5 Caffeine Alternatives for Natural Energy

We’ve all had those days, or weeks, that we feel like we could use a little extra energy boost. We might reach for an energy drink or a cup of coffee, but after a few hours, the inevitable energy crash hits, and we are back to feeling tired.

If caffeine impacts you negatively, or you are simply looking for ways to increase your energy naturally, there are a variety of natural alternatives to caffeine. Below, we will discuss 5 healthier alternatives to use in place of caffeine. But first, let’s discuss why “natural energy” is the better choice.

Why Natural Energy is Better Than Caffeine

Have you ever noticed that hours after consuming coffee you become sluggish, and maybe even feel more tired than you did before? A short video published on Business Insider explains how caffeine does not really boost or add energy in the human body at all. What caffeine does is trick the brain into thinking that the body is not tired, and a hormone is produced to keep humans awake and energized. (1)

Caffeine “energizes” our body by blocking a compound called adenosine – the one that tells your brain that you need to sleep. While the caffeine is keeping you energetic, adenosine is continuing to build up in your brain. After a few hours, caffeine’s effects begin to wear off. The built-up adenosine then floods our system which signals the body that it is time for sleep, but at a level, much more intense than before the caffeine was consumed.

For this reason, caffeine is often called “fake energy” because, essentially, it does not give you energy at all; it pushes your body to its limits, while natural alternatives actually bring about real, increased energy levels. (2)

5 Better Alternatives to Caffeine

Luckily, nature has provided us with a variety of substitutes that can naturally boost our levels of energy. These alternatives are preferable because they work naturally with your body, instead of providing a false sense of energy like caffeine does. 

1. Adaptogens

Adaptogens are plants that have stress balancing and energy-boosting properties. For this reason, adaptogens are helpful in athletic performance, endurance, and supporting how we physically and mentally deal with stress. (3)

Some examples of adaptogens are Ashwagandha, Ginseng, Rhodiola, and Suma. You can add these to your tea, a matcha latte, or even a smoothie. Adaptogens can also be taken as a supplement

2. Cordyceps

Cordyceps (or Cordyceps Sinensis) is a mushroom that helps balance stress, increase energy, and longevity. Cordyceps have long been used in traditional Chinese practices because of its energy-boosting ability. (4)

This is a great alternative to coffee. You can add cordyceps to any cup of tea or even into a smoothie. Instead of facing a post-coffee crash, you can have a smooth, straight line of energy for the day.

3. Chicory Root “Coffee”

Chicory root is very similar to coffee beans—the root can be roasted, ground, and brewed in a similar way to your favorite morning drink. For this reason, chicory root is often referred to as “coffee” itself. And yes, chicory root tastes almost similar to your coffee, but it is caffeine-free. If you love your morning cup of joe, you may want to try out chicory root. (5)

4. Water

One of the greatest sources of natural energy, but frequently overlooked is water. Water has been shown to boost energy and fuel your body throughout the day. If you do not drink enough water, then it can lead to dehydration which can cause your energy levels to plummet. (6)

If drinking plain water is difficult for you, then try adding some fresh lemons, limes, strawberries, or cucumbers to freshen it up. Lemon water is caffeine-free and is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which are beneficial to your body in multiple ways. 

5. Peppermint

Peppermint in itself is refreshing, which is why it is not surprising that studies have shown that peppermint is useful for physical activities such as exercise. It is also shown to be great in supporting your brain’s oxygen concentration. One great way to receive energy-boosting properties of peppermint is simply by inhaling concentrated peppermint oil. Even applying a simple peppermint hand cream could help increase your energy. (7)

Final Thoughts

Instead of pushing your body into overdrive mode by tricking your brain, which is what caffeine does, give these natural alternatives a try.

As always, consult with your health practitioner before introducing any new natural energy-boosting additions to your diet, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


1. Johnston, Matt. “Here's What Happens To Your Brain On Caffeine.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 21 Apr. 2014. 

2. “Want True Energy? Here Are 5 Superior Caffeine Substitutes.” YuriElkaim. 

3. Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188‐224. Published 2010 Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188

4. Hirsch KR, Smith-Ryan AE, Roelofs EJ, Trexler ET, Mock MG. Cordyceps militaris Improves Tolerance to High-Intensity Exercise After Acute and Chronic Supplementation. J Diet Suppl. 2017;14(1):42‐53. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1203386

5. Holland, Maleah. “9 Health Benefits of Chicory Root.” Ketogenic.com, 22 Apr. 2019.

6. Popkin BM, D'Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439‐458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

7. Groves, Melissa. “12 Science-Backed Benefits of Peppermint Tea and Extracts.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 12 October 2018. 

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