Alternative energy is a hot topic these days.
As I was reading about new technologies in renewable energy, it struck me that most discussions surrounding alternative energy concerned energy consumed outside of ourselves. New and renewable energy sources for cars and factories and cities are explored in great detail, but ultimately, our personal energy level is what gets things accomplished.
Our kids seem to have energy to spare, but we as parents need to be one step ahead of them, making sure meals are made, bills are paid, clothes are clean, and car-pools to soccer and gymnastics are on time. So I find myself wondering…
Bio-diesel and hydrogen fuel cells can power our machinery, but what’s powering us?
Our fuel is the food that we eat. Optimally, we are all eating a balanced diet containing all of the nutrients and minerals and antioxidants that we need in order to keep up with our busy lives and our extremely active children.
Doesn’t always happen. I find myself grabbing snack foods for lunch, or substituting dessert for dinner, simply because “I don’t have the time to eat better.” Frankly, that’s more of a justification to myself for eating junk than a valid reason for not eating healthier…
I love coffee. I find it too easy to just get another Americano when I’m feeling sluggish. (By the way, I’m lobbying to change the name to a “derekano” at my local coffee shop, but it hasn’t taken off yet…)
Too much caffeine and sugar can really throw our bodies out of balance. Our adrenal glands, liver and kidneys take on extra work every time we toss back a cup of caffeinated beverage or highly sweetened soda. While I can’t personal advocate for giving up coffee, there are alternatives that we can choose when feeling low-energy. Natural energy boosters are beneficial to us, pumping up our immune system and providing essential nutrients to help our body help itself. Here’s my list:
Alternative Energy Drinks:
- Water – Most of us don’t drink enough water anyway, so focusing on better hydration before you get tired can help your energy levels. Drinking lots of water before lunch can help you to eat less and still feel full, missing the drowsy feeling of eating a big meal.
- Lemon juice in water – Keep a lemon with you and squeeze half of it into a glass of water when you need a lift. In winter, hot lemon tea hits the spot. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Emergen-C – My favorite for cold and flu season as well, Emergen-C is a convenient way to get your electrolytes, vitamin C, and B6 and B12 as well. Plus, it’s fizzy and comes in many flavors. I like the tangerine flavor.
- Fresh fruit smoothie – Make a smoothie in the morning and give yourself a healthy boost of fruit sugar instead of caffeine.
- Yerba Maté – Maté has caffeine, but is generally less “speedy” than coffee and doesn’t give you the caffeine hangover effect when you come down. Along with phytonutrients, yerba maté contains practically all vitamins necessary to sustain life, and 15 amino acids and significant quantities of magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, manganese, and chlorophyll. I make mine with licorice root for sweetness, and peppermint for minty-ness.
- Young Coconut Juice – Best consumed fresh from a young coconut, but still great in a can, coconut water or juice is a powerful electrolyte drink and energy booster. Also called Thai coconuts, young coconuts generally have part of the husk still attached and look white, not brown. I like the Amy and Brian brand coconut juice in a can when I’m feeling burned out.
- Green Tea – With only a third of the caffeine as coffee, and a potent source of polyphenols, green tea is a good choice for the afternoon blues. I like bancha and genmaicha (green tea with brown rice).
- Maca – A root sometimes referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” because of its similar effectiveness in increasing energy and stamina, and in enhancing fertility and sex drive. Add maca to smoothies or drink in your herb tea. Ask for maca at your local health food store or herbalist.
By replacing one coffee a day with one of these alternative energy drinks, I know my body (and family) will appreciate the extra vitality that I have (and I won’t miss that feeling of hitting the wall).
Image: bingbing on Flickr under Creative Commons License
Tyler @ Building Camelot says
Great article Derek – as a dad with a newborn and not getting much sleep I have found myself really going after the caffeine and sugar lately. I’ll have to try a couple of these because the seem like they would hit the spot.
I was surprised to see that I am using at least 5 of the alternatives on your list! I haven’t tried the coconut juice (although I have some in my fridge for cooking with rice) and intend to go out of my way to find the maca at my local health food store.
Thanks for such an interesting and supportive article 🙂
YOU NEED SOME FACTS ABOUT HOW ENERGY DRINKS ARE GOOD FOR YOU!!! IT WILL HELP!!!!