Keto Diet Basics

Bulletproof Diet Vs. Keto: Understanding the Differences

Published on: December 12, 2018

Bulletproof Diet Vs. Keto: Understanding the Differences

Like the keto diet, the Bulletproof Diet is also a low-carb diet. This diet was developed by Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof, a brand dedicated to helping people hack their bodies in order to unleash their full potential.

Although keto and Bulletproof seem like two versions of the same low-carb diet, they do have some major differences. The keto diet, for instance, pays special focus to macronutrient ratios, and its primary goal is ketosis. The Bulletproof Diet, on the other hand, focuses more on food quality. Read on to learn more.


Benefits of the Bulletproof Diet

If you're considering taking the Bulletproof road to better health and performance, you're probably eager to know about the benefits. Below are some major physical and mental benefits that go with the Bulletproof Diet.


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Physical benefits

Fat loss

Just like keto, the Bulletproof diet can help you burn fat. The diet does this by putting you in ketosis, a metabolic state scientifically proven to induce fat burning [1].


Muscle gain

Having more muscle is essential for metabolic health [2]. It lowers your risk of diabetes and weight gain. The Bulletproof Diet can help you build muscle if you incorporate exercise into your weight-loss plan. But even if you don't include exercise, the diet will preserve your muscle mass while you melt body fat.


Brain health

How you feel physically depends a lot on your central nervous system, a.k.a. your brain. Ketogenic diets such as Bulletproof are known to improve brain health by supporting normal mitochondrial functioning, increasing GABA levels, and reducing oxidative stress in the brain [3]. With a healthier brain, you'll notice your physical energy levels improve as well.


Physical energy

And when speaking of energy levels, the Bulletproof Diet can boost your body's energy levels in other ways too. The diet also improves mitochondrial functioning in skeletal muscle [4]. The Bulletproof Diet also includes MCT oil as a central ingredient. This powerful oil is known as "rocket fuel for the mind and body” for a reason.


Reduced inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the leading driver of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, allergies, cancer, and even Alzheimer's [5]. The Bulletproof Diet reduces inflammation by cutting out its major triggers but also by promoting ketosis (ketosis and ketones are anti-inflammatory).


Bulletproof Diet Vs. Keto_infographic_2

Mental benefits

Mental clarity

One of Asprey's goals when creating the Bulletproof Diet was to boost mental clarity. And mental clarity is one of the biggest changes you'll likely experience within the first weeks of going Bulletproof. The diet will help you think clearly by improving mitochondrial functioning.  Another reason it works in this regard is that it cuts out refined carbohydrates, which are known to cause brain fog [6].


Improved mood

Your mood depends a lot on your brain health. If you happen to suffer from a mood disorder, then this diet can help by improving glutamate/GABA transmission, serotonin levels, mitochondrial health, neuron survival, oxidative stress, insulin dysfunction, and inflammation [7].


Razor-sharp focus

Diets such as Bulletproof can help increase your attention span. This partly has to do with ketosis and greater ketone levels in the brain and partly with MCTs, which you eat more of on the Bulletproof Diet. The MCTs suggested on this diet are of a special class and carefully chosen for their nootropics-like effect.


Sound sleep

Since the Bulletproof Diet eliminates processed and high-carbohydrate foods from your diet, you’re likely to have a restful sleep at night. This is because your blood glucose levels are stable [8].


Bulletproof Diet vs Keto: The Main Differences

The Bulletproof Diet is a low-carb diet just like keto. But there are differences between Asprey's brand of low-carb eating and traditional ketogenic diets that have been around for almost a century. Let's take a look at some of their major differences.


Ketosis

The first difference is the diets' approach to ketosis. As the name implies, the primary goal of the ketogenic diet is ketosis. You are encouraged to maintain ketosis all throughout this diet. The Bulletproof Diet also favors ketosis, but only temporarily. In fact, it's closer to the cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) than the standard ketogenic diet. The diet's advocates claim that carb-cycling is better than permanent ketosis. Whether this is true or not is still a matter of scientific debate.


Clean eating

The Bulletproof Diet is also similar to paleo in regards to food quality and clean eating. The focus is on real food, grass-fed dairy, toxin-free coffee, and organic and pasture-raised food. The reasoning behind this being that much of the food we eat today is detrimental to our health. Going low-carb without focusing on food quality will not give you the best possible results according to Bulletproof principles.


Butter coffee

Another major feature of the Bulletproof Diet is Bulletproof Coffee. This buttery concoction is highly regarded by business executives, athletes, and celebrities. Bulletproof Coffee is made brewed using a special type of coffee beans undergoing a proprietary process that is not disclosed to the public. The brewed coffee is then mixed with MCT oil (or coconut oil) and grass-fed butter. The coffee is said to boost your energy levels, suppress hunger, and improved mental clarity.


Fasting

The ketogenic diet does not include fasting as a compulsory step. The Bulletproof Diet, on the other hand, works best if you include intermittent fasting (with Bulletproof coffee) and protein fasting. The goal of this is to increase your energy levels while also helping you detoxify and live longer (fasting is linked to longevity in both animal and human studies).

However, there many other nuances that make the Bulletproof Diet different from other low-carb and ketogenic diets. A closer look at how the diet looks in practice can help you understand these nuances.


blue-clock-on-a-white-plate-fork-and-knife-on-blue-background-intermittent-fasting-concept

How to Start a Bulletproof Keto Diet?

Below is a step-by-step guide that will help you start a Bulletproof Keto Diet. However, for more detail on this low-carb diet, it's best to read the Bulletproof Diet book.


Step 1 – Eliminate sugar and refined carbs

Sugar, honey, maple syrup, and other concentrated sources of sugar are not allowed on this diet. The diet also excludes grains and legumes but allows starchy vegetables and two servings of fruit when carb cycling. As a rule of thumb, go for lower-GI foods and avoid anything refined.


Step 2 – Make Bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof Coffee will help you stay energized during your fasting days on this diet and help you ease into ketosis. The coffee contains MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) that are scientifically proven to increase ketone levels more than other types of fats [9].


Step 3 – Eat clean

Food quality matters, especially when you're eating low-carb. Grass-fed butter, for example, contains more antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than commercial butter [10]. Go for grass-fed and fatty cuts of meat, pasture-raised eggs, organic vegetables, and minimally processed food. Clean eating also involves removing synthetic additives, food coloring, flavorings, and even gluten.


Step 4 – Use MCT oil

MCT oil is a highly effective supplement no matter if you decide to follow the Bulletproof Diet or keto diet. It raises ketone levels and suppresses hunger. You can add MCT oil to your morning coffee or use it to make salad dressings, muffins, and cream soups.


Step 5 – Try fasting

Intermittent fasting is recommended on the Bulletproof diet. It involves fasting for 8 hours to a day and eating within “limited feeding” windows. Protein fasting is also recommended to improve your health and well-being. It involves lowering your protein intake once a week to upregulate autophagy – the cell's recycling system linked to longevity.


Step 6 – Cycle in and out of ketosis

On a Bulletproof Diet, you should eat fewer than 50g net carbs 5-6 days a week and do a "carb refeed" on day 7. During your carb refeed, you should eat around 150g of carbs a day. This will kick you out of ketosis, but according to Bulletproof advocates, it will also improve your sleep quality, gut health, muscle recovery, and more.

If you're looking for a more detailed guide on eating low-carb, read our 2-week keto diet plan for beginners. It includes full lists of food you can and cannot eat along with meal plans with breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner included.


Takeaway

  • The Bulletproof Diet is essentially a modified ketogenic diet. Its advocates claim that Bulletproof Diet is more sustainable, if not better, than standard ketogenic diets. Because standard keto diets can be difficult for some, taking the Bulletproof approach to low-carb may be a better option.
  • This version of keto is very specific about food quality, ingredients, feeding time, and more. This makes it ideal for anyone who's looking for a dietary strategy that not only helps you reach ketosis but also focuses on things like clean eating and transforming your health on a cellular level.

References

  1. Partsalaki I, Karvela A, Spiliotis BE. Metabolic impact of a ketogenic diet compared to a hypocaloric diet in obese children and adolescents. 2012 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155696
  2. Bayol SA, Bruce CR, Wadley GD. Growing healthy muscles to optimise metabolic health into adult life. 2014 October 9 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25296864
  3. Gasior M, Rogawski MA, Hartman AL. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. 2006 September - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/
  4. Parker BA et al. β-Hydroxybutyrate Elicits Favorable Mitochondrial Changes in Skeletal Muscle. 2018 August 1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6121962/
  5. Pahwa R, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. 2018 October 27 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
  6. Hawkins MAW, Keirns NG, Helms Z. Carbohydrates and cognitive function. 2018 July - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29851417
  7. Brietzke E et al. Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for mood disorders: Evidence and developments. 2018 July 31 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30075165
  8. Bulletproof Staff. Fight Fatigue With These 5 Quick Tips. https://blog.bulletproof.com/fight-fatigue-with-these/
  9. Vandenberghe C et al. Tricaprylin Alone Increases Plasma Ketone Response More Than Coconut Oil or Other Medium-Chain Triglycerides: An Acute Crossover Study in Healthy Adults. 2017 March 22 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29955698
  10. Daley CA et al. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. 2010 March 10 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/

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