Brain-Boosting Ketogenic Collagen Smoothie using Bulletproof Brain Octane
Check out my recipe for my daily brain-boosting collagen smoothie – whether or not you are looking to make it keto, it’s a tasty way to get the mental clarity benefits of Brain Octane and the skin/hair/joints benefits of collagen. You can customize with wild blueberries, cold brew coffee or raw cacao – all of which provide antioxidant benefits!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with a ketogenic or low-carb diet. I personally starting following the diet for the management of migraines (under my doctor’s guidance) and I had really great results – this was what kickstarted my journey away from prescription drugs to managing migraines with diet and lifestyle. The ketogenic diet has been used to treat not only migraines but a range of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, sleep disorders, and psychological disorders. The benefits for those without neurological conditions include mental clarity, increased energy, weight-loss and more.
Most smoothie recipes are very high in carbs, and aside from not being keto, the large amount of sugar (even natural sugars) can cause a spike in blood sugar. I learned a long time ago that for me, spikes in blood sugar can cause migraines. So I started experimenting with making a smoothie that tastes good, but doesn’t spike blood sugar, and allowed me to pack in as much nutrition as possible.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in my smoothie.
One of the products I discovered and really love is Brain Octane by Bulletproof. This stuff is awesome! It’s the shortest MCT (medium chain triglyceride) which is very quickly converted into fuel for the brain (instead of carbs & sugars). I can actually tell a difference when I’m taking Brain Octane, whether or not I’m eating keto at the time (though it is further enhanced by a ketogenic diet). I feel sharper, less foggy and just generally more “with it.”
I think some people take it plain by the spoonful, but it’s an oil, so that sort of grosses me out on textural basis. Others add it to their Bulletproof coffee or tea. Sometimes I add it to my favorite recipe for French Vinaigrette salad dressing because it’s odorless and tasteless so it blends in well without affecting the flavor (I do 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Brain Octane).
I wanted another tasty way to get the brain-boosting effects of Brain Octane. So I started experimenting with different smoothie recipes to include it and came up with this, which is my go-to smoothie now.
One important note about Brain Octane – do NOT add too much or it can cause digestive upset (the kind where you can’t leave your house, so this is no joke, folks!) If it’s your first time using it, start with 1 teaspoon and gradually work your way up over a few days to a full tablespoon. As you tolerate it more easily, you can increase to 2 tablespoons. I personally don’t ever have more than 2 tablespoons at a time. It’s pricey but you only need a tiny bit at a time. I buy either from Amazon or directly from Bulletproof – check both for prices as sometimes one is a lot less expensive.
I don’t do well with a lot of dairy so I use almond or cashew milk but you can substitute dairy milk if it doesn’t bother you (one thing to note is that milk is pretty high in carbs so keep that in mind if you are aiming for a keto smoothie). Be sure to use a quality unsweetened almond or cashew milk, without a lot of fillers such as carrageenan. The best ones have three ingredients – nuts, salt, water. My favorite brand is Malk which you can find in the cold alternative milk section at Whole Foods. I also like Rude Health cashew milk, but it’s really hard to find in the US and it’s usually too expensive on Amazon. Or if you have the time, make your own nut milk – it’s easy and delicious!
MCT Oil Powder
I also add Quest MCT oil powder, which is just another way to get medium chain triglycerides in powder form. This is easier on the digestive system than the oil. It also helps make the smoothie extra creamy. The other great thing about the Quest MCT Oil powder is that it’s easier to travel with than the oil, so you can carry a little container of it to add to your coffee on the go.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – This is great for bones, joints, skin and hair. You can also just add to regular coffee or tea (hot or cold) because it’s unflavored and dissolves easily. I do this when I don’t have time to make a smoothie or don’t want to drink something cold. I’ve also added it to other liquid things like soup or sauces – it’s pretty easy to incorporate into your diet and I love the benefits. The best benefit is for skin in my opinion but my hair and nails now are rivaling those pregnancy days! It’s also great for your bones & joints, so for me, this is a no-brainer to include in my daily smoothie.
Raw nut butter – I add this mainly to thicken my smoothie. Choose your favorite nut butter – you can use raw almond or macadamia, but I love the smoothness and creaminess of the cashew butter. It has a mild flavor that doesn’t overtake the coffee or blueberries – but it’s higher in carbs so keep that in mind and use sparingly as too much will mean your smoothie isn’t so keto after all). It’s expensive but it only takes a little for one smoothie. I use the Artisana brand and I buy it in bulk – 6 glass jars per case. You can also buy giant plastic tubs of it even cheaper but I try to avoid buying food in plastic, especially stuff that sits on a shelf for awhile. I’ve also heard good things about this blend of nut butter but I haven’t tried it yet. Whatever nut butter you choose, read the label and be sure that it doesn’t contain added sugar. Ingredients should be nuts and salt, nothing else.
I usually open up my Biokult Probiotics capsules and throw those in my smoothie too. They don’t really have a taste and I’d rather drink them than take a pill. I tried this with vitamins as well, but a lot of them don’t taste great.
I love avocado. You might not immediately consider this as a smoothie ingredient, but the flavor is mild and it’s a great way to thicken the smoothie while adding another source of healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. I put this as optional because I don’t always put this in. It depends whether I have a perfectly ripe avocado on hand. Avocados have such a narrow window of being the right consistency for a smoothie – don’t even attempt to add it if it’s too firm.
Customize to Add Flavor and Antioxidants
For customizing, I add either wild blueberries, cold brew coffee or raw cacao powder to pack in some antioxidants.
Wild blueberries are lower in carbs than other berries and they contain 2x as many antioxidants as regular blueberries. Antioxidants are important because they fight against inflammation, cell damage, and age-related oxidative stress. They actually decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer, and studies have shown they actually decrease growth and stimulate self-destruction of certain cancers. And they taste great! I buy frozen organic wild blueberries from Whole Foods and usually keep a bag or two in my freezer. I add them to smoothies, pancakes and muffins, whatever I might be making. You can also get dried blueberries online, but they are more expensive – I do like them for salads though!
Raw Cacao Powder
Raw cacao powder has all the benefits of chocolate that you sometimes hear touted in the news – they aren’t talking about over-processed cocoa or a supermarket candy bar. The studies are focusing on the actual cacao beans – either raw or minimally processed. For this reason, I only use raw cacao powder in my smoothies, hot chocolates and all of my baking. Like blueberries, cacao offers high levels of antioxidants, giving you that same fighting power against oxidative damage that results in premature aging. Studies have shown that flavanols in cacao help to improve insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. Research has also shown that cacao flavanols have improved cognitive function and unsurprisingly, improved mood. So yes, chocolate really is good for you and you can go ahead and add it to your smoothie or whatever else you’re eating, as long as it’s high quality and minimally processed.
Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is the way I customize my smoothie if I haven’t had coffee already or I need an additional pick me up. Coffee is another wonderful source of antioxidants and is actually the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet because we consume way more coffee than other antioxidant-rich foods like wild blueberries for example. Studies (and probably your own experience) have shown that coffee improves mood, energy and mental clarity.
1-2 tbsp Brain Octane
2 scoops MCT oil powder
2 scoops Collagen Peptides
2-3 tbsp raw nut butter (almond, macadamia or cashew)
3/4 cup almond or cashew milk
1/4 avocado (optional)
2 Biokult probiotics capsules (optional)
3-4 ice cubes (skip if using frozen wild blueberries)
Customize one of three ways:
- A handful of frozen wild blueberries (you can skip ice cubes above if you use frozen)
- Organic cold brew coffee 1/2 cup (either make your own or buy it – I like Chameleon Organic cold brew)
- A scoop of raw cacao powder – or sometimes for a mocha flavor, I’ll do both cold brew and raw cacao powder.
Blend: I use an immersion blender for easy cleanup – possibly one of the most underrated kitchen tools ever. I had a older cheaper model that wouldn’t crush ice, but my brother-in-law gifted me an upgrade in the form of a Breville immersion blender that is so powerful it will blend ice very easily! Pretty sure my sister provided shopping guidance, but he still gets the credit – it’s awesome. Now I use it more than my beloved Vitamix because it’s smaller and easier to clean up.
A note on sweeteners: You’ll see there’s no sweetener in my smoothie. I don’t like very sweet things, and I find the wild blueberries add enough sweetness for me, and if I do coffee, I don’t like sweet coffee either. But if you want, there are some keto-approved sweeteners such as stevia (I avoid as it triggers migraines for me), xylitol and erythritol. I’ve never personally made anything with any of these sweeteners, though I know a lot of people use stevia with no trouble.
I’ve had a lot of success with a ketogenic diet, and while I don’t follow it strictly, when I get a migraine, or even if feel a migraine coming on, I go back to eating keto for a while to prevent myself entering a bad cycle of migraines. This really works for me and is one of the best changes I’ve made to manage my migraines without taking any prescription drugs.
Let me know what you think about the smoothie recipe and how you would customize it!
P.S. If you decide to follow a ketogenic diet, please do so under the guidance of a knowledgeable doctor. There can be detrimental effects of being in long-term ketosis, so I cycle on and off depending on how my migraines are doing and frankly, whether there is a fun holiday coming up that will include some carbs I want to eat 🙂 I’ve used a keto diet on and off with great success, but I’m glad I have a great doctor who’s very knowledgeable about nutrition.
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