Dave Asprey, Bulletproof Coffee, Gurus, and Nonsense

Dear Danger & Play:

What do you think of the Bulletproof Executive (Dave Asprey) and Bulletproof coffee?

The Bulletproof Executive claims he boosted his IQ by 20 points and gained all sorts of muscle and that if you drink his overpriced coffee and follow his advice, you’ll become a superman.

Here’s my question:

Where is Dave Asprey’s data?

I have posted my blood work before. You can find it right here. (Here’s how to find out your testosterone level.)

I have a DEXA scan from 2009. I have labs showing my testosterone and cholesterol and fasting glucose levels going back to 2007.

And I don’t even market myself as being part of the “quantified self” movement. I’m not some super data nerd and I sure  don’t make my living selling people on my health and fitness advice. (Maybe I should start a YouTube channel?)

Anyone who tells you how to live a healthy lifestyle and who sells you stuff must show his lab work. This is not optional.

The Bulletproof Exective claims he boosted his IQ by 20 points.

OK. Where are his IQ tests? Where has he uploaded them? I looked on his page and can’t find them. Where are they?

The Bulletproof Executive claims his diet boost testosterone levels and is healthy.

OK. Where are his blood tests and lab work? What is his HDL and LDL ratio? What are his fasting glucose and fasting insulin levels?

What is his natural testosterone level? Does Dave Asprey even have “natural” testosterone anymore, or has he been on testosterone replacement therapy? (I can determine whether someone is on TRT by looking at their labs.)

I don’t care what someone says unless he shows me his blood work.

Until Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive (and this goes for all the gurus) post their lab work for public consumption, they do not deserve one penny of your money.

By the way, those “in the know” realize why those guys aren’t posting their labs. Let’s just say that A-Rod isn’t the only one who attributes his peak performance to natural products while also going in for treatments at the “anti-aging clinic.”

I’m not hating on anyone, by the way. Dave Asprey seems like a nice-enough guy. He’s just hustling to make a living like the rest of us. That said, since he is a public figure, he is subject to public scrutiny.

Our collective view on drug use is primitive. It’s downright silly that men fear going on testosterone replacement therapy. If Dave Asprey is juiced to the gills and popping Modafinil like pop rocks, good for him. Just don’t use drugs and then claim it’s your “toxin-free” coffee that’s doing the heavy lifting for you.

It’s illogical that a woman who wants to “become” a man can take male hormones but a man who wants to become more of a man cannot.

Why is it wrong for a man to take something to make him a better man while it’s right for a woman to take a drug to become a man?

Just don’t try acting like some dietary guru or supplement pimp unless you’re proving your claims, especially when proving your claims is as simple as posting lab work. Again, I have posted my lab work even though I am not selling my expertise.

So shouldn’t people who claim to be experts and who want to reach into your pockets go above and beyond what this humble blogger has done?

Where is the Bulletproof Executive’s lab work? He – like me – should have lab work dating back at least several years.

Once I am able to look at his lab work, I’ll be able to form an opinion. Until then, you should save your money.

Read next: Cooking for Men.

  • adsf

    Good point. I hope this spurs a blood work blog post by Dave.

  • DdR

    Dude’s a snake-oil salesman. An intelligent, well-spoken snake-oil salesmen, but nonetheless a fraud.

    I was on the Bulletproof Exec train for a bit. First of all, notice the absurdity of the name of his company: I’m an executive at a computer company, so I’m much more trustworthy than a bum. Well, I’m also an executive in banking, but I wouldn’t start selling cars because I think I’m smarter than everyone else. He’s conflating being an authority in computing to being an authority on everything. How smug.

    Secondly, he’s gone from offering one product to offering tons of products. Huge markups (says he doesn’t make much money, but I doubt it). Says that his products are the best on the market. It’s quickly turned into a website from giving advice to “buy my products to feel more bulletproof”.

    Anyways, I wanted to feel bulletproof, who wouldn’t? So, I started doing the BP Coffee routine every morning. I started eating grass-fed beef or wild salmon with plenty of vegetables on a daily basis. Fruit was a big no-no. Carbs were evil. I bought his other products like BP Vanilla and BP whey.

    The first few months I lost some fat around my waistline, which was nice. I had basically a six pack. Energy levels were ok, but I would often suffer low blood-sugar levels and feel like utter crap. Didn’t notice any big difference from consuming BP coffee (unlike Joe Rogan, who said he “wanted to kick an alligator in the dick” after drinking BP coffee).

    My thinking wasn’t much improved, and in fact I started getting brain fog. My performance at work was slipping.

    I got blood work done. My cholesterol shot up by 70 points. The other thing that was disturbing was that my inflammation marker (c-rp) was way above normal. This corroborated with how I was feeling, which was achy a lot. I’m 34 and thought that this is what happens when you get older, but man I was shocked how quickly I was aging.

    The thing that did it for me was that I started witnessing shortness of breath. Like I was about to pass out from shortness of breath. I first noticed it skiing (which I do a ton of and never had an issue), but then it began translating into normal everyday routines, like climbing stairs or riding a bike at a leisurely pace. When I would go to the gym and do squats and kettlebell swings, I would have to concentrate on breathing otherwise everything would go white.

    I obviously was really concerned I had a heart defect, so I went to multiple specialists. Pissed away lots of money. They also said that I was normal. But I just felt awful and basically felt I couldn’t do strenuous activity anymore, otherwise I’d die. I thought that this was going to become my new life or non-strenuous activity.

    That’s when I started challenging what this “infallible” guru was saying. The first person who brought it to my attention is the guy who runs Peak Testosterone, saying that those Paleo diets are great when you’re young and your body can take the hammering, but there aren’t many old Paleo guys around. There’s also not much research supporting the long-term success of the Paleo diet, whereas there is for the Mediterranean.

    A guy over at Roosh’s forum, whose opinion I respect (MikeCF), also pointed out that health gurus like Asprey or Sisson aren’t “natural”. Asprey has admitted that he’s on TRT. Sisson looks like he’s taking at least HGH. What if these guys weren’t on these incredible pharmaceuticals? Their diets probably wouldn’t do squat and they quickly would lose that muscle the have.

    So, I decided to experiment and actually just eat normally. Muesli for breakfast with fresh fruit and soy milk. Grains like quinoa, rice, wheat as a side. Tons of vegetables and fruits, but cut down on the animal protein. Cut out the butter and other fats.

    Lo behold, my shortness of breath has disappeared (it took two months). My joints aren’t achy, and I can move my right hand again (I was starting to develop arthritis). Brain fog’s gone. My temperament has improved. I quickly realized that the BP diet was destroying my health, even though I thought I was doing a diet to improve my health.

    I’ve gained a little fat around the mid-section, but the trade-off in mental and physical well-being is well worth it.

    I know that this is a long post, but it’s cathartic for me and a warning to other guys out there. I know you want to improve your health, so you do a Google search and quickly stumble upon Bulletproof Exec or the Paleo Blueprint. These guys are salesmen, selling a dream, but if you dig a little farther (like D&P did by asking where their blood tests are), you’ll see that it’s a facade to sell their marked-up products. And their diets, at least for me, can be dangerous to your health (your mileage may vary).

    • Danger & Play

      See, comments like yours just show how rampant the scam is.

      To me it’s common knowledge that all of those guys are juicing. But even educated, successful professionals like yourself are left in the dark.

      If you’re shooting test and gh and taking thyroid, you can follow just about any diet out there.

      Let’s take Sisson and Asprey and other gurus off of their test. Then we can evaluate their diets’ effectiveness.

      (You mentioned Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan has never hid his use of TRT. You can tell from his current pictures and head growth that he’s been on generous amounts of HGH, too.)

      I need to write more about this stuff.

      Anyhow, thanks for your comment.

      • DdR

        D&P,

        I knew nothing of TRT, HRT, etc. until these guys at Roosh’s forum opened up my eyes. I just thought that Asprey and Sisson were more fanatical with their diets and thus got these amazing mental and physical results. When I finally put everything together about how they’re actually scamming you for money, it felt like a girl cheated on me or my good buddy stopped talking to me. It freakin’ hurt.

        My issue, and it may just be me, is that if these guys look, act, talk and write like me, then I presume that they’re genuine and actually have stumbled upon the fountain of youth. Yes, I’m gullible. Yes, I’ve been hoodwinked. But if you’re desperately trying to maintain that vigor you felt when you were 16, and you find an educated dude pitching that exact dream, then critical thinking falls by the wayside.

        I run in a highly educated and pretty wealthy pack. I’m in my mid 30s. Out of my dozen close friends, not one uses game (two guys are naturals, but couldn’t explain how they do it). Almost all married the first chick that gave them the time of day. Nobody has heard of TRT or HRT. They’re just getting old, fat and gray with little libido. I think you should assume that the regular guy out there knows absolute squat about EVERYTHING concerning being a better man. Now, maybe not your readership as a certain kind of guy is likely drawn to your posts. But the average guy in general knows nothing. Like me.

        The results of my use of mediocre game and my focus on my health (I look by far the healthiest) have blown away my friends. That’s how little effort these guys are actually channeling to improving their lives.

      • Tim

        Never even considered Sisson as a possible TRT/HGH user. His site was useful when I went from vegan to paleo/primal…a big improvement although I never got that 50 year olds physique, although trained hard and regularly.

        I thought it was only for professional body-builders and athletes…live and learn.

        Thank you for reducing my naivety a notch.

  • http://www.staresattheworld.com Aurini

    You should consider making a youtube channel, you’ll make a bit of cash, plus I get the impression there’s a large audience segment which prefers video to writing, who are largely unaware of the blogosphere.

    Incidentally, I’ve been on TRT for about a month now, and it’s AWESOME – it feels like finally overcoming a hangover.

    • Danger & Play

      Hey man, that’s great. TRT is a game changer for men.

  • freezer

    In this article, Dave Asprey makes the claim that “Studies show that when well-nourished kids skip breakfast and have their first meal at lunch they pay attention, behave, and perform better throughout the entire school day”

    He cites this study: Benton D, Parker PY. Breakfast, blood glucose, and cognition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Apr;67(4):772S-778S.

    If you look at the study, there is no way to interpret it as saying what he claims. People in the comments are pointing that out.

    Interestingly, I found the exact same study cited for the same proposition in an article by John Kiefer: http://schwarzenegger.com/fitness/post/carb-back-loading-step-1-breakfast

  • sfer

    Different people respond differently to different health interventions. A pretty crazy study is mentioned in the excellent new “sports gene” book:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Sports-Gene-Extraordinary-Performance/dp/1591845114

    The 2007 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology put 66 people of varying ages on a four-month lower-body strength training plan consisting of three exercises: Squats, Leg Press and Leg Extension. Each person was matched for effort level as a percentage their 1RM. (A typical set was performed for 11 reps at 75% of 1RM). As Epstein summarizes, “At the end of the training the subjects fell rather neatly into three groups: those whose thigh muscle fibers grew 50% in size; those whose fibers grew 25%; and those who had no increase in muscle size at all.”

    Epstein goes on to say, “A range from 0% to 50% improvement, despite identical training. Just like the HERITAGE Family Study, differences and train ability were immense, only this was strength as opposed to endurance training. 17 weightlifters were extreme responders, who added muscle furiously; 32 were moderate responders, who had decent gains; and 17 were non-responders, whose muscle fibers did not grow. It seems that some people’s body is set better primed to profit from weightlifting as the subjects who made up the extreme muscle growth group had the most satellite cells in the quadriceps, waiting to be activated and build the muscle.”

    basically 1/4 excellent responders, 1/2 decent responders and 1/4 did not respond at all.

    they did biopsies before and after and the extreme responders had a big increase of certain gene expressions and the 1/4 at the bottom had no increase in these gene expressions.

    Genetics make a big difference. I am sure that the same is true for diet as well. My take home is that you have to listen to your body. Try new things but know when to bail like DdR did. Getting your blood work done is a good idea as well.

  • http://www.pillscout.com Pill Scout

    Great point about the Bullshitproof Executive.

    As an unabashed hustler, I tend to let everyone know in my posts that much of what I have to say that isn’t informative, confirmed by numbers is going to be just my subjective experience. No new discoveries on my site, really. It’s difficult to make up a legitimate or new study or have numbers for this stuff when you’re the little guy but I try to base what I look for on established material.

    That said, the one guy I know who writes about his personal use of supplements and ALWAYS uses data to back it up is Joe Cohen over at selfhacked.com and I often pay attention to what he’s doing.

    Anyway, if Dave Asprey’s really making decent money with his mycotoxin-free coffee racket he should pay someone to get some data out there. At the very least it would make a good selling point to have it scientifically vindicated by an independent third party. If it’s all true that is.

  • Tim

    Thanks @sfre for the link to the study.
    Danger, you make an excellent point about demanding proof about what works. But there’s a message in there you need to highlight even further: Think. Use logic. Try stuff out, see if it works for you and then either drop it or continue it.
    No universal diet and exercise approach exists. The study cited above reinforces what I’ve seen over the years. Each person has his own needs and responds to food and nutrition and exercize individually. If I, for example, look at a barbell, I put on muscle. And if I look at a cupcake I gain a pound. One guy I know does well on a vegetarian diet, runs marathons, and looks great. Another one eats a pretty standard American diet and does triathalons. Whatever. They’re both healthy. They both look good. I eat the Ferris slow carb diet, lift heavy, get some fresh air, and it works for me.
    The true measure is: are you at or near a good body weight, how easily you can do stuff, how you feel, and how often you get sick.
    How you get there seems to be all over the map — you’ll have to find out what works for you.
    And, Michael Pollard makes sense. Eat close to the ground. Stay away from industrial foods developed in the last couple of decades. Don’t eat things your (great)grandmother wouldn’t recognize. If you read “Good Calories/Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes, you’ll see how much sloppy research surrounds diet and nutrition. You have to approach any study with a huge amount of doubt. It’s easier and better in the end to stick to what’s been known for a long time: eat moderately, eat a variety of foods, limit the sweets and the booze and walk around some.
    The larger problem is: No one makes money promoting healthy skepticism or common sense. It’s much nicer to believe that this particular guy has it all thought out for you, and oh, by the way, if you buy these products, you’ll have it all.
    If you meet the guru in the road, kill him, just like the Buddha said.

  • http://aboutlifting.com/ Ironthumb

    his coffee!!! IS he seious!!
    Studies show that coffee helps boost performance..but any coffee would do, and coffee makes you lose weight that there are sports that test for caffeine levels if its so high they wont let you participate.
    Maybe there’s Nandrolone in that coffee?

  • iodasfj

    He recently offhandedly mentioned in a podcast he has been on TRT for quite a while.

  • Maverick Raj

    Asprey is just a well-spoken salesmen who uses just enough science to sell his over-priced products to the gullible “bro’s” out there. I will admit I fell for his spiel and went all in on the “bulletproof cofee”. What happened was my cholesterol shot through the roof at 300+, didn’t lose any weight, and burned my adrenals (pissing all the time, racing heartbeat).

    Asprey’s weight loss is due to the exogenous testosterone and modafinil he takes, not because of his fat-bomb coffee. People on paleo, extreme-low carb diets are playing with their health because no one knows how it will play out 20-30 years from now.

    Asprey’s fear of mycotoxins in coffee is completely unfounded (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7451391). The same or very similar coffee he sells for $18.95 can be bought from Portland Roaster’s for $9.95.

    If you notice, his blog is just a facade to sell his over-priced items most of which can be bought much cheaper. NOW brand MCT oil is the same as his MCT oil, but comes in a glass jar instead of his plastic bottle (oil should never be sold in a plastic bottle) and is much cheaper than his.

    I’d advise people to read books by people who aren’t hawking products.

    • Tim

      What caused your adrenal burnout? Just too much coffee?

  • Bluegreenguitar

    I like the taste of raw honey, high-quality butter and coconut oil in coffee. Also cardamom, ginger, cloves can be good. The butter reminds me of going hiking in the mountains. We would put butter in our hot chocolate before going to sleep.

    I contacted the bulletproof site asking for the test results on their coffee. (It’s not supposed to have as much mold and toxins, I think). I never received a reply.

    Some coffee does have issues like being processed with harmful chemical, for example. But I don’t know if bulletproof coffee is any better than other high quality coffee – I’ve never tried it.

    I wish I knew how to analyze different foods and waters for harmful substances but I don’t have proper equipment/know-how at the moment.

  • Bluegreenguitar

    I like the taste of raw honey, high-quality butter and coconut oil in coffee. Also cardamom, ginger, cloves can be good. The butter reminds me of going hiking in the mountains. We would put butter in our hot chocolate before going to sleep.

    I contacted the bulletproof site asking for the test results on their coffee. (It’s not supposed to have as much mold and toxins, I think). To my knowledge, I never received a reply.

    Some coffee does have issues like being processed with harmful chemical, for example. But I don’t know if bulletproof coffee is any better than other high quality coffee – I’ve never tried it.

    I wish I knew how to analyze different foods and waters for harmful substances but I don’t have proper equipment/know-how at the moment.