3 Ways to Boost Your Energy Naturally, without Caffeine
If you’re like me, you’re really sensitive to the effects of caffeine. One cup of coffee or shot of espresso and your sleep is disturbed for days. Or perhaps you’ve used so much caffeine in your worklife that you’re immune: Even 3 cups in the morning can’t keep your eyelids from drooping or your mood from dragging.
Caffeine is an amazing drug. But, like all drugs, it can have great effects (like keeping us awake for those long afternoon meetings) and less-great side-effects (like keeping up awake all night when we would so much rather be sleeping).
In my quest for an ingestible, natural energy booster that would work almost as well as my favorite activity-based energy boosters—going for a walk or bouncing on a big exercise ball—I happily discovered several great replacements for caffeine, with no nasty side effects when used properly. My top 3 are listed here.
1. Ginger. This incredible root has a long and storied history as a natural digestive aid. And those of you who have suffered emotional stress and fatigue know that a malfunctioning digestive tract is usually either the cause of such stress and fatigue or the result of it. Ginger, by helping ease the digestive process, helps us remain alert. I can also tell you from experience (and with the confirmation of my favorite Chinese herbalist) that ginger speeds up our metabolism and circulation, not just our digestion. A single cup of fresh ginger-root tea can seriously make you sweat! I shave off several thin slices from a fresh, organic root, and steep it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. If I am running really low, I’ll chew the slices afterward, too. If you tend to run hot or have a metabolic disorder, please be careful. A tiny amount of ginger is all any of us needs to get the energy boost we’re after: You really can get too much of a good thing when it comes to ginger.
2. Turmeric. From the same plant family as ginger, turmeric is one of the handful of herbs generally found in the complex spice we Americans call “curry.” Deep orange in color—and yes, it will stain everything it touches—this herb is an amazing anti-inflammatory with more health benefits than I can possibly list here. But the reason I love turmeric is its unmistakable energy-boosting properties. Like ginger, turmeric speeds things up in the body—aiding in digestion, boosting our metabolism, and increasing sweat production. Using the spice in cooking, along with black pepper, can have an incredible effect on the energetic properties of your food. My preferred method of use, when I need an afternoon or morning pick-me-up, is to soak ¼ tsp. of fresh or powdered turmeric root in boiling water, add some ginger if I’m really feeling low, and drink up. But fair warning: Don’t drink this tea late at night. You will not sleep a wink. Trust me on this one.
Like ginger, turmeric speeds things up in the body—aiding in digestion, boosting our metabolism, and increasing sweat production.
3. Apple cider vinegar. Now, if you have never tried ACV, the word “vinegar” might throw you off. This amazing drink, though, will make you a believer after just one shot of it. Most of us live in an acidic world: Our body’s pH is thrown off balance by chemicals, sugars, and even that loved/loathed caffeine that we’re trying to avoid. Welcome ACV, and not only will your body’s pH be more likely to find a happily neutral or slightly alkaline balance point, but your energy will rise as a result. Just a teaspoon or two (no more!) of the raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized liquid in your glass of water imparts an instant zing of energy—usually with a little “wow that’s tangy” shiver down the spine. Like ginger and turmeric, ACV increases your circulation and has a detoxifying effect on the liver. Sluggish digestion and liver function are quite often implicated in overall feelings of fatigue, so it’s no wonder this unusual beverage gives us a boost. If you can’t stand the taste, even when the ACV is diluted heavily, mix it into a fresh-fruit smoothie or shake. Covering up the taste won’t mask its awesome energetic effects.
As always, I’m a big believer in the instant energizing effects of physical activity and breathing practices (pranayama). But when you need a boost and you’re glued to your desk all day, these 3 natural energy boosters can’t be beat.
Have you tried them? What was your experience? And what other non-caffeinated ingestibles have you tried that give you that boost when you need it?