For years, I’ve been using carefully selected and dosed coffee as a part of my performance-enhancement program that lets me stay lean, muscular, and fully energized on 5 hours of sleep and very little exercise. Aside from Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Body, me, and a few hard-core bodybuilder sites, most everyone seems to think caffeine is at best risky but most likely almost as bad as alcohol. Even most the members of the anti-aging group I run, Smart Life Forum, shake their heads in dismay when I mention the joys of butter and MCT-enhanced Bulletproof Coffee made with Upgraded Coffee beans.
So it was a pleasure to see Ori Hofmekler talk about coffee. He’s a fellow biohacker, nutrition expert, and author of The Warrior Diet, The Anti-Estrogenic Diet, Maximum Muscle Minimum Fat. I’m particularly interested in his upcoming book called Unlocking the Muscle Gene because my own book about using nutrition and stress to change your (and your baby’s) genes is coming out this year.
Better yet, Dr. Mercola is helping Ori to get his message out. Mercola.com is a high-volume site, and it’s about time that people stopped screwing up their metabolisms with evil things like decaf. I don’t know if this means that Dr. Mercola has reversed his long-standing belief that coffee is bad for you.
But back to the coffee. Here’s some of what coffee does:
- Increases a growth factor called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which protects your brain cells. (I also take this liposomal glutathione to help BDNF work)
- Increase metabolism
- Reduce muscle soreness
- Make you more focused and productive (for some tasks)
What Dr. Mercola and Ori didn’t say about coffee
I didn’t quite agree when Ori mentioned that decaf coffee was nutritionally devoid of anything useful, because diterpenes survive water processing, and some chlorogenic acid does too. He’s dead right that coffee that doesn’t smell good is not healthy. But the reasons he provided, oxidized oils and pesticides, are a small part of the problem.
The real reason that cheap coffee and old coffee are bad for you is that they harbor some particularly toxic molds. Those molds that form when green coffee is stored are tied to cancer, heart disease, high LDL/VLDL cholesterol, and hormone irregularities. Here is a great talk on the problem of mold in food (including coffee) that I gave at a recent anti-aging event:
Roasting kills the mold but doesn’t destroy the mold toxins already present in the beans.
It is these molds that play a major role in whether your cup of coffee will increase or decrease your health.
How do you pick a great cup of coffee that will make you perform better, feel better, and live longer?
Here’s the Bulletproof Executive way.
- Avoid almost all decaf. Caffeine protects the beans from more mold and most decaffeination either introduces new organic toxins or contributes to mold.
- Never choose robusta (cheap, instant) beans. These are moldier, which is why they are higher in caffeine too (as a defense against mold on the bush). Drink arabica.
- Insist on Bulletproof Process coffee that is tested to be free of histamines and mold toxins like Upgraded Coffee. The next best, but still sometimes mold-contaminated, is wet process beans. Many higher end African coffees use natural process, which means they dry the beans in the sun, giving them time to mold. Wet process coffee uses far less time and rinses the beans, making for lower-toxin coffee.
- Aim for Central American varieties grown at higher elevations where mold is scarce. (Bonus points if they’re blessed by shamans, one-armed monks, or picked by orphans…)
- Single estate is better than major brands. If it is sold by a national coffee house, its mixed with countless other sources, and you can guarantee that some toxic mold made it into the coffee.
- If you can’t find good beans, order an Americano because steam helps to break down the toxins.
The easier way is to say, “Give me the most expensive Central American, wet-process (or washed) beans you have please.”
Beans chosen this way can help to provide antioxidants and fight cancer. But the biggest reason to try this is that the buzz is noticeable cleaner and better, you’ll perform better, and, as the CEO of a tech startup recently told me after I shared a cup of my favorite brew roasted by 4 Barrel Coffee, served by Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, CA. “This is the best cup of coffee I’ve had in my entire life!”