Caffeine can make you feel awake, energetic, and on top of the world. But it can also make you anxious, irritable, and unable to sleep. If it tends to have the latter effect on you, you don't have to make it through the mornings without any assistance. Alternatives to caffeine exist, and while they may not pack quite the same punch, you might not necessarily want that.
"Fatigue and lack of energy are some of the most common complaints doctors hear from their patients," Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, endovascular surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates, tells Bustle. "While many people are content to rely on caffeine for its immediate energy boost, there are habits and lifestyle changes that can be adapted to help increase energy levels — and benefit overall health for the long term."
While guzzling coffee may seem like an easy fix, its effects will wear off over time, and you may start needing more to feel an effect, which could exacerbate negative side effects like insomnia, nervousness, and stomach irritation. If you can't tolerate caffeine or don't want to depend on it, that doesn't mean you have to spend the day with your energy dragging. Here are some energy boosters that are completely caffeine-free, according to experts.
Often, when we're lacking in energy, a deficiency of certain vitamins is to blame. Consuming the right vitamins can help get you on the right track toward waking up ready to start your day.
"A combination of the right vitamins and electrolytes at key times can be very helpful for boosting energy," Arielle Levitan, M.D., cofounder of Vous Vitamin LLC, tells Bustle. "This can include magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. On a daily basis, taking a personalized multivitamin with the right combination of nutrients geared toward your diet and health concerns is a great way to boost energy overall. Certain vitamins such as Vitamin D, iron, B12, and iodine can all be a part of improving your overall energy and well being." The right combination of vitamins is different for each person, so talk to a nutritionist or another professional about your specific needs.
If you need a caffeine-free replacement for your usual cup of coffee, try drinking mint tea instead. "Fresh herbs and spices such as mint added to water or a mint tea warm/cold are uplifting and clear your senses," Lisa C. Cohn, MMSc, MEd, RD, nutrition director at Park Avenue Nutrition, tells Bustle.
"While some of the body’s energy comes from food and drinks, the body’s ability to produce energy is largely affected by daily activity," says Hollingsworth. "Though an intense workout may seem to increase fatigue initially, regular cardiovascular exercise actually creates more available energy for your body." He recommends taking a 15-minute walk, climbing up and down the stairs, jogging in place, or even just getting up and stretching.
Exercise not only gets your heart rate up and gives you a natural mood boost but also improves your posture, which in turn gives you more energy, says Cohn. "Take a walk from your desk throughout the day to realign your posture, stretch, and get your muscles loosened up, relax your eyes from computer work," she says. "Even take a 10-minute walk outside of your work space if possible and get into nature, stretch, or laugh. This all helps you to breath and realign your posture, which naturally 'refreshes' you."
It may not be as interesting as a latte, but a morning cup of water can help you avoid the mid-day slump. "When people are dehydrated, they can feel sluggish and tired," Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, owner of Nutrition Now Counseling, tells Bustle. "People may feel more energy if they are adequately hydrated. I try to make a point to drink a full glass of water before my morning cup of coffee and to drink water throughout the day."
"The body sources fat in a more stable way than it does carbohydrates," Cory Hedgepeth, author of How to Quit Caffeine, tells Bustle. "That said, not all 'healthy fats' are the same." Hedgepath recommends grass-fed butter and coconut oil, which have MCT, or medium chain triglycerides, in them. MCT can help give your brain an energy boost.
Coconut water doesn't just taste delicious — it can give you an energy surge. "Coconut water is always a great energy boosting bet because it's high in B vitamins," Dr. Niket Sonpal, an NYC based internist specializing in gastroenterology, digestive health, and nutrition, tells Bustle. B vitamins help your body convert energy from food into energy your body can use called ATP.
7French Oak Wood Extract
"Studies show that Robuvit, French oak wood extract, supports energy and helps curb feelings of workplace burnout by working at the cellular level to support mitochondria — the powerhouse of the cell — to give you a noticeable boost," natural health physician Fred Pescatore, MD, CCN tells Bustle. It's usually taken as a supplement.
If you feel like caffeine is no longer right for you, try a few of these and keep track of how you feel to figure out what works for you.