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woman's hands holding supplements: supplements that boost energy without caffeine

The Best Caffeine-Free Supplements For Boosting Energy

Today’s go-go-go world requires an endless amount of energy, and so it’s no shock that most of us have an intimate relationship with coffee…and energy drinks…and pre-workout. Case in point: Seventy-four  percent of Americans drink coffee daily, with half of them consuming a whopping three to five cups.

By all means, if you and your cup of Joe are truly happy together, keep doing your thing. But if you find yourself in need of energy and want a caffeine-free pick-me-up, read on for your options. 

  • ABOUT OUR EXPERTS: Jenna Volpe, R.D.N., L.D., C.L.T., is a functional dietitian and clinical herbalist. Jerry Bailey, D.C., LA.c., is a certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, and functional medicine physician with Lakeside Holistic Health.

The Downside of Caffeine

While coffee and other caffeinated drinks and supplements can certainly help you beat that work deadline or crush your next gym session, they can have some drawbacks. 

These stimulants work by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain to prevent the onset of drowsiness. They also create a short-term boost in certain chemicals in the body called catecholamines, which raise your heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a state of alertness, explains functional dietitian and clinical herbalist Jenna Volpe, R.D.N., L.D., C.L.T. The effect: You experience a big temporary burst of energy and focus that lasts a few hours—and often crash later when the effects wear off, Volpe says. No big deal if you’re just trying to push through a workout, but perhaps less than ideal if you’re seeking an all-day-long boost.

Read More: 5 Signs You Need A Break From Caffeine

Over time, your body also adapts to caffeine, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect, warns Jerry Bailey, D.C., LA.c., a certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, and functional medicine physician with Lakeside Holistic Health. No wonder you’ve had to double-scoop your pre-workout lately!

Caffeine-Free Supplements That Support Energy

If your current caffeination routine is working well for you, great. But if you’re interested in alternative modes of increasing your energy levels, try these herbs and supplements.

1. Rhodiola Rosea

You may have heard of rhodiola before—and that’s because this adaptogenic herb has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to help alleviate stress, increase energy, and boost stamina. “It works by stimulating the activity of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the main source of energy for cells, and by boosting the synthesis of glycogen, the body’s energy reserve stored in the muscles and liver,” Bailey explains. 

The most beneficial part of the rhodiola rosea plant is the roots, which can be made into an herbal tea, tincture, or capsule. The typical dosage ranges from 200 to 600 milligrams per day. Bailey recommends starting on the lower end and gradually increasing if needed. 

2. Ashwagandha

Here’s another adaptogenic herb that has promising benefits for both stress relief and energy production (among other things!). “Ashwagandha helps balance the body’s physiological processes, including energy metabolism, hormone production, and the healthy functioning of the adrenal glands,” explains Bailey. “It helps reduce fatigue and improve energy levels by stabilizing blood sugar and managing stress hormones.” 

The recommended dosage is typically 300 milligrams per day, according to research published in The Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine. (That same research found that people experienced stress management benefits after 60 days of supplementing.) However, Bailey often recommends up to 300 to 500 milligrams twice per day.

3. Eleuthero 

Also known as Siberian ginseng, this adaptogen is also associated with helping the body better adapt to stress and supporting overall well-being. While it’s relatively new to the West, Volpe points out that it has been renowned as a potent performance-enhancing, energy-increasing herb in Russia, China, and other parts of the world for centuries. “Specifically, constituents called ‘eleutherosides’ (such as Eleutheroside E) are responsible for the anti-fatigue effects of this adaptogenic herb on the physical and mental level,” she says.

Volpe recommends taking eleuthero root extract in a tincture, glycerite (alcohol-free version of a tincture), or capsule form. Studies have utilized a variety of dosages, starting as low as 300 milligrams per day. You’ll often find eleuthero in formulas that combine a variety of different types of ginseng.

4. Schisandra

Schisandra (a.k.a. Schisandra chinensis) is a berry-producing vine that’s native to China and Russia. It is best known for its ability to reduce chronic fatigue, which it does thanks to a special protein-bound polysaccharide that contains 12 amino acids, explains Volpe. “This polysaccharide has been shown to alter and restore certain metabolic pathways that impact direct energy production and distribution on the cellular level,” she says. 

Read More: 8 Possible Reasons Why You’re So Tired All The Time

“There isn’t yet a standard dose established based on research studies; however, in clinical herbalism, one or two doses of 300 to 500 milligrams per day is considered safe and effective for fatigue,” she says. You’ll find schisandra in many supplements formulated to support focus, such as Codeage Clearhed Echinacea+.

5. Coenzyme Q10

This antioxidant, which also goes by the name CoQ10, is naturally found in the human body, as well as in various foods such as oily fish, organ meats, and whole grains. “CoQ10 plays a crucial role in energy production within cells by aiding in the conversion of food into energy, making it essential for the optimal function of all body systems,” explains Bailey. 

Since CoQ10 levels naturally decrease with age, supplementation can be beneficial. He recommends a dosage of 100 to 200 milligrams per day, taken with meals to enhance absorption.

6. Iron

Iron might not be a social media sensation like ashwagandha, but it’s crucial for health—and might just be a worthy addition to your supplement routine if you’re struggling with low energy. 

The body requires iron to help make hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues. “Without sufficient iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells, which leads to iron deficiency anemia, a common cause of fatigue,” explains Bailey. Research suggests that approximately 10 million Americans are low on this vital nutrient.

“Iron supplements can be helpful for people with anemia or those who don’t get enough iron in their diet,” says Bailey. (It’s common for plant-based eaters to fall short.) Just note that, since too much iron can be harmful, this is one you should only take under the supervision of a healthcare professional, so check in with your provider if you suspect low levels are making your feet drag.

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