When I sit at my desk to start working I can almost feel my brain instantly shutting off and my eyes slowly closing, of course what we all usually reach for is that cup of coffee. One cup becomes 2 which becomes three and before you know it- your body is full to the brim, running on liters of caffeine. With coffee and high intakes of caffeine come other side effects liked spiked cortisol (the stress hormone). With spiked cortisol comes other digestive issues, reproductive setbacks and even some immune system downfalls. Stress affects the body in a number of ways and is extremely bad for cardiovascular health but how do we get stuff done without coffee!?
I know the feeling of a coffee withdrawal, I use to wake up and insist I have a cup of bulletproof coffee every morning. Even on weekends… but after noticing that my anxiety was increasing and my hormones were all over the place I took a temporary break from one of my great loves (coffee) and haven’t brought it back into my life yet (it’s been about 4 months). How have I survived and remained productive? Here are some of my secrets!
YOUR CAFFEINE FIX…
Healthier substitutes for coffee
- Kombucha- a fermented tea that has been used for many centuries that promotes longevity, aids in digestion and promotes gut health. The list of benefits of this rather bizarre drink is long and quite extraordinary; besides improved digestion it helps with mental clarity and mood stability (perfect to improve your work performance). Also if you want to rid your body of all caffeine- choosing a rooibos kombucha has no caffeine at all.
- Normal green tea- is extremely high in a number of vitamins (manganese, potassium, folate) and of course is full of antioxidants. When you rid the body of toxins it relieves a lot of extra work that your liver would need to do which means it has more energy to put into something else (like concentration and brain power).
- Matcha (green tea powder)- this guy is becoming increasingly popular. I’m sure you’re starting to see him everywhere. Why? Well Matcha is said to prevent all types of cancers, aid in natural fat loss, speeds up the recovery after training/gyming, detoxifies the body, keeps you feeling calm (we all know that the office can be a place of tension and angst). It also boosts Memory & concentration!
If you love coffee and are not ready to go your separate ways with it- try bulletproof coffee (basically adding a healthy fat like ghee or coconut oil to your coffee and blend it on a high powered blender) what this does is it fuses the caffeine into the fat and your body breaks down Fat at a slower rate than what it does water so your body will break down and release the caffeine into the blood at a more sustained rate- to leave you feeling energised all day long on only 1 cup of coffee instead of 3 or 4.
TO BE PRODUCTIVE WITHOUT CAFFEINE?
In order to be productive during your day- you need to make sure you get between 6-8 hours of unbroken sleep every night. I could write a full article on how NB sleep is for the whole body but maybe I’ll do that another time… for now just trust me- making sure you get good sleep should be on the top of your list of health priorities.
Foods that improve your sleep?
• Nuts– Walnuts enhance the bodies ability to create the serotonin and melatonin amino acids (which directly affect the bodies internal clock). They may help you fall asleep faster. Almonds and Brazil nuts are rich in magnesium which affects the quality of your sleep.
- Lettuce– lettuce causes a sedative affect so eating it before bedtime can help you fall asleep. A salad with dinner can be beneficial for your sleep.
- Kale – is very high in calcium. Remember back when you were little and before bed your mom gave you a glass of milk? Well the calcium in milk would help you sleep as will as the calcium in kale.
- Jasmine white rice– eating carbs before bed can actually help you sleep better and wake up with more energy to utilize the next day. White rice will help you fall asleep faster.
- Brown rice– is high in magnesium. Any food source that contains high levels of magnesium will aid in your quality of sleep.
- Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) are a high source of antioxidants and have a low sugar content so they won’t spike your blood sugar levels too much. Berries are said to help with concentration and memory plus it’s said that blueberries really improve eyesight.
- Salmon- fatty fishes= brain food. You need to get those omega 3 fatty acids from fish or fish oils. Fish oils improve mental performance, memory and are said to help with depression.
- Dark chocolate or cacao powder– dark chocolate improves focus and is a source of caffeine and magnesium so it boosts energy short term and may help you remain calm throughout your stressful day at the office.
- Avo – another source of healthy fats- Avo stimulates healthy blood flow around the body and to the brain. It also improves your ability to focus.
•bananas- bananas are actually a source of healthy carbs and carbs are an excellent source of energy. They cause a release of glucose in the body and higher glucose= more energy PLUS they’re much healthier than other carb sources and sugars. They’re also quite filling so snacking on these in the office is easy, quick, yummy and will help you stay on your toes whilst running in and out of the office, fetching kids, running errands. You’ve got this!
- EGGs – eggs are a brilliant source of protein PLUS egg whites are high in B vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron and vitamin D. Vitamin D affects how your body absorbs and secrets calcium so increasing your vitamin D will positively affect your calcium levels and remember calcium affects your sleep!
- OTHER superfoods; honey, leafy greens, chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, chia seeds, goji berries, hemp seed, quinoa.
Every now and then I think we need to be reminded how vitally important water is for us.
Water flushes out toxins, relieves fatigue, raises your energy levels, relieves headaches, boosts your immune systems and aids in fat loss. These are a few off the list of why water is NB! Aim to drink between 1.5-3 liters of water a day.
4. YOUR MEALS!
You need to take extra care of your nutritional intake. By eating a good source of wholesome fruits, veg, complex carbs and high quality proteins rather than simple carbs, low quality protein and processed foods will increase your bodies performance by an exponential amount. Eating these good foods will balance your hormones which will improve your mood, your ability to focus, your memory, your ability to build muscle, your endurance level and improve your energy level. Taking time to prepare your meals yourself and being mindful of the foods you’re using to fuel your body will help you gain control over your life, how your body behaves, performs, your happiness and also what your body looks like.
RECIPES TO MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE
- Protein & oat pancakes
– 1 cup oats
– 2 bananas
– 4 tbsp protein powder (or 4 tbsp of oats)
– 1 egg
– 3 egg whites
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 cup almond milk
BLEND ( in a blender) ALL THAT and cook like normal pancakes
SWEET POTATO DELISHNESS
– 1 medium, boiled sweet potato (skin on)
– 1 tsp vanilla essence
– 2 tsp honey
– 1/4 cup almond milk
BLEND TO MAKE A SWEET POTATO PURÉE
2. ZUCCHINI AND QUINOA PIZZA BASE
- 2 large grated zucchini
- 2 tbsp uncooked quinoa
- 2 tbsp ground flax meal
- 2 eggs
- Salt, pepper, mixed herb spices
What to do
- Beat the egg (its NB to use a non stick pan!!)
- Grate the zucchini and then place it in a dish towel and squeeze- to get out all the liquid.
- Add everything to the bowl and mix it all together
- Then place it on a pan or baking dish and use a spoon to make it flat.
- Bake it on high heat until it’s firm and crispy.
- Top with chicken/Avo/rocket/bacon/pineapple or any other pizza toppings that you enjoy
For more recipes: @jordynmuirhead_ on Instagram 💁🏻