As a college student, it's rare for anyone to go a day without ingesting some form of caffeine, usually in the form of coffee. However, while coffee has been proven to provide some health benefits, it has also been linked to side effects such as increased risk of heart attacks in young adults and high blood pressure.
Additionally, coffee delays our bodies from experiencing exhaustion instead of energizing it and has addictive properties caused by delayed dopamine absorption in the brain, which make us feel that mood boost from caffeine every time we drink coffee.
I get it—coffee comes in so many tasty forms and is a social and trendy way to get yourself going every day. Personally, though, coffee makes me anxious and more stressed than I am without caffeine. I choose to not drink coffee because I want to allow my body to acknowledge the scope of its exhaustion and to use only natural, non-stimulating methods to help re-energize it.
For those of us who are non-caffeine drinkers but still need to function on little sleep, there is hope. Here's a list of energizing, non-caffeine beverages that have gotten me through three semesters of college classes, meetings, and late night study sessions.
1. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder in Lowfat Milk
While unsweetened cocoa powder is typically used for baking, it contains many heart-healthy antioxidants also found in berries and naturally energizes the brain by being a mild, natural stimulant.
I like to add a tablespoon into my protein shakes in the morning for a quick breakfast on-the-go that will not only fill me up but also get my brain going for the day. Additionally, cocoa powder contains some amino acids that function the same as animal protein does in helping build muscle in our bodies.
2. Decaf Green Tea
Green tea has long been linked to lowering cholesterol and also contains many antioxidants, such as catechin, that fight and possibly prevent cell damage from aging. The bitter taste and sensation of drinking a cup of hot tea wake me up on cold mornings, without subjecting my body to the caffeine, creamer, or sugar of coffee.
Also, the shout-out to my nutritionist-researcher mom and her work on green tea's positive effects on bone health in postmenopausal women, showing that green tea can benefit people of all ages, from now until old age.
Probiotics are basically drinkable forms of yogurt, and lucky for us, they come in many varieties that don't have to cost a fortune. While they first and foremost boost digestive function, they also boost immunity to sickness and may help treat urinary tract infections to speed up recovery.
Think of it as drinking a selection of bacteria that are good for you and that will also provide energy and calcium for your body to function at its best in the mornings.
4. Homemade Breakfast Smoothies
In light of the recent juicing trend that may or may not have already passed, homemade green smoothies may seem overly-hyped or bougie, which is not an unjustified view. However, instead of juicing, I like to make simple smoothies that only contain oats, fruits, and veggies, sometimes peanut butter, and almond or dairy milk.
Such a wholesome blend of ingredients not only removes processed foods from your morning drink, but also fuels your body naturally and promotes well-being in the long run.
5. Coconut Water With Lemon
Coconut is one of those drinks that's been getting more attention recently for its uniquely hydrating properties. Did you know that it also has more potassium, less sodium, and fewer calories than a sports drink?
Some athletes swear by it to get through training because it provides carbohydrates and electrolytes that are great for replenishing energy at any time of the day. Opt for varieties with reduced sugar content to reap the energizing benefits without the unhealthy stuff.
Ultimately, choosing to refrain from drinking coffee is a lifestyle choice that can be maintained, even in the caffeinated college world. Whether you're a coffee addict, a non-caffeine drinker like me, or a coffee lover who's trying to decrease his or her caffeine intake, give the drinks on this list a try. You'll have more options in the morning besides the usual morning Joe, and your body will thank you in the long run.