Is Adding Fat To Your Coffee Breaking Your Fast? | Dr. Michael Van - The Science Of Optimal Human Performance

Previously, I’ve talked about how drinking black coffee and fasting are related. If you haven’t read that blog post yet, I would encourage you to do so to understand the whole picture. In summary, black organic coffee seems to enhance your fast on many levels, from promoting fat burning to increasing autophagy. But what about adding all that delicious butter and MCT oil to your coffee? How does that work?

Lets keep it simple. If you add fat to your coffee, this will break your fast because it has calories in it. Fasting is the absence of eating (or drinking) calories. Consuming fatty coffee or bulletproof coffee during your fast is technically not fasting. I know this gets confusing so lets try and clear it all up.

I’ve even said in the past that you can consume fat in your coffee and still receive many benefits of a fast. However, getting some or most of the benefits of a fast and actual fasting are different. Fat, in the form of grass-fed butter or MCT oil, won’t spike your glucose and insulin levels. Many of the benefits you receive from fasting, like growth hormone secretion, fat burning, and increased brain function have a lot to do with keeping sugar and insulin at bay. For instance, we know that growth hormone and insulin are indirectly related, so the lower your insulin levels are, the more human growth hormone you will have. Therefore, you will still get many benefits of a fast. This is obviously better than pretty much anything else you could eat, but you are still technically breaking your fast when you do this.

There is no one I respect more in the realm of fasting experts than Dr. Jason Fung, the author of “The Complete Guide to Fasting.” I remember listening to a podcast he did with Dave Asprey of Bulletproof and he actually said:

“If you’re looking at the fast, where a lot of the benefits come from lowering insulin, you could take 500, 600 calories of Bulletproof coffee, and get almost all the benefits of the fasting…..If you have zero insulin effect, you probably get almost all the benefits.”

Now he didn’t get into what “almost all the benefits” were exactly and what specific benefit of fasting that could possibly be left out when you consume fatty coffee. We do know that the benefits of fasting greatly aided in the survival and function of the hunter-gatherer population many years ago. If our ancestors couldn’t function when they were hungry, lets face it, we wouldn’t be here. Short term adaptation to starvation is not just necessary, it’s beneficial. You get a little more epinephrine and norepinephrine, your brain gets sharper, you burn more fat, you get more growth hormone, and you become more alert.

So the question remains: Can you completely biohack all the benefits of fasting by slamming down 500-600 calorie fatty coffee during your fasting window? My guess is probably not all the benefits. However, if this approach of drinking fats in your coffee makes it that much easier for you and frankly makes you function better and makes you happier, then I would stick with what works. Because benefits are benefits at the end of the day, and it appears that most benefits of fasting can be achieved through this method.