2021 Update! A decade plus of giving away this recipe, I’m now able to offer it as a single product with all the ingredients added in the proper doses/ ratios with ingredients I picked personally. The new name is AlphaJoe Coffee Booster and can be purchased HERE.
In Part I of Bomb Proof Coffee, I cover what’s in it and why, as well as how to make it, doses, sources, etc in videos form HERE. If you’re new to Bomb Proof Coffee (AKA, AlphaJoe) you’ll want to watch those videos for all the info you need to get started. This article will add some of the supporting science on the ingredients in Bomb Proof Coffee.
The obvious first ingredient to cover is the coffee. Coffee just continues to show itself to a have a wide variety of health benefits for both the brain and body. One recent study suggest coffee may actually help build muscle. Not surprisingly, not all coffee is created and the levels of beneficial compounds depends on the type of processing and other factors. As the coffee itself is not the main focus of Bomb Proof Coffee per se, the Life Extension has a good article HERE covering the topic and offers a coffee with especially high levels of beneficial compounds found in coffee that might make a good choice for the coffee used in Bomb Proof Coffee.
Cocoa (the main ingredients in chocolate), is rich in various polyphenols (including flavonoids/flavanols) and other bio active compounds such as amines, alkaloids, tyramine, magnesium, procyanidins, phenylethylamine, and N-acylethanolamines. Cocoa has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve insulin resistance and improved endothelial function. A meta analysis found that the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease, and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest level of intake, an that’s despite the sugar and fat content of chocolate; reduced insulin resistance and reduced serum insulin levels were associated with the chocolate consumption. There are various studies that also suggest direct cognitive benefit of cocoa ingestion as well as neuro protection. The flavanol epicatechin is believed to be the main source of benefit, but there’s a wide range of compounds in cocoa and it’s highly likely there’s synergism between epicatechin and other flavanols as well as other compounds found in cocoa, many of which are still being elucidated. Studies also find cocoa flavanol can increase nitric oxide (NO) availability and reduce oxidative stress. Finally, one recent study also found cocoa has broad spectrum anti-viral effects against influenza. That’s just a short summary of the various potential benefits of cocoa.
As mentioned via the vids on Bomb Proof Coffee, not all cocoa is created equal and the highest levels of beneficial compounds is found in cocoa that has not been “Dutch Processed” which is exposed to alkalization. The vast majority of cocoa sold commercially has been Dutch Processed/exposed to alkalization. The exact dose for optimal effects is unclear at this time and research is ongoing, but the dose recommended in Bomb Proof Coffee – if you’re using high quality cocoa that has not been exposed to alkalization – should have you covered well. See videos for more information on that. Cocoa, similar to coffee, is a highly complex ingredient, which may have synergism when ingested together. Finally, a recent study (2108) finds dark chocolate (>85% cocoa) reduces muscle damage due oxidative stress during intense exercise. Many find Bomb Proof Coffee the perfect pre-workout, and this is yet more support for it.
L-Tyrosine (Tyrosine) is an amino acid and essential precursor or “building block” for the neurotransmitters responsible for maintaining metabolic rate and mental acuity under stress. L-Tyrosine is the direct precursor to stimulatory neurotransmitters such as epinephrine (i.e. adrenaline) and norepinephrine as well as certain thyroid hormones and dopamine. Tyrosine is found in protein-rich foods and can also be synthesized in the body from the amino acid phenylalanine. Under stressful conditions, however, food sources and phenylalanine-to-tyrosine conversion may be inadequate to maintain the essential neurotransmitters needed for optimal performance and mental focus. Several studies done by the US Army found animals given supplemental L-Tyrosine were more resistant to cold temperatures than those not getting the amino acid. Studies with humans given supplemental L-Tyrosine have found improved cognitive function when subjected to cold temperatures. One recent study found that 2000 mg (2 grams) L-Tyrosine reduced the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive tasks performance for 21 cadets subjected to a demanding military combat training course. Other studies have confirmed that tyrosine is a stress-fighting nutrient.
Elite soldiers often go for days without sleep, which seriously compromises their mental acuity and performance. Several studies have found L-Tyrosine may be able to counteract some of the negative effects of prolonged sleeplessness on cognitive tasks and performance. As a further test of Tyrosine’s efficacy, 36 Navy SEALs ingested L-Tyrosine during Winter Warfare training. Either tyrosine or a placebo was consumed by the men, who were then exposed to temperatures as low as -10° F. The study found L-Tyrosine prevented the decline in mental acuity common to extreme cold conditions in the group of SEALS receiving the supplement. Many athletes have found the use of L-Tyrosine to be helpful as a pre-workout stimulant, as well as students, businessmen, etc., in need of improved mental acuity. Prolonged stress and physical exertion can deplete the body of L-Tyrosine and reduce the levels of neurotransmitters needed for peak performance under pressure. Some studies also show L-Tyrosine may reduce levels of the catabolic (muscle-wasting) hormone cortisol. Additional studies done by the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US Army, and other locations suggest L-Tyrosine may be useful in counteracting stress-related performance decrement and mood deterioration by increasing depleted levels of catecholamines (especially norepinephrine) in the brain. Tyrosine is a key “anti stress” nutrient. Some find L-Tyrosine a mood elevator. Dose and timing are essential to maximizing the effects of L- Tyrosine.
As mentioned in the vids, creatine has an extensive list of potential health benefits, and my prior article on that topic is covered HERE via the Life Extension Foundation magazine. Specific to cognitive and neuro protection, creatine has been found to improve brain metabolism and energetics, reduces mental fatigue, improve memory and cognition and following extended sleep deprivation, creatine supplementation improved performance of complex “executive” tasks involving decision-making skills; data suggests it may help with depression and mood. Creatine is also highly neuro protective and helps protect the brain from a wide range of insults. That’s just the tip of the proverbial ice berg on the benefits of creatine, which should be taken as the monohydrate form. For those who want in-depth information on the various health benefits of creatine should read the article linked above, check out the many free articles and vids on the BrinkZone. As I state in the vids, anyone who is surprised to see creatine in a mental focus, cognitive, health formula does not know creatine! The addition of creatine to a neuro-cognitive, mental energy/focus and health formula is the proverbial “no brainer.” No pun intended! 🙂
People need to realize first off, coconut oil is a fad of late being pushed hard for a wide variety of proposed health benefits, some poorly supported by the science, some vastly over exaggerated, which I cover in a vid on coconut oil HERE if interested. That’s not to say coconut oil is without potential value, but its main use in Bomb Proof Coffee is not as “magic fat” but as a useful and pleasant tasting way to mix the cocoa and small amount of skim milk into an emulsion, which improves taste and possible absorption of the cocoa compounds. Yes, a small amount of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) will come from the addition of the coconut oil, and there’s some potential cognitive benefits from MCTs, and I’ll tweak recs as future studies suggest. For now, consider the addition coconut oil to Bomb Proof Coffee as functional and good tasting vs. as an active part of the recipe as the other ingredients are listed above. However, if one wants to add more coconut oil to this recipe than I call for (see vids ) there’s no harm done to the effects of the other ingredients.
What To Buy And Where to Buy It?
2021 Note: Can now be purchased as one and done formula HERE or follow what’s below:
Added this section as what I use and where I get it is the most common Q I get now. As far as the three key ingredients, these are currently the companies I’m using and where I get it. Yes, these are affiliate links which helps me keep BrinkZone running, but that’s where I get it and who I use for my own daily mug of Bomb Proof Coffee:
As for cocoa and and cacao powders, I’m still experimenting, but been using:
As for the coffee, I use various coffees and still trying new brands, but per the vid where I make the coffee, my favorite still remains Full Vengeance from the The Roasterie Kansas City. However, less expensive and easy to find, I think Major Dickason’s Blend from Peet’s Coffee is quite good.
Coffee is a highly individual matter among people, and I like my coffee strong and dark, so use what you prefer.
NOTE: Some studies suggest that milk can block the absorption of the important health promoting flavonoids found in cocoa negating the benefits (Nature, 424:1013, August 28, 2003). It’s unlikely the very small amount of skim milk recommended for Bomb Proof Coffee will negatively impact absorption. However, the skim milk is for taste and assisting the foaming (emulsion) created while preparing Bomb Proof Coffee and is not essential to the effects. One can leave it out if worried about the small amount of skim milk negating the benefits of the cocoa, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Conversely, it’s recommend you keep added dairy to a minimum so large amounts of typical additions to coffee (e.g., half & half, cream, etc) are not recommended.
- Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption affects multiple cardiovascular risk factors in a meta-analysis of short-term studies. J Nutr. 2011 Nov;141(11):1982-8.
- Effects of low habitual cocoa intake on blood pressure and bioactive nitric oxide: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2007 Jul 4;298(1):49-60.
- Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011 Aug 26;343:d4488.
- Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar;95(3):740-51.
- The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol. Mar 2013; 75(3): 716–727.
- Impact of alkalization on the antioxidant and flavanol content of commercial cocoa powders. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 24;56(18):8527-33.
- Dark Chocolate Intake Positively Modulates Redox Status and Markers of Muscular Damage in Elite Football Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Study. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity Volume 2018, Article ID 4061901, 10 pages
- Tyrosine reverses a cold-induced working memory deficit in humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1994 Apr;47(4):935-41
- Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain Res Bull 1999 Jan 15;48(2):203-9
- Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Brain Res Bull 1994;33(3):319-23
- Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1999 Nov;64(3):495-500
- The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviat Space Environ Med 1995 Apr;66(4):313-9
- Tyrosine and its potential use as a countermeasure to performance decrement in military sustained operations. Aviat Space Environ Med 1992 May;63(5):364-9
- Effects of creatine on mental fatigue and cerebral hemoglobin oxygenation. Neurosci Res. 2002 Apr;42(4):279-85.
- Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2007 Sep;14(5):517-28.
- The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.
- Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Oct 22;270(1529):2147-50.
- Creatine supplementation, sleep deprivation, cortisol, melatonin and behavior. Physiol Behav. 2007 Jan 30;90(1):21-8.
- Dietary supplement creatine protects against traumatic brain injury. Ann Neurol. 2000 Nov;48(5):723-9.
Will Brink is the owner of the Brinkzone Blog. Will has over 30 years experience as a respected author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
His often ground breaking articles can be found in publications such as Lets Live, Muscle Media 2000, MuscleMag International, The Life Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise For Men Only, Body International, Power, Oxygen, Penthouse, Women’s World and The Townsend Letter For Doctors.
He’s also been published in peer reviewed journals.
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