Book Review - The Bulletproof Diet
The book is written by Dave Asprey. He was one of the first Bio Hackers who was actively publishing his results online. The term Biohacking is often used to describe the process of manipulating environmental inputs to your body to trigger a specific output result. Biohacking includes a broad range of applications, taking substances to improve your mental performance or just beeing more selective about your food choices to improve overall body function. Dave used to weight about 300lbs and his mental performance was very impaired, suffering from constant brain fog and the inability to focus.
In this book, Dave describes the diet that he developed over many years of trial and error to improve & regain his own health and mental performance. He calls it the "Bulletproof Diet".
At the beginning, Dave talks about environmental toxins that harm our bodies and cause weight gain and brain fog. He mentions mold toxins that can occur in food that was not processed with enough quality control. Coffee beans can contain such mold that is invisible to the human eye. In America, a lot of commercial coffee allegedly contains mold that when consumed causes an instant decline in mental performance.
The Bulletproof diet does not encourage counting calories. The reasoning behind that is that it is simply not possible to accurately measure calories consumed. Dave describes that our brains can be separated into two parts. The first part, which we can think of as the "reptile brain", controls low-level processes like temperature regulation. This part always needs to get enough nutrients in able to stay alive. The other part is called "limbic brain" and it is referred to as the "Labrador retriever" part of the brain. This part controls the instincts that keep our species alive, like searching for food. When you're depriving yourself of calories, this part triggers urges to eat anything in sight to make sure you do not die of starvation. The goal of the Bulletproof diet is to balance your bodies hormones and keep your hunger hormones ghrelin (increases appetite) and leptin (decreases appetite) in check.
The diet itself is based on unprocessed foods and a lot of animal products and healthy fat sources. The macronutrient intake should consist of moderate protein, high fat and low to moderate carbohydrate. Dave recommends eating a lot of healthy, unprocessed fats and animal meats. The book provides a roadmap with a list of foods from red to green. Red indicates toxic and green indicates bulletproof. He states that you should try to eat in the green range if you want the gain maximum mental and physical performance. The Roadmap is available as a Poster here:
The diet is not a ketogenic diet, all dough carbohydrates are kept low during the day. The last meal should contain some carbohydrates, the book recommends around 30g on most days with 1-2 nights a week of a higher intake in the range of 100-150g. The carbs should come from healthy starches like sweet potatoes.
For breakfast, Dave recommends a high-fat meal. He also provides a concept of intermitted fat fasting. It is a modified version of intermitted fasting where you are allowed to consume calories in the morning as long as no big insulin release is triggered. This way the benefits of fasting are still there and your hunger signals are turned off and your brain feels more energized. Consuming a fat only meal does not raise insulin, therefore, Dave recommends a special coffee recipe called "Bulletproof Coffee" which contains butter and MCT oil. Dave also created a product called "Brain Octane Oil" which contains only the C8 Fat ( Caprylic Acid ) from the MCT ( Medium Chain triglyceride ). The C8 fat is extremely potent and very easily converted to ketones in your body. Dave states that making bulletproof coffee with brain octane oil enables your body to go into nutritional ketosis ( > 0.5 mmol ) with just one cup of coffee in the morning while fasting until lunch.
The last chapter states that different cooking methods can have negative or positive consequences on your body. Smoking, frying, and grilling can damage foods and when consumed can cause inflammation in the body. The book ends with a whole list of Bulletproof recipes to allow you to have a vast variety of dishes in your diet.
It is definitely noticeable that Dave put a lot of research and trial and error into developing the Bulletproof diet. Consuming all that information condensed in a book is a very effective way to learn about optimizing your body and mental performance. The recommendations in the book are solid and the book has scientific references and is based on current research. It also is not too complex to understand as Dave gives some great explanations. The Bulletproof coffee recipe may be a bit of marketing for his own products but the products have valid science behind them.
My overall rating is 8/10.
“The best thing you can do to live a long time is to eat the highest-quality food.”
“Eating carbs in the morning will set you up for an energy spike and crash along with food cravings throughout the entire day. If you decide to test this for yourself, it will be blindingly obvious. Try having just Bulletproof Coffee instead of your usual breakfast and see how long it takes you to want food. For most people, it turns off the desire for food for at least 5 to 6 hours.”
“Leptin is produced by fat cells, and your leptin levels are proportionate to your body-fat levels. This means that the fatter you are, the more leptin you have in your body.”
I personally tried many different diet variations. Naturally, I also had to try the Bulletproof diet on myself. I've moved all of my carbohydrates towards the evening and I'm eating a higher fat based diet during the day. I started consuming Bulletproof coffee after 12 hours of overnight fasting to keep hunger levels down and push my first real meal to 2 pm. My first meal is always a high-fat moderate protein meal.
I also bought the Brain Octane product and put it in my coffee and in the morning. I measured my ketones after consuming the coffee and I mostly hit ketone levels above 0.4mmol. Which means my body is using ketones for fuel and the product actually works.
I noticed that I have much better focus during the day and I even lost some fat without much food cravings.
The only negative effect the diet had for me, I lost a little bit of strength in the gym. Probably because my carbohydrate intake was too low for my activity levels. When doing heavy strength training I would suggest eating at least 100-200g of carbs on most nights.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in optimizing body and mental performance. Also, anyone who in the past tried to lose weight and restricted fat and overall calories too much so that they were just feeling weak and miserable. With the bulletproof diet approach, it is certainly possible to lose weight in a more healthy way.