ONE CUP: DAY SIX
Well, it’s been six days and I’m pleased to report that I have not sprinted into the nearest Starbucks for an afternoon double shot with a craving for my delectable energy boosters. Nor have I sleepwalked to the pantry in the middle of the night (I don’t think) to brew a second cup.
But these uncharted, under-caffeinated waters have washed up one problem…
Since Monday, I’ve scaled back from five caffeinated beverages a day to one. This means not only am I consuming less caffeine, I’m also consuming less sugar.
What’s going to wake me up now?!
I’ve spent the last few days consulting fellow bloggers and experts for energy ideas of the non-caffeinated variety. Today at 7 a.m. I set out to test the lineup. So, do these alleged energizers out-perk caffeine?
Alleged Energizer #1: The Apple
“Have an apple,” people always tell me when they catch me grumbling about my coffee deficit. OK. Is an apple really going to amp me up better than a latte? I asked Google this question, and a prompt came up to assist my search: “Does an apple have caffeine?”
Apparently others are equally confused about the apple’s mysterious power to refresh. Now, I know apples don’t have caffeine, but why does it pack energy? Maybe it’s a boost from the natural sugars, or the fact that it’s water-rich?
Result: I noticed a perk-up. But is the apple more energizing than other fruits? (Really, people just like to prescribe apples, don’t they?) I’m not a big apple fan, so my next test: to see if I can suck the same energy out of a tomato, berry, banana, melon or avocado.
Alleged Energizer #2: Nix Starchy Carbs
This midday energy idea was courtesy of Noshtopia: skip the starchy carbs—pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, bread—at lunch. Starch, a complex carb, takes longer for the body to digest and convert to energy. Steph says: “Eating vegetarian, or veg+carb, or veg+meat, is less work for the bod and it helps you feel lighter until dinner.”
Result: Instead of my usual turkey, tomato and lettuce sandwich, I had the same ingredients in salad form minus the bread. And? I did indeed feel lighter, and it was a refreshing change. I have a quick metabolism and didn’t quite last ’til dinner, but I’d lean on this light-lunch advice again for sure.
Alleged Energizer #3: Amino Acids
The authors of Mind & Mood Foods say certain amino acids found in protein stimulate the brain. To clear your head, they suggest milk, yogurt, cheese, lean meats, legumes, and fish/shellfish (which contain tyrosine, an amino acid that skyrockets alertness).
Doesn’t this “neurostimulant” sound perfect for those afternoons when you need to make it through one last project at work or lecture at school?
Result: I picked low-fat yogurt to get my amino acid advantage. I love yogurt but never paid attention to its energy effects or nutritional value: did you know one cup of yogurt contains 12 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates?! Flavored yogurts tend to contain loads of sugar (or artificial sugar), so I had plain with a small swirl of jam and wheat germ to cancel out the sour. Not only did it lift my energy, but it lifted my spirits: it seemed like dessert!
Alleged Energizer #4: Water
For an energy boost, the guy behind Mark’s Daily Apple (again with the apple) proposes water. “Just 3% dehydration can compromise brain function and create feelings of fatigue,” explains Mark, who adds that water-rich fruits and veggies count, too.
Result: Aha! All week I’ve been replacing daily coffees Two, Three, Four and Five with water (as you can see, I sip out of habit) and despite the afternoon lulls, I have been more awake in the evening! Now, I need to work on adding water-packed foods (fruits, veggies, soups, shakes) to my diet.
P.S. Extra energy isn’t the only reason water rocks: it can help you wash away excess fat.
Alleged Energizer #5: Energy Bars
Big workout plans? Bring out the big guns. That’s what I did for my 25-mile bike ride this morning. (What’s that? I can’t put a mug of coffee in my bottle cage?)
I knew I’d need some serious energy, so at the recommendation of an enthusiastic grocery store shelver, I tried a PowerBar Performance Energy bar. Despite a dizzying ingredient list, I was able to pick out protein, vitamins and minerals, oats and cane juice… which means ample energy to the muscles, right?
Result: 20 minutes before my ride I had cereal and a piece of whole wheat toast. I was a slug. While I know I can partly blame the uphill-against-the-wind factor, other cyclists were whizzing by. Next time I’ll eat these slow-energy-releasers (see above) at least an hour in advance.
However, when I stopped to eat my Performance bar, I got instant energy. I felt like I was riding on a cloud for nearly two hours, and topped my record. Woo hoo!
(I’m not being paid to promote ProBar, by the way, I’m just stoked on it today. I usually go for Luna, CLIF Builders or Tiger’s Milk, which don’t deliver more than a snack’s worth of energy. If you’ve got a favorite sports energy bar or drink, please share it!)
Well, if you’ve joined the One Cup of Coffee challenge with me (bless you!), give the above five a try and tell us: do they perk you up better than caffeine?