It often seems like we're a nation addicted to caffeine. With a Starbucks or boutique tea shop on every corner, grabbing your caffeine boost is easy and convenient, and can often feel like a necessity. We have meetings over coffee, we work remotely at cafes and the choices can often feel endless. When it comes to coffee, there's drip, Chemex, cold brew, latte art and so much more. Then there is tea: herbal and herbaceous, floral, matcha, with various styles of tea bags and even pretty tea flowers that "bloom" in your cup. It's clear that we're a society which values our high-test needs.
While caffeine has some medicinal benefits, sometimes our bodies need a reset from too much caffeine in our system. When we get in the habit of consuming too much caffeine, our systems tend to get out of whack, which can lead to feeling jittery, restless, irritable or even anxious. Many people attribute caffeine to restless nights of sleep or even hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
Health and wellness coach Emily Whipple of Aspen Elevated Health, based in Aspen, Colorado, shares: "While I am not completely against caffeine -- nor do I feel it has to be eliminated from your diet -- I do feel that there are other healthy, alternative foods and beverages to consume, other than caffeine, that will get you out of bed in the morning and help you feel refreshed, energized and motivated throughout the day." Whipple resides in the Colorado mountains, at peak altitude, where hydration is key. "I often choose to consume food and beverages that give me the pick-up I need without stripping my body of hydration, while simultaneously fueling my body naturally."
Whipple has outlined five of her favorite eating and drinking habits to sustain and keep energy up throughout the day without running to grab that expensive nitro brew or macadamia nut green tea matcha latte.
Start your morning with lemon water and ginger
Whipple loves to start her day by adding fresh lemon juice to hot water first thing in the morning. Your body has been in resting mode while you slept during the night, and by introducing warm water and lemon first thing in the morning, it gently jump starts your day and signals your body to naturally wake up, to feel refreshed and get your insides moving. The lemon helps to make that first glass of water taste better, and also floods your body with vitamin C, which can improve the quality of your skin; it rehydrates you after a night's sleep, aids in digestion and supports weight loss.
For an added boost of energy, try adding freshly grated ginger with lemon water. Some studies show that ginger can reduce fatigue by improving blood circulation and blood sugar levels. Plus, as a natural antibacterial agent, it can boost your immune system and help keep you healthy all year round.
Eat more chia seeds
Chia seeds, also known as the "little miracle" seeds, have earned the superfood title for all the right reasons. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, these tiny seeds offer a long list of important nutrients including fiber, protein, manganese, zinc, B1, B3, antioxidants, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, which help to promote healthy skin, balance blood sugar, boost energy, and can even aid in weight loss. Chia seeds are low in calories and easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Whipple shares her favorite, easy-to-make recipe for Chia Seed Pudding, which will keep you satiated all morning.
Emily Whipple's Everyday Chia Seed Pudding
This simple, made-overnight, chia seed pudding is perfect for those mornings when you're feeling a little sluggish and need a pick-me-up at home or at work. Loaded with omega-3s, protein and fiber, it is also gluten-free, paleo -- and vegan if you use nut milk.
- 1 cup milk of choice (I like to use unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk)
- 2-3 tablespoons chia seeds (the more seeds you use, the thicker the pudding)
- 1/2 tablespoon sweetener of choice (pure maple syrup or raw honey are my favorites; add more or less for desired sweetness)
- 1 scoop of protein powder of choice (I prefer the plant protein powder by Garden of Life and sometimes use chocolate to add more flavor)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dash of cinnamon
- Optional toppings & ingredients: chopped nuts, mixed berries, granola, shredded coconut, nut butter
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together everything but the chia seeds. Mix well.
2. Add the chia seeds and continue to whisk. You might have to add a little more milk if the pudding becomes too thick.
3. Place in a sealable container or mason jar. Store in fridge and let chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight, to enjoy the next morning. Top with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Swap your morning coffee for raw cacao
"Raw cacao is a recent discovery of mine and now a part of my daily morning routine," Whipple shares. "I've recently swapped out my black coffee for this smooth, chocolatey tasting beverage." Cacao is a nutrient-dense food, with high amounts of minerals, copper, iron, manganese and zinc.
Cacao also contains theobromine, a compound closely related to caffeine but which provides a smoother, crash-free boost of energy. Brewed the same way you would make coffee in a French press (add hot water to the ground cacao beans, stir and press), the cacao helps you stay alert and awake without the unavoidable caffeine crash. Whipple is partial to Crio Bru available on Amazon.
You may remember that silly Zoolander quote with an eye roll, "Water is the essence of wetness ... and wetness is the essence of beauty," but it's pretty true. We have all heard about the importance of water for our overall health, diet and skin, but staying hydrated can also naturally boost your energy levels without the need for caffeine. Whipple adds, "A good rule of thumb, drink half your weight in ounces every day. Mild dehydration can affect your concentration, mood, and even your ability to do simple, ordinary tasks. If you start to feel that low energy creep up throughout the day, try swapping out that afternoon ice cold latte for a big glass of water and a short walk around the office to wake you up and get your body moving again."
Whipple suggests investing in a large that you can refill throughout the day. "I just recently purchased a new water bottle by Xtremeglas. The time marks on the glass are an easy reminder to keep me drinking water throughout the day." Additionally, a reusable water bottle cuts down on environmental waste and plastic, and by investing in a bottle that you like, you're more likely to drink out of it. (Just be sure to clean it often.)
Eat more fiber
Getting more fiber into your diet is a sure way to help you feel more full and energized throughout the day. When we eat foods that are rich in fiber (think leafy greens, whole grains and beans) we tend to feel full quicker, which helps us eat less, and ultimately keeps us more energized and less sluggish. Think of food as fuel -- the more nutrient-dense foods we put into our bodies, the better everything works! Fiber plays a major role in your digestion by keeping your digestive tract healthy and moving.
Some of the best high fiber foods are: dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, peppers, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and even fruits such as bananas, apples, mangoes and berries. Try to eat at least five to seven servings of vegetables a day and focus on whole grains (such as quinoa, wild rice and barley). Favorite rule of thumb: Eat the rainbow!
For a fiber-rich sweet snack, Whipple shares her favorite Energizing Nut Butter Balls (or her sneaky favorite title, Dirty Balls).
Emily Whipple's Energizing Nut Butter Balls
These are my favorite way to get more fiber into my diet. They taste great, are easy to store and grab when you need a quick boost of energy and often replace dessert or afternoon coffee.
- 1/2-1 cup nut butter of choice (I tend to use almond butter or a mix of almond and cashew nut butters)
- 1 tablespoon hemp heart seeds (these are my go-to: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts)
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon flax seeds (ground or whole seeds)
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract depending on taste
- 1/4-1/3 cup old fashioned oats
- 7-10 pitted fresh medjool dates, chopped (add more or less for desired sweetness)
- Cinnamon to taste
- Optional: Shredded unsweetened coconut or dark chocolate chips to either add into the mix or to cover each bite
1. Add nut butter, hemp hearts, seeds and vanilla extract to a medium mixing bowl. Stir together.
2. Add in the dates, oats and cinnamon and mix together until reaching a dough-like consistency. If too sticky, either add more oats or cinnamon. If too dry, add more vanilla or nut butter.
3. Use your hand or spoon to roll into bite-size balls.
4. Optional: roll balls into unsweetened shredded coconut to coat the outside or drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
5. Place on a sheet tray and freeze for 10 to 15 mins. Remove from tray and store in a sealable container in either freezer or fridge.