If you’re like me, you probably reach for at least one cup of coffee every day. It’s become a natural part of our routines and for many is a morning staple like taking vitamins or eating breakfast. As the busy-oriented lifestyle continues to consume our society, coffee has been positioned as a magical elixir to help us focus and multi-task.
As comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “We want to do a lot of stuff: we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup.”
What most people don’t realize is that there is a whole world of interesting coffee alternatives that can:
- Produce long-lasting energy while reducing caffeine consumption
- Enhance your diet, sleep cycle, and exercise routine
- Optimize sustainable brain function
- Offer a variety of other healthy benefits
For starters, I firmly believe that coffee can be incredibly beneficial if consumed in moderation. In fact, some scientists are even encouraging people to drink more coffee. Coffee drinkers run into trouble when they get into a habit of five plus cups per day or reach for a Starbucks Java Chip Frappuccino in the evenings.
But you’re probably wondering, “What else is even out there?”
I was initially introduced to several coffee alternatives like nootropics, adaptogens, and mushrooms after reading through Beyond Coffee, a sustainable guide that breaks down different ingredients and analyzes if they are optimal for productivity, scientifically backed by research, and can act as a realistic source of energy.
Everyone’s heard that green tea is a great coffee substitute for energy and burning fat, but I want to take it one step further and break down a few possibilities to try that you may not be aware of. The three options mentioned below are all extensively detailed in Beyond Coffee, supplements that I take on either a daily or weekly basis, and have been proven to be effective and, more importantly, considered safe if taken within the FDA’s recommended dosage.
So, here are a few interesting coffee alternatives for you to consider that no one is talking about.
1. Omega-3 EPA and DHA
Omega-3’s fall under the umbrella of “nootropics”, a growing category of compounds, pills, and powders advertised for their potential to enhance focus and productivity.
I’m sure you come across nootropics on a daily basis and have seen them advertised in your local grocery store. While Nootropics aren’t new, they have become more popular in recent years with users creating a nootropic stack- combining multiple compounds into a “cocktail” for heightened results. Nootropics include a variety of supplements that have been well-researched and are widely considered safe like matcha green tea or my recommendation, omega-3’s, along with other drugs and commercial products that are less effective and possibly unsafe.
Commonly recognized as fatty acids, omega-3’s are often derived from consuming fish like tuna and salmon, or taken in a pill form. While most people use omega-3’s for eye health and to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, research also shows that increasing your omega-3’s may enhance cognitive performance and improve attention span.
There is even evidence to support that omega-3’s can slow or reduce the likelihood of brain degenerative diseases. A study on elderly adults followed for nearly four years discovered that those who ate higher amounts of fish and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Omega-3’s are relatively inexpensive and you can take them daily.
L-Theanine is another nootropic that has been well-researched. If you’re someone who associates nootropics with “smart drugs” like the movie Limitless, you may be disappointed to hear that a lot of nootropics are used for their de-stressing agents and anti-inflammatory properties- not an output of hyper intelligence.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in fungi, plants, and green tea. This is one of the few supplements that I would recommend taking in addition to caffeine to get the most out of it- but this doesn’t necessarily have to be coffee.
According to Beyond Coffee, “Theanine is thought to have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects by increasing serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and glycine levels in the brain.” There is also evidence suggesting that L-Theanine will improve your mood and can be used for treating high blood pressure. L-Theanine has been classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as being safe” or GRAS status.
I started using spirulina last year as an addition to my morning protein shakes. Spirulina is a blue-green algae rich in protein, B-vitamins, and iron. Just a single tablespoon is packed with plant-based protein and has been recommended for a variety of conditions including high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and diabetes.
Regarding energy, Vitamin B1 helps regulate your body’s thiamin (which contributes to fatigue) resulting in a more stable maintenance of energy. Coffee alternatives don’t necessarily need to be sharp boosts in attentiveness like the energy provided by caffeine. Instead, a supplement like Spirulina can help you hold onto more energy throughout the day- it has even been shown to improve athletic performance by increasing endurance.
Am I imploring you to delete your Starbucks app and throw the company Keurig in the trash?
Not quite …but there are other energy alternatives out there that also offer a multitude of healthy benefits. As always, it’s important to use supplements as they are intended. They should supplement a healthy diet and physical exercise. A spoonful of spirulina in your orange juice won’t make a difference if you’re running on two hours of sleep and a Big Mac.