It's no wonder why coffee ranks at the top of many people's morning menu: The buzzy caffeine rush instantly revitalizes your sapped energy stores and reboots your brain, which comes in handy on days when you've rolled out of bed still bushed.
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But if you don't have the taste buds for coffee or you're displeased by the fidgety feelings it gives you, you might be searching for other energy-boosting drinks to amplify your a.m.
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Whether you're not a java fan or you're trying to cut down your coffee habit, these six cup-of-joe alternatives will help sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
1. Brain-Boosting Blueberry Matcha
Need an a.m. pick-me-up? The matcha powder in this blueberry smoothie is guaranteed to give you a caffeine boost.
"Since you are consuming the whole [ground tea] leaves [rather than simply steeping them in water], you get about three times the caffeine of a brewed cup of tea," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN and author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
Just be cautious if you have an arrhythmia. While studies show that moderate caffeine consumption is generally safe (and may even reduce your risk of heart rhythm disorders), your caffeine intake should be capped at 300 milligrams a day, according to the American College of Cardiology. For reference, an average cup of tea contains between 35 and 55 milligrams of caffeine.
With 10 grams of fiber (approximately 40 percent of the recommended daily value) from blueberries, kale and chia seeds, this refreshing, nutrient-packed smoothie will also keep you satisfied and contribute to a healthy gut, Harris-Pincus says.
To up the protein content, she recommends adding in a half scoop of protein powder, plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
Get the Brain-Boosting Blueberry Matcha recipe and nutrition info here.
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2. Oatmeal Smoothie
This oatmeal smoothie will help you power through even the groggiest of mornings. That's because oatmeal is ranked number one on the USDA's list of energy-boosting foods.
Low on the glycemic index, oatmeal's complex carbohydrates serve up a slow-releasing, long-lasting source of energy. Not to mention oats are overflowing with B vitamins, which are necessary to convert food into energy.
The natural sugars in the apple and pear will also offer a bit of oomph without the blood sugar spike and crash you experience with refined carbs in sweets like candy and baked goods, per the USDA.
Get the Oatmeal Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Energizing Sweet Potato Smoothie
Number three on the USDA's list of energizing foods, sweet potatoes — rich in complex carbohydrates, iron and magnesium — are the star ingredient in this vitalizing smoothie.
These starchy, sweet-tasting tubers also tout an abundance of vitamin C, which your body needs to transport fats and produce energy, per the USDA.
But sweet potatoes aren't the only nutritious root veggie in the mix. This recipe also contains maca powder — made from the root-based Peruvian plant — to help you squeeze in extra nutrients including good-for-your-gut fiber and copper, which is vital for healthy bones, immune function and red blood cell formation.
Get the Energizing Sweet Potato Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Blueberry, Cucumber and Green Tea Smoothie
The green tea in this hydrating cucumber smoothie contains a bit of natural caffeine to enhance your energy without the jittery side effects of coffee.
The herbal tea also boasts the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a plant compound with potent antioxidant activity and possible anti-cancer properties that can ever so slightly increase your metabolism, Harris-Pincus says.
In fact, a December 2013 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found that sipping four cups of green tea per day is tied to a significant decrease in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference and systolic blood pressure.
To make this smoothie more satiating, you can add a little healthy fats with some chia, flax or hemp seeds or avocado (which won't alter the taste) and some unflavored protein or collagen powder to bump up the protein factor, Harris-Pincus says.
Get the Blueberry, Cucumber and Green Tea Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Matcha Latte With Almond Milk and Honey
If you prefer a warm beverage with your breakfast, this creamy matcha latte with a hint of caffeine will lift your spirits and your energy.
What's more, a mug of matcha tea may even help boost your brain function, according to a small study published in the September 2017 issue of Food Research International.
Researchers concluded that moderate matcha tea consumption partially enhanced cognitive performance, specifically on measures of attention speed and memory.
Like it cold? This tasty tea is equally scrumptious served over ice.
Get the Matcha Latte With Almond Milk and Honey recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Mint Cacao Nib Shake
This mouthwatering mint smoothie will put a little pep-permint in your step. Stacked with spinach (rated the second highest energy-boosting food by the USDA), this leafy green provides plenty of the minerals magnesium and iron, which are essential in energy production.
The naturally occurring caffeine in cacao nibs will also give you a little get-up-and-go in the morning.
But the flavanols — powerful, plant-based nutrients — in the cacao are the real rejuvenators since they may help increase blood flow to your brain and heart, counteract cell damage, thwart blood clots and lower blood pressure, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Get the Mint Cacao Nib Shake recipe and nutrition info here.
- American College of Cardiology: “Coffee and Tea are Safe for Patients with Abnormal Heart Rhythm.”
- Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: “The effects of green tea consumption on metabolic and anthropometric indices in patients with Type 2 diabetes.”
- Food Research International: “An intervention study on the effect of matcha tea, in drink and snack bar formats, on mood and cognitive performance.”
- My Food Data: “Top 12 Foods High in Energy to Keep You Going Through the Day.”
- My Food Data: “Raw Organic Maca Powder.”
- My Food Data: “Top 10 Foods Highest in Copper.”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain?”