The 8 Best Alternatives To Coffee To Wake You Up, According To Experts
With an increasing number of daily coffee drinkers each year, it's safe to say Americans love coffee. And if you're one of the people in the crowd that's trying to cut down on your caffeine intake but can't sacrifice the energy boost, it can be hard to put that cup down. But instead of trying to cut out coffee completely, you might want to consider some coffee alternatives that will still wake you up.
"When looking for an alternative to coffee, a lot of finding something that you enjoy depends on what you love about coffee," Willow Jarosh MS RD CDN, registered dietician-nutritionist, health expert for Health-Ade Kombucha, and co-author of Healthy, Happy Pregnancy Cookbook, tells Bustle. "If it’s the flavor, then looking for something that has a rich, complex flavor is key. If it’s the warmth of a soothing morning sip, then a warm option is important. If it’s the caffeine buzz, then that should be a part of the alternative as well. If you need to replace coffee for some reason, then at least your alternative can bring you the most joy!" And if you don't know where to start, here are eight coffee substitutes that will help you put away the coffee but still keep the energy.
1. Matcha Tea
Matcha is a green powder that's formed when you grind up young tea leaves and can substitute as a great coffee alternative, especially for people who don't want to feel jittery. "Matcha contains caffeine along with L-theanine, an amino acid that relaxes the mind without drowsiness," Jarosh says. "Recent studies suggest L-theanine might work with caffeine to produce positive effects on cognition and mood. This might explain why many people report that the energy they get from green tea is a more relaxed energy that doesn’t create a jittery feeling." She also adds that because the entire leaf of the matcha tea plant is ground up for the tea, you're able to get a small dose of fiber to start your day.
2. Green Tea
Along with having several health benefits, green tea also makes a great alternative to drinking coffee. "Green tea is minimally processed and has the greatest health benefits of all available teas," Dr. Anthony Kouri, MD, and orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center, tells Bustle. "Multiple studies have shown that people who drink green tea are much less likely to get bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. In addition, research indicates that green tea helps reduce type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The caffeine in green tea helps to improve mental acuity as well as [increased] metabolism." Kouri adds that although there has been debate about how much green tea you should drink in a day, to get its maximum health benefits, he suggests anywhere from 3-5 cups.
There are a lot of natural ingredients that can boost your energy in place of coffee, so it makes sense to combine those in a smoothie to have at the beginning of your day. "Smoothies provide servings of fruits and vegetables, which many of us lack in our diet," Natalie Allen, registered dietitian and biomedical sciences instructor at Missouri State University, tells Bustle. "Adding a protein, such as yogurt, will help fill you up. Smoothies are a great start to the day with carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants and protein."
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can serve as an energy boost and be your replacement for coffee in the mornings. "This is a non-caffeinated drink made from fermented apples, and includes a compound called acetic acid," Kouri says. "This has been shown to have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels." Though, while apple cider vinegar can give you energy and provide other health benefits, Kouri suggests always taking it with a swig of water, as the acidity from the apple cider vinegar can damage your teeth if taken directly.
5. Golden Milk
Although people often drink golden milk at night, Kouri suggests it can be a good coffee alternative to keep you energized throughout the day. "This is a non-caffeinated, traditional Indian drink that is made warm, and includes ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and black pepper. Honey and vanilla may be added as well," he says. "The spices making up golden milk have strong anti-inflammatory properties due to the chemical curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. Some studies have demonstrated that consuming 500mg of curcumin is equivalent to 50 mg of arthritis (anti-inflammatory) medication." Kouri also adds that there has been studies that show that drinking golden milk can improve mental health, memory, and bone density.
6. Yerba Mate Tea
Yerba Mate Tea is a South American tea that comes from the leaves and twigs of the Yerba Mate plant of the region. It's served as a coffee-like energy booster in the region for hundreds of years. "One cup of Yerba Mate is roughly equivalent to the caffeine in an average cup of coffee," Kouri says. "It contains [...] theobromine, which is also found in chocolate, and is a naturally occurring stimulant. It gives you a smoother, longer lasting energy without the jittery feeling that coffee gives you." Kouri also says that Yerba Mate is filled with antioxidants that help lower blood pressure and prevent heart disease.
7. Homemade Hot Cacao
While you might think of hot cacao as a nighttime drink to help you relax and sleep, Jarosh explains that it can also serve as a great coffee alternative. "Whisking cacao powder into warm milk with your sweetener of choice can create a morning beverage that is packed with potent antioxidants, has a richness and flavor profile similar to coffee (especially if you go light on the sweetener), and might even have some mood boosting benefits (researchers still aren't sure what mechanism might cause the mood boost seen in some research)," she says. "Cacao also contains magnesium which can help the muscles in the body relax, so if you depend on coffee to help with keeping you regular sipping on hot cacao might help, too."
Kombucha isn't just a fun trend that's been picking up everywhere, it's also another potential coffee replacement for those trying to cut down. "Kombucha uses tea as its fermentation medium, so drinkers get the benefits of L-theanine working along with the caffeine to create a more even energy without jitters," Jarosh says. "But, kombucha contains less caffeine per cup than a plain old cup of tea, so for people who want a mild and gentle caffeine boost, kombucha is great. In addition, it delivers probiotic bacteria as well as a wake-you-up fizziness."
Whether you're looking to eliminate coffee completely or just try a few fun alternatives, these coffee substitutes are a great way to wake yourself up and start your day in a new way.