Do you find yourself constantly craving an extra cup of coffee or energy drink, just to help you muster the energy needed to get you through your day?
There is no denying that caffeine is an effective way of focusing your mind and giving you a burst of energy. I myself don’t deny enjoying a cup of coffee every now and then, however there are several downsides to becoming too reliant upon it.
Firstly - Stimulants such as caffeine exaggerate the body’s natural stress response, which means that too much caffeine can put strain on your heart. Caffeine works by temporarily freezing, or pausing the receptor used by adenosine, which is responsible for providing the feedback required to avoid overstimulation of the nerve cells. So after excessive consumption of caffeine, the body continues to speed up and this can result in frayed nerves as well cause you to feel a bit moody. Then there is the energy depleted ‘down’ afterwards, where you feel a more lethargic than you did before you had the caffeine!
Secondly - Caffeine can be addictive. This has two negative effects. You can experience caffeine withdrawals, meaning headaches, nausea or mood swings. Also your body can build up a tolerance, which means you start craving a stronger coffee, or more of it to get that energy kick you crave.
Thirdly - Most people enjoy their coffee with some kind of milk or sweetener and if you are drinking more than one or two a day then that is a lot of extra calories you are consuming.
The good news is that there are many ways in which you can adjust or enhance your diet to ensure that you are getting as much healthy sustainable energy as you need from the foods that you eat!
Never skip breakfast! - Breakfast is a very important meal for several reasons, including kick-starting your digestive system and stimulating your metabolism. It is also important to fuel yourself with the energy you need to get up and going. Aim for a protein and carbohydrate rich breakfasts with some good fats, to really fuel your body.
Low GI - The glycemic index measures the different effects certain foods have on the glucose levels in your blood. Foods with a low glycaemic index provide you with slow release energy so you don’t find that you conk out just an hour after eating.
Eat Less, more often! - Instead of eating 3 large meals a day, which will often leave you feeling sluggish and sleepy as your body works to digest it. Try eating 4-6 small meals so that you are not overloading your digestive system, yet you are still providing yourself with all the energy you need.
Vitamin B is key - There is a whole range of B vitamins and they all play a role in both absorbing and converting food into energy. So make sure you enjoy a diet rich in these nutrients, which means lots of fresh vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, capsicum, asparagus, parsley and lentils!
- Quick fix - Sometimes you just need a quick fix energy boost, yet you don’t want the depleted feeling you can get after a coffee. Well the best way to find this is enjoy an apple or a banana. Both these fruits will provide you with instant, easily absorbed energy and they won’t leave you feeling flat afterwards!