Some people swear by caffeine, while others hate it. That morning cup of coffee or tea is indispensable for millions, but millions more find that the energy is short-lived, spiky, and unfocused. It's a drug, and drugs work differently on different people. There's no shame in wanting to cut out caffeine and replace it with something a little better for you.
So that's just what we've done here today. Pick and choose: here are fifteen natural energy boosters you can try out to get up and going in the morning.
1. Peppermint Tea
We're going to be leaving most teas off of this list, for one reason: green tea has caffeine in it. It's kind of cheating to give you alternatives to caffeine that have caffeine in them, don't you think? Peppermint tea, though, doesn't have green tea in it; it's an herbal tea. Herbal blends that don't have caffeine in them are a good way to wake up, but peppermint tea has some actual energy-boosting benefits as studied by science.
Peppermint oil in general has these benefits, though it's unclear just how much of it you get from peppermint tea. If you want something with a bit stronger peppermint flavor and more natural oils, try growing peppermint yourself (it's quite easy) and harvesting fresh leaves to dry and use.
2. Chicory Root Coffee
Real coffee has caffeine in it, of course, so it's well off of this list. Chicory Root, however, is a root vegetable related to the dandelion.
It can be harvested, dried, ground, and brewed in a way very similar to normal coffee, and it produces a beverage that has a flavor quite similar to coffee, with a woodier angle. It's naturally caffeine-free, but the hot beverage, the flavor, and the fiber content of the root all combine to give you an energy boost first thing in the morning when you drink it.
3. Coconut Water
Coconut water doesn't seem like the kind of beverage that would give you energy, but in fact, it's surprisingly good at it. The slightly sweet drink is packed with electrolytes and potassium, which helps a healthy body reduce blood pressure and boost cardiovascular health. Plus, the sweetness comes from natural sugars that give you energy without the abrasiveness of refined sugar that damages your body. Coconut water is quick and easy to drink, too, so it's easy to drink early in the day.
4. Lemon Water
No, not just lemon juice. Lemon water is a bit like lemonade; a water-based beverage with a lemon flavor. Unlike lemonade, however, you're not loading it down with a ton of sugar that will give you a quick energy boost followed by a crash, plus the associated health issues of consuming a ton of sugar every day.
For lemon water, simply take a glass of water and add lemon juice to your taste. Some people like it thin and don't add much lemon, and that's fine. Other people like it tangy and add the juice of a whole lemon or more.
We recommend getting fresh, ripe lemons and juicing them yourself for the best, freshest flavors. Store-bought lemon juice tends to have preservatives or concentrates added to them, and aren't as delicious or as healthy for you. Either way, you get plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants to start your day.
5. Golden Milk
Milk is traditionally white, and you might think that if you're seeing it golden, it's well on its way to becoming cheese. Golden milk, though, is something quite a bit different. The primary ingredient is turmeric, one of those super-spices that are all the rage in health food circles.
A solid recipe for a golden milk beverage to start your day begins with coconut milk, though you can use any kind of milk you prefer. We like coconut milk for the flavor, the natural sweetness, and the aroma. Take a cup of coconut milk and mix in a tablespoon of your favorite honey (try talking to local beekeepers for a local wildflower bled with natural anti-allergy properties), a teaspoon of turmeric, and a bit of black pepper.
Combine the ingredients and heat it in a saucepan over low heat until warm. Then simply pour into a mug and enjoy! This golden milk drink is creamy, sweet, and slightly spicy in a very pleasant way. It'll give you some energy and help reduce bodily inflammation, which is a great way to start the day.
6. Wheatgrass Juice
Wheatgrass is one of many green supplements, a health food based in a very green plant, high in chlorophyll. You can think of it as a non-aquatic version of many of the algae-based green supplements. This high concentration of chlorophyll, plus all of the added benefits of fiber and nutrients in any green plan, means you're able to get quite a bit of energy and other health benefits from wheatgrass juice.
Now, wheatgrass juice is a bit of an acquired taste. It's very pungent and grassy, and not everyone finds it very pleasant. Some people prefer to add some wheatgrass to a smoothie or blender mix, alongside fruits and vegetables that round out the flavors. You also want to avoid drinking too much of it each day, otherwise, you could have some digestive issues. Try it out and see how it feels!
Carob is a legume grown from a flowering evergreen tree, and it has a flavor very similar to a sweeter kind of chocolate. If "sweeter chocolate" gives you pause, remember that natural chocolate is very bitter, and the chocolate you get in a candy bar has had sugar and other ingredients added to it to cut back on that flavor. Carob is generally healthier than chocolate for that reason; you get the same flavor without all that extra added sugar.
Among the benefits of carob is an energy-boosting effect from the nutrient pinitol. Along with that nutrient, you also get some digestive benefits, which helps reduce the amount of energy your body is spending just with sluggish digestion and gives you more free energy for your body to use.
Maca is a root commonly found in Peru and has been used as an energy-boosting natural remedy for centuries. While the actual benefits of the root haven't been well studied, it's certainly something you can try.
You're going to have to buy maca powder more than likely, so the best way to consume it as part of breakfast is to add it to a smoothie of some sort. It's a very nutritious root and has potential benefits to sex drive and performance as well (if that's something you're interested in). In fact, it's likely that the same mechanism that gives you more energy has the side effect of increasing libido as well.
9. Orange Juice
We all remember the commercials from when we were kids, talking about how a tall glass of orange juice – fresh squeezed, of course – is part of a complete and balanced breakfast. While a large part of that was simply the commercial propaganda of orange juice companies wanting to sell more juice, as it turns out, there may actually be some science indicating that orange juice is a great way to start your day.
For one thing, orange juice is packed with vitamin C and other nutrients, which are greatly beneficial to your body. Vitamin C doesn't have the immune system boosting effects everyone thought, but it's still a good antioxidant. Plus, orange juice has a bunch of natural sugar, which as mentioned above is great for energy compared to refined sugars. Studies even showed that orange juice can have a long-term boost of energy for up to six hours.
Kombucha is a sweet tea that has been fermented to form a beverage that is not quite alcoholic, but probiotic. The probiotics found in kombucha have a bunch of health benefits, including a lot of effect on gut health, which we're increasingly learning is important to everything from short-term energy levels to long-term mental health. Kombucha also has a bunch of B vitamins in it, which are important for your body to create and use energy. It's not for everyone – some people don't like the taste, and some need to avoid probiotics for medical reasons – but it's great for those who like it.
Ginseng is often considered one of those miracle cure herbs - it's a root from a plant originating in China. Over the last millennia, ginseng has probably been used to cure every single disease that exists, and more besides.
While it definitely won't cure everything, it's a nutritious and tasty little root, and can be used as a fuel for your body. If nothing else, the energy and focus it can give you have a documented effect, so add some to a tea blend or take it as a supplement.
While most of this post has focused on coffee alternatives and other beverages, you can still eat food in the morning, and getting the right kind of food for breakfast can set the stage for the full day to come. Among the list of foods you should try to eat is nuts. Peanuts, cashews, almonds, and other nuts all have their own ranges of health benefits, but they're all a great balance between protein, fat, carbs, and nutrients. Eating nuts on a regular basis may have some long-term brain health benefits as well. And, you know, they're filling and can help you avoid snacking or eating less healthy foods as well.
Ashwagandha is a root and plant-based remedy similar to ginseng. In fact, it's so similar it's often called Indian ginseng because it's also an herbal remedy that has been used for centuries and has a wide variety of health benefits, some of which we've written about before.
You're mostly just going to find it as a supplement in the USA, so mix some of the powder in with a smoothie in the morning and you're good to go.
14. Mixed Drinks
No, we're not talking about cocktails here. There are a lot of different beverages you can make in the morning that combines a bunch of the ingredients up above. For example, how about a pineapple, turmeric, and carrot juice? How about a maca latte, no coffee, with vanilla?
This website has a bunch of delicious mixed beverages you can try out for a morning boost of energy, often combining two or more of the ingredients on the rest of the list above. If one ingredient on its own doesn't help, try a combination for even more of an energy boost.
One of the best things you can do for your body is, immediately after waking up and before you do much of anything else, drink a glass of water. We like to keep a glass next to us overnight and drink it before even getting out of bed.
Water is a crucial "nutrient" your body needs for pretty much everything. Water is required for digestion, for healing, for overall health, for energy, and much more. Without it, you literally die, so it has that going for it.
The fact is, the vast majority of people simply don't drink enough water throughout the day. Getting an early start on drinking water is hugely beneficial to your life in a lot of different ways. Drinking a glass first thing in the morning will help you wake up and get your body moving. Think of it like stoking a fire left smoldering over-night.
You don't even need to add anything to the water if you don't want. Just some good filtered water can be good enough. If your water naturally has a taste you're not fond of, you can use a fruit juice to give it some sweetness or tanginess, though. Really, it's very flexible.