Having a routine can make your mornings more productive. For many people, a morning routine is incomplete without a cup of coffee—not only will it warm you up, but the caffeine gives you the boost of energy you need to put a little pep in your step. If you’re a coffee fiend like me this may be hard to imagine, but some people don’t like the taste of coffee and need a different way to get their caffeine fix throughout the day. Luckily there are lots of options for warm beverages that will wake you up! We asked Dr. Matt Chalmers, founder of Chalmers Wellness, what you can drink instead of coffee to start your day on the right foot.
One reason you may consider a coffee alternative, besides the taste, is that it can have some negative health effects on certain people. “Drinking coffee can lead to dehydration, staining of the teeth and acidity of the blood. Dehydration can cause you to feel tired, have dry skin, mental fog, muscle soreness, and even a higher probability of injury,” Dr. Chalmers says, “For every cup of coffee you drink, you need to drink two cups of water the same size to be back to neutral for the day.”
If you have difficulty sleeping, you may consider quitting coffee as well. “Coffee has the ability to block the signal your brain sends out that tells you it is tired.” Dr. Chalmers says. This isn’t a bad thing if you drink it in the morning and are trying to start your day, but if you drink too much coffee, especially too late in the day, it could lead to difficulty sleeping.
If you want a caffeinated beverage without the dehydration and potential jitters, Dr. Chalmers says matcha is a great alternative. “Matcha tea is great for blood circulation and it does have caffeine in it so we can get an energy pick up from it.” With that being said, it’s important to note that the caffeine content in matcha is about ⅓ to ½ of what is in coffee. It may not have as potent of a pick me up feeling, but there are some bonuses to drinking it instead, one of them being that it doesn’t dehydrate you nearly as bad as coffee. “Also, matcha has L-Theanine in it, which has been shown to cross the blood brain barrier and increase the function of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.” This means that it can reduce the effects of cortisol and adrenaline, both hormones that trigger anxiety and stress. “It is often noted that people drinking matcha have a more relaxed approach to their day and report that they feel more calm.”
Matcha may be a good replacement for coffee for those who struggle with anxiety and stress, or people who simply want a less potent form of caffeine to start their day. While coffee, matcha, and caffeine in general are great ways to get an extra boost, they are only supplemental—it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle if you want sustainable, consistent energy. “One of the most important things we can do is to start and keep a sleep schedule. Going to bed at a standard time and getting a set number of hours of sleep will help a great deal,” Dr. Chalmers says, “It is also critical that you are eating from your needed fuel source. Not everyone needs to run on carbohydrates; some of us need to eat more fat.” These are all things that are incredibly individualized, so if you struggle with low energy consistently, seek guidance from your medical provider on what changes you can make to your lifestyle to see results.