About five days a week, most of my breakfast calories come from some version of bulletproof coffee. While MCT oil and butter (or Expedition Butter to keep it dairy-free) serve as the backbone, I've added a few ingredients to my daily blend to help me through my demanding day. As a fat-adapted triathlete and hard charging small business employee, I ask a lot of my body and mind on a daily basis, so adding some key nutrients to my precious morning mug are essential to give my body what it needs. Most days I'll add collagen peptides for joint and skin health, cacao powder for its anti oxidants and positive effects on testosterone, and a dash of cinnamon for a touch of color and flavor (if it works for a classic cappuccino, it sure works for my frothy, fatty goodness).
Following some recent research, I've also played around with adding the amino acid L-Theanine for enhanced cognitive performance in pill form. However, there is a brand of coffee out there that's taken it a step further and added L-Theanine straight to the grounds along with three other compounds considered "nootropics." Nootropics (the word is Greek and means "towards the mind") are compounds that enhance memory, improve creativity, and potentially increase physical performance. But do they actually work? Let's break down all the nootropics found in one of my favorite blended coffees and see what the research says. Scroll to the bottom for the full recipe.
- Alpha GPC - While it sounds like a sweet name for a star, Alpha GPC is a precursor to choline, an important nutrient for the brain. Choline is a nutrient found mainly in organ meats and is chemically similar to B vitamins. Choline is a precursor to a neurtransmitter called "acetylcholine" or just "ACh." This neurotrasmitter plays a key role in short term memory encoding, concentration, and focus. So why not just take Choline? Turns out, Alpha GPC has been shown to significantly support cognitive functions above an beyond straight Choline supplementation, in part due to Alpha GPC's ability to cross the blood brain barrier.
- L-Theanine - This amino acid has had a lot of recent research surrounding it due to its effects when taken with caffeine. It's almost like caffeine's yin; where caffeine amps you up and temporarily blocks neurotransmitters that tell you that you're sleepy, "L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness," (1) so you can be alert and relaxed at the same time. While tea naturally has small doses (about 20mg per cup), this nootropic really starts to kick in when you increase the dosage to 50mg. The ratio of L-theanine to caffeine has also been studied and it was shown that a 2 to 1 ratio is the optimal amount to reap the benefits. Every cup of Kimera Koffee features a 2:1 ratio of L-theanine and caffeine, respectively.
- Taurine - No, taurine is not an additive to gasoline, but it is a cool sounding amino acid, named after the Latin name for ox (taurus), that has a number of important functions in the body. While serving as one piece to the protein synthesis puzzle, this amino acid also helps to maintain proper electrolyte balance, supports your nervous system function, and regulates antioxidant function. You may have noticed taurine on energy drink labels and there are a few promising studies suggesting taurine could aid in physical performance, or more specifically, in recovery. This 2013 study found that taking taurine supplements along with branch chain amino acids reduced symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (often caused by micro tears on muscle tissue during weight training) compared to a placebo.
- DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) - This compound is chemically similar to Alpha GPC and may increase the amount of ACh in the brain, which you learned about a moment ago. It's also touted as an anti-aging agent due to its effect on clearing out lipofuscin, a metabolic waste product. As we age, lipofuscin can accumulate in the brain and skin, producing so called "age-pigments," and DMAE has been shown to clear out this waste product.
- Lion's Mane - There's a good reason we included lion's mane mushroom in Pumpkin Spice Expedition Pili Butter. I discussed the many benefits of lion's mane mushroom in a previous blog; suffice to say, this fungus is highly beneficial for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and influence on nerve growth factor. NGF is essential for maintaining aspects of your central nervous system.
This basic recipe is 100% dairy free and includes all 5 of the previously mentioned nootropics. I drink this around 10:30 in the morning and after two solid hours of getting work done, I'm still amped up and ready to throw some weight around at lunch, but not in a can't-type-because-my-fingers-are-shaking-so-quick kind of buzz.
Two more notes:
- To get the most benefit from your coffee, I'd recommend using a wire filter instead of a paper filter. You'll get more of the organic compounds, like your oils and anti-oxidants, from the coffee bean when you use wire filters.
- Speaking of organic, be aware that coffee is one of the most chemically sprayed crops in agriculture, so seeking out the best organic coffee you can find is important when you're trying to avoid excess toxins in your diet. The coffee plants Kimera uses do not use pesticides and their fertilizers are all natural. The fertilizer provided by the farmers are 100% natural and aid in the growth and flavor of the bean.
Check out the recipe video below!