Workout enhancer. Energy booster. Life saver. Millions rely on caffeine to navigate the craziness of modern life. But caffeinated beverages can be a powerful ally or your worst enemy, depending on how you get your buzz. Soda and energy drinks are pumped full of calories and unhealthy chemicals. They definitely are not recommended sources of caffeine.
But fear not, caffeine lovers: there are ways to get the energy and clarity you crave without falling prey to all the baggage. Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Green Tea: There are a hundred thousand varieties of green tea (okay maybe not that many, but there are plenty!). Most of them have a lower caffeine content at about 25mg per 8oz cup. That’s enough to clear out the cobwebs but not enough to have you wired all night. The benefits of green tea are myriad and are more than just added bonuses to the caffeine boost. The flavonoids boost immunity, aids in weight loss, and antioxidants even have anti-aging effects to keep free radicals at bay.
- Espresso: A smooth, robust, and aromatic shot of espresso is a great way to get caffeine if you need it, like, now. Super low cal and full of anti-oxidative benefits, what’s not to like?
- Unsweetened Iced Tea: Don’t get sweet tea. I worked in many restaurants over the years, and I vividly remember pouring bags of sugar (yes, plural) into the brewing tea. Sweet teas sold at convenience stores often have more sugar than sodas. Opt for sweet teas unassuming but way healthier cousin, regular old iced tea. A glass of iced tea has about 47mg of caffeine. Spruce it up with some lemon or just learn to love the taste of tea.
- Matcha: If you haven’t already boarded the matcha train, hop on ASAP. A type of stone-ground Japanese green tea, Matcha is different than its other green teas. It doesn’t need to be steeped because it is ground into a fine super green powder. It has an umami taste and sometimes a sweetness due to the high amino acid count. The high L-theanine content in Matcha gives a calming effect and the 25 mg of caffeine per scoop energize you. The result is a clear-headed serenity that allows you to focus on your work without jitters. Oh, The Vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium and Zinc are good for you as well.
- Americano: This 5 calorie per cup source of caffeine is just espresso plus hot water. The preferred drink of American GI’s during WWII and waistline conscious Starbucks customers today.
- Guarana Berries: These little guys are found in the Amazon and pack quite a punch. Each one contains about twice the amount of caffeine found in coffee beans. They are available in extracted form or herbal teas and are an effective diet aid because they reduce hunger cravings.
- Yerba Mate: Another herb found in the Amazon and popular throughout South America, yerba mate is an energizing and social drink. It is most commonly prepared in a special device called a gourd, with a straw and hot water.
- Plain Black Coffee: The classic for a reason. Coffee has a high caffeine content and is low in calories, so long as fatty creamers and sugary syrups are committed. We wrote an entire article singing the praises of coffee’s health benefits, so read that to justify your next cup.
- Earl Grey Tea: The classic cuppa in the UK, Earl Grey gives you about half of the caffeine of a cup of coffee and is filled with cancer-fighting antioxidants. The aromatic bergamot used to make the tea also has calming properties that relieve stress and anxiety. Other forms of black tea are also healthy.
- Dark Chocolate: Not just a delicious dessert, dark chocolate also contains a smidgen of caffeine. It is also known to reduce cholesterol, promote weight loss, and can help brain function. You can read all about the health benefits in our write up. For a crazy caffeine double dip, melt a square of dark chocolate in your coffee.