Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee

The first thing I think of when I roll out of bed is coffee. Many of us, have a mild or even compulsive obsession with our daily espresso or latte. And if you’re like me, you’re dependent upon it to give you the much-needed boost to wake up, and get your day started. But, have you ever wondered about what other natural sources of caffeine there are besides coffee, which might give you the same get up and go? Too much of one thing can always cause problems, including your precious cold brew.

To be truthful, it’s hard to imagine a morning without a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee. Ubiquitous as it is may be, here are six other natural sources of caffeine which can help you get your fix without all the extras found in your caramel macchiato.

6 Natural Sources Of Caffeine Besides Coffee 

Yerba Mate

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Yerba Mate

Chances are, you’ve probably seen the yellow can of Guayaki Brand Yerba Mate at your local natural foods store, or whole foods and wondered, what in the hell is Yerba Mate? Well, Yerba Mate is a traditional South American tea, brewed from the leaves of a Holly tree called the Ilex paraguariensis. When compared to coffee, Yerba Mate has slightly less caffeine at 80mg as compared to 100-200mg.

Similar to coffee, Yerba Mate is a great source of caffeine and contains a high amount of anti-oxidants, with 24 vitamins and minerals, and 15 amino acids, including B Vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin C. If you’re looking for an alternative to coffee with a less jittery feel, Yerba Mate may be a solid choice.

Benefits Of Yerba Mate

  • Rich in Antioxidants & Nutrients
  • Boosts Energy (1)
  • Provides More Mental Focus (1)
  • May Help You Lose Weight (2)
  • Improves Mood State (3)
  • Lowers Blood Sugar Levels (4)
  • May Lower The Risk Of Heart Disease (5)

Guarana 

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Guarana

Another traditional South American caffeine treasure is Guarana. Guarana is produced from the seeds of a Brazilian shrub found in the Amazon basin and is used as a tonic or stimulant. Mostly found as an ingredient in energy drinks and soft drinks, you can also get Guarana as a supplement. Guarana contains four-six times the amount of caffeine or 200% of that found in coffee beans (6). If you’re looking for another natural source of caffeine besides coffee, Guarana packs a heavy punch (17)

Benefits Of Guarana

  • Increased Energy
  • Promotes Weight Loss (18)
  • Decreases Body Fat (18) 

Green Tea

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Green Tea

Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet and a great alternative natural source of caffeine other than coffee. It’s for an extra boost of energy containing around 30-45mg of caffeine per serving. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, then sipping on some green tea instead of coffee can also be a great way to reduce anxiousness, and the jittery feeling you might get with your morning cup of joe.

Green tea has an impressive nutrient profile and is rich in antioxidants. Green tea also contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine has been shown to increase the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects while improving mental alertness and focus (16).

According to a systematic review of over 105 peer-reviewed studies, green tea also has been shown to have a benefit on reducing body fat, by increasing the thermogenic effect and fat oxidation. Getting your much-needed caffeine, all while reducing body fat, and improving mental clarity and focus? Sounds like a win-win to me.

Benefits Of Green Tea

  • Reduces Body Fat (14)
  • Increases Energy (14)
  • May Reduce the Risk of Cancer (15)
  • May Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease (15)
  • Improves Mental Clarity & Focus (16)

Matcha

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Matcha

Matcha is a finely ground powder, made from green tea leaves. Unique in its growth process, Matcha is shade grown for around three weeks before harvest, while the stems and veins are removed in processing. Matcha contains a unique polyphenol, EGCG that has been shown to improve metabolism and support weight loss.

Matcha contains around 30-40mg of caffeine per serving, with a less jittery and clean caffeine hit than coffee. The energy you get from matcha, is more energizing, and longer-lasting since it also contains the amino acid L-theanine. As with green tea, L-theanine slows the release of caffeine and induces a relaxing, calming effect. Try some matcha for yourself, and see what you think, it's a great alternative source of caffeine, and it tastes pretty dang good. 

Benefits Of Matcha

  • Reduces Body Fat (14)
  • Increases Energy (14)
  • May Reduce the Risk of Cancer (15)
  • May Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease (15)
  • Improves Mental Clarity & Focus (16) 

Dark Chocolate

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Dark Chocolate

Yes, Chocolate! And no, I am not encouraging you to eat candy bars throughout the day, instead of drinking coffee so that you get your caffeine fix (although that’s a pretty good excuse to eat some Hershey’s squares or Tobelrone as a mid-day snack, but that’s besides the point). Dark chocolate has a wide variety of antioxidants and flavonoids that have beneficial effects on the brain and on improving your mood state. 

Compared to coffee, 1tbsp of dark chocolate has around 20mg of caffeine and can be a great mid-day snack and alternative to drinking coffee. Chocolate also contains theobromine, which is also a form of caffeine. For those that are sensitive to caffeine, having a piece of dark chocolate after lunch can serve not only as a tasty treat but a great way to get in some extra energy during your midday slump.

Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

  • Helps Support Brain Health (8)
  • Helps Boost Energy (9)
  • Increases Satiety or Fullness (9)
  • Enhances Mood State (8)
  • May Decrease The Risk Of Stroke (7)
  • May Reduce the Risk Of Alzheimer’s disease (10)

Kombucha

Best Natural Caffeine Sources Other Than Coffee - Kombucha

Much like coffee, Kombucha can become a blissful addiction. The wildly refreshing, fizzily invigorating delectableness can improve your mood, as well as boost energy levels, and best of all, nourish your gut health and furnish you with a happy belly.

So, what exactly is Kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented beverage, made from bacteria and yeast, mixed with black, green, or other teas as well as sugar. The sugary infusion turns into Kombucha by adding a SCOBY, aka a “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. The result, pure perfection. However, not all Kombucha tastes the same. Some can have a stronger culture and taste a bit vinegary when others can be light, refreshing, and bubbly. My advice is to definitely try a few different brands before you settle on your favorite. My personal favorites are BU, HUMM, and Upside.

So how much caffeine does Kombucha have? Kombucha is another fantastic natural source of caffeine. Since Kombucha is made with different types of tea, it can range between 10-30mg of caffeine per cup. The best part about Kombucha, in addition to the pick me up, is the myriad of health benefits that accompany the smooth refreshing taste. 

Benefits Of Kombucha

  • Improves Gut Health
  • Promotes Brain Health
  • Increases Energy

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for an alternative to coffee to get your caffeine fix, then mixing it up with some of the options listed above, can be a great way to boost your energy. Coffee is in my blood, but throwing in some Kombucha, or Green Tea into the mix, can definitely provide you with more energy.

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References 

  1. Outlaw J., Wilborn C., Smith A., Urbina S., Hayward S., Foster C., Wells S., Wildman R., Taylor L. Effects of ingestion of a commercially available thermogenic dietary supplement on resting energy expenditure, mood state and cardiovascular measures. J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 2013;10:25. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-10-25
  1. Martinet A., Hostettmann K., Schutz Y. Thermogenic effects of commercially available plant preparations aimed at treating human obesity. Phytomedicine. 1999;6:231–238. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(99)80014-2.
  1. Alkhatib A. Yerba maté (Illex Paraguariensis) ingestion augments fat oxidation and energy expenditure during exercise at various submaximal intensities. Nutr. Metab. 2014;11:42. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-11-42 
  1. Alkhatib, Ahmad and Roisin Atcheson. “Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis) Metabolic, Satiety, and Mood State Effects at Rest and during Prolonged Exercise” Nutrients vol. 9,8 882. 15 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9080882
  1. da Veiga, D T A et al. “Protective effect of yerba mate intake on the cardiovascular system: a post hoc analysis study in postmenopausal women”Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas vol. 51,6 (2018): e7253.
  1. Moustakas D, Mezzio M, Rodriguez BR, Constable MA, Mulligan ME, Voura EB. Guarana provides additional stimulation over caffeine alone in the planarian model. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(4):e0123310.
  1. Cooper KA, Donovan JL, Waterhouse AL, Williamson G. Cocoa and health: a decade of research. Br J Nutr. 2008;99(1):1-11.
  1. Nehlig, Astrid. “The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance” British journal of clinical pharmacology vol. 75,3 (2013): 716-27.
  2. Sørensen, L B and A Astrup. “Eating dark and milk chocolate: a randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake” Nutrition & diabetesvol. 1,12 e21. 5 Dec. 2011, doi:10.1038/nutd.2011.17
  1. Franco, Rafael et al. “Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate” Nutrients vol. 5,10 4159-73. 18 Oct. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5104159
  1. Gaggìa F, Baffoni L, Galiano M, et al. Kombucha Beverage from Green, Black and Rooibos Teas: A Comparative Study Looking at Microbiology, Chemistry and Antioxidant Activity. Nutrients. 2018;11(1) [Pub Med]
  1. De oliveira campos MP, Riechelmann R, Martins LC, Hassan BJ, Casa FB, Del giglio A. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) improves fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing systemic chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(6):505-12.
  1. Del giglio AB, Cubero Dde I, Lerner TG, et al. Purified dry extract of Paullinia cupana (guaraná) (PC-18) for chemotherapy-related fatigue in patients with solid tumors: an early discontinuation study. J Diet Suppl. 2013;10(4):325-34.
  1. Chacko, Sabu M et al. “Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review”Chinese medicine vol. 5 13. 6 Apr. 2010, doi:10.1186/1749-8546-5-13
  1. Koo MWL, Cho CH. Pharmacological effects of green tea on the gastrointestinal system. Eur J Pharmacol. 2004;500:177–185. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2004.07.023.
  1. Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.
  1. Moustakas, Dimitrios et al. “Guarana provides additional stimulation over caffeine alone in the planarian model” PloS one vol. 10,4 e0123310. 16 Apr. 2015, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123310
  1. Boozer CN, Nasser JA, Heymsfield SB, Wang V, Chen G, Solomon JL. An herbal supplement containing Ma Huang-Guarana for weight loss: a randomized, double-blind trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001;25(3):316-24.
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