Are you worried you may be a little bit addicted to that morning cup of coffee? Do you feel like you can’t start your day without that powerful caffeine hit? Did you know that you can still get the energizing boost from alternatives to coffee, that will give you the strength you need to tackle your day head on?
Coffee, like most things, is fine in moderation. However, if you’re consuming multiple Americanos every day it can make a big difference to your health to change your habits.
How many cups of coffee should you be drinking per day?
The general consensus from health experts is that 400mg is the maximum amount of caffeine that you should be consuming per day. That’s the same as around 3-4 cups. If you’re currently drinking more than that you might be experiencing negative effects on your health that could actually be slowing you down. There are a few telltale signs that you might want to cut back on your cappuccino intake:
- Low energy: you’re probably drinking coffee to boost your energy, but if you’re having too much it can have the opposite effect and you might be experiencing major mid-afternoon slumps.
- Weight gain: the stress hormone cortisol is known to be increased by caffeine, and this is proven to lead to weight gain.
- Lack of sleep: caffeine stays in your body for 4-6 hours so a late-afternoon latte could prevent you from getting the sleep you need to be at your best.
- Mineral deficiencies: caffeine affects your body’s ability to absorb iron and can reduce the storage of zinc, calcium, magnesium and other minerals that are essential to your health.
If you want to be as healthy and well-rested as possible while still getting that much-needed energy boost, here are our five favorite alternatives to coffee:
5 best alternatives to coffee
1. Matcha green tea
Matcha tea is made by grinding the whole green tea leaf into a fine powder to preserve all the goodness that the plant has to offer. Matcha is rapidly growing in popularity all around the world as the go-to alternative to coffee.
A standard two gram serving of matcha has less caffeine than coffee, but it’s absorbed much slower thanks to its amino acid content. Matcha’s energizing effects last for 6-8 hours and there’s no nasty afternoon slump, so a morning cup of matcha can see you through the entire day.
Matcha is also the ultimate sidekick when it comes to your health, and it’s packed full of weight-loss properties and cancer-fighting antioxidants. It also boasts the highest natural concentration of the amino acid L-theanine, which is amazing for concentration and memory.
To prepare matcha, just dissolve two teaspoons of matcha powder in hot water, give it a stir, then sit back and enjoy.
Do you often feel totally exhausted for seemingly no reason? If so, you might be dehydrated. Fatigue is one of the main signs that you’re not drinking enough water, and when you’re dehydrated your body will weaken. A study on athletes actually found that dehydration was linked to low performance, so imagine the effect it’s having on your body’s ability to function at its best.
And, the kicker is that if you’re dehydrated you won’t be able to replenish your energy levels overnight either, because it interrupts sleep patterns and can make you restless.
Make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day to keep your productivity levels high and your energy boosted. If you’re waiting until you feel thirsty to drink a glass of water, you’re waiting too long as this is one of the last signs of dehydration.
Aim for two litres of water per day and if you want to make it a little more interesting you can add spices, herbs or low-sugar fruit (think fresh mint, cucumber, and root ginger).
3. Green juices
We’re always told that we should eat our greens, but you should be drinking them too! Vegetables are incredibly good for your body and without them, your health suffers, but what you really want to be on the lookout for are the greens that contain less sugar, fewer calories, and more antioxidants. Kale, for example, is full of potassium which keeps your blood pressure in check and helps to prevent heart disease, and spinach is a fantastic source of iron which prevents anemia.
Drinking just one green juice per day can protect your heart’s health, and a study revealed that just 300ml per day for six weeks lowered LDL-cholesterol by a huge 9%.
For a quick and easy recipe, whizz up a handful of spinach, kale, cucumber and celery, two slices of fresh ginger and two pieces of green apple. If you want a healthy super boost you can also mix in a supplement such as spirulina, barley greens, or matcha powder.
4. Yerba mate
If you’ve ever been to South America you’ll know how passionate the locals are about their yerba mate. Made from the leaves of the Yerba plant, mate (pronounced mah-teh) is sourced and prepared in the same way as green tea and the taste is similar, too.
Mate has around 75% of the caffeine content found in coffee, but it has the same healthy amino acids as matcha green tea so it’s released steadily over a longer period of time.
To prepare mate, steep the leaves in hot but not boiling water before serving it in a traditional wooden bowl with a special metal straw.
Beware that mate has a powerful kick to it that creates a natural high, so avoid drinking it just before bedtime!
5. Protein-based smoothie
If you work out, you’ll know that protein is a fuel that your body needs to perform at its best. Research shows that a balanced diet that includes good protein will increase concentration and make you more alert, thanks to its ability to boost the brain’s production of the chemical orexin.
To give your body a consistent energy boost that will last the entire day, add a little protein into your daily smoothie.
There are lots of plant-based superfoods that are full of protein which can easily be added to smoothies, such as silken tofu, nut butter, and raw cashews. If you want a thicker consistency from your smoothies, try hemp hearts, chia seeds, ground flax seeds or whole oats.
To try our favorite protein smoothie, mix ¾ cup almond milk, 2 tablespoons almond butter, ¼ cup raw cashews (soak them overnight in water), 1 frozen banana (cut into chunks), 2 tablespoons whole oats and a pinch of cinnamon.
For most people, it isn’t necessary to ditch your beloved coffee altogether, and cutting back will usually be enough to notice a positive effect on your health. But, to see a boost to your energy and wellbeing, it’s a great idea to switch some of your daily cups for the tasty alternatives on our list.
Consuming healthier drinks will have a positive impact on your diet and your body and mind will both feel the benefits. And, adding superfoods like matcha green tea powder will give you the energy you need to get the most out of each and every day.
The most important thing is to stay hydrated and drink lots of water and consume plenty of protein to keep your energy levels high and your health at its best.