Energy is a resource that is in short supply for many college students. You may not be the most alert the morning after a night spent going out — um, we mean, doing homework. But before you reach for that coffee or energy drink, consider the implications to your health.
While research has varied on the health effects of coffee, Summer Spillman, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at WKU said that drinking coffee can have some consequences.
“It can damage your heart and cardiovascular system,” Spillman said. “It can cause you to have headaches. It can cause you to be jittery, and it can make you full to where you forget to eat other foods, which makes you actually lose energy.”
While we at the Talisman love our coffee to get us through the week, it can be unhealthy and expensive. Luckily, there are an abundance of sources to get your energy from.
In addition to what you eat, Spillman said it also matters when you eat in terms of maximizing your food’s energy potential.
“Eat frequently,” Spillman said. “You don’t want to be on energy highs and lows throughout the day.”
To avoid this kind of energy roller coaster, Spillman recommends eating small meals three times a day with healthy snacks in between.
We spoke to Spillman for creative and healthy coffee substitutes. So, if you just can’t swallow the idea of drinking coffee, or the coffee itself, here are some healthy and tasty ways to make it through the day — and up the Hill — without it.
1. Avocado toast on whole grain bread
Kick off your day with energy-packed avocado spread on whole grain bread. Spillman said the whole grains in the bread are ideal for breakfast, while avocados are full of healthy fats that provide energy.
2. Homemade trail mix
Spillman said trail mix is the go-to for getting energy on the go. However, in order for it to be an energy-filled and healthy snack, don’t get lazy by going for a store-bought mix. To avoid unnecessary salt and sugar content, try creating your own trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate. The nuts and seeds will give you fat for fuel while the dark chocolate will give you caffeine.
3. Dark chocolate
For all of you with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is filled with caffeine and is a lot healthier than other types of chocolate, which can be full of unwanted sugars.
Bananas are filled with glucose, a natural sugar that provides an energy boost. Bananas are an easy and healthy addition to any meal or as a snack because they don’t add a lot of calories to your diet and provide energy without being too filling.
5. Unsweetened tea
Tea gives you energy because it has caffeine in it. If you’d like to add some flavor, Spillman suggests adding fresh fruit. In any case, avoid sweet tea or adding your own sweeteners.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a healthy alternative to regular white bread. Spillman said whole grains are full of B vitamins, which provide energy. Sub out your white bread or pasta for whole grain or add some cooked quinoa to your salad.
Spillman said she suggests drinking water constantly to prevent headaches and fatigue. Carrying a water bottle around isn’t too much of a hassle, and it will keep you hydrated all day.
If you can’t imagine giving up coffee completely, Spillman said she recommends drinking it only in moderation and preparing it black or with milk to avoid the unnecessary calories from sugar or creamer.
Grabbing coffee or an energy drink may be an easy solution to your exhaustion, but your future self will probably be grateful you chose something healthier. So next time, go out and grab some of these tasty and healthy snacks or drinks before you find yourself dozing off in class … again.