5.0 out of 5 stars
The incredible lightness of being Bulletproof
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2015
Being a "biohacker" for decades before ever even hearing that term, I must say the Bulletproof Diet is full of useful information. In fact, using years of dieting trial and error, I came up with my own diet a few years ago that could best be described as a flextarian, lower-fat Bulletproof Diet (combined with a copious amount of walking). In January of 2014, I joined MyFitnessPal. By December 31st of 2014, I had lost 65 pounds. I can personally say that doing this works, even without the extra fat. However, in mid-December of 2014, I purchased and downloaded the Bulletproof Diet audiobook. I decided not to just listen to the book, but to put it to the test. Since I have logged fairly accurately on MFP for well over a year, I will share my experience with higher levels of fat, which honestly did seem counter-intuitive to me.
First, I added grassfed-butter, Bulletproof coffee to my diet almost immediately, drinking it twice a day (using off-the-shelf decaf *gasp*). I also upped the amount of avocado I was eating, and started eating unsweetened, organic coconut twice a day. I also added some coconut/almond butter to my diet and cooking with coconut oil, and since I have been working out more, I'm experimenting with some grass-fed whey protein. By January of 2015, I had more than doubled the amount of fat I was eating. In fact, these items alone added an extra 500 - 600 calories a day to my diet.
With the addition of the extra calories, I fully expected to stop losing weight or even gain a little muscle weight, as I swapped from cardio exercise to more strength training (paleo style). However, from January of 2015 to April 2015, I lost another 7 pounds, for a total of 72 pounds since joining MFP.
What I did gain was much easier appetite control, a wonderful addition of new flavors, and with some tweaks to the diet, some problems I have had since being a teenager are now healing.
With decades of yo-yo weight gain and loss, as I bounced between a somewhat healthy diet and slid back on to the SAD diet (Standard American Diet), I think what I'm doing now will be the one that works for me for the rest of my life. At the age of 46 I'm now a certified yoga instructor, I'm doing easy 9 - 10 minute miles, and consistent 32 minute 5k runs. You know, that all may not sound like much, but it was just a couple of years ago that I looked and felt like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Here are the Bulletproof Diet pros:
* Extra fat does indeed satiate appetite and gives you more control over hunger.
* Dave Asprey is one of the few people that understands the dangers of too much protein.
* Dave Asprey also gets the dangers of vitamin supplementation (or at least approaches it in a more intelligent way).
Here are the Bulletproof Diet cons:
* The way he pushes his Bulletproof Coffee sounds like a used car salesman in action.
* Dave maintains the diet will change your gut bacteria. Bulletproof alone was not enough for me.
* I'm really undecided on some of his information about natural toxins/anti-nutrients in food.
* Legumes are actually a common item eaten among centenarians. Come on Dave, don't over think it.
* The recipe PDF with the audiobook is really heavy on the meat, which contradicts information in his own book.
* I think on some level, calories do still matter, even though I totally get the gut bacteria connection.
I'm going to say that I think Dave is a genius. That said, there are just a few things that concern me. I really like the way he judges foods by the way they make him feel and/or mental clarity. However, some anti-nutrients do stress your body, and at times this can be beneficial to your health. Go to a popular search engine and look up a wonderful article by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, called "Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You, Antioxidant vitamins don’t stress us like plants do—and don’t have their beneficial effect."
While Dave is one of the few people who get the dangers of too much protein, his website takes pot shots at The China Study, which really has a lot of great information in it, especially about protein. In fact, they do eat rice in China and by in large, they are healthier than Americans. But if you can get past the rice, a lot of classic Chinese dishes are Bulletproof. A big pile of vegetables with a little meat thrown in for just the right amount of protein is about as Bulletproof as you can get.
When I designed my diet, I approached it with the knowledge that (less-healthy) Americans eat way more meat than large portions of the (healthier), less-developed world, combined with the fact that I think the paleo people out there also score a lot of points for their information about grains. So I tried to combine the two and come up with a vegetable heavy, lower protein diet that was healthier than the basic paleo diets, which kind of lean toward bacon, wrapped in bacon, and served on a side of steak with a slab of butter on it for good measure. So in that respect, I do think it is unfortunate that Dave's own recipe PDF seems to contradict information from his book.
Keep in mind, in the study of the !Kung San (a San people living in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, Botswana and in Angola, and who genetically trace back to the beginnings of modern humans) anthropologist Richard Borshay Lee found these hunter-gatherers to get some 60 to 70 percent of their food from plants they gather, and 30 to 40 percent from meat obtained by hunting.
Indeed, an honest look at healthy populations all over the world will find a similar pattern of eating. As Dr. Dave Perlmutter M.D., pointed out in his book, Brain Maker, "Far too often people think a low-carb diet is all about eating copious amounts of meat and other sources of protein. On the contrary, an ideal plate in the Brain Maker protocol is a sizable portion of vegetables (two-thirds of your plate) and about 3 to 4 ounces of protein. Meat and animal products should be a side dish, not a main course." (Amazingly, that sounds a lot like diets in Asian countries).
And finally, Dave maintains that if you eat the Bulletproof Diet, your gut bacteria will change to good bacteria without the use of probiotics. With all the list of benefits that I can attribute to going Bulletproof, having battled with eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, and/or fungal/candida symptoms for a large portion of my life, it was only when I tweaked the Bulletproof Diet to include the Skinny Gut Diet, did I start to get relief from these issues. I highly recommend, "The Skinny Gut Diet: Balance Your Digestive System for Permanent Weight Loss," by Brenda Watson C.N.C. and Leonard Smith M.D.
Basically, The Skinny Gut Diet is Bulletproof, with the addition of fermented foods with every meal and probiotics. In the past, I've put some corporate exec's kids through college buying creams and ointments and probiotics that didn't work. It was only when I combined everything -- diet, exercise, weight loss, healthy fats, and fermented foods/probiotics -- that I finally saw the results I have been looking for my whole life.
I would like to recommend a few books that go very well with Bulletproof:
Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization, by John J. Ratey and Richard Manning
Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin J. Blaser
Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life