When you need energy but you don’t feel like hitting the coffee shop or vending machine, try one of these healthy caffeinated foods or drinks instead
As anyone who’s gone on a sugar detox knows, the sweet stuff is majorly addictive. So we always assumed that soda cravings were a sign that your body was crying out for it. But as it turns out, the reason you’re dying for a Coke may be for the caffeine fix, not the sugar high. (Learn Everything You Need To Know About Sugar.)
In a move designed to secretly monitor their soda intake, researchers from Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand asked 99 young adults to “taste test” a lemon-flavored soft drink; some participants received a caffeinated version, while others were given decaf. The findings: The people drinking the stimulant-spiked sodas gulped down about 53 percent more than the rest (419 ml, compared to 273 ml in the decaf group).
While soda is a great occasional treat, it’s best as an indulgence, since too much is a surefire recipe for weight gain. (Check out the other Worst Drinks for Your Body.) The no-brainer substitute is coffee. But if you’re not in the mood for java, you can get your caffeine fix from one of these four energizing foods and drinks instead.
This healthy brew can have anywhere from 24 to 40 mg of caffeine, a little less than half what’s found in coffee. Many people report that the energy boost they get from green tea—especially matcha, a powdered form of the drink—is more even and mellow than what’s offered from coffee. Plus, green tea is packed with good-for-you polyphenols like catechins and flavonoids that can protect the heart and even help you burn fat. Black tea and bottled iced teas can also serve as a pick-me-up. (One of our faves is Motto Matcha Green Tea Soda.)
This plant is commonly used in energy drinks, and for good reason: Its seeds contain about double the amount of caffeine as what’s found in java beans. While guarana isn’t something you can pick up at your local grocery store, it is widely sold as supplements. One recent study found that after taking a multivitamin that had guarana in it, people showed better decision-making.
Even without anything added, coconut water can be stimulating. That’s thanks to the potassium, which helps the body convert carbs into fuel. But Zola takes it a step further with their Coconut Water with Espresso ($33 for a 12-pack; amazon.com), which has 125 mg of caffeine—as much as what’s in two one-ounce shots of espresso. (Discover some other Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Coconut Water here.)
Coffee beans aren’t the only type that offer a energy boost: Cocoa beans contain caffeine as well. But you’ve probably noticed that while tasty, a mug of hot chocolate isn’t quite as energizing as your usual java. That’s because compared to the 95 grams of caffeine you get from a cup of joe, a regular-size bar of milk chocolate (1.55 oz.) has just 9 grams. Dark chocolate is a bit more buzz-worthy; the same amount has roughly 18 grams. And bittersweet types are also richer in healthy antioxidants called flavonoids. (But remember, when it comes to healthy indulgences like chocolate, Serving Size Matters.)