25 Ways to Boost Your Energy Level Without Coffee
Feeling your energy lagging? Skip the Starbucks and try these mood boosters.
As the day goes on, when you feel your energy take a dip, you probably do what millions of people do: reach for a cup of coffee. But while that's hardly abnormal or unhealthy, relying on a caffeine jolt (or half a dozen of them) can lead to a lower rate of return with each subsequent drink, requiring you to drink more to feel awake or jittery.
"While there are some health benefits of coffee consumption, research also shows that it can actually make you more tired," says Jeanette Kimszal, a nutrition and fitness expert. "It becomes a vicious cycle of being tired and reaching for coffee only to lead you to become more tired."
She advises that if you must have coffee, stick to one cup a day to minimize the "negative energy-draining effects." Or why not go on a break from coffee altogether, and try one of these 25 solutions that provide energy without caffeine? We guarantee you'll have more pep in your step in no time. And for more small but significant ways you can improve your wellbeing, check out the 40 Tiny Health Adjustments That Can Change Your Life After 40.
Eating more vegetables can make a major impact on your energy levels since they are rich in nutrients that serve as fuel for your body. "We should be consuming between nine and 10 servings of vegetables every day," says Kimszal. "This may seem like a lot but it is only one half to one cup per serving. This means if you add three cups to each meal, you will be at the recommended intake."
Add chia seeds to your cereal.
"This food packs a punch with fiber, protein, and healthy fat that will give you a boost of energy you need in the morning," explains Kimszal. Chia seeds have earned the "superfood" designation thanks to their high concentration of nutrients, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon, gram for gram). They also give you a little zip of energy. And for more ways food affects your health, check out Eating More of This Could Help Protect You From Coronavirus.
Get seven to nine hours of sleep.
Yes, it's a no-brainer, but the best way to ensure you've got a burst of energy without caffeine in the morning is to get enough sleep at night. In fact, a 2015 study published in Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation found that adults ages 18 to 64 should get seven to nine hours of rest each night. So make sure you go to bed early to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Stick to a sleep schedule.
"Make sure you set up a bedtime routine so your body knows it's time to rest," advises fitness coach Kylene Terhune (aka The Tiny Fit Diva). "Cool your house in the evening so your body can respond to nature's natural signal that it's time to shut down. Avoid technology and/or wear blue light blocking glasses up to two hours before bed." And for more bad sleep habits you should quit, check out the 25 Things You're Doing That Would Horrify Sleep Doctors.
Eat raw cacao.
Terhune swears by eating raw cacao as an alternative to a warm cup of joe. "Raw cacao has PEA (phenylethylamine), which is known to increase energy levels in some," she says. "Depending on your level of responsiveness, it may energize you in a similar way to a shot of espresso."
Take a walk.
A brisk morning stroll can charge up your energy quickly, especially if you have been spending a few hours behind a desk. Take a walk around the block, appreciating the natural surroundings you come upon and the vibrancy of your neighborhood.
"This does not have to be long, but even just stepping outside for a few minutes in the sun will ensure your circadian rhythms are running right," says Andrea Traviliian, a life coach. "The morning sun has more blue light to get you going." And for more ways walking is good for you, check out the 25 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking.
Take a power nap.
If you find your energy flagging toward the afternoon, finding a quiet place to take a brief nap can transform the second half of your day much more effectively than another cup of coffee. Power napping 15 to 25 minutes will rejuvenate you for the rest of the day, explains Nikki Walter, TEAM Athlete for Bodybuilding.com. "Quiet time helps with my energy, especially before a second workout in the evenings."
Crank the tunes.
If you've ever turned up your favorite songs while on a run, you know the power of a good pump-up playlist. Music can work miracles on your energy level—and truly give you that boost of energy without caffeine. "Play something upbeat and positive that gets you into a good mood even if you had a rough start," urges Walter.
Add magnesium to your diet.
Adding magnesium to your diet can be an excellent way to ramp up your energy. "This is helpful for breaking down glucose into energy," says Walter. She suggests almonds or whole grains for breakfast. Avocado is also a favorite choice for a quick bite and is high in magnesium.
Drink more water.
You've heard about how important water is for your health, but it may not have occurred to you that staying hydrated can help to elevate your energy as well. "Many people don't connect low energy with dehydration," agrees Ginny Wright, a nutrition coach and personal trainer. She advises drinking a third of your body weight in ounces of water every day—beginning first thing in the morning.
"A warm cup of water with a bit of lemon is a good way to start," says Wright. "Then continue drinking water throughout the day. Drink water before you eat. You may be confusing thirst for hunger. Be careful about drinking too much in the evening as this plan can backfire and wake you up at night." And if you're shopping for a reusable water bottle, check out 25 Cute Water Bottles That Will Keep You Hydrated All Summer.
Exercise in the morning.
Just like hydration, it's no surprise that exercise is good for you, but if you are one of those after-work exercisers, you might consider adjusting your schedule. A morning workout or stretch routine will give you a burst of energy that can last you into the early afternoon.
Wright suggests this routine: "Get right out of bed and get moving. Start slow with a gentle stretch of your major muscles. Do a forward fold to decompress your spine; pull your heel up to your glutes to stretch your quads and give a big roll of the shoulders. Now slowly elevate your heart rate by moving your body in a way that you enjoy and that challenges you. Maybe a body-weight workout or swimming or cycling. Bonus points for exercising outside and connecting with nature."
Do a micro workout during the day.
If you feel that you're losing energy, drop and do 10 pushups. Or do a quick stair climb. While gyms are closed for the time being, you can add some quick and easy at-home exercises to your routine to reset and get your body moving.
"Do some push-ups or jumping jacks to get your blood pumping oxygen to your muscles," suggests Wright. "Stretch your arms over your head, lean and stretch to both sides and touch toes before sitting back down."
Consider what you did yesterday.
"The way you feel in the morning is directly related to what you did the day and night before," says Denny Hemingson, diet and lifestyle expert and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner. "Did you eat a clean diet, avoid caffeine after 1 p.m., shut off electronics an hour before bed, and get seven to eight hours of restful sleep? Also, don't overdo the alcohol since it's proven to prohibit the body from entering the deepest stages of sleep."
Meditate for a few minutes.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to feel refreshed is to slow down. Stop for a few minutes to practice your breathing and focus your mind through a mini meditation. "Take five minutes to do some deep breathing and keep your focus on your breath," advises Hemingson. "If your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath. It's amazing what this can do for your mental energy and it readies you to take on the day." And for more ways meditating is good for your mental health, check out this New Study Offers Scientific Proof That Meditation Can Help With Anxiety.
Write in a journal.
Sometimes the most effective way to raise your energy without caffeine is not through anything you do with your body, but by accessing your brainpower. By writing down what's on your mind, you can better focus your energy and spark your creativity.
"Take five to 20 minutes to write down your thoughts, feelings, and your 'to-dos,'" recommends life coach Kathy McCabe. "This is a powerful practice and time creator. Taking this time will help you see what is 'running through your brain,' and help you organize your top priorities for the day."
Say positive affirmations.
Like journaling, the benefits of saying positive affirmations to yourself have been backed by science and research. Practice positive self-talk in the morning and you will reframe your feelings and help take charge of your emotions—rather than feeling helpless in the face of them.
"For example, if you are unmotivated to work, take a moment to decide how you want to feel that day," suggests McCabe. "It could be, 'I want to feel focused and calm and not overwhelmed.'"
Raise your fiber intake.
A high-fiber breakfast is an excellent way to start the day. A standard American breakfast of meat, dairy, and processed foods can spike your sugar and fat levels…and lead to the inevitable crash an hour or two later. Instead, McCabe suggests you, "Try a blueberry and almond-butter smoothie, made with your favorite non-dairy milk. Throw in a little flax for your Omega-3s and a couple of frozen broccoli spears or a handful of spinach for extra anti-oxidants. You won't taste the greens."
Sip some tea.
You don't need coffee if you've got a good black or green tea. The caffeine is not as strong, but you're likely to find that it's plenty for your purposes.
"It's a pretty good way of starting your day all energized," says Mashfika Alam, a physician. "It can help you stay fit in the long run because it boosts your heart to pump better, your metabolism to work better, ensuring proper stamina." So pick up a box of Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or any other of the numerous kinds of black tea out there and you can skip the coffee altogether.
Dress up your wardrobe.
This might not seem directly related to your physical energy level, but it's surprising how much an improvement to your outfit can turn your mood around. "Dress well and appropriate and you will be surprised as to how much self-confidence can boost energy levels," says Alam.
Take a few extra minutes to make sure your shirt is ironed, your tie is on straight or that your shoes are freshly shined—you'll feel better almost immediately.
Take a hike.
If you are finding you really can't focus or feel totally out of energy, getting outside and walking can be a big help. Even better, if you've got the time, head to a more nature-filled area and take a short hike.
"One secret is to keep the activity fun and enjoyable by choosing scenic venues or hiking," says Scott Deuty, author of weight loss book Secrets of an Over 50 Former Fat Man. "Hiking also makes for a great date, with conversation and the ability to get to know a person."
Cross off unpleasant tasks first.
Marlene Caroselli, an author and corporate trainer, suggests taking Mark Twain's advice: "If you have to swallow a frog, don't stare at it too long." In other words, get the stuff that you don't want to do out of the way first and as quickly as you can.
"You will be energized with accomplishment thoughts for the rest of the day," says Caroselli. "Getting in some early-morning exercise also helps—it need not take long—five minutes will get you into the 'go-get-'em' mode."
Take a cold shower.
Whether you need one or not, this is a way to quickly wake up your body and give your brain a boost of energy. You can start warm and slowly reduce it to cold, if starting at a chilly temperature is too much. "Stay in as long as you can—maybe 30 seconds at first, and you can build up to one to three minutes over time," says Hemingson. "The cold water is invigorating and it also activates brown fat, growth hormone, and androgens to help give you the drive to take on the day."
Eat more herbs.
One last bit of advice Hemingson offers: add more herbs to your diet. "Adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Ginseng can all help create an energetic, focused, and relaxed state of being," he says.
Dry brush your body.
Before hopping in the shower, you can wake your body up by "dry brushing," or basically using a wooden brush to rub your skin all over. "Not only will this help stimulate your lymphatic system and slough off dry winter skin, it's a passive way to stretch and begin warming-up your body for the day," says Kara Martin Snyder, a health and lifestyle strategist who runs VitalCorps holistic wellness service.
Drink a glass of green juice.
Whether you have a juicer at home or stop by a smoothie spot in your neighborhood, a heavy hit of green juice gets all kinds of good stuff into your system—fast.
"Nutrient-dense dark leafy greens like spinach and kale boast major antioxidant properties, helping to protect against cancer and other diseases," explains Samantha Kelley, a holistic lifestyle coach and founder of SunKissed Health. "Alternatively, you can quickly mix up a green smoothie in the blender with a bunch of greens, fresh or frozen berries, and almond or coconut milk. Either way, it's a great way to get a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables first thing in the morning." And for other libations you should avoid, check out Drinking Even This Much Every Day Can Harm Your Health, Study Says.