Let’s face it, when most people want a dose of energy, they typically turn to a common pick-me-up: coffee. In fact, Americans collectively drink some 24 million cups of coffee every single day; that’s about 83% of us who can’t do without their cup of joe.
However, not everyone likes the taste of coffee, and even those who like it may not be thrilled by ingesting so much caffeine. After all, according to experts at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, caffeine is a drug. Too much of it can lead to addiction, as well as bouts of anxiety, increased stress levels, and sleepless nights. Sure, studies have also touted its benefits (such as diminishing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and stroke), but other research suggests that when it comes to coffee, less is more.
Therefore, the quest for a healthier alternative begins. Here are some healthy energy drinks that can help boost your energy, minus the jitters and restless evenings.
As basic as it sounds, water is a key energy drink that many people overlook. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as a pumpkin spice latte or double shot of espresso, it does wonders for boosting energy levels. Dietician Tristaca Curley believes water is the world’s ideal energy drink, noting its amazing ability to reverse sluggishness. Its hydrating properties are responsible for the energy surge it creates, and drinking it also supercharges everything from metabolism to memory.
2. Fruit or Herb-infused Water
If several cups of plain water throughout the day don’t quite do it for you, consider adding healthy options such as fruit slices, the juice from various fruits, or herbs. Not only does the incorporation of such foods give water some pizazz in the flavor department, it can give you an extra dose of energy beyond what water offers. Many people enjoy infusing their water with blueberries, lemon or strawberries or even herbs such as mint, all of which not only taste great but provide a nutritional and sensory pick-me-up.
3. Coconut Water
If you’re not up for slicing up fruits and buying herbs but aren’t wild about plain water, consider purchasing coconut water. It has a subtle tropical flavor, and it’s filled with electrolytes like potassium, making in an ideal way to hydrate your body and keep energy levels on track. While it’s not as good as making your own drinks with fresh fruit slices or smoothies, it sure beats other pre-made energy drink choices which are often laden with excessive amounts of sugar, artificial items and unpronounceable ingredients.
4. Chia Seed Drinks
Chia seeds are a popular item that can be found in just about any grocery or health food store. Studies have linked their consumption with everything from increased energy levels to regulating blood sugar levels. So why not make a drink that includes them?
Chia fresca has been enjoyed in Mexico for hundreds of years, and it’s easy to whip up too: just add about a 1tsp of chia seeds to water, squeeze in some lime juice, then sweeten with a healthy option such as organic honey. Stir and drink right away—the seeds tend to expand and turn the mixture into a gel-like substance if they sit in a liquid too long, which is good for recipes in which thickening is required.
While you may think of smoothies and immediately picture cringe-worthy green hues with hard-to-swallow chunks of raw food, don’t fear—the color has no bearing on the final taste, and most of today’s blenders do a fine job at pulverizing every last leafy green.
Experts advocate tossing the likes of kale, parsley and spinach—all nutritional powerhouses that can boost energy—in with desired liquids. If you want, balance the flavor out with some banana, honey or spices such as cinnamon. Play around with the various options and you’ll find the taste that best suits you. One of my favorite smoothies involves almond milk, a handful of baby spinach, frozen mango slices and a bit of honey.
6. Green Tea
Finally, while green tea does contain caffeine, it has less than a cup of coffee and possibly even more health benefits. In addition to being a good source of energy, studies have found that regular consumption of it can reduce the risk of cancers and heart disease while increasing mental clarity and overall focus.
Go ahead and enjoy your coffee, but just don’t rely on it alone to keep your energy levels high—too much caffeine can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Besides, these other alternatives allow you to experience new flavors and change things up in your dietary routine.