What you eat—as well as what you drink—can have a major impact on whether you feel peppy or just pooped. Last week, we covered the eating part; this week, we’ll tackle drinks. Use these sipping strategies to stay energized all day long.
Don’t overdose on coffee. The caffeine in coffee and other drinks can make you feel more energetic, but there’s a big catch: It stops working as your body adapts. “If you’re a habitual coffee drinker, your daily cup simply brings you up to similar energy levels as a non-coffee drinker. It’ll take a second cup to get that extra brain boost, and after a while, you’ll develop a tolerance to that,” explains Paul J. Laurienti, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “When caffeine users and abstainers are both in their normal state, there’s probably no difference in energy levels. However, when caffeine users don’t get their usual dose, they’re more tired and less alert,” says Dr. Laurienti.
Try limiting caffeine to no more than 200 mg daily, or around two cups (about five ounces each) of coffee, and aim to have your last cup around noon. Need another reason to cut back? Remember, too much caffeine can interfere with sleep.
Skip energy drinks. The same holds true for energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster Energy, which have as much—or more caffeine than—a cup of coffee. Plus, manufacturers often add loads of extra vitamins, many of which you don’t need and can result in you getting a too-high dose.
Take your tea straight. Although tea also has caffeine, it contains another compound that perks you up: theanine. A new study out of the University of South Australia in Adelaide found that office workers who drank tea throughout the day felt more alert and energized and reported more productivity at work than coffee drinkers. This was only true for plain tea, though—adding milk and/or sugar nixed the energy edge over coffee. (It’s not known whether you develop a tolerance for theanine.) Aim for no more than three cups per day.
Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can sap energy, so shoot for six cups of water daily, more when it’s hot out or you’re more active. And don’t save all your cups for evening time—frequent trips to the restroom can sabotage a good night’s sleep. Try to stop sipping an hour or so before bed.
Do your beverage habits help or hurt your energy levels?