There are days when it feels like coffee is the only thing keeping me running.
There are also days when I know my body isn't asking for coffee. It's asking for something, just not coffee. Usually it feels like that something is a nap.
How to get energy without drinking coffee
When a nap's not an option, this list will make sure you've got 6 ways to get energy without coffee. Everything on this list will make your body feel energized in just a few seconds.
Give them a try. Maybe you'll love them all. Maybe you'll find a couple that you really like. Either way, you'll never be without an energy boost.
1. Eat a meal or snack that isn’t packed with simple carbs
On the days when we're exhausted, our body is practically begging us to hand over a quick fix that will make everything better. That's where sugar cravings come in. Maybe it comes to you as a pumpkin spice latte with a couple cookies after lunch, maybe it shows up as a bagel and 2 donuts before noon.
We make REALLY bad food choices when we're hungry. It's just nature. None of these simple carbs are going to help you stay awake (or help your waist line). They might get you through the next 2 or 3 hours, but you'll crash even harder than when you started.
opt for complex carbs
Instead of refined and simple carbs (like sugar and white flour), eat a small serving of something that's got complex carbs in it. Like oatmeal or a granola-Greek yogurt parfait for breakfast. For lunch maybe a brown rice sushi roll or baked potato instead of fries.
A veggie packed smoothie is also a perfect way to flood your system with the B-vitamins and nutrients it needs to function at its best. Sometimes all the body is really asking for is to be fortified instead of stimulated.
2. Stay hydrated
We get tired when we get dehydrated. You know what else dehydrate us? Coffee. Ironic, isn't it. We reach for the thing that we think will wake us up while that thing is actually what's partly at fault for keeping us tired.
There's nothing hydrating about coffee. If anything, it's a diuretic, meaning it pulls water out of us. That's why drinking a lot of coffee makes us have to use that bathroom.
the science behind it
But if we drink actual WATER, we start to give our body what it needs. If we're dehydrated, our blood volume drops. This means our heart has to work harder to pump oxygen and nutrients through our body, and has less ability to push toxins out.
The more we keep our blood volume in check, the more access to oxygen we have, and the more alert we feel.
Here are a couple ways to get you started drinking more water.
3. Deep breathing
Assuming you're hydrated, when we get tired we can also start breathing with breaths that are more shallow. All that means is we're not getting the oxygen we should to keep us awake.
It's not hard to pull more oxygen into our system. It just takes a few minutes of intention and focus. Here are a few great ones. Or you can just start right here:
a quick deep breathing exercise
Stop moving and find a quiet place for a couple minutes. Keep your mouth closed with your face relaxed. Breath in through your nose as quickly as possible and exhale with the same speed and force.
Do this as quickly as possible, taking a few seconds break after every 3 breaths or so. This is called Stimulating Breath and you'll definitely feel it.
4. Move! Or just stand up and stretch
It sounds counter-intuitive (and maybe kind of miserable). But when we move after being stationary or sedentary for a few hours, our body starts a kind of shut down process. It starts to conserve energy because we’re not using any.
Start to move, and your body will trigger everything it needs to keep you moving instead of the ones that tell you to slow down and shut off.
You don't have to go for a jog around the block, you don't even have to change into gym clothes to do something that can help. All you've got to do is stand up and stretch.
try it right now!
Pull yourself out of the chair or car or wherever you've been planted for the last few hours and raise your hands over your head pushing the right hand higher and then the left hand higher. Put your hands on your hips and rotate from side to side. Bend at the waste and try to touch the floor with your knees as straight as possible.
Want more ways to get your moving without going to the gym? Try these:
- The ultimate 5 minute TV workout
- Cure sitting disease without going to the gym
- 5 real life ways to burn 150 calories without changing any part of your day
5. Drink green tea
I'm betting you've heard that drinking tea is a great substitute for coffee. But I’m here to tell you, if you’re a caffeine junkie, this won’t be nearly the same. There's about a 3:1 ratio with coffee and green tea.
It would take about 3 cups of green tea to give you the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, so you'll never get the same kind of caffeine punch from the tea. But if you’re a caffeine junkie looking to cut back, this is definitely the way to go.
hydrating with tea
AND there's a bonus: the tea will help keep you hydrated when you sip all day long. So – sip a big cup of green tea all day long. It's like drinking very gently caffeinated water.
Pro tip: the caffeine will soak out of a tea bag within the first 30 secs, so if you don’t like the bitter tannins that hit you after a long green tea steep, keep it in for a solid min and you’ll get all the caffeine the bag has to offer.
6. Peppermint oil on your wrist
I did this once when I was falling asleep in a meeting. A coworker handed me a little roller ball of peppermint essential oil and with a couple swipes on my inner wrist, I was back in the game.
This essential oil has a crazy long list of good that I could ramble on about – like improved digestion, antibacterial properties, it's ability to alleviate headaches. But right now just know that this scent is also extremely uplifting and can stimulate your entire body with a whiff of the oil.
If you want to make your own essential oil roller balls, make sure you pick a good carrier oil to mix with a few drops of the essential peppermint oil. Keep one of these tossed in your bag for those moments when you just need a good hard shove into alertness.
you've got this!
Going a few days without coffee is possible. It's also possible to feel good while you're doing it. Keep this list in your back pocket and you'll be able to take the edge off of your exhaustion and get you through the day in one piece.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey! I'm Shani. I'm a dietitian and diabetes educator from Brooklyn, NY. I love brunch, baking and chocolate. It's my mission to make healthy eating easy and accessible to everyone, most of all healthy eating beginners. If you're ready to make a change or just need a place to start, I'm your girl. Find me everywhere @thingsweeat. Talk soon!
You can find Shani at http://www.thingsweeat.com/
My name is Shani and I’m a dietitian who almost became a pastry chef. I believe in eating real food and making a little room for dessert. I’m here to help you – a beginner to healthy eating – make specific, goal-oriented changes at your pace to reach your best level of healthy.