WAKE UP!It may be coffee week here at HackCollege (and don’t get me wrong – I heart coffee. I’m drinking it as I write this post), but coffee can become more of a crutch than an aid for a college student.

When you wake up, many people’s first inclination is to get a cup of coffee. But coffee leads to a spike in energy, usually followed by a crash that leaves you with one of two choices – either drink more coffee, or be tired all day. It’s a vicious cycle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are tons of ways to get energy, without the crash, and usually with some extra health benefits on the side.

And no, I’m not talking about 5 Hour Energy.

Here are 13 ways to get a quick, long-lasting energy boost – caffeine-free.

Chocolate – There are all kinds of benefits of chocolate, not the least of which is it’s delicious. It’s a sugar rush, plus an endorphin high that’ll leave you flying high.

Cold Water – Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue. Drink water – lots of it – and you’ll be feeling good much longer. You’re supposed to drink 64 ounces per day, and more certainly can’t hurt ya, either.

Berries – Any berry is good, but raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are believed to be the best, chock-full of natural stimulants.

Orange Juice – Vitamin C is a great way to get more energy, and citrus tastes and smells have also been shown to be good for an energy boost as well. Lemons and limes are good too, but orange juice is the best and best-tasting option, if you ask me.

Anything Cold – Cold water, I’ve already mentioned. But really anything cold can work – soda, juice, or what have you. It’s a shock to the system, a kick in the pants – whatever you want to call it, it’ll get your heart racing and your eyes open.

Meat – The protein in meat gets metabolized slowly, which means it’ll keep you going longer than something that’s carb-rich, like bagels or bread. Eat a piece of chicken or fish, and you’ll feel awake a lot longer. Eat a bagel or pasta, and you’ll feel good for a while, and then crash like you would after a cup of coffee.

Nuts – Nuts are a great, high-protein option for an easy snack. They’re usually pretty salt-heavy, and can be high in fat as well, but a handful of almonds or peanuts can be a great, low-hassle energy boost.

Green Tea – Everyone says that if you drink green tea for a week, you’ll feel more awake, more alert, and not need coffee anymore.  I’m not a green tea drinker, but the number of stories that say “replace your daily coffee with green tea” is impressive.

Apples – Apples apparently contain boron, which is believed to be great for alertness, in addition to all kinds of other useful benefits. Apples are one of the best foods for you there is, and its energy-boosting features are just one reason to eat them. But that’s the reason we’re talking about right now.

Oatmeal – If you’re going to eat food with lots of carbs, make sure it’s the good kind – that’s the kind you’ll find in oatmeal. It’s got tons of complex carbohydrates,  lots of fiber, and is the perfect thing to put something sweet on top of.

Bananas – The sugar in bananas, since it’s natural, is a lot better for you than processed sugar, but still gives you a lot of the same energy benefits.

Yogurt – There’s tons of magnesium in yogurt, which has been shown to provide you a long-lasting energy boost.

Eggs – Eggs, like some of the others on this list, are a total superfood. It’s high in the energy-aiding kinds of protein, full of vitamins and minerals, and has all the things you need (like leucine) for recovering faster after exercise, so you’re not going to get tired as quickly either.

Next time, instead of coffee, grab one of the above foods. I bet you’ll save some money, and feel a whole lot better.

How do you get an energy boost when you need one?

Photo: Jeff The Trojan