Healthy Living Blog

Studies Reveal How Coffee Gives You Less Energy … And How To Replace It With Plant-Based Alternatives For True Vitality

Are you a coffee lover?

Do you drink coffee for that extra energy boost? If you’re like us and the first thing you do in the morning is make a cup of coffee, then you’ll know what we mean. It can help you ease the feelings of fatigue and keep you going throughout a busy day.

But maybe you’ve got to that point in life, somehow, no matter how much coffee you drink, you’ve noticed that you’re still feeling tired all (if not most of) the time …

… Why is that?

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If this is you, luckily we can now explain it through research studies.

While we often think coffee is helping our energy levels, it’s actually making them worse in the long run. This article is to show you what coffee is doing to your body, the impact to your energy levels, and how you to solve this easily with healthier alternatives to get more feel-good emotions, flowing through you every day.

Read on to find out how …

So, How Does Coffee Affect The Body?

The Coffee Benefits

You probably know that because coffee contains caffeine, it’s the main reason it gives you the energy boost. Did you know it’s considered one of the highest caffeine-containing beverages alone? They contain on average, between 80 and 100 mg of caffeine per 8oz (small) cup (depending on whether you drink instant or ground). Because of this high dose of caffeine, drinking coffee can quickly increase your energy levels and give you the spurts of alertness you need or want to go about your day. This is really useful, right?

Coffee has a variety of health benefits, with one research calculating an optimum number of cups a day to receive these benefits being between one to four cups:

  • Coffee has one of the highest levels of antioxidants in the Western diet, at 22.73mmol/100g of antioxidants, higher than antioxidant superfoods like blueberries (9.24mmol) and dark chocolate (8.38mmol).
  • Coffee is also known to protect against and reduce the chances of certain diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver diseases (including liver cancer).
  • Coffee can help reduce the effects of mental health disorders, like depression, and give a raise in mood.
  • Coffee improves performance, mentally and physically, and is recommended as a pre-workout drink.

(See study 1 and study 2 to find out more about these benefits.)

So even with all these great health benefits to drinking coffee, why is it recommended to cut back or replace it completely from our diet? And instead go for healthier beverage alternatives?

Truth Revealed: How Coffee Affects Your Energy Levels

Although it may seem like an incredible super food, promising a long life of energy, productivity, and protection against big diseases, coffee is actually sabotaging your overall energy and wellness.

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Immediately after consuming coffee, you will feel that spike in energy and alertness. However, frequent drinking of coffee will have reverse effects and degrade your energy levels over time. Therefore this makes you dependent on coffee to function in your typical day. With your energy levels lower, you’ll need to drink more just to operate at a “normal” level.

This is how it works:

Your brain has adenosine receptors. They’re essentially part of your natural body clock, taking in adenosine that helps you to feel calm and relaxed, getting ready to sleep as the day goes on. It shows you when you need more rest or if you’ve slept well enough to operate normally.

Caffeine is the same shape as adenosine, so takes its place on the adenosine receptors, whilst blocking the way of the calming adenosine and providing stimulation instead. This leads to giving you the energy boost (we all want).

If you consume coffee containing high levels of caffeine regularly, the caffeine will frequently block the adenosine from the receptors. Your body needs this adenosine for proper sleep regulation, so it creates more receptors as a way to get the adenosine. This makes you feel more sleepy because there are more adenosine receptors trying to get more calming, relaxing, sleep-helping adenosine.

Now you need to drink even more coffee to have more caffeine blocking the extra receptors to get that stimulated energy. And the crazy self-inflicted cycle continues. More receptors are made, you feel lower in energy, and you need to drink more just to feel normal energy levels. Are you getting this now?

Essentially, you’re drinking coffee just to feel the same normal levels that a non-coffee drinker would feel naturally.

A summary from our own research (links provided).

The boost for extra energy has stopped working.

Can Cutting Back On Coffee Per Day Increase My Energy Levels?

Studies show that cutting back on coffee, going through a deliberate withdrawal, will help you to gain your original, natural energy levels.

In fact, you can still feel the effects of coffee if you only drink it occasionally. If you use the periods of time between as withdrawal, your body can reset to regular energy levels. Then, when you do drink coffee you’ll experience that extra boost you seek.

Don’t just take our word for it, you can check out what others have said in Julia’s testimony and Mike Fishbein. They’ve described how it felt when they gave up coffee to help others realise the power is within you to have more energy and focus right now, without the caffeine inducer.

As a boss you may be relying on coffee for getting through the day, so try this out for 30 consecutive days to cut down and replace with more sustainable energy resources.

Suggestions For Good, Healthy Energy Foods & Drinks

Cutting back on coffee to alternatives with lower/ no caffeine can regulate and improve your energy levels as well as improve your health and overall wellness.

The best things to go for will be;

  • high in vitamin B12,
  • iron,
  • fibre,
  • manganese,
  • antioxidants, and
  • slow release carbs

It’s important that you go for a mixed balance of these nutrients for the best effects on your health and lifestyle.

The list of 15 plant-based foods and drinks below contain these great nutrients and more. They will give you the long-lasting energy you desire and improve your daily wellness and vitality. 

1. Bananas

There’s a reason that bananas are known to be super sports foods. Their performance increasing benefits make them highly recommended pre or post workout snacks. They’re high in carbs, potassium, and vitamin B6 for the increase in energy you need. Add a banana to your daily snack routine to feel the benefits they give your health and vitality.

2. Apples

Containing carbs, natural sugars, and fibre, they have the slow and sustained energy release that will keep you going for hours. They also have a high antioxidant level which helps to slow digestion, providing you with more energy over time. If you’ve noticed a hit of energy and alertness when you’ve eaten a fresh, crispy apple, you’ll know what we mean! An apple a day will keep the drowsiness at bay!

3. Oranges

It’s already a popular morning juice for a reason, giving you the fresh feeling you relate to health and energy. We recommend cutting out the juice and swapping it for the fruit option. The juice is very high in sugar, which is bad for you and gives you a tiring sugar-crash later on. The fruit, however, is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. These decrease fatigue and help your immune system, making you feel healthier all around. They say even the smell of citrus can perk you up when you’re feeling drowsy. So, get peeling one during your afternoon slump and enjoy the energy hit with the freshness factor.

4. Avocados

Rich in healthy fats and fibres, avocados aid blood fat levels and enhance your body’s absorption of nutrients. These nutrients can then be stored in your body and used as energy sources when needed. And, as 80% of fibre in avocados is carb-based, they also help to maintain steady energy levels, avoiding those flagging moments you may feel.

5. Blueberries (and other dark berries)

As antioxidant superfoods and being high in fibre, blueberries, and other dark berries, deliver a slow and steady energy and help prevent fatigue. And, with their natural sugars, they’re the perfect pick-me-ups for when you need a little extra to get going.

6. Edamame

These young beans are full of energising vitamins and nutrients. They’re rich in protein, carbs, fibre, manganese, and folic acid. The protein, carbs, and fibre provide the slow and steady release of energy you need for long-lasting operation. They also work well with iron, promoting energy and fighting off fatigue by protecting from anemia. And, the manganese helps to create energy from the breakdown of carbs and protein. Perfect!

7. Beans

Beans are high in nutrients and a fantastic natural energy source. They’re ideal carbs, proteins, and fibres, which digest slowly to maintain a steady blood sugar level, creating energy over a long period. They’re also good for antioxidants, which fight bodily inflammations that may enhance feelings of fatigue. And, as cheap bulking foods, they’re perfect to add to those family lunches and dinners without breaking the bank.

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8. Spinach

Spinach has been named as an ultimate health food for years, thanks to its iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants. The iron and vitamin C protects you from anemia and helps to carry oxygen around the body, fighting off the effects of fatigue and helping you feel more alert. The antioxidants aid in the creation of energy. There’s a reason it’s a top soup and smoothie addition!

9. Sweet Potatoes

What a superfood! Sweet potatoes contain so many energy-rich fibres and slow-release carbs that can keep your energy at a wonderful, steady level throughout your day. And, it also contains manganese, which helps to break down nutrients in your body to produce energy. Add one to your breakfast or lunch rota to benefit from their good work and lose those 10am and 3pm slumps.

10. Hummus

Hummus is made up of various healthy and energising components. The chickpeas contain complex carbs and fibre for a steady energy release. Then, the sesame seed paste (tahini) and the olive oil contain healthy fats, which slows down the absorption of carbs to reduce spikes in sugar levels. It’s a brilliant lunch item that will improve your overall health and give you the consistent energy you need to have a productive afternoon.

11. Brown Rice

You hear about the benefits of wholegrains like brown rice quite frequently, and its benefits for your long-lasting energy is one of the reasons. Brown rice has a high fibre content and reduced glycemic index. This means that it provides you with regulated blood sugar levels and keeps your energy steady throughout the day. You won’t need to worry about energy slumps like you get with white pasta if you’ve got a delicious bowl of brown rice and high nutrient veggies.

12. Quinoa

It seems quinoa is all over the internet these days due to its incredible health benefits. And for good reason. Quinoa has a high protein content, is high in carbs and fibre, and provides manganese, magnesium, and folate. What a superfood! This means it has a low glycemic index, providing you with regular blood sugar levels and a steady release of energy, and your nutrients are broken down efficiently and used by enzymes to create more energy. If this doesn’t make you add quinoa to your breakfast and lunch rotas, we don’t know what will!

13. Nuts

As many people are allergic to nuts, this may be a little tricky to list as a “top energy food”- it’s an unfair listing. But, for those of you who can eat nuts, we recommend you make the most of them and their multiple energising uses. Nuts are high in important omegas 3 and 6 fatty acids and antioxidants, which increase your energy levels and fight off your daily fatigue. They also provide high calorie levels, proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, which means a further slow release of energy throughout the day. If you can eat them, make the most of their energy creating and sustaining properties!

14. Green Tea

A famously healthy drink, green tea is world known as a healthy alternative to coffee. It contains great levels of antioxidants, reducing inflammation in the body and aiding in the creation of energy.

Green tea does also naturally contain caffeine, but it’s levels are much lower than that of coffee. This is why it’s the perfect alternative, giving you a little hit but not too much to overwork the adenosine receptors when you’re cutting back. It’s a softer boost, so can increase your alertness and mental focus without the hard crash later.

15. Water

Finally, water. You may think this is a strange addition to a list of healthy food and drink options that provide you energy, but it’s actually one of the best here. Water is important for your body’s functions, providing the hydration you need and preventing the shutting down of functions that will leave you feeling sluggish and tired.

To avoid dehydration throughout the day, fight fatigue, and experience a wonderful, natural boost in energy, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. And, for an added, immediate hit of vitality, grab yourself a glass of icy water. If you want to make it even better, add slices of cucumber or lemon.

Key takeaways

Drinking coffee frequently can negatively affect your energy levels. While it does provide an immediate boost, we can see from studies that it causes reduced energy levels in the long run. This makes you dependent on more coffee to experience normal energy levels. 

Caused by caffeine blocking off adenosine from reaching the adenosine receptors, your body creates more adenosine receptors to work properly. This makes you feel more tired.

To overcome this and experience normal energy levels and extra, natural energy the healthy way, you should ensure you take in a balance of foods high in proteins, fibre, antioxidants, vitamin B12, and manganese. So, enjoying bananas, quinoa, hummus, and beans will have you embracing true wellness and energy the healthy way.

Have you thought about giving up coffee to improve your wellness? What sorts of steps are you taking to do it?

If you’ve already given up coffee, how do you feel now? What foods and drinks do you use as alternatives for your daily energy boosts?

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