You may love the energy kick from coffee, but too much can be a bad thing. Try some of these greener, cleaner-burning 'fuels' that will wake you up, nourish your body, and keep you going longer.
Coffee is good for you in moderation. It contains antioxidants and gives a good energy boost, but too much coffee can have unpleasant side effects. Insomnia, depression, and anxiety have all been linked to too much caffeine, and the quantity of sugar that many people consume along with their coffee isn’t good either. The best thing is not to overdo it. There are plenty of other great energy boosters to get you going without taxing your body in the process. Here are some ideas.
White, green, and black teas all contain caffeine, but it’s a cleaner-burning, longer-lasting fuel when it comes to the energy buzz. You won’t crash as fast or hard, and you won’t get jittery. The tannin in black tea slows the absorption of caffeine and releases it in manageable increments. See Why You Should Drink More Tea.
2. Matcha Latte
When you drink matcha, you ingest the entire ground-up tea leaf, as opposed to steeped leaves, which means that you get a bigger nutritional punch per cup. Matcha has been linked to lower cancer rates. Whisk it into a latte for a coffee-like drink that’s warm and satisfying, but will energize you for longer.
3. Green Smoothies
Get nutrition, hydration, vitamins, and energy all in one shot. Blend a smoothie using fruits, ice, and spinach to make a delicious, antioxidant-filled drink that’s guaranteed to wake you up. You can even give it an extra caffeine boost with the addition of black tea. (See recipe for black tea smoothies here.)
4. Chia Smoothies
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients, particularly protein, and are becoming a popular choice for athletes to replenish their bodies post-workout. TreeHugger writer Margaret recommends a chia-peanut butter smoothie as a recovery snack – or as a dozy afternoon wake-up call! You can find her yummy recipe here.
5. Ginseng & Licorice Root Tea
This old recipe, posted on TreeHugger back in 2005, is said to be “an overall blood and energy tonic that also helps to detoxify the whole system.” I suspect it was originally meant to be a hangover treatment, but it can work just as well first thing in the morning.
1 handful small tendril rootlets of white ginseng roots (ren shen)
10 long thing slices of licorice root (glycyrrhiza uralensis of G glabra (gan cao))
Put the ginseng and licorice together in a thermos or a large teapot and add 4 cups of boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes, then pour off the liquid into a separate container. Add 4 more cups boiling water to the ginseng and licorice and steep 20 minutes more. You may repeat this process with the same roots up to 5 times. Strain the tea and drink it throughout the day.
6. Oil of Oregano infusion
Fatigue is sometimes caused by dormant viruses in the body, which can be fought with the powerful, antioxidant-laden oil of oregano. (My husband likes to call it “urine of Satan” for the burning intensity of flavor.) It will also boost digestion and immune system functioning. Add 1-2 drops to an 8-oz. glass of water and drink once daily.
I have a friend who swears by kombucha’s instant energy. She drinks it in the mornings instead of coffee. Kombucha is a fizzy, almost vinegary-tasting drink made of fermented black tea. It’s loaded with microorganisms, and its ability to reinvigorate is attributed to the iron that comes from the tea. It is easy to make at home.
8. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice has been found to extend athletic stamina, according to a study from the University of Exeter in the UK. It also has the ability to reduce blood pressure. Juice it raw, along with other vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, celery, etc.) to dilute its potency, or mix it into a fruit smoothie.
You’ve heard it a million times before, but water is essential to maintaining energy throughout the day. Water should always be the first option before turning to anything else. All too often people look to fancy energy drinks, laden with sugar, caffeine, and other additives to get themselves through the day, when all they need is better hydration. So keep that water bottle filled!
As with all herbs and natural remedies, check with your health care provider before starting any new regimen.