6 foods that'll make you get up and go
Rising but not shining? Put down the coffee and pick up one of these healthy alternatives instead, says Will Reardon
When the alarm goes off at 6.30am and you're struggling to crack an eye open, most of us turn to coffee to help power us through those painful first hours of the day.
But your early morning cup probably isn't the best answer to your problems. Sure, you'll feel great when the initial caffeine buzz kicks in, but once the high wears off you'll be left feeling foggy and sluggish for the rest of the day - especially if you've loaded your mug with sweeteners or refined sugar.
If you've liberally burnt the midnight oil and you really want to last all day, your best 'stay awake' strategy is to supercharge your breakfast with healthy, energy-boosting foods. Here are six of the best to make a play for next time you just can't stop yawning.
When it comes to ditching the coffee, it seems yellow really is the new black. Thanks to its winning mix of vitamin C, antioxidants and fibre, bananas are a brilliant way to kick-start a groggy morning. They contain three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and glucose, which are converted to energy in the blood, giving you an instant hit from the first bite. The high fibre content in a banana's flesh also helps the sugar to be absorbed more slowly, providing a steady source of fuel throughout the morning.
Our top energy tip? Try a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel for breakfast next time tiredness strikes. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids which are pretty essential for brain health, energy production and circulation, as well as maintaining heart health. Fish is also a fantastic source of protein which will stave off hunger pangs and produce a steady rise in blood sugar and energy levels, counteracting a post-carb crash.
As simple as the name makes out, simply add some fresh lemon juice to water to make a cheap and easy energy drink at home. Lemon water is high in vitamin C and packed with electrolytes, critical for cells to produce energy. Hydration could also be key to staving off the 3 o'clock slump - studies have shown people who don't drink enough water throughout the day are prone to feelings of fatigue and tiredness.
Here's a handy alternative drink for those of us who want to switch out the coffee for something a little more zen. Green tea still contains caffeine, but there's much less of it than in a cup of Joe, so it'll give you that much-needed buzz - helping you concentrate - but it's far less likely to make you crash later on. It's also filled with antioxidants and nutrients that can give you a healthy afternoon boost.
Eggs are a cracking way to start the day: they're high in iron and protein, which will give you sustainable energy throughout the day. They also contain an essential nutrient called choline that's vital for brain development, muscle movement, maintaining a healthy metabolism and much, much more. In fact, studies have linked a deficiency in choline to liver disease, heart disease and even neurological disorders.
Smoothies are a brilliant morning option to grab on the go. Hero nuts like cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. They're also filled with fibre, which will keep your blood sugar levels even, and protein, to stave off hunger. Either wake and shake, or keep a bag of mixed nuts in your desk drawer to keep your energy levels topped up throughout the day.