Some people (like Michael Pollan in his new book, This Is Your Mind on Plants) have argued that caffeine powers the modern workforce. If you agree, you probably see your morning cup as an absolute must. But we promise, there are ways to sharpen your mind and get your energy flowing that don’t start with coffee or tea, and exploring those alternatives may offer some amazing benefits. Without caffeine—or with less caffeine—you won’t suffer the same afternoon crash, sleep disruptions, jitters, or stained teeth.
If caffeine doesn’t agree with you for any of those reasons, or you just have a gut feeling you’re overdoing it, then read our tips below for scaling back. Quitting is not exactly easy, but it is manageable.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way. If your morning latte or chai is a daily habit, you’re probably going to experience something like withdrawal. According to Cleveland Clinic, caffeine withdrawal symptoms last about two to nine days and might include:
Depending on your job, muscling your way through the side effects during the work week could be pretty difficult. It might make more sense to start on a Friday, weekend, or vacation, when you’re freer to nap off a headache or just veg out.
Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re used to a high daily dose of caffeine. How high is high? Well, it’s safe to have up to 400 mg per day—the equivalent of about four cups of coffee—according to the Mayo Clinic. If you’re over or near that threshold, then you’d probably benefit from scaling back slowly.
The average American has about 150 mg of caffeine per day, but even for people with pretty moderate caffeine intake, tapering off gradually can mean fewer side effects. Below, check out our list of popular sips for starting the day and how much caffeine is in each, so you can decide what belongs in your mug.
The caffeine in coffee varies, but generally, there’s about 95 mg per cup. It really depends on the blend. Lighter roasts are more caffeinated than darker roasts, and instant coffee has less caffeine than your typical pour-over.
For earthy flavor and a manageable energy boost, try Whole Bean Organic French Roast Coffee from Thrive Market Goods.
Black teas have about 47 mg of caffeine per cup. The hotter the water and the longer the steep time, the more caffeine in each sip.
For a rich, dark brew to help you transition from coffee, try Organic Assam Black Loose Leaf Tea from Thrive Market Goods.
With their characteristic herbaceous flavor, green teas have about 28 mg of caffeine per serving, although matcha has somewhat more—up to about 88 mg per serving.
For a pick-me-up with a side of antioxidants, try Organic Darjeeling Green Loose Leaf Tea from Thrive Market Goods.
Thanks to its effervescence and tangy flavor, kombucha is invigorating without being super caffeinated. Humm Kombucha, for example, has 14 mg of caffeine per serving, while Revive Drinks’ Cherry Hibiscus flavor has no caffeine at all. Bonus: The probiotic content of kombucha supports digestion.
For refreshing sips that are nearly caffeine-free, try Blood Orange Zero Sugar Kombucha from Humm Kombucha.
Coffee is appealing, in part, because it allows for a soothing daily ritual. You can preserve your routine and kick caffeine with other brews and blends. Moringa tea and maca powder, for example, are thought to boost energy, while chicory root boasts a rich and bittersweet flavor similar to coffee’s.
For a warm cup with a robust flavor similar to coffee’s, sans the caffeine, try Mocha Chicory Coffee Alternative from Teeccino.
If you’re feeling fatigued, struggling to concentrate, or battling a headache, caffeine withdrawal might not be to blame. Instead, you might be feeling the effects of dehydration. If you’re feeling thirsty, dehydration has already set in, so try to get ahead of your thirst with your drinking.
How much water does an adult need each day? The answer varies. If you’re exercising, in a hot environment, or drinking alcohol, you’ll need to up your water intake. The folks at Harvard Medical School recommend four to six cups as a baseline. Keep up your hydration habit, and cutting back on caffeine will be that much easier.
If you’re quitting coffee, you’re going to need another source of energy. Our extensive research has revealed that some of the best ways to get energy without caffeine are…healthy food, sleep, and exercise.
Insights on each of those things could fill up their own blog post, but below are some quick pointers to get you started.
For an effortless brainpower boost, try Dark Cacao Superfood Nut Blend from Living Intentions.
For an electrolyte supplement to help your body recover after exercise, try Watermelon Effervescent Electrolyte Supplement from Nuun.
There are lots of supplements that are marketed as caffeine-free energy-boosters, yet many of them are not only ineffective, but also unsafe. Thankfully, all the supplements you’ll find on our site are rigorously tested for potency and purity.
Although no supplement feels quite like caffeine, the options below do have benefits that’ll give you a spring in your step. If you’re not sure whether a new supplement is right for you, consult with your doctor before you take your first dose.
For vegan capsules to support your stamina, try Rhodiola Rosea from Gaia Herbs.
For an effortless way to eat your veggies, try Beet Powder from Love Beets.
Even with all the tips above, the prospect of quitting (or reducing) caffeine might be daunting. But if you know what to expect and how to take care of yourself, the transition period will be much smoother. When it’s all done, you’ll be left with the benefits: better sleep, less anxiety, and stable energy throughout the day.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Download the app for easy shopping on the go
By providing your mobile number, you agree to receive marketing text messages from Thrive Market. Consent not a condition to purchase. Msg & data rates apply. Msg frequency varies. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel.