Energise Your Training With These Coffee-Alternatives
Trying to cut down on coffee, but like the boost? Try these healthy alternatives.
Caffeine has been scientifically proven to boost athletic performance (1) and even help with fat loss (2). And coffee has to be one of the tastiest ways to consume it. But too much coffee can have negative effects: impacting our sleep and adding lots of excess calories. What are the healthiest – and tastiest – ways to replace coffee? There are plenty of other tasty ways to experience the health and performance benefits of caffeine. And if you’re trying to avoid caffeine altogether – and want some delicious coffee alternatives – we can help with that too! We’ve listed 8 alternatives – some with caffeine, and some without (if you want a hot drink but need to avoid caffeine completely).
4 Caffeinated Alternatives
Green tea is a very healthy alternative to coffee. It contains caffeine, but significantly less than coffee does. So you can drink more of it without any side effects, which helps with hydration. Green tea has lots of important natural antioxidants that can support your immune system and metabolic rate. (3)
Matcha is a specific type of green tea, made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant which are steamed, dried and ground into a fine powder. Matcha powder can be used in smoothies or baking, too. But we like to make it into a hot drink to replace coffee. The difference between Matcha green tea and other green teas is that – with Matcha – you consume the entire leaf, so you are getting a more concentrated amount of the EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) antioxidants. EGCGs are thought to help reduce risk of high blood pressure, help control body weight, and help you avoid heart disease. You can make Matcha tea with water or milk for more of a latte-style drink.
This is a herbal tea made from the leaves of the llex paraguriensis (South Anerican holly tree). It contains roughly the same amount of caffeine per cup as a filter coffee. Yerba Mate has a higher level of antioxidants thank green tea, plus vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and thiamine. It’s definitely an acquired taste, rather smoky (if you enjoy Lapsang Souchong, you might also like Yerba Mate). Make it with hot water.
Cacao is the pure, 100% part of cocoa. It’s the healthy, natural part of all chocolate – before sugar, fat, oil, and anything else is added. Get hold of some 100% cacao powder and create your own super-healthy hot chocolate drinks with milk and a little honey or agave for sweetness if needed. Cacao is low fat, low sugar, and packed with healthy nutritional benefits. It is a good source of the mineral magnesium (which us lady runners can often become deficient in!) Cacao also contains polyphenols – natural antioxidants – which have been linked to reduced inflammation, increased blood flow, lower blood pressure, and better blood sugar levels. Cacao powder can be used in smoothies, baking, desserts, and porridge. To make a hot cacao drink simply stir or whisk it into hot milk (or milk alternative). Try adding maca powder, cinnamon, or a little honey or agave.
4 Caffeine-Free Ideas
Chicory root can be roasted and ground just like coffee beans, but it doesn’t contain any caffeine. Chicory root drink tastes similar to coffee – a great option if you are avoiding coffee or want to cut down. Chicory root is a good source of inulin, the soluble fire which can help healthy digestion by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria — particularly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli (4). Brew roasted, ground chicory root just like you would coffee. So you even get to enjoy the ritual of making your coffee!
Red Tea/Rooibos Tea
This caffeine-free tea is high in antioxidants (although it is low in tannins). It has a mild taste, ideal for helping you meet your hydration levels though the day if you crave hot drinks. Bear in mind that it usually needs more steeping time than other teas.
Sometimes called “golden milk”, turmeric latte is a caffeine-free healthy alternative to coffee lattes or flat whites. You can make your own, or buy pre-made powders which you mix with milk. Turmeric Latte is rich, soothing, and warming – perfect when you want the mouth feel and “hug in a mug” factor of your morning latte. Turmeric contains high levels of curcumin, which has even shown to reduce inflammation (5) – making it ideal for runners. To make your own, combine the following ingredients in a pan, heat, and stir during to mix: 1 cup milk or milk alternative, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 1/5 tsp ground cinnamon 1/8 ground ginger, pinch of black pepper (this enhances the benefits of turmeric), plus honey to taste.
Ginger tea is warming and soothing just like a milky coffee – but without the caffeine. Ginger has a lot of health benefits, including supporting digestion, soothing tummy discomfort, and of course warming you up. The best way to make ginger tea is with fresh ginger root, but ginger tea bags are easier. Try both to see what you enjoy best!
(1) “The Effect of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29876876
(2) “The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30335479
(3) “Antioxidant effects of green tea” 2011 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679539/
(4) “The effects of fermentation products of prebiotic fibres on gut barrier and immune functions in vitro” 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089210/
(5) “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials” 2016 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/