5 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee that will Energize You
Do you love the boost you get from your morning coffee but hate the caffeine slump and the difficulty sleeping that comes after it? There are plenty of coffee alternatives that will deliver that much needed energy in a healthier way, and we’re going to share our favourite five with you. But first, a little more on coffee and its effects.
How Many Cups of Coffees Are OK?
It’s recommended that you don’t go over an average of 3-4 cups (400mg of caffeine) each day, as it can be damaging to your health to do so (1). If you’re drinking more coffee than you should, here are a few things to keep an eye on:
- Weight gain: a cup of coffee might seem like the perfect way to relax, but it actually increases the stress hormone cortisol (2), which is proven to cause weight gain (3).
- Energy loss: although caffeine will temporarily boost your energy levels by stimulating your adrenal system, every coffee drinker is familiar with the slump that comes soon after.
- Mineral deficiency: your iron intake can be significantly hindered by caffeine, and essential minerals including calcium, zinc and magnesium are depleted (4).
- Bad sleep: the effects of caffeine can last for four to six hours, which can affect your sleep if you like to drink a cup of coffee in the evening (5).
So, what are your options, other than coffee? We’ve listed five healthier alternatives that still give you the energy boost that you’re looking for, but won’t get in the way of those important five more minutes.
- Matcha Green Tea
Matcha green tea is a popular alternative to coffee. This is because, like coffee, matcha contains caffeine – but matcha contains much less. A standard cup of matcha contains around a fifth of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee.
What’s more, matcha’s caffeine is absorbed by your body, over a longer time period (of around six to eight hours). Matcha will give you the energy boost you’re looking for, but without the irritating jitters that can affect your sleep (6).
There are plenty of other health benefits with immunity-increasing matcha. As well as helping with weight loss (7), the green tea leaf contains cancer-fighting antioxidants (8), and has the greatest naturally occuring level of the amino acid L-theanine, which boosts concentration and memory (9).
Matcha is super simple to prepare: just stir two teaspoons into a cup of hot water and enjoy.
To ensure that you’re receiving the full range of health benefits, always buy high-quality matcha green tea powder from Japan
If you find yourself suddenly feeling exhausted, you might simply be dehydrated. Many people don’t know this, but fatigue is actually one of the main symptoms of dehydration and not drinking enough water can be damaging to your sleep pattern.
A common error is to only drink water when you feel thirsty, but at this point it’s already too late: thirst is one of the last symptoms that you’ll experience when you’re dehydrated.
When your body isn’t properly hydrated it will become weaker. In fact, a study on athletes showed that their capacity for exercise was directly related to dehydration. To stay well hydrated, aim to drink two litres of water per day.
Tip: always take a reusable drink bottle with you when you go out, so you have water to hand and no excuse not to drink. You can also make it more tasty by adding sliced fruit and fresh herbs. We recommend watermelon, cucumber or ginger for refreshing infusions.
- Green Juices and Smoothies
Green vegetables are incredibly good for your body and can make a big difference to your health. Spinach, for example, is one of the best sources of iron which helps to prevent anemia (women are more prone to this disease).
Drinking a daily glass of green juice can also improve your cardiovascular health, and a study showed that just 300ml of green juice each day lowered LDL-Cholesterol by 9% over six weeks.
Green juice might not sound like the tastiest thing, but it’s important to avoid too many sweet ingredients to keep your sugar intake low, as this can affect the quality of your sleep.
One of our favourite recipes is to combine a handful each of kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, along with two pieces of fresh ginger and two slices of green apple. If you want an energy boost, add a healthy supplement like barley greens, spirulina or matcha green tea powder.
- Yerba mate
Anybody who’s been to South America will know how much the locals love this hot herbal drink. Mate (pronounced mah-teh), is created from the leaves of the Yerba mate plant, and is similar to green tea in the way that it is sourced, prepared, and also how it tastes.
To prepare mate, fill a small wooden mate cup with the leaves, steep them in hot water and sip it through a metal straw. More hot water can be added to the cup when needed, and South Americans tend to carry their mate around and drink it throughout the day.
Mate has around three quarters of coffee’s caffeine content and creates a lovely natural high without the energy slump or difficulty sleeping. It also shares the same amino acids that can be found in matcha green tea, for a great health boost.
- Protein smoothie
There is lots of research supporting the fact that consuming protein increases concentration and alertness without affecting sleep, thanks to its abilities to stimulate production of the brain’s chemical orexin.
To create a more sustainable level of energy for your body, adding a protein based smoothie to your diet can be hugely beneficial.
Protein packed products include Greek yogurt, nut butter, silken tofu and raw cashews. If you like a thick consistency in your smoothies, simply add hemp hearts, ground flax seeds, chia seeds or whole oats.
Tip: for a delicious and healthy smoothie, blend together ¾ cup almond milk, two tablespoons almond butter, ¼ cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in water), one frozen banana cut into chunks, two tablespoons of whole oats and a pinch of cinnamon.
“Should I stop drinking coffee?”
- No, not necessarily. Finding healthy alternatives doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut out coffee, simply drink it in moderation.
- Adding healthier drinks to your diet will allow your body to experience lots of health benefits that you might have been missing out on by only drinking coffee.
- Matcha green tea is the best option in our list for increased energy, natural health benefits and a good night’s sleep.
- Make sure that you are always well hydrated and that you maintain a substantial intake of protein to keep your energy level up.