Juliette Steen -Associate Food Editor, HuffPost Australia
Getting up in the morning, especially during the cold, dark months, is not an easy feat. Hitting snooze 10 times, groggily getting to work, staring aimlessly at the computer screen for half an hour… sound familiar?
While a cup of coffee can certainly do the trick, there are other ways to get your morning boost of energy.
“Coffee is a stimulant and works in a similar way to our stress hormone adrenaline. Coffee stimulates the nervous system, providing alertness and instant energy,” nutritionist Fiona Tuck told HuffPost Australia.
“However, constantly relying on coffee for energy can lead to caffeine addiction. Symptoms of too much caffeine consumption can include irritability, anxiety, headaches, shakiness and insomnia.”
The other downsides to coffee consumption come about when we go without it. As our bodies are used to caffeine and its stimulating effects, without coffee we respond negatively and can experience symptoms such as headaches and fogginess.
“Additionally, when we rely on multiple cups over the course of the day, our tolerance increases and we require stronger or more doses to make a noticeable difference on our energy levels,” celebrity trainer and founder of Flow Athletic Ben Lucas said.
So, how else can we get our morning energy boost? Try these eight handy tips.
- Drink water
This sounds simple, but hydrating properly on waking can help you feel more alert, accredited practising dietitian Chloe McLeod explained.
“Have a big glass of water at the start of the day. This helps you become hydrated, which can help to wake you up as sometimes we feel sleepy when we’re dehydrated,” McLeod told HuffPost Australia.
“Whatever movement you’re choosing will help to wake you up. Whether it’s a morning run, a yoga class, weight session or whatever it is you like doing, getting activity in at the start of the day can be really useful,” McLeod said.
“Getting the circulation moving helps energise the body and releases feel-good chemicals in the body,” Tuck added.
- Practice Hatha breathing
If morning exercise just isn’t your thing, Lucas recommends trying energising breathing techniques such as Hatha breathing.
“Hatha breathing offers short-term bouts of energy,” Lucas said.
“Hatha breathing involves short, sharp exhalations of 30 breaths, focusing on the diaphragm. Three rounds of Hatha breathing will result in a noticeable difference in energy and can be practised at any time of the day when you’re feeling down on vitality.”
- Drink strong herbal tea
“Try swapping coffee for a strong cup of peppermint tea. Peppermint refreshes and uplifts, energising the body without the caffeine,” Tuck said.
Also try herbal teas containing ginger, cayenne or cinnamon, which can not only trigger an energy response, but also boost antioxidant intake.
- Eat a balanced breakfast
Food is the ultimate fuel for our body, and breakfast provides the perfect opportunity to boost your energy in the morning.
“Have your breakfast with a right mix of the nutrients — protein, low GI carbs and healthy fats. An appropriate portion size of these will help to wake you up,” McLeod said.
“Protein helps to maintain satiety and prevents blood sugar crashes which can lead to fatigue,” Tuck added.
- Include veggies at breakfast
Aim to include veggies at breakfast, whether it’s eggs on toast with roasted tomatoes, garlic mushrooms and wilted spinach, or kale blended into a morning smoothie.
“Increase fruits and veggies at every meal, particularly green leafy veggies which are high in magnesium. Magnesium helps increase energy within the body, stabilises blood sugar and prevents fatigue,” Tuck told HuffPost Australia.
Although often associated with relaxation and sleeping, meditation can be a really useful tool to help wake you up in the morning and keep you alert throughout the day.
“Meditation gives your brain that little rest time and can change how the different hormones in your body are being secreted in the body,” McLeod said.
“I often recommend meditation to clients for the middle of the day — if you feel like you need that little break while you’re sitting at your desk, taking five or 10 minutes to allow everything to reset can be a really useful way to help get through the afternoon and the afternoon energy slump.”
- Splash your face (or body) with cold water
“I’m not sure about any research on this, but the cold water does give you a little shock. Some people say to just have the last 10 seconds of your shower with really cold water — whatever works for you,” McLeod said.
Now, after all of this, if you still choose to have coffee, just remember to stick to 1-2 cups per day.
“I suggest to keep coffee intake to no more than three a day, but no more than two of those being milk-based, due to the amount of calories which will end up being consumed if they’re all milky coffees,” McLeod said.