Looking to swap your morning coffee for something healthier? Making the switch is easier than you think.
Can’t get enough of the caffeine kick, but tired of crashing when it runs out? You’re not alone. Countless coffee drinkers around the world share the sentiment, and more are starting to reconsider the habit. We’ve discovered 5 healthier alternatives, but let’s start by discussing why coffee isn’t the best thing for you.
What They’re Not Telling You About Coffee
The truth is, caffeine dependency and coffee addiction are very real, and they can inflict some serious damage to your health. The average individual can consume 3-4 cups of coffee a day (that’s about 400mg of caffeine). (1) But if you frequently exceed that number, here are some health risks you could face:
- Weight Increase: Coffee’s caffeine content may raise your level of the stress hormone cortisol (2), which is directly linked to weight gain (3).
- “The Slump”: As much as coffee can give you a much-needed energy boost, this doesn’t last forever, and the crash can leave you feeling drained.
- Mineral Deficiency: Too much caffeine may prevent adequate iron absorption. Your kidneys’ ability to store calcium, zinc, magnesium and other vital minerals may also be affected.(4)
- Irregular Sleep: Your nervous system will retain caffeine for 4-6 hours. That means no matter how tired you are, you might have trouble falling asleep. (5)
The good news? There are much healthier choices out there that’ll keep your energy level high. Here are 5 must-try alternatives to coffee:
- Matcha Green Tea
Matcha green tea is a powdered drink that comes from the whole green tea leaf being ground. Matcha preparation is quick and easy—just dissolve the powder in hot water, and enjoy a cup filled with antioxidants (6).
As an alternative to coffee, matcha couldn’t be more perfect. A mere 2g of matcha powder has around a fifth of coffee’s caffeine content, just enough to give you that energy boost. The difference with the caffeine in matcha is that it’s absorbed by your body at a much slower rate (over 6-8 hours). This prevents the jitters, crashing, and insomnia-inducing effects coffee can cause. (7)
Apart from being a suitable coffee replacement, matcha’s true wonder is in its health benefits. It’s a prime natural source of the amino acid L-theanine, which helps promote Alpha waves in the brain, improving concentration and memory (8). Matcha is also a proven immunity booster, and can even contribute to weight-loss (9).
Be sure to only buy premium-quality matcha to receive the full range of health benefits.
Many don’t know this, but fatigue is actually a primary sign of dehydration. If you’re often feeling tired and getting headaches, you might just be suffering from dehydration.
The daily recommended water intake is just over half a gallon, but most people only drink water when they’re feeling thirsty, and this is a big (though all too common) mistake. As a matter of fact, thirst is one of the final symptoms of dehydration!
You see, your body’s systems struggle without adequate hydration. In fact, a study done on athletes revealed that dehydration adversely affected their ability to exercise.(10)
So how can you start drinking more water? Keeping a refillable bottle with you is a good start. Some add flavor to their water by throwing in some sliced fruit or tasty herbs. We recommend watermelon, cucumber, and ginger as refreshing flavors!
- Green Smoothies or Green Vegetable Juices
Inserting more greens into your diet can instantly boost your energy thanks to all the nutrients and antioxidants.
A smoothie or juice made from green vegetables is a great way to start increasing your vegetable consumption. For instance, half a cup of spinach in your smoothie can provide sufficient iron, which can protect you against anaemia (common for women).
Making a habit out of green drinks can also do wonders for your cardiovascular health. A study revealed that a mere 0.08 gallons of green juice consumed daily for six weeks brought down bad LDL-Cholesterol by 9%.(11)
Start your day with a green drink, or take one in the afternoon — throw in superfoods like spirulina, barley greens, or matcha powder for an added energy boost. Make sure 95% of the contents are from vegetables and not fruit. Fruit doesn’t help in the sugar department. Instead, get some flavor by mixing things up. We suggest a mixture of kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, a bit of ginger, and two slices of green apple.
- Yerba mate
Arguably one of the most popular drinks in South America, Yerba mate is a herbal drink that comes from the leaves of the Yerba mate plant. This plant’s leaves are picked and dried very much like tea, and it’s also served quite similarly. You steep the leaves in hot water, and serve in a traditional hollow wooden bowl. You sip it through a metal straw. One serving of Yerba mate has caffeine (around 75% of coffee’s), and like matcha, contains amino acids and nutrients.
While the taste is very close to standard green tea, Yerba mate delivers a buzz that’s closer to coffee’s, with less of the negative side effects.
- Protein smoothies
Protein is crucial to maintaining a healthy level of energy. Recent studies have revealed protein’s link to alertness and concentration, as it activates the brain chemical orexin.(12)
To provide your body with adequate energy throughout the day, try introducing a protein-based smoothie to your diet.
Popular ingredient choices for this smoothie include Greek yogurt, silken tofu, nut butter, and raw cashews. You can likewise throw in some protein boosters for a thicker texture. These include hemp hearts, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and whole oats.
Sample recipe: Blend 3/4 cup of almond milk, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, 1/4 cup of raw cashews (soaked overnight in water), 1 banana (from frozen chunks), 2 tablespoons of whole oats, and a pinch of cinnamon.
So Should You Completely Quit Drinking Coffee?
- Coffee in moderation is fine. Try to limit your coffee to one per day before 10am
- Switch your diet up and include some healthier drinks, you might be surprised how much healthier you’ll feel
- We believe matcha green tea to be the best alternative to coffee by a mile, promising both the energy boost plus so many more health benefits
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and consume enough protein to keep your energy level high
This guest post was graciously authored by Erin Young. Erin is a health food writer and a tea expert. She owns two tea companies; Evergreen Matcha in the USA and Zen Green Tea Matcha in Australia. She partners with sustainable tea farms in Kyoto, Japan to source her premium matcha green tea powder. Want a free Matcha Recipe book with over 30 healthy recipes delivered to your inbox? Click here.