Dave Asprey is following his usual morning routine: drinking coffee and doing drugs. It’s a Tuesday in March, and Asprey, who is 6 feet 4, with graying brown hair and a stubbly beard, is in his office in the countryside town of Cobble Hill, B.C., 45 minutes north of Victoria. His children play in the house just a few steps away. He reaches into a large armoire full of bottles, carefully gathers about 20 pills, and washes them down with a gulp of water. Then he takes a sip of coffee. The milky brown concoction sloshes in his clear plastic mug like a pint of Guinness.
Asprey, 42, is a self-described biohacker—somebody who uses science and technology to make his or her body function better and more efficiently. There are about 100,000 biohackers worldwide, Asprey estimates, and among them, he’s a celebrity. His website, bulletproofexec.com, drew 6 million unique visitors last year. Almost 50,000 people follow him on Twitter, and he has an additional 140,000 fans on Facebook. Since 2009 he’s posted blog entries and podcasts about things such as orange-tinted glasses, which he says block out blue-spectrum light, allowing us to sleep so well that we need only six hours or less, and the minimum number of days a man should wait between orgasms, a protocol Asprey found in an ancient Taoist text. (Age minus 7, divided by 4.) But of all his out-there health claims, it’s the coffee he’s drinking—blended with butter made with milk from grass-fed cows and a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconut oil—that’s making Asprey most famous.
He calls the mixture Bulletproof coffee. Drink it, the name implies, and you’ll feel invincible. “Fats and caffeine help stimulate the brain,” Asprey says in his office, taking another sip. The coffee, along with the drug cocktail he’s just downed, which includes vitamins K and C as well as aniracetam, a pharmaceutical designed to improve brain function, is intended to provide hours of enlightenment. “There’s a sense of cognitive ease, where everything you want to say is at the tip of your tongue,” he says. “It’s like getting a new computer—you never want to go back to the old one.”
A former technology executive, Asprey has spent 15 years experimenting with his diet, sleep, and exercise. He’s paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for various medical tests, from brain scans to genome sequencing, and reached some pretty radical conclusions. He’s completely dismantled the food pyramid—the 1992 chart that advised people to eat a carbohydrate-rich diet and very few fats—and argues that the proper diet should consist of as much as 70 percent fat. It’s similar to the paleo diet, the regimen that forbids any food not available to prehistoric man, with some modifications, like allowing white rice. “Your hormones are made of saturated fat, your brain is made of fat, and the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat,” Asprey says. “When you go on a low-fat diet, you limit the performance of so many key systems in your body that it’s no wonder you have cravings and feel tired.”
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