What is one thing that spells morning, energy, and productivity for most of us? You guessed it right, it’s coffee! For many people, coffee is an ingredient part of their work routine and is just as important for a productive day at work as their computer or their tool box. Some take it a step further and actually ask their family members not to talk to them before they’ve had their first cup of joe. Look around during your morning commute or while riding the elevator in an office building—people of all ages are clutching their travel mugs as if their life depends on it. Maybe it does? With countless coffee shops everywhere you go, it is undeniable that coffee has taken over our daily life.
But is this superstar beverage really that all-mighty? Researchers claim caffeine is not a good candidate when it comes to an ultimate pick-me-up source of energy. In fact, it’s a classic example that there is too much of a good thing. Excessive caffeine consumption (in a form of classic brew, specialty coffees, caffeinated sodas, or energy drinks) leads to elevated blood pressure, sleeping problems, headaches, and anxiety.
A viable alternative? There is one, but it takes a bit more time and effort than ordering your extra-large dark roast from a drive-through. It’s not a drink; it’s an approach, a three-pronged one. But the good news is, once you adopt this approach and turn it into a lifestyle, you feel less tired, more energized, and healthier overall.
To help you remember, here’s how it goes: Eat. Work out. Sleep. (Repeat.) Sounds like a general guideline for a healthy living, right? Believe it or not, it holds the key not only to effective weight management, but to a reliable supply of energy too. It may not sound as exciting as the anticipation of your first cup of the day, but it is way more effective, especially in the long term.
Eat. The importance of a nutritious breakfast can never be overestimated. A proper first meal of the day gives you a good boost of energy that is longer-running than anything caffeinated. According to Kevin Richardson, a person trainer and owner of High Intensity Training, a good breakfast offers lots of fiber and complex carbohydrates. The classic “oatmeal and eggs” is a great example. Top it off with a couple of servings of fruits, and you’re good to go.
While people usually tend to skip breakfast rather than lunch, don’t assume that if you’ve had a good breakfast you can let it go later in the day. You can’t. When you fail to eat properly, chances are, you’ll make up for it with coffee—not a good choice.
Work out. Contrary to widespread assumptions, exercise doesn’t drain your energy. Any type of physical activity burns calories, tones muscles, and recharges your batteries. You can start with a brisk walk outside, gradually increasing the time of your session, or if weather isn’t cooperating, you can do it on the treadmill. Yoga is a great low-impact option benefiting your whole body—and your mind too. You’ll sleep like a baby after a good yoga class (and you’ll see why this is important in a moment). If you’re up for something more challenging, start jogging or strength training.
Sleep. While exercise does restock your energy supply, of course, your ultimate time to recharge is at night when you’re sleeping. With our hectic lifestyles, shut-eye is often pushed down the list of priorities, but the problem is, you can’t really make up for lost sleep, even if you think that sleeping in here and there will counterbalance the impact of all-nighters. “Oversleeping on the weekend sets you up to crash during the week because your body is used to sleeping for a long time,” explained Richardson. Bring the order back to your sleeping schedule—and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. (Harvard study helps seniors get a good night’s sleep.)
Eat. Work out. Sleep. Repeat. That’s your easy formula for all-day energy! Eat well, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep every night—and the only time you’ll crave your coffee will be when you’re feeling nostalgic about those days when you couldn’t imagine your life without it.
Related: Boost your energy with these 5 foods