For many of us, coffee and energy drinks have a strong presence in our daily lives—so much that we might as well add “caffeine” to our schedule. While it has its perks, research shows caffeine can cause daytime drowsiness and irregular sleeping habits. Dependency can even form at small doses. Signs of withdrawal include headaches and fatigue. Luckily, there are healthier options to stimulate yourself without the ominous caffeine crash. Instead of reaching for that next cup of java, turn to these six foods for an all-natural wake-up call.
01. Brown Rice
Opt for whole grains to get the most out of your meal. While refined sugars like white rice give you a fast energy boost, they cause glucose levels to skyrocket, leading to a crash. Brown rice is a different story. It manages insulin secretion, ensuring that glucose fuels your cells efficiently. You’ll have a steadier release of energy throughout the day, along with a healthy dose of nutrients and fiber.
Often dubbed “brain food,” salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Studies show a link between omega-3’s—the good fats—and optimal cognitive function (aka mental sharpness). Proteins are the body’s essential building blocks, involved in pretty much every cell function. Together this duo will help you stay on top of your game.
Spinach is an ideal source of iron, a mineral needed for vital cell and body functions. Low levels of iron result in lack of focus, impaired physical activity, and feeling drained. They're also full of vitamin C (for iron absorption) and folate (crucial for prime brain function). These powerful nutrients will help you stay in tip-top shape throughout the day.
If you’re feeling a bit sluggish, try eating a banana. It won’t directly give you energy, but the high fiber content will control your blood sugar level. Otherwise, if your blood sugar is too high or low, you might feel lethargic and weak. Plus, bananas are cheap, everywhere, and easy to grab and go. What’s not to love?
05. Ginger Tea
A tea made of fresh ginger root, hot water, lemon, and honey is the ultimate feel-good beverage. Recent research proves the medicinal properties of ginger. Ginger can reduce fatigue by improving blood circulation and blood sugar levels. And it can boost your immune system! The taste might take some getting used to, so try making a tea with a small amount of fresh ginger. Over time, increase the potency by adding a larger piece of ginger.
A second (or third) mocha latte after work is tempting, but you can get an energy boost from something much simpler: water. Hydration is the key to staying energized. Mild dehydration can hurt your concentration, mood, and even your ability to do ordinary tasks. Aim for nine 8-ounce cups of water each day (that's at least one glass about every two hours). If you’re just getting into the habit, start with a smaller goal of six or seven cups a day. You’ll marvel at how excellent you feel after a tall glass of H2O.