Energizing Caffeine Alternatives

It’s not that coffee (or tea) are bad, but slamming caffeine doesn’t give you true energy. Instead, it creates a fake rush by prompting the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, stress hormones that, over time, deplete the adrenals and create an overall drop in true energy--and a greater dependence on caffeine as a drug. Try these alternatives instead:


Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to nourish the organs, improve qi (vital energy) , and increase stamina, ginseng is considered an adaptogen, meaning it supports and protects the body by rejuvenating and invigorating it. There are two main types of ginseng: American and Asian, also called Korean or Panax ginseng. Panax ginseng is considered more stimulating than American, and is your best choice for long-term vitality and overall balance. Studies show that it can effectively fight fatigue and is a promising treatment for people with chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s also been shown to enhance mental energy, especially attention, memory, and reaction time, and to ease depression, which is often associated with fatigue and lethargy.


From the root of a Peruvian plant in the radish family, maca is an adaptogen that has been used traditionally to increase stamina, improving physical performance and endurance, especially for athletes. It’s also been shown to relieve fatigue and enhance focus and mental clarity. And because maca has hormone-balancing properties, it’s especially helpful in reducing fatigue and easing depression related to hormonal shifts.


From a type of parasitic fungus that grows on caterpillars in the mountainous regions of China, cordyceps has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine to improve energy and endurance. (Modern versions are grown on grains, so they’re vegan). Cordyceps appear to work by boosting levels of ATP, especially during conditions of stress, and by increasing insulin sensitivity, allowing cells to use energy more efficiently. In one study, people who took a cordyceps extract supplement for 12 weeks showed more than a 10 percent improvement in overall stamina and significantly increased their ability to work out longer.


Peppermint has a proven ability to enhance stamina, improve performance, and increase mental clarity. In one study, volunteers who drank water with peppermint oil had significant improvements in exercise performance, power, and energy. Inhaling peppermint essential oil has similar effects and can enhance alertness. Drinking peppermint tea with lots of water can also boost energy: even mild dehydration reduces feelings of tiredness.

Source: Better Nutrition, April 2019

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