Do you need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning? Many of us can’t imagine starting the day without our beloved beverage, especially if we want to actually feel alert. But some people want to cut down on caffeine because it can cause insomnia, jitters, anxiousness, headaches and other unpleasant side effects.
So how do you wake up and perk up without coffee? NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom and Kristin Kirkpatrick, lead dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Wellness & Preventive Medicine, share their tips:
- Drink a glass of cold water - This is the top tip from both experts, who say it’s especially helpful when you do it as soon as you get out of bed. Most people don’t drink enough fluids and being dehydrated can cause fatigue, plus, the cold factor helps boost energy.
- Use an aromatherapy diffuser in the morning - Aromatherapy can help fight fatigue, according to one recent study. Kirkpatrick recommends using lavender-scented oils in the morning, and the scent of rosemary can also make people feel more alert and sharp.
- Take a brisk walk outside - Getting out in the fresh air and sunlight can be a great energy booster.
- Eat low-glycemic foods - Foods high on the glycemic index, like white grains and sugary drinks, cause a huge spike in blood sugar, followed by a fall, which tanks energy levels. But low-glycemic foods, like healthy fats, lean protein and plain yogurt with mixed berries, are better options for maintaining energy.
- Have a protein/carb combo snack - Avoid the sugary stuff and nosh on a combination of carbs, which provide immediate energy, and protein, which give longer-lasting fuel. Peanut butter on a cracker or celery, hummus and pita bread or Greek yogurt are healthy options.
- Try tea - If you long for a mug full of something warm to drink, try herbal teas, which have no caffeine, or green and black teas, which still have less than half the caffeine that’s typically found in coffee.
- Do some stretching - The right movements done at the right time can help release tight muscles and increase blood flow, which can boost mental energy.
- Cut back to one large cup of coffee a day - If you don’t want to give up your coffee habit altogether, just cut down. The less you drink, the more effective it is at boosting alertness.
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