Quitting coffee is just the worst. But consider the havoc too much caffeine can wreak on your body, which can also be the worst! Man, life is hard.
Since you probably still crave something to sip on when your energy levels dip, we asked Dr. Meg Jordan, chair of integrative health studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, to suggest some alternatives that won’t leave you with the jitters like that post-lunch espresso, and that post-post-lunch espresso.
If part of your coffee obsession is the routine of making it, then chicory root might do the trick. Not only is chicory root roasted, ground, and prepared like coffee, but it also contains a high concentration of a fiber called inulin, which improves digestion -- in other words, you won’t lose your coffee shits! Perhaps even more important to you is the fact that it even kind of, sort of, maybe, almost tastes like the real thing.
Fine, 100% pure chicory root might not be your thing. We get it. If that’s the case, herbal coffee is here for you. These blends attempt to replicate the taste of coffee, with a natural nutritional boost from the herbs and nuts inside. It may not be coffee, but we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy the taste of these nut blends.
Coconut water boasts five times the potassium of your average sports drink. Potassium, along with the other electrolytes found in coconut water, helps boost your body’s cardiovascular system, and gives you a whole heap of other benefits we won’t bore you with here.
Cold-brew cacao nibs
Chocolate milk this is not. If you’ve ever made cold-brew coffee, then you’ll have no trouble making this refreshing elixir that has far less caffeine than coffee. An added bonus is that you’ll feel like an Aztec king, drinking chocolate all day.
One of Dr. Jordan’s personal favorites, yerba mate has long been considered the “coffee” of many South American countries. Yerba mate contains less than half the caffeine of most coffee, while also sporting a dense antioxidant and mineral profile.
Dr. Jordan says women have been serving maca to increase their partner's libido since the Incan civilization. Do we really have to say anything else? More than just a well-researched sexual stimulant, maca supports your adrenal glands, regulates hormones, and has even shown some antidepressant effects.
You need your iron, man. Without it, your brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to power you through that afternoon slump. Hibiscus tea is packed to the brim with iron (yeah) and thiamin (OH YEAH), which helps convert your food into the energy you’re so desperately craving right about… NOW.
SPONSORED: Dwight Schrute. Beets, loved by farmers and college football teams alike, probably because studies have shown beet juice to regulate oxygen and increase stamina during exercise. The flavor is on point, too. Try pairing it with ginger for a surprisingly sweet-and-spicy kick.
Gotu kola (tea)
Another of Dr. Jordan’s favorites, gotu kola “has the special effect of soothing nerves, so that you can feel restored and rejuvenated, and ready for action later.” This may be due to compounds called triterpenoids, shown to simultaneously reduce anxiety and increase mental clarity. Contrary to the highs and lows of caffeine, gotu kola provides balanced energy throughout the day.
OK, so it’s not exactly a “drink,” but it can easily be blended into one (that counts, dammit). Bananas have an especially high amount of an amino acid called tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin -- one of those “happy neurotransmitters” you’re probably lacking. Combine this with the high potassium content, easily digestible carbohydrates, and built-in packaging, and bananas make for one delicious energy-enhancing addition to your briefcase.
Quitting coffee may totally suck, but it can suck less hard if you know where to turn when you get the itch.
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Nicholas Knock is freelance health writer for Thrillist. You can follow him when he finally gets back on Twitter.