What are the best substitutes for caffeine?

April 21st, 2022

A wide variety of caffeine containing products exist in the world ranging from coffee and dietary supplements to sodas. However, consuming too much caffeine can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, which is a reason to look for substitutes for caffeine. Brainberry®, maca root, ginseng, citrulline, rhodiola and Lion’s Mane are all natural ingredients that can boost energy levels, increase focus and make you feel active, without causing stress or anxiety.


Why should you substitute caffeine with another ingredient?

Most people drink coffee regularly. It is consumed because people like the taste or because of the social aspects to drinking coffee, but the most important reason people consume coffee is that it makes them feel more awake, alert, and energetic.

Of course, coffee is a source of caffeine, which is the ingredient that gives coffee its effects. There are other drinks that contain caffeine, and some people even take dietary supplements containing caffeine to boost their energy levels during the day or for their workout. [1].

Besides positive effects, consumption of caffeine may also have some downsides. These include giving people feelings of stress and anxiety. Besides increasing these feelings, caffeine consumption could also lead to insomnia [2].

Caffeine is unique in its function, but these adverse effects are a reason for people to reduce the intake of caffeine and look for alternative ingredients. Here are some suggestions of natural substitutes that make you feel awake and help you focus, without leaving you feeling stressed.

The best substitutes to caffeine

1. Maca root

Maca is a plant that grows in Peru. It’s a plant that belongs to the brassica (mustard) family. It is traditionally used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. The plant is made into a powder that is often added to smoothies, juices, and shakes.

It has been used for centuries as a fertility enhancer in humans and animals, but now more benefits of consuming maca are being discovered. Benefits of maca root vary and evidence shows it may help increase energy levels and enhance mood.

Additionally, other findings show that maca can help against feelings of anxiety and stress. This makes Maca a good alternative to caffeine, which can have the opposite effect.

2. Ginseng

Like maca, ginseng is an herb made from the root of its plant as well. It has been one of the most important products for health care to be traded in Asia. There it has been used to make traditional medicine for centuries.

There are different types of ginseng that vary in the way they have been grown. White ginseng is dried naturally, while red ginseng is steamed before it is dried, which increases its efficacy. The most important compounds in ginseng are ginsenosides and gintonin [3].

A health benefit of ginseng is that it can improve brain functions, such as mood and memory. It has also been shown to help against fatigue and it can raise energy levels. This makes it a valuable ingredient to substitute caffeine for energy.

3. Brainberry®

Brainberry® is a cognitive performance enhancer developed by BioActor. It is a Aronia-berry extract. Aronia berries are part of the chokeberries family, and they grow mostly in wet woods and swamps. Their health benefits come from their high levels of Cyanidin 3-O-galactoside.

The cyanidins in Brainberry® are potent antioxidants that can cross the blood brain barrier. In the brain they improve blood flow and the efficacy of your neurons, which is important for brain health.

The great thing about Brainberry® is that it has been clinically proven to enhance concentration, accuracy, psychomotor control & speed and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) serum levels. The latter might sound unfamiliar, but BDNF is relevant, as it is a key molecule for cognition and eye health.

Brainberry® provides brain health benefits that can help you focus and feel awake, making it a perfect natural coffee alternative.

4. Citrulline

Citrulline is often referred to as L-citrulline. It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be produced by the body. Citrulline is also present in different foods, including watermelon.

Citrulline plays an important role in your body to help it get rid of unwanted substances that can harm the body.

It is also a beneficial ingredient because it can promote vasodilation. This leads to a higher oxygen and nutrient flow to important tissues, leading to less fatigue. Because it increases blood flow in muscles it is also valueable as a pre-workout ingredient.

5. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that can be found in Europe and Asia. Like ginseng and maca its root is consumed for health benefits. Rosavin and salidroside are believed to be its most profitable compounds.

Rhodiola has been used for many years and has been mostly recommended to treat headaches, hernias and has also been used as an astringent. Nowadays, rhodiola is often consumed by people during stressful times.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to caffeine that reduces fatigue, rhodiola is a good option because it has been shown to improve symptoms in participants that suffered from chronic fatigue. The stress-lowering and energizing effects of rhodiola make it a great natural replacement for coffee.

6. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that can grow long hair-like strings that resemble a lion’s mane. It is often found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It consists for roughly 20% out of protein.

Lion’s Mane is increasingly studied. It has properties that are believed to be neuroprotective. That is because two novel nerve growth factors have been discovered in this mushroom [4].

Lion’s Mane has thus been said to have positive effects on the brain. It can improve memory and helps to lower feelings of stress and anxiety. This makes it an ingredient that can help consumers cut down on their caffeine consumption.

The bottom line

We all love a good cup of coffee in the morning. However, there are several reasons to reduce caffeine intake and look for a substitute. The aforementioned ingredients are good natural alternatives to caffeine as they can boost energy levels and brain functions, without having any anxiety or stress inducing effects.