What You Need To Know:
- Besides a balanced diet and enough sleep, adaptogens and foods containing a gentler source of caffeine can help you feel awesome.
- Delicious things like cashews, cacao and matcha can all boost energy.
- New products containing these natural energy boosters are tasty and convenient, so you can get on with taking over the world.
By Lisa Elaine Held
Judging by the consumption of coffee (an average of three cups a day by the majority of Americans) and snack bars (45 million of us chow them down regularly), energy is in very short supply.
Most people are loading up on the energy-boosting beverage and snacks to make up for bad habits, as in, you’re sleep-deprived and over-worked and will reach for anything to stay alert. This leads to jittery highs and subsequent crashes. (Sound familiar?)
But increasingly, experts and healthy food purveyors want you to start thinking about energy in a new and holistic way.
The first step starts with simply balancing the nutrients in your diet says celebrity nutritionist Keri Glassman, RD, since the right amount of protein, fat, and carbs is the basis for energy. Fiber from fruits and vegetables will help “with an even release of sugar, so you stay energized and there is a continual source of fuel,” she says. Hydration from water and water-rich fruits and veggies is also key.
But if you’re eating right and sleeping at least seven hours a day and you still need a pick-me-up, help is on the way. New products on the market approach energy from two angles: By either relieving stress so you’re more balanced overall, or by delivering a more natural boost that involves less of a severe spike than sugary caffeine drinks like Red Bull.
Less Stress Equals More Energy
There are some products that focus on curbing stress, anxiety, and inflammation with the goal of increasing your everyday energy. “Your body has to expend a lot of energy to keep all of your systems in check, especially if it’s under stress,” explains health coach Danielle DuBoise, the co-founder of food-as-medicine brand Sakara.“Stress causes a multitude of biochemical reactions in the body that your system must then go and fix, and this uses a ton of energy.”
Sakara’s new CBD Chocolates ($39) are designed to remedy that using CBD (cannabidiol), a compound from the hemp plant that’s been shown to reduce stress and inflammation and induce calm.
Adaptogens are a unique group of healing plants that have similar effects, normalizing imbalances in the body to relieve stress and fight fatigue. Products like Moon Juice’s Brain Dust ($30) combine a few adaptogens—astragalus and maca—to promote clarity and alertness. (Other adaptogens include ginseng, holy basil and licorice.)
Maca is also the key ingredient in Imlake’sh Organics’ ChargeBoss Clusters ($10–45), along with cashews (for the aforementioned protein, fats, and fiber), and cacao, which has been shown to reduce stress and act as a mood-boosting stimulant.
Quick, Non-Jittery Fixes
Other energy-promising products use gentler caffeine sources that have been shown to produce less-jittery effects than coffee.
Om Energy ($20), for example, uses yerba mate, a South American tea, and pairs it with mushrooms like cordyceps, a popular traditional Chinese medicine remedy some studies have shown could reduce fatigue and increase endurance.
Matcha is very popular as a caffeine source. “Matcha contains caffeine as well the amino acid known as l-theanine. This combination will help improve mental alertness and help you focus,” Glassman says. Just be sure to choose brands that source high-quality tea leaves, like House of Matcha ($35).
And hey, since we’re back to talking about coffee, Sakara uses green coffee beans (the raw, unprocessed version of regular coffee beans) in its Clarity Bars ($29). The green beans are loaded with stress-fighting antioxidants and contain some caffeine, “which naturally boosts cognitive function and energy,” DuBoise says.
Clarity and energy in one delicious bar? We’ll have seven, please.