For many of us, the idea of starting our day without the whirring of our coffee machine is unfathomable. But when you’re slamming coffee after coffee to keep your eyes open, chugging on energy drinks in the afternoon to make it through the rest of the day, and ending it all with a pre-workout supplement to power through your workout, all of that caffeine can really start to take a toll on our health and wellbeing. From side effects like anxiety jitters to nausea and even long-term implications like poor sleep quality, consuming high amounts of caffeine can, unfortunately, start hurting you more than helping you.
It’s not always easy to cut down on caffeine or to avoid caffeine completely, especially if it’s become a non-negotiable part of your daily routine, but the good news is that it is possible if you take the right steps to prepare. If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year is to find a better way to stay energized throughout the day, we have you covered. Here’s how to cut out caffeine the healthy way this year, including ideas for good alternatives to caffeine and natural energy boosters.
Slow and steady wins this race.
If you’ve become dependent on caffeine over time and start your day with a morning cup of joe all week long, you know that cutting back is not fun. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms like headaches, fogginess, anxiety, and drowsiness can leave you feeling like reducing your caffeine intake is just not worth it, especially in the short term.
So if you want to decrease your caffeine consumption without feeling terrible, the key is to cut down your consumption gradually, rather than all at once. Start by cutting back on one cup of coffee per day. Then once your body gets used to it, eliminate another caffeine source from your day, and so on. To make it as easy as possible for yourself, it might be helpful to start reducing your caffeine intake during a time when you have fewer responsibilities on your plate (ex: a weekend rather than in the middle of your busy work week).
Add less-caffeinated alternatives to your rotation.
If you still like having that burst of energy that caffeine gives but don’t want to rely on strong energy drinks or cups of espresso, it might be helpful to replace your stronger drinks with less-caffeinated alternatives to coffee.
For example, consider replacing your afternoon cup of coffee with a cup of half-caf. This can help alleviate some of those withdrawal symptoms without overloading your system, especially if you’re working on gradually reducing your caffeine consumption over time.
Black tea is another good choice, especially since a cup of black tea only has approximately 28-46 mg of caffeine versus coffee’s 107-151 mg.
Finally, green tea is another great caffeine replacement, particularly since it’s also a rich source of other nutrients that are thought to help increase alertness with less caffeine. In particular, green tea has an amino acid called L-theanine that is thought to improve alertness even when you’re stressed. In fact, one study found that people who had green tea performed better under a stress test than people who had only caffeine!
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Feeling foggy? Your brain might not be calling out for caffeine; it might just need adequate hydration instead!
Water plays many roles in your body, not least of which is keeping your brain awake and alert. In fact, studies have found that if you’re dehydrated by merely 2%, your cognitive performance can suffer! So to make sure that your brain has all of the essential tools needed to function properly, make it a priority to drink plenty of water. Keeping a good purifying water bottle on hand like the LARQ Bottle Filtered or LARQ Bottle PureVis on hand throughout your day can help you hydrate regularly and make sure that you have a clean, healthy source of water even when you’re on the go.
Embrace natural energy boosters.
If you’re looking to branch out and try improving your energy levels from the inside out, you might want to try adaptogens. Adaptogens are natural herbs and plants like medicinal mushrooms and ginseng. They’re thought to support your body against stress, fight fatigue, and promote natural energy levels, all of which may help you stay awake, alert, and ready to take on whatever tasks are on your to-do list for the day.
Improve your diet.
Another natural source of energy? Your diet!
Your diet is your first and foremost source of energy, so paying attention to the basics can go a long way on your quest for natural energy boosters. Some energy-boosting foods and nutrients to always include in your daily diet are:
- Complex carbohydrates: Carbohydrates aren’t all bad; in fact, they’re your brain’s preferred source of energy! The key here is to choose complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than simple sugars and processed foods. These complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to digest than simple sugars, so won’t cause dramatic blood sugar changes and subsequent mid-afternoon slump.
- Lean protein: Protein is another essential tool for fueling your body and preventing crashes. Not only do they help build crucial cells in your body, but they also help stabilize blood sugar. They’ll also keep you full until your next meal, so no more flagging concentration levels from feeling hungry! Look for lean protein sources like nuts, seeds, poultry, and seafood.
Satisfy your need for a cozy beverage with other options.
Finally, you might be missing the cozy satisfaction of a warm cup of coffee as you’re cutting down on your caffeine. Luckily, there are plenty of other cozy caffeine-free drinks that you can enjoy throughout your day to fix your cravings.
Chicory root, for example, is a popular coffee alternative because it has the same toasted, roasty flavors as your favorite cup of joe, but without the caffeine. It’s also a functional food packed with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention healthy dietary fiber and antioxidants for total body wellness.
Uncaffeinated teas are also great options that can keep you grounded during the day. Brew up some hot water and make chai tea or herbal teas for a tasty cup of goodness that won’t leave you feeling wired or tired after you’re done sipping.
Caffeine might help us stay alert, but it can also leave us feeling wired and tired. To cut down on your caffeine intake, start by paying attention to the basics like your diet and hydration, then incorporate some caffeine-free alternatives to your day to replace your usual lattes or energy drinks. You’ll be well on your way to feeling energized from the inside out!