Caffeine is one of the most widely used natural stimulants in the world. For many of us, a cup of coffee or black tea is the first thing we reach for in the morning to give us the boost we need to start the day. Some of us continue to drink several caffeinated beverages throughout the day just to keep us alert. As we all know, this is a bad habit that needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets any worse. So, if you are looking to curb your caffeine habit but cannot afford to lose any of your energy and concentration, here are some nutritious and (colorful) energy alternatives.
Smoothies made with leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are a great way to sweep away the morning cobwebs. These plants contain chlorophyll that provides the green pigment and oxygenates our blood to help increase brain function. Dark green plants are also a great source of B vitamins that encourage the body to release energy from food and promote a healthy nervous system.
More green energy options to add to your smoothie include spirulina or chlorella. Considered a ‘superfood’, spirulina and chlorella are two different forms of algae with very similar nutritional profiles and health benefits. Just one serving of either provides protein, an assortment of minerals and vitamins, and all the essential amino acids your body needs. Studies suggest that when used regularly, they support the immune system and are good for heart, blood, and brain health.
To help sustain your energy further, try adding low-fat yogurt or a banana to your smoothies. For a natural sweet kick with a low sugar boost, reach for an apple, some pineapple, or a teaspoon of a delicious spice like cinnamon or carob powder to add into your smoothie. These smoothie alternatives with help give you a natural boost of energy but if smoothies are too thick of an option, try a fruit and vegetable juice.
Freshly made juice is a quick, ‘grab and go’ caffeine alternative. Whether ingested in the morning or as a mid day pick me up, juice is a great alternative that will give you increased energy without the crash. Your best bet is to use dark, leafy green vegetables or herbs instead of the typical citrus fruit juices. Deep green juices provide a lift and increase brain function without the added sugar.
An easy juice recipe to try is:
- Take 1 large cucumber and 8 celery stalks
- Add a handful of kale, spinach, and parsley
- Squeezed lemon juice and add a slice or two of ginger
- Blend together
If you are really in a rush, try a shot of fresh wheatgrass juice for an instant energy boost. Sipped alone or mixed with other juices, wheatgrass is chock full of vitamins, minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. It is thought to provide energy, improve cognitive function and relieve anxiety. Despite its name, wheatgrass is considered gluten-free, and available as a juice, powder or supplement that can easily be added to any diet.
Not a fan of adding green to your juices? Pomegranate, beet, and carrot juice are all excellent choices for natural energy and add a bright jolt of color to your glass.
Considered one of the healthiest fruits on the earth, pomegranates are loaded with protein, fiber, and vitamins as well as three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest that pomegranates may improve memory and exercise performance.
As mentioned above, beet juice is another colorful alternative to your morning cup of joe. Just one glass of beet juice provides antioxidants and nitrates that may improve blood pressure and blood flow to some of the most vital organs in the body; the brain, heart, and muscles.
If you are more of a citrus fan, try a different orange juice each morning. You can mix it up by adding mixed berries or other citrus such as limes for the sweet yet sour taste. Also, carrot juice is a great choice for folks looking for high levels of beta-carotene to help oxygenate their blood, brain, and body tissue. You can mix orange juice and carrot juice together if you find that carrot juice alone is too pungent for your personal taste. If juice or smoothies are too much of a vegetable choice for you, perhaps fruit based teas are your solution.
If you like the morning ritual of drinking something hot in a mug, there are many wonderful tasting caffeine-free teas to perk you up. Common herbs such as sage, rooibos, and ashwagandha all make delicious, eye opening teas that are naturally caffeine free.
Ashwagandha Root, also found in our Adrenal Support Supplement, is commonly known as Indian ginseng and is an important herb in traditional medicine. As a powerful adaptogen and antioxidant, it is used to help enhance the body’s resilience to stress and is known for its mood-lifting effects. It may help support the body's natural anti-inflammatory response and improve immune support.
Another caffeine-free alternative is tea with reishi mushrooms which help sustain mental focus. Used for centuries for medicinal purposes, reishi mushrooms are thought to help improve brain function, increase focus, promote energy, and relieve stress and fatigue.
Schisandra tea, also known as magnolia berry or five flavor fruit, is said to contain all five basic flavors: pungent, sour, salty, bitter, and sweet. Schisandra tea is used in traditional Chinese medicine and seems to improve concentration, attention, and speed of thinking. It is also thought to have adaptogenic properties to help the body resist anxiety and stress. Although smoothies, juices, and teas are all wonderful caffeine-free alternatives, one of the most important liquids you must be drinking daily is water.
In a recent study made by the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended for both men and women to drink a minimum of 8 cups of water a day. Lack of hydration can cause fatigue and fuzzy thinking so it makes sense to increase your daily water intake. If plain water is just too boring to drink, create a detox inclusive of a splash of lemon juice and cucumber slices for freshness or a spring of peppermint to liven up the flavor.
A pleasant alternative for healthy hydration is aloe vera juice. Rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, aloe vera is one of the only plant sources of vitamin B-12 to help with brain focus. Unlike other juices, it contains no sugar.
Coconut water is another substitute for plain water. The average coconut has 94% water, very little fat and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. One glass will restore hydration as well as provide antioxidants, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
With spring right around the corner, now is a good time to focus on bringing new and healthy habits into your day. One of the simplest ways to start is to change your caffeine routine and try one of these nourishing energy alternatives.