by Charles Weller

Even though your plant based diet gives you a natural energy boost for daily life, there are bound to be days that don’t fit the norm — when your sleep level is low, your stress level is high, and circumstances demand more than you feel you have to give.

So, when these days come, what’s a plant-based, health-conscious person to do?

Ditch the energy drinks

Whether you’re pulling an all-nighter to study for a college exam, short on sleep due to a crying baby, or trying to stay alert for a long road trip, it’s tempting to turn to the canned, “liquid energy” available at your local gas station. But the immediate boost you may get from such potions isn’t worth possible side effects.

Here are three great reasons to ditch the energy drinks:

Toxic substances | In addition to energy-boosting ingredients like caffeine and B vitamins, many energy drinks also contain high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners and other unnatural ingredients that are hard on your digestive system and haven’t been properly studied as to their long-term side effects.Too much of a good thing | One of the staple ingredients for energy drinks is caffeine. And while this can be a fine energy and metabolism booster in moderate amounts, most energy drinks aren’t about moderation. Excessive caffeine consumption can cause rapid heartbeat, irritability, and dehydration.

Short-term solution | Pumping your body with sugar and caffeine may give you an immediate boost in energy, focus, and drive, but there is also an inevitable crash that is bound to leave you feeling worse than before you started. What’s more, those who start using many popular energy drinks regularly have reported suffering from increased sleeplessness and insomnia, which means that your short-term solution may make the problem worse in the long run.

Go with foods that give you a natural energy boost

The fact that you’re no longer consuming high-sugar energy drinks doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to get a quick pick-me-up. If you haven’t already switched to a plant-based diet, consider that the first step. When you cut out foods that wear your body down and consume higher amounts of vitamin- and nutrient-packed foods, your days of feeling tired and groggy will automatically decrease.

When those days do come and you’re jetlagged, forced to burn the midnight oil, or don’t quite have the energy for your workout, instead of reaching for something packed with sugar and artificial ingredients, go for a plant-based, natural energy boost:

Walnuts, tart cherries, and grapes | These foods are great for combatting jetlag and sleepiness, because they contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycles.

Water | Sometimes when we’re tired, our bodies are trying to tell us that they need something more than just sleep. Dehydration can cause drowsiness, so staying hydrated is a great way to fight off the yawns. If you’re in need of an immediate pick-me-up, you might be surprised how much a large glass of water will help.

Green tea | As mentioned above, caffeine in and of itself isn’t bad. The key is finding healthy sources of caffeine and making sure you consume it in moderate doses. Because it’s full of antioxidants, green tea is a great source of caffeine, and sipping a cup of it when you’re feeling extra tired won’t give the average person heart palpitations or jitters.

Protein | Another great way to boost your energy is to make sure you’re getting plenty of protein. A diet too high in carbs will cause fatigue, while protein can increase your energy levels. If you’re not sure how to get enough protein on your plant-based diet, there is an ample supply to be found in all kinds of plants, and you can always supplement your diet with a Superfood Protein Smoothie like a Chocolate Cherry Protein Smoothie or a Strawberries and Cream Protein Smoothie.

Charles Weller
Charles Weller