Get Energized...without Coffee!
It seems that coffee constantly outranks all other food/drinks we choose when we feel sluggish, low energy and sleepy. It is almost automatic for coffee-lovers to go for a coffee “pick me up” fix in the mornings and throughout the day. Sure, I myself adore coffee in all varieties, and truth be told, a sniff of its aroma is enough to put a smile on my face; but, even I recognize that many times than not, the side-effects of caffeine outweigh the energizing perks. Truly, coffee in moderation is an enjoyable and energizing choice- the brew is full of antioxidants and is reportedly advantageous in preventing numerous degenerative diseases. One main drawback, however, is that it does not provide long-lasting and sustainable energy needed throughout the day. The short-lasting burst of jittery energy crashes the body soon afterwards and returns it to its pre-caffeine, drowsy state. What’s worse is that this state is accompanied by a long-lasting, anxious energy that is not ideally appropriate for stressful and high-paced environments. Further, caffeine in coffee is addictive, and its withdrawal in regular coffee drinkers can lead to head-aches, drowsiness and moodiness.
So, what are the alternatives? There are many. Foods rich in vitamin B complex, potassium and protein are bound to give you the most sustainable energy throughout the day.
To be mentally and physically charged in the morning for work, physical activity or a busy weekend, I will share few of my favorite food and drink suggestions that will do the trick…..and the plus side is that they are all healthy and simple to prepare!
RAW NUTS and SEEDS- Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts….you name it. If it is a seed or a nut, it will give you the boost you need. The minerals and protein in seeds and nuts will give you physical energy to start your day. Sprinkle some in your hand or in your cereal. It works well as a snack to impede your mid-afternoon exhaustion.
PEPPERMINT/MINT TEA- Peppermint oil and peppermint extract works well to alert the senses. The menthol in peppermint tastes smooth and cool and works to lift the spirits. One cup of mint or peppermint tea a day will help you concentrate and stay alert- particularly when you need mental focus. The tea also works to relieve stress and headaches. Take it to work in a thermos mug instead of coffee.
YOGURT- Yogurt is known as the ideal, energizing breakfast food. Make sure to buy organic yogurt without any preservatives and colors. My favorite way to prepare yogurt is to mix natural, plain yogurt, honey and frozen fruits together. High in protein and energy-building amino-acid tyrosine, yogurt is known to provide the same dose of energy as coffee but without all the caffeine side-effects.
PEANUT BUTTER ON WHOLE GRAIN BREAD W/ APPLE SLICES- This combination utilizes all the energizing foods together! Although peanut-butter can be calorie-rich and should be limited in consumption, it is full of fiber, protein and minerals that will keep you energized. Bread enriched with whole grains will naturally retain all the healthy benefits that white bread lacks (you will just be taking in more empty calories and unhealthy carbs). Apples go well with this combo and are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to balance your dietary needs and clean your system of impurities.
OATMEAL with BANANA, CINNAMON and NUTS- Oatmeal is known to be full of complex, energy-sustaining carbohydrates. It is also rich in fiber and minerals. A mashed banana and cinnamon will not only add flavor to this delicious combo, but will enrich the energy benefits of oatmeal. Bananas are full of natural sugars, potassium and fiber (and will boost energy quickly). Eating a banana before a short work-out alone will sustain your energy for the whole duration. Cinnamon, in addition, regulates sugar levels and keeps your energy balanced throughout the day. Cinnamon is known to be a magic spice for diabetics precisely because of this quality. Adding a few almonds to this ideal energy-boosting breakfast will prepare you to tackle anything that comes your way. Running a marathon? Try it!
COCONUT WATER- For the athletes or for anyone desiring the effects of red bull (but without all the caffeine and preservatives), consider this electrolyte and potassium enriched drink. Coconut water is known to regulate blood sugar levels, to oxygenate the body and to infuse electrolytes and potassium into the bloodstream. This “original” energy drink is available in many health-food stores, and I highly recommend it!