Coffee gets a bad rep—but the jury isn’t totally clear on whether your morning cup of joe does more harm than good. While some studies have stated that it’s OK to have one cup a day, or even two, and that doing so may even reduce your risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, others have found that the caffeine in coffee can increase your stress hormones, therefore enhancing inflammation in your body and muscles. Whatever the verdict may be, there’s no denying that a stiff cup of coffee is one quick way to get your energy levels up before you tackle your day. But it does affect everyone differently, so I always tell my patients the golden truth: everything in moderation!
In other words, there’s nothing wrong with a cup or two of coffee to start your day, but it’s not smart to rely on it as fuel throughout your day. Here are seven healthier, more nutritious foods that can provide a similar energy kick with more substance.
Considering that our body is made up of 50-65% of H2O, you can only imagine how vital hydration is to good health. It helps move many of our bodily functions including blood circulation, digestion, the absorption of nutrients and vitamins from other foods and the elimination of waste. That’s why the most natural way to acquire an energy surge is to chug an 8-ounce glass of water first thing in the morning. Aim for at least seven more glasses that size throughout the day for optimal hydration and to avoid feeling sluggish.
Sprouted quinoa is one of my favorite ancient grains—ancient because it’s considered to have been around, without a change to its genetic makeup, since the beginning of time. It’s a nutritious carbohydrate that maximizes your energy levels in just a small serving size of a half-to-1 cup. Crunchy, nutty and delicious, it’s great in a breakfast bowl with Greek yogurt or berries or served on top of salads for an extra protein kick!
A classic bowl of oats is one of the best ways to fuel your body—whether it’s first thing in the morning or as a midday pick-me-up. Because oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate and contains a good amount of soluble fiber, it can provide an instant energy boost. It’s high fiber content also means it takes the body a little longer to digest, so you stay fuller for longer. My top pick under the oatmeal category is steel cut oats—preferably soaked, which makes it easier to digest and higher starch resistant. Instead of brown sugar, add coconut palm sugar, which is derived from the coconut palm tree and is more nutritious thanks to its lower glycemic index than sugar.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and fiber, these tiny little seeds pack a powerful punch of nutrition. The less inflammation we have in our bodies, the more energy we have, the better we feel and the more radiant our skin will appear. The best part? When you mix them into yogurt or use as an ingredient in smoothies they congeal to form a yummy, healthy, pudding-like texture!
Raw honey is one of those universal foods that benefits us in countless ways. It’s loaded with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that boost our immune system from the inside out. In fact, it’s also an ancient remedy for healing the skin thanks to its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. If you’re feeling lethargic or as if a cold or illness is coming on, down a little teaspoon of honey with some warm tea and fresh lemon slice.
Bananas are one of those alkaline foods that we just can’t get enough of, as they balance the body’s pH levels and protect against illness, including various cancers and even arthritis. They’re also known to provide the body with more energy, as they help rid our organs of excess acid that can weigh us down and have us feeling out of sorts. Try my protein-packed banana bread recipe for a healthy-but-delicious breakfast or afternoon snack even little ones will love.
Creamy, sweet and satisfying, you’d never know Greek yogurt was jam-packed with energy-boosting protein and mood-boosting probiotics. If you go with the plain flavor, you’ll consume less sugar, which can give you an energy crash later on. To add more sweetness, simply sub in some fresh fruits like raspberries, blueberries or strawberries!