Is a cup of coffee or energy drink an essential part of your morning routine? Or maybe your entire day? Does your workout totally suck if you don’t have a caffeinated pre-workout drink?
Here’s how to tell:
- You wake up in the morning feeling totally wiped out. And the first thing you think about is gulping down a cup of coffee. Nothing else happens until some caffeine is simmering in your gut.
- When mid-afternoon rolls around, you start feeling sluggish and tired. And after years of habit, your instinct is to chug an energy drink, grab another latte, or refill your coffee cup.
- You know a wave of tiredness and fatigue is bound to hit you, so you sip on caffeinated drinks throughout the day.
- Without a pre-workout drink you don’t have the energy to give your best effort.
Any one of these sound familiar?
Caffeine consumption and recommendations
More than 90 percent of all adults drink some type of caffeinated drink every day. And more than half of all adults gulp down 300 mg of caffeine or more each day. What about you?
Caffeine is a stimulant that can give your energy levels a boost.
It’s one reason most pre-workout drinks contain an average of 150 mg to 400 mg of caffeine. (I recommend the pre-workout from 1 UP Nutrition: Use code RYAN20.). A typical cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine.
Around 400 to 500 mg of caffeine per day is generally what health professionals recommend as safe for adults.
But if you’re getting that much in a single pre-workout drink, how do you sustain energy levels throughout the rest of the day?
Here’s what most people do: Drink more caffeine.
But it’s a losing battle, says Team RSF Coach Jordan Ferguson.
“It doesn’t take very long to build up a tolerance to caffeine,” says Ferguson. “When that happens, the positive side effects of caffeine like higher aerobic capacity, increased strength, and higher metabolism quickly diminish.”
More and more caffeine usually isn’t the solution. And in extremely high amounts it can be dangerous.
But if you quit caffeine, you’ve got to deal with the dreaded symptoms of withdrawal that can leave you feeling tired and fatigued. Then what?
Taking a break from caffeine can help.
“If you build up a tolerance, around two weeks caffeine-free seems to be the sweet spot to resetting caffeine tolerance,” says Ferguson.
Caffeine isn’t the only way to boost your energy level.
I know that might be hard to believe if you’ve been chugging back coffee and energy drinks every day for years. But it’s true.
There’s actually a lot of different ways to boost your energy levels that don’t require caffeine in a drink, bar, or supplement.
If you’re taking a break from caffeine, or you simply want to cut back on the amount you consume, here are 5 non-caffeinated ways to improve energy levels:
1. Deep breathing. Take a minute to practice deep breathing. Inhale and take a deep breath. Try to suck in your belly button all the way to your back. Take about five seconds to breathe in deeply and hold it. Then exhale slowly. Repeat this 4 to 5 times.
2. Chew gum. No, not the kind of gum that contains caffeine. Sugar-free is probably the better option. If you’re feeling tired, pop a piece of gum and chew away. Research shows chewing gum can help maintain focus and energy levels. 
3. Drink ice cold water. It’s a good way to boost energy levels any time of the day. Research also shows drinking cold water during a workout can help control body temperature, and support hydration to improve performance. And if you’re tough enough, try taking an ice cold shower, or ice bath.
4. Eat more often. If you’re following one of my plans, you’ll probably need to eat multiple times throughout the day, just so you can consume all the food. Frequent meals can help maintain your energy levels, and avoid the kind of crash eating less often can have on energy levels. Avoid refined foods that digest fast and lead to more hunger and fatigue.
5. Take a walk…preferably outside if the weather allows. If there’s a trail, park or walking path nearby, even better. Research shows walking in a natural setting has a positive impact on your brain that can boost energy levels.
How do you boost energy levels without caffeine? Let’s discuss on Facebook.
1. Villanova University. (2018). About caffeine: What’s the buzz? From: https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/studentlife/health/promotion/goto/resources/drugs/caffeine.html
2. Mayo Clinic. (2018). Caffeine: How much is too much? From: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678
3. Fox, M. (2017). Caffeine overdose killed South Carolina Teen, Coroner Rules. NBC News. From: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/south-carolina-teen-died-caffeine-overdose-coroner-rules-n759716
4. Morgan, K., et al. (2013). Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement. British Journal of Psychology. From: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjop.12025/abstract
5. LaFata, D., et al. (2012). The effect of a cold beverage during an exercise session combining both strength and energy systems development training on core temperature and markers of performance. From: https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-9-44
6. Harvard University. (2018). Eating to boost energy. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/eating-to-boost-energy
7. Bratman, G, et al. (2015). Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. From: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/28/8567