Love the buzz from your steamy mug of coffee but hate the slump after your spike in energy? We have found five delicious alternatives to coffee that will keep you energized throughout the day and deliver amazing health benefits.
But first, let’s talk more about coffee and why you may want to consider making a switch.
The Dark Side of Coffee
The recommended daily maximum is 3–4 cups which is 400 mg of caffeine, and for the average person, drinking coffee can be healthy in moderation. (1) But drinking more than the daily recommended level of coffee (or any at all, for those sensitive to caffeine) may result in some adverse health effects that are consistent with a caffeine overdose. Those effects can include:
- Weight gain: Caffeine in coffee can increase the level of your stress hormone cortisol, and elevated cortisol may cause weight gain. (2, 3)
- Low energy: Caffeine stimulates the body’s adrenal system, which boosts energy for a short time but then crashes it to leave you fatigued.
- Mineral deficiency: Caffeine affects iron absorption in your stomach. It also reduces your kidneys’ ability to store calcium, zinc, magnesium and other important minerals. (4)
- Disrupted sleep: Caffeine stays in your nervous system for 4–6 hours, so even if you feel fatigued when you go to bed, the caffeine can still disrupt your sleep. (5)
Sound scary? Or does the idea of having to power through your day without caffeine sound even scarier?
Well, fear not! Next are 5 great alternatives to coffee that will help you keep your coffee cravings in check but your energy levels soaring!
5 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee
1. Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha green tea powder is the whole green tea leaf stone ground into a fine powder. To drink matcha, dissolve the powder into water creating a tea packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Matcha is an excellent alternative to coffee. A two-gram serving of matcha (a little more than half a teaspoon) contains enough caffeine to give you an energy boost, but the amount is only 1/5th the caffeine in a standard cup of coffee. Additionally, the caffeine in matcha is delivered slowly to your body over a period of 6–8 hours. As a result, matcha delivers long lasting energy that does not leave you with the “jitters,” energy slumps or sleepless nights. (6)
Matcha also contains the highest natural concentration of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine promotes Alpha waves in the brain which enhance concentration and boost dopamine to improve memory. (7) And there are many more incredible matcha health benefits, including its ability to support the immune system, boost weight loss and deliver cancer-fighting antioxidants.(8, 9).
Did you know that one of the primary signs of dehydration is fatigue? If you feel tired, have a headache or are finding it hard to focus, then you may actually be dehydrated.
The majority of people make the mistake of drinking water only when they feel thirsty. Thirst, however, is one of the last symptoms that appears as a result of dehydration — and usually only after fatigue the fatigue sets in. When lacking adequate hydration, science has proven that your body will not perform at its best. One study of athletes found that low levels of dehydration significantly affected their capacity for exercise. (10)
To help you drink enough water (the daily recommended amount for adults is about two liters, or half a gallon), keep a bottle with you at all times, and try infusing it with natural flavor from fresh produce, like watermelon, cucumber or ginger.
3. Green Smoothie or Green Vegetable Juices
Introducing more greens into your diet can dramatically boost your energy levels because of all the nutrients and antioxidants they contain. And if you’re not a fan of tons of large salads or plates full of broccoli, a green vegetable juice or smoothie is an easy way to boost your vegetable intake.
Just half a cup of spinach in your smoothie is a rich source of iron that can protect against anemia, a condition that is relatively common among women and another cause of fatigue. A daily green juice can also protect your cardiovascular health. One study showed that consuming 300ml of green juice daily for 6 weeks reduced bad LDL cholesterol by 9 percent. (11)
When making your green juice or smoothies, make sure that 95 percent of the blend contains vegetables rather than fruit to keep the total sugar level low. For a bonus energy kick, you can also add in a superfood supplement like spirulina, barley greens or matcha green tea powder.
4. Yerba Mate
If you’ve traveled to Brazil or Argentina, you likely know how wild South Americans are about yerba mate. The herbal beverage is made from the leaves of the Yerba mate plant that has been picked and dried in a similar way to tea leaves. The drink is then produced by steeping the leaves in hot water.
The taste of yerba mate is similar to brewed green tea leaves, and it’s also said to deliver a buzz like coffee but with added focus, fewer jitters and less of an impact on sleep. One serving of yerba mate contains around three-fourths the caffeine of a cup of coffee, but it also delivers amino acids and nutrients.
5. Protein-based Smoothie
Protein is critical in providing energy to your body, and recently published studies show that protein boosts alertness and concentration by exciting the brain chemical orexin into production mode. (12)
To help supply your body with sustained energy, try adding a protein-based smoothie into your day. Green vegetables for have minimal amounts of protein, but to really boost the protein power, try adding in chia seeds, nut butter, hemp or a high-quality powder supplement like collagen or protein powder made from bone broth.
Final Thoughts on Energizing Alternatives to Coffee
- Coffee in itself is not unhealthy when consumed in moderation.
- Introducing a selection of alternative drinks into your diet can deliver some surprising health benefits.
- Staying hydrated with water and fueling your body with protein can ensure sustainable energy levels all day.
- Matcha green tea powder is a perfect coffee alternative that delivers an energy boost as well as and health benefits.
Erin Young is a heath food writer and a tea expert. She owns two tea companies; Evergreen Matcha in the USA and Zen Green Matcha Tea in Australia. She partners with sustainable tea farms in Kyoto, Japan to source her premium matcha green tea powder.