By now, many of you may be familiar with Bulletproof Coffee from The Bulletproof Executive:
I start the day with a cup of Bulletproof coffee. I learned about the power of butter at 18,000 feet elevation near Mt. Kailash in Tibet when I staggered into a guest house from the -10 degree weather and was literally rejuvenated by a creamy cup of yak butter tea. The biohacker in me asked, “why?” and that was the genesis of my recipe below, which is widely heralded as a cognitive enhancing recipe.
However, coffee for me has lost its edge. I’m currently trying to stay away from it and caffeine in excess of 100 mg per hour, and I’m beginning to explore caffeine alternatives besides tea that won’t run me into the ground after an all-night binge. For this, I’ve turned to cocoa powder. (In lieu of chocolate tea which I’ve been just learned about thanks to Seth Roberts — see links at bottom)
A friend pointed out that Army GIs used to run on this stuff, and this friend also happens to drink plain, unsweetened cocoa powder mixed with water. So I began doing this for myself to see how it would work out.
Why would you consider cocoa over coffee?
I think it helps to separate cocoa (or cacao) from its misguided fru fru roots as a sweet dessert and its treatment a simple food flavoring. Most people can hardly stand the taste of chocolate without some form of sugar in it. To me however, cocoa just tastes “sweet.” I associate its very flavor with sweet, even if it’s actually quite bitter in some ways.
Cocoa comes from The Aztecs had xocolatl, meaning “bitter water” in the Nahuatl language. This stuff was a beverage of nobles and warriors, and I could imagine that’s because you’d get hopped up on this stuff but without much of the come-down as caffeine has. Cocoa contains theobromine, which means “food of the gods”
The Latin name for the plant–Theobroma cacao–literally means “food of the gods”, a name given by Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in the seventeenth century. This reflects the myth that Quetzalcoatl, one of the most important gods of the Aztecs, stole a cacao tree (called cacahoaquauitl in Náhuatl) from his fellow gods, the “sons of the Sun”, in paradise. He then traveled to earth on a beam of the morning star and gave cacao beans (cacahuatl) as a gift to the people of Mexico. Quetzalcoatl specifically taught women (not men) to roast and press the cacao beans and prepare a beverage that was believed to bring knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge and wisdom. I haven’t gained knowledge and wisdom from consuming cocoa yet, but I know I feel amazing when I dump a couple heaping spoonfuls down into some hot water and drink some.
Surprisingly there is not much general information about theobromine out there, even though it’s practically in front of our faces in all of this sugary crap. Caffeine is all over, and we have already witnessed its addictive, manic-depressive horrors. Many long-term require caffeine just to restore normal functioning. However, it is possible to free yourself from your shackles, and this beverage may help.
“Bulletproof” cocoa, or what I call The Food Of The Gods
Okay, so I only call it “bulletproof” as reference to Bulletproof Coffee, but the principle is similar: Your stimulant beverage mixed with butter and MCT oil. I’ve only made this stuff once as of today, but hell. Try it and see if it works for you.
Here’s how to make “The Food Of The Gods”:
- A mug full of hot water
- 1-2 heaping tablespoons of pure, unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably organic)
- 1-2 tbsp grass fed organic butter
- 1-2 tbsp MCT oil (or coconut oil)
- Optional: Stevia sweetener (for calorie-free taste)
Measure out your water with the mug, and heat it up however you must. Toss the cocoa, water, butter and oil together in a blender, and blend the hell out of it. In my case, I did not have MCT oil so I just used coconut oil.
The result is a hot and frothy cocoa beverage with a nice, airy and creamy mouthfeel. Optionally you may add stevia sweetener to taste (duh, chocolate isn’t naturally sweet). To me, it’s delicious with or without sweetener.
How it works
So, the idea from Bulletproof is that these healthy lipids get your body to run on fats, which apparently are much better fuel for your mind and body than just simple carbohydrates. Couple that with the fact that it’s intended to be from pure, organic and unadulterated sources, and you don’t get any of the neurotoxic crap. That’s the Bulletproof stuff, anyway.
As for the cocoa, it contains the substance theobromine, and as mentioned before is named “food of the gods.” The molecule theobromine is structurally similar to caffeine, save for 1 carbon and two hydrogen atoms, which does not appear to be a big difference at first. However, compared to caffeine, the difference in effects are profound:
- Stimulating in effect, but not a central nervous (adrenal) stimulant
- Relaxes smooth muscle tissues
- Half-life is almost twice that of caffeine, meaning it lasts longer in the body
In my experience so far, cocoa creates a nice euphoric feeling. I feel quite powerful and energized with it. But most importantly, it doesn’t leave me wanting more with a hard crash at the end, instead it gently tapers away into relaxation. Like caffeine, as long as you don’t overdo it you should be fine.