Caffeine is a chemical that supplies the energy boost most adults think they need to wake up in the morning. Caffeine, however, doesn’t create an actual drive in the same manner as, say, adrenaline. Studies show that caffeine instead merely blocks sleep chemicals like adenosine. Caffeine works like a pain reliever for sleep.
That means coffee doesn’t exactly wake us up like we imagine. What will? We may crave a warm drink in the mornings, but other habits—from waking up and throughout the entire day—can both wake us up, keep us awake, and help disperse energy throughout an entire day more efficiently. Read on to see other natural foods that wake you up even better than caffeinated drinks:
Apples are high in glucose and only produce more glucose as they ripen. They serve the purpose of kick-starting your metabolism and energizing your body. The sudden shot of glucose will wake up the mind.
In addition, apples work just by the merit of being a food alone. Studies show that even a small snack after waking will help the body begin its metabolic functions early and begin burning fat and sugars for energy. This is where apples come in; glucose on an empty stomach, says one study, burns even faster than glucose ingested over lunch or dinner. Like caffeine, you will feel the sugar’s effects in about twenty minutes. The sugar, combined with active activity like getting ready for a day’s work, will actually boost your energy.
Adults should consume whole grains midday, or into the early afternoon, to begin building a store of slow-release complex sugars. These will carry you through the “afternoon slump” and prevent “sugar crashes,” where your sugar levels unexpectedly plummet. Whole grain bread sandwiches or pastas, in moderation, make great takeaway lunches. For the more active, whole grain pasta dinners prior to sporting events the next day, like morning runs or marathons, gives your body the energy store it needs to wake up and get going—not unlike charging a battery.
If you don’t feel like whole grain meals, try crackers or chips; crackers and fruit make for a healthy, portable, excellent afternoon snack.
Almonds are among the healthiest foods ever studied. Almonds carry multiple vitamins, but also minerals like zinc and iron. Iron helps to fortify the blood and neutralize your blood pressure; this keeps your blood pressure active and your body and mind awake and sharp throughout the day. Almonds also contain healthy carbohydrates, complex sugars that burn over a longer period of time. As with apples, try and eat almonds early in the day to sustain their nutrients. A small palm-full of almonds makes a great addition to any breakfast.
While not exactly a “food,” ice water at the beginning of your day has been proven multiple times over to benefit the body, for a few reasons. First, human adults usually wake up dehydrated. Among its many symptoms, dehydration also causes fatigue. Reaching for coffee could be slightly counteracting hydration more than it actually helps. Further, the cold temperature of ice water mildly shocks your system and causes the brain to release adrenaline. Adrenaline then boosts your metabolism and wakes you up remarkably quickly. Cold showers have similar effects, but you can access ice water without getting drenched.
Some kinds of low-fat cheeses can contribute moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrates, helpful to keep the body running throughout the day. Yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, accomplishes similar outcomes. Cottage cheese contains the proteins to fill you up, and the long-burning sugars to keep your mind engaged; an optimal snack a half hour before meetings or events. Cottage cheese and yogurt also pair well with metabolism-boosting fruits and cleansing ingredients like honey.
Peanuts generally contain protein and multiple vitamins and minerals. Peanut butter is thereby protein-filled and high in fiber. In moderation, peanut butter can make you feel full while sustaining fat-burning and regulating your digestive system. This way, your body can burn sugars at a sustained rate and keep your metabolism high. The proteins also help repair muscles, helping you to burn more calories with less work. Pair peanut butter with a whole-grain bagel, or on top of fruit slices, for a balanced snack, meal, or breakfast. Some even prefer peanut butter for dessert.
Eggs are an already common breakfast option, but they can be added to many dishes throughout the day for a protein and vitamin kick. One egg alone has about six grams of protein, out of a human average of about 25 necessary grams a day. Eggs contain vitamins A, D, B-12, B-6, and C, and are excellent sources for calcium, magnesium, and iron. Any food with iron will help regulate your metabolism for the long-term, and the protein will keep your body full and burning sugar for energy. If you prefer warm breakfasts, fry one egg in coconut oil and serve over whole wheat toast, or hard-boil an egg to go with a side of fruit.
Many high protein, high vitamin and mineral foods will help wake you up in the morning and keep you awake all day. Start the day with an empty stomach and reach for water and low-carb, high-glucose foods, like fruit. Then, begin to increase your carb and protein intake throughout the day. Studies show that four to five smaller meals, rather than three larger meals, sustain a prolonged regular metabolic rate and contribute to high overall heart health. Without the consistent rises and drops in sugar, your energy stays high and your body stays regular and consistent, allowing the body to better absorb vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and stave off illnesses.
Besides foods, make sure to find a light source as soon as you get out of bed. Try light activity first thing in the morning, too — even a five minute walk in outdoor air can do wonders to make you feel happy, refreshed and awake to start your day.