It goes without saying that most of us can’t think straight without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning – especially if we’re hitting the gym. Given that, it should come as no surprise that humans' love affair with caffeine has lasted centuries.
But that may be about to change. Although caffeine is a great performance enhancer, caffeine isn't the only option when it comes to getting a kick-start in life. Modern research shows that there are lots of ways to get that all-important energy boost without caffeine and its unwelcome side effects. So, with this in mind, we’ve put together a selection of the best caffeine-free energy hits around...
Coffee for breakfast? You don't need caffeine to jump-start your morning!
It might sound obvious, but a glass of water when you wake up is one of the best ways to start the day. It sets us up for the morning ahead, rehydrating our bodies after a good night’s sleep. Best of all, a recent study found that drinking 500ml of water may increase our metabolism by up to 30% for around 40 minutes. I sometimes add a hydration powder to mine. Hello, workout hack.
You heard it right: the best way to gain energy before a workout is to...wait for it...workout. Physical exertion effectively supercharges your body. Your cells produce more mitochondria, which turn glucose into energy, giving you a boost. In effect, you can get your caffeine-free energy hit, anytime, anywhere. How? Simply hit the deck and do a round of press-ups, or stretch out with some light yoga first thing.
3. Sleep (get in bed by 10:30 pm)
You must catch your zzz's in order for your body to obtain the rest it requires, which may sound like something your grandmother would say, but a solid night’s sleep is the best way to wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized - it can also help improve performance too!
It's recommended that adults sleep at least 7 hours, but it might be easier said than done. To make this goal more manageable, try gradually shifting your bedtime by 10 minutes each night until you reach the goal of at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
4. Natural Daylight
It’s all around us and it floods our system with serotonin (and vitamin D). As a result, we feel more energised, focused and our mood is lifted when we’re exposed to daylight. And it’s free! So, ditch the train or car and take a 10-minute walk in the sunshine to get that energy-boosting serotonin flowing.
5. B Vitamins
Almost every cell in the body uses B vitamins. Most importantly they’re the vitamins that help form haemoglobin in red blood cells, cleverly converting fat and carbs into energy.
All in all, the Bs are your body’s optimisers. If you’re feeling fatigued or struggling through your workout, it’s well worth considering a B12 supplement. Failing that, load up on B-vit-rich foods, such as dairy, or even a shot of wheat germ. It’s a great non-caffeine energy source.
Essential oils are a great way to get an instant energy boost. After all, studies have proven that some varieties increase energy and relieve fatigue. So how do you make the most of them? Just add a couple of drops of peppermint oil to your water bottle or protein shake (make sure your bottle is glass or stainless steel), or rub a few drops of diluted essential oil into your skin.
A handful of nuts can go a long way! Firstly, they’re a great source of fibre. Secondly, they contribute to your intake of ‘good fats’. And, on top of all that, they’re high in protein. It means they stabilise blood sugar, which helps you manage your energy levels. Triple win!
This slow-growing root is one of the closest things we have to a miracle food. In addition to improving the immune system and lowering inflammation in the body, research shows that it actively fights fatigue. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense caffeine-free energy fix before your next workout, then look no further.
Add some spice to your life with cinnamon – the king of caffeine-free energy boosters. A series of studies demonstrated that simply smelling cinnamon can boost memory performance, alertness and cognitive function by almost 40%. It also has appetite-suppressing properties, so it will help to control those caffeine-induced food cravings.
Is caffeine actually bad for you?
No, not at all. Although we've gone through some great strategies for achieving caffeine-free energy in this post, that's not because coffee is inherently harmful to your health. When it comes to your workouts, caffeine is still a great performance booster, if you don't overuse it. Caffeine can boost physical endurance, mental attention, and has antioxidant properties as well.
The amount of caffeine you need as a pre-workout is determined by your caffeine sensitivity, which generally rises with age. For caffeine to work effectively for pre-workout, it should be consumed 30 minutes to 45 min before exercise. It is not recommended that caffeine be consumed during the workout because caffeine can cause people to overheat more quickly.
Your caffeine dose should never exceed 400 milligrams per day (the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee). If you are sensitive to caffeine or you've had trouble sleeping even though you don't have caffeine in the evening then your dose may need to be reduced.
Amino FOCUS - jitter free energy!
Our new FOCUS pre-workout drink mix combines nootropics and amino acids to give you a jitter-free energy boost before your gym sesh. With just 18 calories per serving, it’ll help you stay focused, energised and motivated, whatever your workout.