 1:06 half off half-ass training. With all-out training I'm sure he could be under 1:05.
"Cognitive bias" may come into play but it strikes me that with this line, you are, Aaron, doing what Steve says is the main problem here. Putting the emphasis on the little things and downplaying the main contributing factors.
The main thing I'd like to know is how anyone who has put in so much research (invested time) can come to a conclusion that they are right, seemingly, because of it and then think someone else like "Meb" Keflezighi doesn't run better after all the mileage (invested time) he puts in?!
Scott Brown, I'm very confused by your reply. All I'm saying is that mileage isn't everything or even the main variable to consider for improving performance. I think that it is in fact a poor predictor of performance. Look at ultrarunners, or ironman triathletes, they put in a crapload of miles, but aren't very fast. It's all about specificity. A certain amount of mileage may be necessary but not sufficient for high performance.
OK I agree, "specificity" and high mileage is needed to run at ones best. Sorry I didn't make myself clear.
It is true and I have known it to be true from Dave Asprey’s mouth that he has used modafinil and has taken testosterone to normalize his levels. I, like you (Steve), would also attribute some of his weight loss to using these therapies, although I cannot say how much exactly.
It is a strong claim to suggest that Dave’s weight loss is solely due to these therapies, although I cannot prove it is not. As a personal trainer and nutritional consultant I DO know that using Dave Asprey’s approach which is essentially eating real non-processed food with an emphasis on higher fat and lower carb has caused multiple clients to lose 40 and 60lbs respectively without drugs. So why didn’t calorie counting and other diets work for them but this one did? I can give you a few reasons, but they don’t matter because something happened where they lost weight, improved their health, and did so without feeling hungry all the time. The quantified self movement is excellent because people try out different diets and exercise programs and find the one that makes them look, feel, and perform the best. What is wrong with that?
I understand that your feelings are hurt because people are excited about this diet and might be misled about the results and only lose 40lbs instead of 90lbs, but are you really that concerned that SOME of Dave’s personal weight loss success was due to normalizing testosterone levels and treating his Hashimotos (a thyroid condition) that you spent hours crafting a rant on your blog about someone who is helping to encourage people to eat a healthy diet and stay mentally focused by drinking buttery coffee? If you haven’t tried blending butter in your coffee you should because it actually works and if it doesn’t help you stay satiated, focused, and sharp, then I suppose you don’t have to partake, but please spare the world your whiney blog prose and put the laptop down.
Bottom line: Dave is helping people achieve results through a diet based on eating nutritionally dense food. He also sources ethically, and is a supporter of sustainable agriculture. You don’t go into detail about knocking his diet on your blog post and instead decide to attack his personal character because there is nothing wrong with his diet. Your entire argument is baseless and only assumes that the drug therapies he used contributed to all or the majority of his weight loss, but you don’t even know that for sure, there are many other people that use this approach to diet and have had great results, so Dave being one person whether or not 100% of the weight loss was from drugs does not matter because there are countless others that are benefiting with no drug intervention.
Let’s examine your version of science when you say “extreme ideas rarely work out.” What the hell does that even mean? At this point you’re digging so far in the closet you’re finding Christmas presents. It was an extreme idea when people said the world was round. It was an extreme idea to think that the human body could run a marathon. I can go on. Things that are now commonplace were always extreme at first, that is the beauty of innovation. Innovation ALWAYS precedes science. There are some things that work and some things that don’t. The best thing each of us can do is figure out what makes us look, feel, and perform the best and Dave is an important part of this movement towards better health whether you follow his diet or not.
Joey – You wrote a lot, I'll try to answer by paragraph.
paragraph 1- We all agree that the drugs play a role, but it is hard to determine how much.
paragraph 2- I don't think Steve believes (and I am making an assumption) that Mr. Asprey did no exercise. I bet he does, in combination with his "therapies". The issue is that the role of exercise is downplayed.
Point 2- Your client may have improved due to dietary changes, but how do you know that it was the macronutrient ratio? What else did they change? It could have been cutting out pixie sticks and mountain dew. Heck, I can probably lose weight on the all-butter diet. Why bother with the coffee. Only One stick of butter a day for 2 months and I'll be lean and mean.
Paragraph 3- Testosterone normally declines with age. Its a normal part of the aging process. It sucks, but it is what it is. Except when someone is willing to give you exogenous T, then you can be any age you want. You're admitting that the Testosterone and Thyroids meds play a role. When you manipulate two variables at once, you are unsure of the cause of the results. We KNOW that the meds make a difference, that's all we know.
Paragraph 3, point 2- If the buttered coffee is so good at keeping him sharp, why the need for modafinil? I guess he just has the perfect trifecta of Low Testosterone, Thyroid disease and Narcolepsy. I'm pretty sure its those same things, plus low RBC that's keeping me from being a pro-cyclist. I suppose I should "normalize" them, I've head that argument stands up to lifetime bans.
Bottom Line- Mr. Asprey is selling something to make money. (Not a bad thing, but lets call it what it is). I'm glad that he supports sustainable agriculture.
Steve point about extremes, I believe, is this: If someone tells you that you should only do high intensity intervals, they're wrong. If they say you should only do slow volume, they're wrong. The best answer is a mix of the two. But, you can't sell a book by saying that because it takes both a-lot of training time AND un-pleasant hard work. That's not the answer people want to hear.
Mr Asprey improved by taking drugs, he was then able to sell books to earn money.
Doping athletes improve by taking drugs, they then sell books to make money.
I don't see much difference.
I think you missed the point. The explicit point was to take the diet out of it. This wasn't about the diet, it was about marketing and Asprey's loose use of attributing claims to that "diet".
Secondly, it's not that strong of a claim to counter his claim that I've only exercised a few times in 2 years, yet have this great abs and body because of "stacking mTOR." As claimed in the link above. We know the effects of testosterone, modafinil, and thyroid drugs. From actual studies, and from athletes using PEDs. The effects are profound. Whether they made 90% or 80% of the difference doesn't matter. It's the fact that we are focusing on the things that made a small impact while
Since your a personal trainer, if you had a client come in and follow your strength program to a T for 6 weeks, 3-4 times a week and he got some nice muscle gains. But then he claims the main reason he got those gains was not the work, but instead the GNC supplement he'd been taken, you would know that the exercise is what caused the vast majority of the gains and he was fooling himself.
Lastly, people lose weight and fail to at a variety of diets. Whether it's high fat or low fat, individuals have had success and major failures with each. I'm all for weight loss and applaud individuals who do it. But tieing it to a training analogy, you have kids who run extremely fast in HS off of doing intervals like 10x400m 5 days a week, and others off of 100 miles per week. Multitude of things make you fast. Just like multitude of things can make you lose weight. The key is finding what works for most and is optimal for most individuals. The 10x400m 5 days a week, seldom works out over the long term, as history has shown.
And that's what I mean by diets, over the long term, extreme diets based on elimination often fail. Whether it's low fat, high fat, anti-gluten, whatever. It's history. It's why research shows that in terms of weight loss, both cause you to lose weight…
And if you think running a marathon is an extreme idea…you missed the point.
It's that going back and forth between extremes (eliminate ALL fat…eliminate ALL sugar) rarely works. There's a reason for that. Again, trace the history of diets, and you'll start to appreciate the craziness of it all.
If you'd like a critque of his diet, I'm fine to oblige when time permits, but again, if you think that is what this blog was about you entirely missed the point. And for those thinking it's an ad-hominen attack, I'd suggest you go reread what an ad-hominen attack is.
Steve, I understand the point, and agree with you that Dave's touted weight loss from his diet is misleading from the stand point that the lay person does not know that he has used PEDs in his journey to lose a substantial amount of weight. Beyond this statement your writing becomes cynical rather than simply skeptical. As you know from research you cannot find something in one person and extrapolate it to everyone else, so even though one person had help from PEDs while undergoing this diet does not mean that MOST people not on PEDs wouldn't benefit from the same increase in energy and weight loss while eating the way his diet recommends. It makes sense logically that eating less processed foods, eating more vegetables and eating more high quality meat/seafood would benefit MOST if not all people since those are the foods that are most nutritionally dense and I think you would agree. This is why people are losing weight and becoming healthier while eating the way he recommends, it's eating real food.
If you are a high mile distance runner I highly doubt that athlete would benefit from cutting carbs low but the beauty of the diet is that it is personalized to each person and you fix what doesn't work. Calorie counting leads to some weight loss but it is a hamster wheel of disappointment and calories breakdown in the body differently anyway. His focus (and many others that came before him) is shifting your body to becoming more of a fat burning machine and being comfortable not eating carbs every few hours. If someone wants they could self measure ketones to see what their body is doing when starting a diet like this. I would encourage anyone that is making a radical change to have blood work done before during and after.
It is true that people can have success off of many different ways of eating but what we are seeing more of in recent years is that although weight loss might be the same for low carb versus low fat, the blood parameters in the lower carbohydrate group are always better. Lets talk specifically about a type II diabetic individual for instance; their metabolic condition is made worse by intake of carbs and mismanagement of insulin, so doesn't it make sense to limit them in exchange for more fat? This is not what the standard american diet and most dieticians are telling people although it is common sense when you look at people who are metabolically broken. Again, probably not going to be fun to be low carb and run 100 miles per week, but a very small percentage of Americans workout. Sugar breaks down into advanced glycation end products and contributes more to inflammation than saturated fat does, but saturated fat is deemed evil even though the research is questionable. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141121151104.htm). FYI I am speaking more to the general public rather than the elite athlete when I am discussing limiting carbs, I am not a carb-hater.
advanced glycation end products- Joe and here you show lack of basic knowledge.
Part III: Continued
…You also mention in your article that Dave backs his diet with "obscure ideas include toxins." Your liver literally detoxifies your blood, this is not witchcraft or magic. These toxins are well known and the FDA (mycotoxins for instance) has limits on them. Different countries have different limits, but knowing that there is no hormetic effect from eating them, it would make sense to try to avoid concentrated sources of them whenever possible (cereal grains). So if one were eating a lot of carbs, the rice or sweet potato option would be a cleaner or safer choice especially for people who know they are sensitive to mold toxins. This is another great topic Dave's diet has brought to light to the lay person who doesn't know these mold toxins could negatively affect their performance and well being. (http://www.knowmycotoxins.com/regulations.htm)
I agree that extreme diets rarely work. This is not an extreme diet. No calorie counting, it's personalized, and it is focused on high quality nutrient dense food. Yes, the diet doesn't encourage you to eat gluten, but if the diet is focused on the best mental/physical performance there isn't anything that wheat can provide someone that another carb source can't in a safer/better way.
great post! and nicely written.
p.s. I'm right there with you with the hatred of crossfit!
A very informative post! What I really liked most was that the voice in your writing is strong. This is the second blog post I have read from you and I am so very happy that my coach Matt Andre showed me your blog!!
Most people have no clue about diet and training. Thanks for pointing this out here. Reality is MPW are hugely important if you want a strong foundation to build upon as an endurance athlete. But most folks don't have the patience for this. Most people are looking for a silver bullet (i.e. fad diets and secret training ideas). It's all a hoax. MPW at base pace + high fat/protein diet to teach the body to burn higher ratio of fat vs carbs is the key most endurance athletes don't have. Not surprising in our immediate gratification culture.
I agree with you a multitude of points: talking diet is like talking politics, these guys (tim ferriss included) are marketers above all else, and credibility is king.
So, dare I ask, why do you hate Crossfit? Have you ever done CFE? If not, then I challenge you to a quick post-run workout 😉
Happy New Year and talk soon!
Steve, great post.
One more part of the fraud is the recommendation to use expensive ingredients, more marketing. If you want to bulk up and shed fat (granted, not very popular amongst high miles runners) give IF a try and just use your fave coffee and butter coconut oil or whole cream, or all three.
Hi Steve, I am a long time reader and have never posted anything.
First of all I think you are great and quite spot on with this. I was a college runner, I have finished medical school and love your scientific approach to training. I loved this post because it touches so much on the crap fads that filter through society.
I was surprised to read all the hate towards this post which was 100% spot on.
K– medically 80% if not more people on thyroid medications don't really need thyroid medications. They fit in a category called sub-acute hypothyroidism. It has to do with keeping patients happy, and treating people who are near the edge of norms. Some don't treat while other physicians treat people with mildly low thyroid levels when in reality they do not necessitate medical therapy.
A person with true hashimotos could loose 100lbs easily if they started on thyroid medications. Holy cow!!!!! YES!! that would do it. Similarly testosterone is a tricky medical issue. The normal range is absurd. Some will treat people who are mildly low. A person with a T level of 300 is considered normal just like someone who is at 1200—what the T? Sprucing the ol' T to a level above 1000 could make you loose more weight than a Tijuana crack junkie.
Haha great read. The diet is ridiculous, the way it is presented is perfect for manipulation. Don't worry he isn't the only person out there as Steve pointed out. People do this all the time! I remember in med school looking at the amount of money wasted by American's every year on weight loss fads that have no research, no efficacy. Billions, I mean I would like to take a dump in a cup of coffee and make a couple million too. I guess we all feel bad he beat us to the punch just like bottled water companies and blank-in-side cards.
Keep up the good work Steve
At the request of my doctor, I started a modified ketosis diet. Other than the suggested macros, he wasn't much guidance. Turning to the internet, BPC was one of the first things I came across. So shiny on the surface, so not when you scratch it. I do occasionally(when it fits my macros) drink a coffee with cream and MCT oil and I hate to tell people what I'm doing because everyone's heard of BPC and it's "the thing" and a "fat burner." My family, friends, and coworkers have completely overlooked the fact that my diet has done a complete overhaul. No fast food, no sugar, no cheat days. Have they missed the no bread, no rolls, no biscuits? The quick fix idea is fool's gold, shiny and worthless. I wish more people would learn this backstory. I feel like I'm doing a disservice to the public by drinking my blended coffee, it's the only thing they see in my new diet.
Wow, Dave; I'm not ready to "bare" with you at all, as it's damn cold where I am. I can personally attest that adding butter and coconut oil to my (non-Asprey) brand coffee reduces my sugar and processed carb cravings. In addition, eating Paleo and gluten-free, I've been successful in shedding the 15 lbs I gained over the last few years simply because I'm getting older.
I very much appreciate your article here and your review on Amazon.com of the Bulletproof Diet book. I am one who now sits at 260 pounds in utter confusion as to how to deal with this weight problem any more. I've tried every diet on Earth and then some, have had some notable successes of achieving my weight goals but never could maintain the loss, so the quantities kept getting higher and higher. My most recent success (about four years ago), was when I was at 275 pounds, I went on a special diet with a diet doctor that I paid money to go see once every single week for two years. I lost 105 pounds on that diet, but even at weighing 170 pounds and had a 30” waist, I was plagued by terrible loose skin. Despite that immense weight-loss success, I nevertheless looked terrible outside of my clothes and when I went swimming, I always had to wear a shirt to cover up my embarrassing torso.
That particular diet included the taking the drug called Trazodone, which some other doctors I knew were also prescribing to patients for weight loss. It was supposed to provide "deep, restorative sleep" that would also increase serotonin in the brain which would help to cut sugar-craving. Was it this doctor's extremely low carb and low calorie diet that caused the weight loss, or was the drug an essential component? Anyway, upon my reaching my goal, my metabolism was so shot that I gained weight on anything above 1000 calories, plus I was ravenously hungry ALL THE TIME. Of course, I ultimately gave in to the hunger.
About this time there was the Sandy Hill shooting and there was much talk about SSRI drugs that school shooters apparently were all on, the example lists of which would include Trazodone, so I decided to wean myself off of it, only to discover that my brain had forgotten how to sleep. It took me many months to finally achieve a full night of sleep, so I think that drug is detrimental to the brain.
Now I am drawn in by the promises of the Bulletproof Diet, but I don’t want to waste my time and hook myself into another diet that won't work in the long run, which means, could get me to lose a ton of weight, but then end up with a ruined metabolism so that I have to starve for the rest of my life. I may as well just stay fat, if that is the case.
And now you posit the very good argument that the success of the Bulletproof Diet is really based on drugs, which I refuse to take. Regarding the coffee idea, I'm not quite sure what the difference is between butter and cream; just different flavors, surely, but nevertheless, just milk fat, right? Perhaps butter has the plus that you can buy grass-fed butter, which I have been using for the past several years. I cook my breakfast eggs in it. I don't know if the cream I put in my coffee comes from grass-fed cows, but it is organic, so really, there's probably not that much difference between the nutritional qualities of the cream versus the butter.
As a runner like you are (which I am not), you probably have had much to say about another so-called "magic" thing that from my experience turned out to be nothing but "hype", and that was "running with the Tarahumara Indians in the Copper Canyon and having incredible strength and endurance from eating chia seeds soaked in water." That did NOTHING for me but give me slimy water with some seeds to floss out from between my teeth. Some mystery magic food–now one can find chia seeds in breads and even as one of the ingredients in almond/coconut/chia milk.
Bulletproof Coffee declared itself as a "superfood", which, of course, so are declared said chia seeds, cacao nibs, and several other things. I guess if it comes from Latin American mountains, it’s a “superfood”!
Anyway, sorry to sound so cynical, but I do appreciate the information you brought in this "rant"! I am going to have to think pretty hard about the Bulletproof Diet.
I am sure that someone already mentioned the importance of fat in cellular metabolism, particularly hormone formation.
I completely agree that the most effect tools utilized in his diet and supplement “stack” are the strong performance enhancing drugs and not the diet, food, or natural supplements he sells. However, from my understanding of his blog (I have not read the book), Dave Asprey does not promote his way of living as the way to be the ultimate athlete, or runner in your case. He is more concerned with living long, protecting the brain, the heart, and the body, and also, unfortunately, “looking good” which again, I can agree, is credited to the testosterone. What he says should be taken with a grain of salt, but he warns readers often to proceed with “bulletproof living” at your own risk.
HIIT > Marathon
Ever read Body By Science?
With respect, I don’t think this is a fair assessment and is born of a superficial understanding of the Bulletproof Diet. I was in the pharma industry and one thing I learned for sure is that drugs don’t make you skinny, ripped, or healthy. We take drugs by the truckload in our culture and we have an obesity and health crises. Giving everyone modafinil/thyroid/testosterone won’t fix those issues. I know my doc gave me modafinil and thyroid meds and neither made me skinny, muscular, or a high performer. So I don’t buy the logic that Dave’s transformation is predominantly due to drugs. Just like performance enhancing drugs enhance performance, but they don’t negate the underlying talent of the athlete.
I also think you are overlooking the point of the bulletproof diet: maximize nutrients and minimize anti-nutrients. The Bulletproof roadmap is the centerpiece of the diet, not coffee. Eating up to 12 cups of veggies per day, minimizing fruit and grain, eliminating processed or packaged foods and sugar, eating only pastured/grain-fed/Wild-caught protein, and eating healthy fats Iike coconut, olive oil and avocado to attain proper balance of omega 3:6. Yes, Bulletproof cofffee gets all the buzz but you don’t need butter coffee to e bulletproof. What so radical about this dietary approach? In the real world, many many regular folks like me have restored their health, lost weight, gotten of prescription meds, and normalized abnormal labs with this approach.
Yes, Dave can be extreme. Yes some of his followers have guru-Syndrome. But that’s how people are. Most bulletproof followers simply follow the Bulletproof roadmap and choose simple life hacks like good sleep hygiene, exercise, and meditation. Only a few folks are into extreme life hacking. And Self-experimentation and listing to your own body wisdom is smart when it comes to everything from sleep to diet to exercise.
I think someone could take a superficial look at your work and at your followers and single out one aspect to criticize and make an intelligent sounding argument. But to you and those in your community with a more in-depth perspective, that same argument would sound silly.
We need more Dave’s in the health world. He isn’t right about everything. That’s why we all have a brain to filter and discern information through. But he has radically restored the health and performance of many people with his roadmap and podcast and I wish folks would stop the myopic focus on the coffee and minor points of his life.
People are justified in being skeptical of Asprey, his products, his claims, and his personal story. He is an aggressive marketer and self-promoter. But this article is poorly-witten, logically fallacious garbage. There is no way you can backup your claim that Asprey’s health status is largely due to PEDs or pharma drugs. That’s ridiculous selection bias. You start with a dubious hypothesis and then fail to provide any real evidence.
Also sounds like you are upset because Asprey (and many others) has suggested that excessive steady-state exercise is probably not very healthy. I used to be into bike racing and it was almost certainly a factor in my eventual decline into chronic illness.
Doug – Your unwillingness to accept the blindingly obvious is astounding. You can NOT purport that the majority of his body changes were not directly related to the drugs he was taking. Modafinil, being a CNS stimulant, is EASILY responsible for his increase in energy and focus, as well as his so called “iq increase.” Testosterone, as well, especially in its most basic drug form, has time and again been proven over DECADES to increase muscle mass, metabolism, etc., and overall lower total fat. As for the thyroid meds, this is again a given. Thyroid regulation is instrumental in individuals with hypo/hyperthyroidism and has a HUGE impact on body composition – I suggest you do more research on this. The only part of your argument containing any valid statements is the steady state exercise, and even that is flawed. A mix of both interval training and steady state exercise has proven (in the LARGEST number of studies) to be best for overall fitness levels, heart health, etc.
Drugs have controlled studies – you certainly can’t cherry-pick a greater number of controlled studies about this specific diet. As stated in many criticisms of Asprey’s diet model, food studies on specific foods and combinations of foods are lacking – as the recommended intake for macronutrients for the average person can be made up of any number of different foods, it is nearly impossible to account for all the possible combinations of diet one could consume. You criticize Steve’s article for lack of evidence, and then yourself make counterpoints with even less. I suggest you research the individual drugs – consult the enormity of trials, the overwhelming amount of evidence available at your fingertips, the vast span of control scenarios – and then make an EDUCATED decision on the likelihood of the drugs being responsible for his results vs. some coconut oil (readily available for much less money as CLA in pill form) and large quantities butter.
ConnorJ: You’re just making general points about the effects of various drugs. Going from that to asserting that Asprey’s health status is mostly or enitrely the result of said drugs is complete logical breakdown, and a totally unsupportable position, because neither you nor the author is privy to the entirety of Asprey’s diet, supplements, drugs, and other health interventions.
Awesome article. Bottom line – not one centenarian or super-centenarian who are disease free, disability free and drug free even know who David Asprey is, let alone consume his magical concoction. This is just another made up western world fad, like ‘eat for your blood type’ and the list goes on and on………….
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