FATWater won't make you fat but is no better than normal water, say experts

Aug 31, 2015 at 12:20 p.m. ET

The words "fat" and "water" just don't go together — except now they do. At least on one particular product, a new drink from Dave Asprey, the guy behind the phenomenally successful Bulletproof Coffee.

Bulletproof Coffee is a mixture of quality coffee, butter and coconut oil extract which Asprey claims gives the body and brain a fast energy boost. Supposedly the latest addition to the Bulletproof family works in a similar way. FATWater contains nanoparticles of fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are extracted from the centre of coconuts.

The concentrated gel is sweetened with fruit extracts and artificial sweeteners xylitol and stevia and marketed as Bulletproof XCT Oil. When added to water the concentrate disperses and turns the liquid cloudy. Alternatively you can buy FATWater as a ready-mixed drink.

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FATWater is being offered as a healthy alternative to the sugar-laden energy drinks on the market on the premise that the added fat, rather than sugar, gives the required burst of energy and hydration.

Asprey says FATwater is more hydrating than plain water because the nanoparticles of fat “bring the water into the cells more effectively.” He told TIME: “Drink a glass of water, and some of it will absorb and some of it won’t. But when your body sees that fat, it says, ‘Oh, come on in, this is pure energy.’ It brings the water in with the fat.”

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, assistant professor in the department of medicine at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition and a researcher of MCTs, confirmed that medium chain triglycerides are digested differently from other fats. They are burned off immediately rather than being stored in fatty tissue to be used for energy later on.

“It’s actually the opposite [to giving you energy],” St-Onge told TIME. “You don’t have the energy — you’re not storing it — so you’re burning it. It’s not useful energy.”

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But can anything really be more hydrating than pure water? Are we being conned into spending money on water when we’re fortunate enough to have a seemingly unlimited supply of the stuff pouring out of our taps?

Possibly, suggests nutritionist Zoë Harcombe. "It's true that fat-soluble vitamins need fat for absorption. But I'm unaware of any evidence suggesting water is better absorbed with fat. You're better off, in terms of pennies and health, drinking ordinary water to rehydrate," she told the Daily Mail.

"Previous research looked at whether coconut water — not oil — is actually helpful for rehydration and it is, but no more than water and it's not the oil they are talking about," said Aloysa Hourigan, senior nutritionist for Nutrition Australia Queensland. "I think there are a few misconceptions in terms of what [Bulletproof] are talking about and I don't think there is any research that would support their claims."

Despite nutritionists dismissing FATWater as a fad it seems the general public is keen to make its own mind up. So much so that the product is sold out on the Bulletproof website. Luckily we have a plentiful water supply here in the U.K. to keep us hydrated, so maybe we should just stick to that.

FATwater Concentrate 15 Millilitre Pack (containing 16 sachets available in Unflavoured, Berry, Orange, Lemon and Variety) costs £19; delivery to the U.K. costs £29 for the first two items and £4 for each additional item.

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