How to Biohack Your Morning Coffee

Photo: Instagram/@hiryoucafe
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Attention, all coffee connoisseurs: Your morning brew can do more than just provide a pick-me-up. With a few tweaks, that joe can help you think sharper and feel better—and no, it's not due to caffeine! Robin Berzin, MD, CEO of functional medicine practice Parsley Health, says it's easy to upgrade your morning cup—and here, the Well+Good Council member shares her best recipe, too.

The term biohacking can sound intimidating at first—but it doesn't need to be! Biohacking is simply about practices that help our mind and body achieve their most natural optimal performance. (And for women especially, it's a major trend Well+Good is predicting for 2018.)

biohack that I love is having high-fat coffee in the morning instead of breakfast. High-fat coffee involves mixing organic, freshly brewed hot coffee with a source of healthy fat that contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). This twist on traditional coffee has been widely popularized in recent years for having a massive impact on improving energy levels and cognitive function, especially when used in the context of a larger biohacking tool called intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting, typically by eating only in an eight-hour window each day. The science behind it (such as this Harvard study on its effect on life span and aging) suggests that when we allow our bodies to eat in this fashion, we extend our overnight fat-burning period. In general, our bodies use glucose for energy through our dietary intake of carbohydrates. However, when we don’t eat for a long period of time, our body taps into our glucose stores, called glycogen, that are stored in both our muscles and liver. Once our glycogen stores have been fully exhausted during sleep, our body will then start using our fat stores for energy.

In the United States, because we tend to eat so frequently, we typically have a readily available source of glucose in the bloodstream and are unable to fully tap into this fat-burning mode. However, by intermittently fasting from 8 p.m. to noon the next day, we naturally force our body to keep us in this fat-burning mode. As a result, IF has been shown to promote blood sugar balance, lessen insulin resistance, promote weight loss, and enhance cognitive function—especially in the context of a healthy diet and strength-training regimen.

To prevent the morning crash that might accompany extending an overnight fast, I've found that high-fat coffee provides a morning boost that keeps you in this fat-burning state while also providing heightened mental clarity. By starting your day with a high-fat, carbohydrate-free coffee instead of a meal, your body is able to use these eight to 10 medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) as fuel for the brain.

This recipe is completely vegan, simple to make, and can provide a boost to your day.

At Parsley Health, we have our own unique way of making high-fat coffee, which we call our Morning Glory coffee recipe. This recipe is completely vegan, simple to make, and can provide a boost to your day when choosing to intermittently fast. In addition to its wonderful taste, we use coconut oil because 40–50 percent of the fats in coconut are naturally MCTs.

A good rule of thumb for making high-fat coffee is using about 1 tablespoon of fat for every 1 cup of coffee. Additionally, adding organic cinnamon can help to further balance blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity through its natural herbal properties.

Before starting any type of extreme dietary regimen, at Parsley Health we recommend talking with one of our doctors or health coaches about personalizing your plan and finding out if intermittent fasting is appropriate for you. It is important to note that some studies show that while some women can tremendously benefit from it, others may be more sensitive to fasting depending on their hormonal balance and past medical history. This is why it is important to discuss this plan with your health-care provider before starting a fasting regimen.

Lastly, keep in mind that intermittent fasting does not need to be done every day, but could be a practice that you use a few times a week to regularly reap the many benefits.

Keep reading for a recipe that can supercharge your morning cup of joe.

A post shared by Parsley Health (@parsleyhealth) on

Parsley Health’s High-Fat Morning Glory Coffee Recipe

Makes 2 servings

2 cups organic, freshly brewed hot coffee
1 Tbsp organic coconut oil or MCT oil
½ tsp of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend for one minute. Enjoy!

Photo: Parsley Health

Robin Berzin, MD, is the founder and CEO of Parsley Health, an innovative primary care practice with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Dr. Berzin attended medical school at Columbia University. She is a certified yoga instructor and a meditation teacher.

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