7 Caffeine Substitutes for a Healthy Jump-Start

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Everybody loves that first cup of coffee in the morning, but that always leads to the inevitable crash a couple hours later. Plus there’s the way that excessive caffeine use can increase your sensitivity to headaches and make for a headache of its own should you find yourself going through withdrawal. With all of that, is it really worth it to put so much caffeine into your body, especially when there are healthier ways to jump-start your day? If you’re looking for caffeine substitutes, consider these:


Ginseng has been used in natural extracts and remedies for thousands of years, and it’s often mentioned in the same discussions as caffeine for its energy-boosting effects. However, while caffeine is a known addictive substance, ginseng is far easier on most people’s systems, meaning you can use it as a pick-me-up without having to worry about as many adverse effects or withdrawal symptoms as you would with caffeine. You can buy it at just about any drugstore, market or health food shop.


Instead of a hot coffee or cold soft drink in the morning, consider a tall glass of water and some B12. Low levels of vitamin B12 are tied to fatigue and mood swings, as well as difficulty remembering things. Studies have also shown that many Americans aren’t getting the recommended amount of B12 in their diets. Starting your day with the vitamin is an easy and efficient way to fix this, and it can improve your energy and mood to boot. Even if you don’t opt for a vitamin pill, there are still plenty of great breakfast foods (like cereal and some animal foods) that can get you your B12 fix.

Green Tea

Green tea does indeed have caffeine, but because its amounts are so much smaller than the sources you’re probably used to drinking (like coffee and soda), it can make a great substitute if you’re looking to cut down on your intake before eliminating it entirely (which can be a good way to avoid withdrawal symptoms). For instance, a single cup of coffee has between 100 and 150 milligrams of caffeine; the same amount of green tea has just 25 milligrams. It has other natural stimulants than can help get you going in the morning without flooding your body with caffeine, but you should always check the nutritional information before you buy it, since even lower levels of caffeine in green tea can vary by brand and location. Green tea’s also been shown to boost metabolism, too.

Chicory Root

This is a great solution for people looking for a drink to mimic the flavor of coffee without any of the caffeine. Roasted chicory root has a dark, rich flavor, but it lacks the caffeination or acidity of coffee, so you get a warm, organic boost to start your day without any of the pesky side effects. It’s got plenty of other benefits, too. Chicory root improves digestion, reduces inflammation and has plenty of antioxidants, as well.

Ginkgo Biloba

Leaves from the ginkgo biloba tree are a popular organic treatment for energy and memory issues. Some people might experience mild side effects like gas, but for most people, it’s perfectly safe to take ginkgo biloba without worrying about any negative ramifications. Supplements are usually found at drug stores and grocers, since the product is popular worldwide.


Caffeine is an alternative way to get your system fired up, and that means you’ll inevitably crash, at which point you’ll reach for more caffeine and start the cycle all over again. The best way to fix that cycle, of course, is to never let it start. At the beginning of the day, have some protein and healthy fats that will give you a system boost and keep your blood sugar stable. Clean, healthy basics for protein include: chicken, beef, fish, eggs, cheese and yogurt. A hearty, balanced breakfast can give you a stable, steady, enjoyable system boost that caffeine can’t touch.


Seriously. Sometimes the best solution isn’t to find a substitute for something, but to ditch it altogether for a new plan. That’s where exercise comes in as a “substitute” to caffeine. Regular exercise gives a major boost to energy levels, reducing fatigue and making you more active overall. It might sound counter-intuitive at first — wouldn’t working out make you tired, not peppy? — but the science backs it up. The more you exercise, the more you can raise your overall energy levels. To that end, maybe the best way to start your day isn’t with a cup of joe, but with a quick jog around the neighborhood. Anything to keep your heart rate up and your body in tune. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.


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