Coffee Alternatives To Get You Going In The Morning

08/10/2015 6:25 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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Coffee. It's the beverage that puts a spring in your step and lightens your coin jar.

Keen to kick the caffeine habit but are afraid of turning into a total zombie at work? Don't despair -- there are plenty of other options to supercharge your day.

"Something really good and that a lot of people actually respond really well to is cold water and lemon," said Sydney City Nutritionist Jennifer May. "A lot of people go for hot water and lemon and, while that's really good for the digestive system, it actually doesn't energise you."

"What you want is ice cold water with half a lemon or half a lime. Three days of drinking this and it will get rid of your coffee cravings completely."

May points out that overnight, the body becomes quite dehydrated, so a glass of water (plus the fact it's icy cold and therefore refreshing) should re-energise you.

"What I think people don't realise is that you should have something hydrating first, because when you wake up you're in quite a dehydrated state. You need water to flush out your system and you need to replenish water lost overnight, as most people have significant time with no fluid."

According to May, carbonated water works just as well.

"Some people say fizzy water works more effectively for them, and that's fine, as long as it's cold. I encourage people to keep a water bottle or jug of ice cold water and lemon in their fridges," May said.

"Another thing you can do is add a pinch of Himalayan rock salt. It's quick and easy and helps you absorb the fluid. Basically, by doing that, you've created an alkaline water, which I know people go out and spend lots of money on, but really there's no need."

May is also a big fan of acai as a great natural pick-me-up, and recommends adding chia seeds or cacao to the mix.

acai berries smoothie

Why not make an acai smoothie bowl?

"Acai power smoothies with some chia seeds is a really great start to the day. You're getting lots of magnesium, vitamins C and B and so many antioxidants. More fuel means your body feels more energised and it can burn through that fuel throughout the day instead of it being a fake high, like coffee gives you," May said.

"Cacao is really good as well. It does contain a metabolite of caffeine, so you do get that little bit of a kick start. It's touching the accelerator rather than slamming down on it. Plus it has lots of magnesium, which controls muscle movement.

"Depending on how much time you've got, cacao is really easy to incorporate into your morning. You can add it to a smoothie -- which gives it that chocolaty taste, add it in with the acai -- or you can put it in a smoothie bowl if you're after something a bit thicker.

"One idea is to freeze a banana -- full or half -- then add in also a sachet of acai and at least a tablespoon of cacao. Blend all of that together and you have an ice cream style smoothie bowl. It feels like such a treat."

Strapped for time? The Nude Nutritionist Lyndi Polivnick recommends grabbing a handful of nuts and dates to kick-start the day.

"The perfect ‘fast-food’ breakfast, a handful of nuts combined with dates will provide a great boost in energy levels," Polivnick told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The healthy carbohydrates found in dates offer an instant energy source for the body, and the combination of the nuts, containing protein, fibre and healthy fats will make the energy last even longer by keeping blood sugar levels more stable. Nuts like cashews, almonds and hazelnuts also contain good amounts of magnesium, a nutrient that helps to convert sugar into energy."

dates nuts

Go nuts about nuts.

She also recommends a banana and a glass of milk as a good coffee alternative.

"Bananas are packed with healthy carbohydrates and natural sugars that will give your body an instant (yet long-lasting) energy boost," Polivnick said. "Bananas also contain fibre that will help stabilise your energy levels."

"A glass of milk not only contains essential nutrients like calcium, is also provides a good source of protein ensuring a balanced breakfast. You can also make a simple healthy smoothie using banana, milk and ice. Add some cinnamon for extra flavour."

As for the adage that a green apple holds more energy than a cup of coffee -- May agrees that it does, but it may not be the best substitute for those trying to lose weight.

"A green apple is extremely energising but it can also make you quite hungry," May said. "It acts as a stimulant to the appetite and the digestive system.

"You might have an apple and feel energetic, but get hungry shortly afterwards. Adding apple to your breakfast is a great way to get around this -- say if you're having bircher muesli, why not add in some grated apple? Or you could add some to your smoothie."

banana and milk

Banana smoothies could be your new BFF.

Beetroot juice will also see you through the day (but careful when drinking -- it will destroy ANYTHING white.)

"Beetroot juice is really good because it works in a similar way to how coffee works," May said.

"I would recommend it if, say, you were participating in a sporting event that day and you wanted that extra energy. It's a lot better than coffee -- it will keep you more energised and will help with your performance. Plus, you don't have to worry about an upset tummy from coffee. It's also really good for asthmatics."

So, good luck to you, coffee-quitters. Feel happy in the knowledge you're doing your health and your bank balance a favour.

Need a little more inspiration? Check out our summer smoothie recipes below.

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