Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Dutch Bros or just your coffee machine...if one of these destinations are the first stop you need to make before you start your work day, you’re not alone.
According to USA TODAY, 83% of American adults drink coffee on a daily basis to put a little pep in their step, and for good reason. Coffee affects your central nervous stimulant and releases catecholamines, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Basically, it helps your body forget it’s tired.
But what happens when the caffeine works its way out of our system? Well, we’re that’s when we’re headed for the 3 pm crash and it’s the only station on the tracks. When the crash happens, we can’t concentrate and our energy goes down the train. The caffeine that boosts our productivity in the morning also kills it in the afternoon.
How does caffeine work?
When caffeine enters your system it binds to adenosine receptors, a protein that detects how much adenosine is in your brain and facilitates drowsiness. By binding to them, the caffeine blocks the protein from sending your brain the signal that it’s low on adenosine. Thus, your brain doesn’t “know” to be drowsy. You’re left alert, slightly hyper and pretty happy, thanks to the dopamine that kicks in from the caffeine. Basically, you’re giving yourself one big wake up call.
But caffeine can only stimulate you for so long. Once it wears off, you’ll actually be worse than before. Not only will your morning drowsiness come back, but your body’s burned more energy from the adrenaline and dopamine giving you an unusually high jolt. Thus, the crash happens. Forbes points out that once you’ve crashed, it: “reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood”. Now you feel sleepy, terrible, and definitely unproductive.
So what do we do? We grab our second (or third...or fourth…) cup of coffee to get back the energy we had just a few hours ago. Not only is the caffeine addiction horrible for your health, it also isn’t helping you reach your peak productivity levels.
A better solution:
Instead, we need healthy foods that contain tons of vitamins and nutrients for our brain to be functioning at 100%. These healthy superfoods that will give you the natural energy you need to get you through that afternoon slump, be your Best Self and possibly, never need coffee again!
- Fruit + Almonds or Pistachios. A great way to get energy fast.
- Hard boiled eggs. A healthy boost of protein can give you that kick you’re craving.
- Baked chips with a side of spreadable cheese wedges. A delicious combo for that much-needed energy boost.
- No-Bake Energy Bites. The name literally says it all. Not only are they effective but they’re delicious! Get the recipe here.
- Greek yogurt with a side of berries. Get the low-fat version for healthy energy with staying power.
- Dark Chocolate. A delicious way to get a little taste of caffeine without the crash.
- Apples with Peanut Butter. You can also go for celery or bananas with this snack.
- Whole grain crackers with Hummus. The fiber from the hummus will knock out those hunger pains while the carbohydrates from the grains take care of the sluggishness.
- Lemon water. If you insist on an afternoon beverage, ditch the coffee mug and reach for the nearest pitcher. Water will help keep dehydration at bay (a key factor for boosting your mood), while lemons add natural electrolytes.
There are countless other energy-induced snacks you can turn to when you need that afternoon pick-me-up. While some of these options may require you to plan ahead for the prep work, most are grab-and-go snacks. Stash some at your office so you’re never left empty-handed!
Starting your day anxiously awaiting for your coffee pot to fill up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, it’s the best part of waking up! But taking the time to turn to healthier food options that’ll give you that energy boost you’re craving, will not only kick that 3 pm crash to the curb but help you also be able to maintain your productivity, critical thinking, and positive mental awareness.