Do you rely on coffee to emerge from morning grogginess? Do you find yourself in the downward spiral of needing more and stronger cups throughout the day to keep your energy elevated? Do you ask yourself, “Might there be a better way?”
In addition to the addiction factor and diminishing returns, some excessive consumers of coffee may also experience symptoms such as dry skin, dehydration, and heart palpitations. The good news is that starting your day with the right diet after “getting up” can help your body “wake up” and begin the day with renewed vitality—even without coffee.
Start With a Glass of Warm Water to Hydrate and Awaken
After waking up in the morning, the simplest way to invigorate your mind is to drink a glass of warm water. Water replenishes your body with adequate hydration and promotes metabolism and circulation. Fatigue, dizziness, and mental fog may be signals of dehydration, and hydrating yourself at this time is the best way to boost your energy.
Three Energizing Breakfast Foods
Having a nourishing breakfast is a crucial factor in waking up your body. The following three breakfast foods can help you quickly revitalize your energy and replenish mental and physical strength.
1. Rice Congee/Porridge
Cook white rice to a porridge-like consistency. In the morning, when your body is still inactive and sluggish, having a bowl of congee can warm your stomach, provide calories, promote blood circulation, and instantly invigorate you. It’s best to pair the congee with some green vegetables.
Congee contains various enzymes that aid digestion. Eating congee helps replenish fluids, prevents blood thickening, and prevents constipation. According to Wang Shixiong, a famous physician from the Qing Dynasty, “Congee is the best supplement in the world.”
Eggs are an ideal breakfast food. The protein, amino acids, and fats they provide contribute an energizing and satiating effect to the body. Additionally, egg yolks are rich in phospholipids, calcium, iron, and vitamins, supplying the brain and nerves with necessary substances, improving memory, and enhancing focus.
3. Black Sesame Paste
Black sesame offers nourishment to the liver and kidneys, promotes intestinal regularity, and supports hair growth and beautiful skin. It can be eaten on an empty stomach, making it particularly beneficial for a morning meal. TCM holds that black sesame nourishes the kidneys and that when kidney qi (vital energy) is sufficient, one feels energetic throughout the day.
Essential Breakfast Foods for Sustaining Energy Throughout the Day
Breakfast should be nutritious and balanced to maintain energy levels throughout the day. Three essential types of breakfast foods include:
1. Protein: Common protein sources for breakfast include fried or boiled eggs, milk, soy milk, lean pork, and chicken. Protein provides the brain with the necessary amino acids, stimulating mental function, improving learning ability and concentration, and preventing a decrease in the metabolic rate.
2. Fiber: Opt for breakfast foods rich in fiber, such as blanched greens, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, and spinach. These foods create a sense of fullness, promote healthy bowel movements, and enhance physical strength.
3. Carbohydrates: Recommended carbohydrate-rich foods include oatmeal, sweet potatoes, whole grain buns, and whole wheat bread. These foods provide the body with sustained energy, stabilize blood sugar levels, aid digestion, boost physical stamina, and reduce fatigue.
Breakfast Food Taboos
- Greasy or deep-fried foods can lead to obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
- Dry, hard foods that can cause indigestion.
- High-sugar pastries can result in excessive stomach acid, leading to symptoms such as nausea and stomach pain, making you uncomfortable throughout the day.
- Cold drinks before breakfast such as iced coffee or tea, fruit juice, and milk fresh from the fridge. While you may not immediately feel discomfort, these beverages can gradually cause your stomach to become cold and weak. In clinical cases, people often experience fatigue, abdominal pain, bloating, and weight gain without any specific illness, which can be attributed to consuming cold drinks in the morning.
Three Tea Drinks Rival Coffee and Boost Alertness
To invigorate your mind in the morning, you can replace coffee with the following tea options: black tea, Pu-erh tea, or peppermint tea. Black tea and Pu-erh tea also have digestive benefits. However, there are some considerations when consuming peppermint tea.
- Black tea is fermented and gentle on the stomach, making it suitable to drink after breakfast. It contains tea polyphenols, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and abundant antioxidants. Black tea can help improve alertness, prevent colds, enhance antibacterial capabilities, reduce greasiness, aid digestion, stimulate appetite, and strengthen heart function. It also has slimming and fat-reducing effects.
- Pu-erh tea contains less caffeine than coffee and is fermented, making it gentle on the stomach and increases its antioxidant effects—known to fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. It is suitable for morning and evening consumption for people of all ages. Pu-erh tea contains various amino acids, vitamins, catechins, and minerals, which contribute to warming the stomach, reducing fat, lowering blood pressure, and providing overall health benefits. According to experts’ research, the special fermentation process of Pu-erh tea also produces natural enzymes that can break down abdominal fat and reduce triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
- Peppermint tea is cooling and refreshing in nature and promotes sweating. In TCM it is mainly taken for conditions such as wind-heat colds, lack of perspiration, headache, red eyes, fever, and sore throat. Drinking peppermint tea can boost alertness, but it should be avoided by individuals with wind-cold colds. It is also not recommended for those with weak qi as it may induce excessive sweating. If you drink peppermint tea, use a small amount of peppermint, avoid boiling it for too long, and consider adding spices like cardamom or nutmeg— these aromatic and warming herbs can further invigorate the spleen and the mind.