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The Achiever's Guide to Keto Coffee: Coconut Oil, Butter, MCT or Ghee?

Intro – Benefits - Butter CoffeeGhee Coffee - Coconut Oil CoffeeMCT CoffeeVerdict

Fresh brewed coffee on its own is nothing short of a powerhouse [1]. Though after years of drinking it you may find yourself wondering: how can I make this stuff even better?

The answer to that is fat. Fats like butter, coconut oil, ghee and purified MCT (medium chain triglycerides) are commonly used in both weight loss and cognitive-hacker communities to get more out of every cup.

But be warned, results may vary. Each type of fat will work a little differently, providing a trade off in comparison to one another.

For example:

  • Ghee has more calories than butter.
  • Coconut oil doesn’t mix as well as MCT powder.
  • Butter and Ghee aren’t as thermogenic as MCTs or coconut.

Diet matters, too. If you are eating a gigantic carb breakfast, coconut oil in your coffee may not be able to save you either. And if you like a little coffee with your cup of sugar in the morning, well, you catch the drift.

So how do we properly maximize our coffee with fats and what are the real benefits? Here’s the achievers guide to making the most out of your own keto coffee, whether you’re keto or not.

The 3 reasons why adding fat to coffee makes sense:

Here are the realistic benefits to adding fats to your cup of coffee. After this, we’ll get into the differences between using butter, ghee, coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides to gain your edge.

A. Increases the quality and duration of energy and focus.

To begin with, coffee can give you a lot of energy and focus. Black coffee more so than cream and sugared cups. So how do fats add to this effect?

The benefit is 3-fold:

  1. Fats turn coffee's caffeine into slow-release caffeine as it is partially trapped within the fat.
  2. Fats are a source of energy and digest in a way which doesn’t cause the ‘carb crash' and ‘foggy brain’.
  3. Adding straight fat to your coffee is a great way to replace less advantageous creamer or even worse, sugar.

The result? You’re going to extend and enhance the focus-friendly energy of your coffee. Since we are extending caffeine’s effect, jitters will also be toned down to a comfortable level.

B. Reduces hunger and prevents snacking (on typically less healthy items).

You already know that coffee naturally suppresses hunger. Though this effect can be enhanced by adding coconut oil, MCTs, butter or ghee to your cup.

I know what you’re thinking… what is the value of suppressing hunger if you are ingesting calories to do it?

Well, there are two takes on this:

  1. You're getting calories only from fat in a fasted or near-fasted state, so these fats will be used for clean fuel and not storage.
  2. You are preventing snacking during the day, which likely consists of sugary temptations known for weight gain and mental fatigue.

The point here is that you are consuming a controlled number of calories alongside coffee. This combination is going to cause satiety, suppress hunger, and generally metabolize exactly how we want it to (quickly, cleanly, without weight gain).

C. Improves your metabolism and metabolic health.

Coffee on its own acutely increases thermogenesis and provides a potent punch of antioxidants [2, 3, 4]. But did you know that when taken correctly; fats can improve thermogenesis and restructure your metabolism [5]?

Yes, eating fats can promote fat loss. This is the whole premise behind the ketogenic diet.

Basically, over a lifetime of heavy carbohydrate and sugar consumption our bodies have forgotten how to metabolize fat, because it has never had to. The ketogenic diet eliminates most carbs from your life, so your body is forced to re-learn how to digest fats again.

This isn’t the easiest thing to get into, and the transition can include the unpleasant keto flu summarized by overcoming our addictions to sugar. However, once you’re adjusted – the fat melts off.

The simple replacement of sugars for fats in your coffee can aid metabolic flexibility in its own right and keep your morning cup a healthy body asset instead of a sugary liability.

Benefits summary:

Adding fats to your cup of coffee can improve your focus, increase the energy window, suppress appetite and speed up metabolism. The end result is that you’ll feel way better and likely even lose some weight in comparison to drinking coffee with sugar and standard creamer.

Which fat is best for keto coffee?

keto coffee with butter and coconut oilNow that we have a basic understanding of why fat in coffee is good, the question is, which fat should we choose? Below we list all of your options sorted from 4 to 1, with #1 being the best choice.

#4 Butter in coffee

Adding straight butter to coffee is the simplest of fat coffees. The main benefit to using butter is that you will get a mixture of long, medium and short chain fatty acids. One potential negative to using butter is the presence of lactose.

The typical combination of fats in butter are:

  • 80% Long chain fatty acids*
  • 13% Medium chain fatty acids*

Data taken from polish cows [7]. *This is a weighted average of means, which doesn’t have to add up to 100%*. Modified to a 100% total, this would be 86% and 14% respectively.

Regular butter versus grass-fed butter:

When consuming butter on a regular basis, opting for grass-fed shows merit. Research has displayed a linear relationship between the percentage of unsaturated fatty acids in milk and the percentage of grass received by dairy cattle [8]. In short, grass-fed cows produce milk with healthier fats than grain-fed cows.

How to take:

Due to the large proportion of long chain fatty acids in butter, this option should be considered primarily for increasing focus and the ‘get work done’ effect of coffee. Begin with 1 teaspoon and gradually work your way up to 2 tablespoons over time. We start small and work our way up to avoid digestive discomfort, since you haven’t done this to your stomach before.

#3 Ghee in coffee

More people would likely use ghee in the kitchen if they knew a little more about what it is. ‘Ghee’ is the name given to clarified butter. The clarification process for butter consists of heating butter until it begins to separate into butter, water and non-fats like lactose. The fats stay towards the bottom, while everything else floats to the top and is removed. Voilà, we have ghee.

Combination of fats in ghee:

Ghee contains the same fat-to-fat ratio as regular butter; however, it is denser as it contains less water and lactose. This is why a tablespoon of ghee contains about 18 more calories than a tablespoon of butter [9, 10]. Similarly, the same unsaturated fatty acid benefits found in grass-fed butter can also be obtained through grass-fed ghee.

How to take:

Think of ghee as a healthier version of regular butter. It still contains the same fats, so its use case will be identical. That is, take ghee butter to aid focus and the longevity of coffee’s energy. Start with a teaspoon, and then day by day increase it until you adapt to the sweet-spot of 1-2 tablespoons.

#2 Coconut oil in coffee

Adding coconut oil to your coffee is lesser known, but likely more effective than its butter and ghee counterparts. This is because of the composition of coconut oil…

Combination of fats in coconut oil:

  • 65% medium chain fatty acids
  • 35% long chain fatty acids

Data collected in 2014 via Copra coconuts [6].

Coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids, while butter is rich in long chain fatty acids. This subtle change in fatty acid length produces a large difference between how each fat is metabolized.

Medium chain vs long chain metabolism:

To put it briefly, medium chain fatty acids require far fewer steps to digest in comparison to long chain fatty acids. This gives MCFA’s a magnetic-like affinity for rapid digestion… This in effect, produces a great deal of energy while ensuring the calories you ingest from MCFA’s will likely never become fat.

The difference between coconut oil and extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil:

For standard cooking, regular coconut oil will do; however, when ingesting straight coconut oil, extra virgin cold-pressed is highly recommended. The extra care preserves the coconut fats better, not only making it a more effective product but also more pleasurable (tastes better and doesn’t ‘burn’).

How to take:

Coconut oil in your coffee is a great choice for increasing energy and focus while promoting weight loss. Since the MCTs digest quickly, little is left over for weight gain. Like with butter, begin small with 1 teaspoon and gradually work your way up to 1-2 table spoons.

#1 Pure MCT oil/Pure MCT Oil Powder in coffee

MCT oil refers to products that contain 100% medium chain fatty acids. The major perk here is that MCT oil is incredibly thermogenic… Meaning it will help you lose weight.

Think of MCT oil as coconut oil 2.0, the same way that ghee is butter 2.0.

Composition of MCT oil varies...

MCT oil contains different ratios of medium chain fatty acids depending on which brand you choose. The Team Keto MCT oil powder contains only pure C8 oil, the most thermogenic MCT, while other brands sell less effective lauric acid rich oils, which are only slightly better than regular coconut oil.

How to take:

MCT oil and powder is the superior choice for clean energy and dieting, especially if you are following a ketogenic lifestyle. Dosing strategies will vary brand-by-brand, however starting small and working your way up to the recommended dosage is best (don’t jump straight into the recommended serving size).

If you are serious about enhancing your energy, productivity and weight loss with MCT oils and powders then you’re going to want to read our expert guide to using MCTs for weight loss.

The final verdict

Adding fats like medium chain triglycerides to coffee a simple habit can make a big difference, touting increased energy, clarity, endurance, satiety and even weight loss. Just remember to start off slow with very small servings and work your way up to avoid stomach discomfort.

Summary of what we’ve learned:

  1. Adding butter, ghee, coconut oil or MCTs increases the effectiveness of coffee.
  2. This effect can be enhanced by dietary carb reduction and ruined by added sugar.
  3. In general, adding fats to your coffee prolongs and improves energy, suppresses hunger and improves metabolism.
  4. There are superior fats for keto coffee (from best to worst): MCT oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter.
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