Powerful Energy Boosters That Aren’t Coffee
Caffeine-Free Alternatives for Energy
It’s probably safe to say that none of us love feeling exhausted at the start of our day… or middle of the day for that matter. Apart from winding down for bed, feeling tired is something that most of us simply don’t have time for. Between working, going to school, taking care of our family or showing up for social events, busy schedules don’t tend to play well with feeling fatigued.
And while coffee, energy drinks and the like are common fixes for getting a quick boost of energy, the crash that can come afterwards sometimes hits at the worst possible time… cue the late afternoon meeting or the job interview that you’ve been prepping for.
While we’d be lying if we said we didn’t partake in these types of caffeine fixes, it’s important to note that balance in how we energize our body and mind is essential for staying healthy and preventing jitters or other caffeine-induced drawbacks.
So, we offer you some of our favorite energizing vitamins and ingredients along with some caffeine-free alternatives and foods to power your energy throughout the day.
A natural alternative to caffeine, this rhizome is a nootropic that provides all the benefits of caffeine, without actually having any stimulants in it. Also known as Thai ginger, this plant-based source of energy provides the kind of mental concentration and focus that we all look for when the day is a dumpster fire.
Another plant pal—ashwagandha is known for its calming properties as an adaptogen that helps lower cortisol levels, but it’s also known to fight fatigue associated with stress too. Naturally caffeine free and a favorite when it comes to energy boosters, this herb deserves a high five for doing the most for us.
These nifty little vitamins help our bodies convert and use energy from carbs, proteins and fats efficiently. By helping with metabolism, DNA synthesis and all sorts of other fun science-y things, B vitamins maintain energy-producing functions like nutrient breakdown and absorption running like a well-oiled machine.
Top Foods for Sustained Energy
To no one’s surprise, diet plays the most crucial part in how our bodies can create and use energy. Since food is our main source of energy, the types of food we consume can make us feel different sensations. Foods with ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup can actually give our body too much sugar, causing us to “crash” or feel drained after the initial rush of energy.
And we are not fans of that feeling.
So, we laid out some foods to look for to get that rush of energy without the fallout later.
If coffee is your elixir of the dawn, we understand there may be no “replacing” your morning ritual. But, if you’re looking for a more energized start to your day without the caffeine jitters, here are some of our favorite breakfast options to power up our minds and start off on the right foot.
Sweet Potato Brekkie Skillet
If you have a little time to spare, throwing together a breakfast skillet is a filling way to fuel your body. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber which slows the digestive process so you can absorb carbs more slowly and give you a better chance for sustained energy throughout the day. We like to add eggs for protein along with kale or spinach for iron—both of which are helpful for fighting fatigue.
Just chop up some sweet potatoes into little cubes, throw into a pan on medium heat and toss with a healthy glug of avocado oil (or veggie broth if you prefer), cover and stir frequently for around 15 minutes. Add your leafy greens until wilted and crack an egg or two in and cook to your liking. We like to add a little garlic, cumin or even just salt and pepper, but the world is your oyster with the seasonings.
The best part? You can pack this up into to-go containers for the week, easy peasy.
Too short on time for that well-balanced breakfast? Not to worry, there are some easy wins to pair well with the morning commute.
- Oatmeal or Overnight Oats: Oats are a great source of fiber and work similar magic that sweet potatoes do when it comes to slowing digestion and giving us a more gradual source of energy—we’ve got a super easy recipe here
- Yogurt: High in protein, fats and carbs for easy on-the-go energy
- Bananas: One of the easiest wins for a successful morning, bananas offer natural sugar for a quick energy boost, deliver fiber and you can even throw some slices on top of that yogurt for some bonus fuel
This meal can be a hit or miss depending on what your day looks like. Some of us may be out and about or short on time before getting back to work or class, making vending machines and fast food foul temptresses. Meal prep is the best way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to keep from a drowsy late afternoon, and we’ve got a go-to that can get thrown together in 15 minutes or less.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Tuna offers a sea of helpful B vitamins for a quick hit of energy along with over 20 grams of protein per 8 oz of albacore. Paired with nutrient-rich chickpeas (hummus’ early years), this Med salad is both filling and fueling, plus it comes together super quickly so you don’t have to rely on burgers and fried food to keep you going.
Just chop up some veggies that you enjoy and put in a prep bowl with enough chickpeas to your liking—we like to use cucumbers, red onion and tomatoes for this one. Mix up the juice of a lemon with some olive oil for the dressing (you can also mix olive oil and seasoned vinegar for a similar flavor.) Snag one of those 8 oz cans or packs of tuna to bring with you and when you’re ready to eat, combine the veggie/chickpea blend with the dressing and tuna in a bowl. If you’re feeling extra fancy, kalamata olives and feta really bring the flavors together.
One of those days where lunch might not even happen unless you prioritize it? We gotchu. These aren’t meal replacements, but if you’re in a pinch they can help satisfy hunger and keep you from falling asleep at your desk… hopefully.
- Cottage Cheese: It’s easy, loaded with vitamin B12 and if grandma swears by it, who are we to argue?
- Apple Slices and Nut Butter: Apples take a minute to digest, so you’ll be able to keep on keepin’ on. Adding a nut butter can give you some added protein and help you stay full
- Hard Boiled Eggs with Almonds and Cheese: It’s like girl dinner only lunch form. Eggs dish out 30% of your daily protein while almonds provide manganese for keeping energy moving throughout the body. Cheese is high in calories to keep your pistons pumping, so this combo can help you feel full as well
- Popcorn: Even more of a snack than anything, but it’s rich in carbs and will make the people around you jealous when they have to smell that freshly popped goodness
Most dinners with staples such as chicken, rice, salmon or legumes are going to provide a good bit of power with protein, carbs and healthy fats. You can’t go wrong with a grilled chicken spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese. If you’re looking to add some grains to your meal, brown rice provides an excellent source of antioxidants along with magnesium, calcium and energizing B vitamins.
Intro to Chicken 101
Chicken breast is simple and only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook on the stove. You can season it with a rub or let it marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours. If you’ve got some of that lemon left from the Med salad, you can use that with olive oil, some parsley and oregano and some garlic for a similar flavor but in chicken form. Whatever you decide to go with, just throw it in a pre-heated pan on medium heat for 5-7 minutes on each side.
Pro-tip: Make sure the internal temp is 165 degrees Fahrenheit to keep Gordan Ramsey from punching through your wall.
Dinner can be tough, especially if you live in a household with people running to classes, practice, rehearsals and everything in between. Luckily there are still some healthy options to keep your energy levels healthy and happy.
- Charcuterie Sampler: We’re not talking about a Pinterest-worthy board, we know that takes time. But nuts and dried fruit paired with some deli meat and cheese can be a quick fix before you’re off and running again
- To-Go Wraps: Perfect if you want a salad on the go, wrap some greens in a tortilla along with a protein and you are on your way
- Energy Bites: Easy, no-bake bites with protein powder and oats can stave off hunger and help keep you full until you have time for a real meal—we’ve got a 15-minutes-or-less recipe here
- Berries in Coconut Water: If you crave sugar or dessert, this one’s for you. Also known as “Nature’s Cereal,” blueberries, raspberries and blackberries all provide a satisfyingly sweet flavor along with powerful antioxidants that can help fight fatigue. You can also add strawberries for some added vitamin C to feel your best after a long day