by Ocean Robbins: Once upon a time, there was an Ethiopian monk with a problem…
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According to legend, he just couldn’t stay awake during prayers, which made him look bad to his monastic brothers. One day he was traveling through a field when he happened upon a strange and wondrous sight — a pirouetting shepherd and a herd of capering goats.
Both the shepherd and his flock were dancing up a storm. Even the old buck was leaping like a little kid. The monk asked the shepherd about the fantastic dance party he was witnessing and soon discovered that both man and goats had been feasting on the berries of a nearby coffee bush.
The monk, realizing that he had found the solution to his somnolence, picked handfuls of berries, stuffed his pockets, and continued on his journey. When he returned to the monastery, he reconstituted the now-dried berries by boiling them and drinking the resulting liquid.
As a result, this particular monk became a model of energetic piety, and it wasn’t long before the other monks were also using the wondrous bean to power their own spiritual quests. And that, I’d like to think, is the origin story of the world’s most popular morning drink. And since you won’t find it disproven in any coffee history books, it just might be. Who knows?
Morning Beverage as Ritual
And yet, as popular as coffee remains, other options for morning drinks also abound. Even folks who skip breakfast typically drink something in the morning. And what you choose to drink can influence the rest of your day, as well as your long-term health. Consuming a healthy beverage can be an important part of a suite of positive morning habits and rituals.
So let’s take a look at a number of different beverages you can enjoy in the morning to support your health, mood, and energy. Then we’ll end with seven different drink recipes for you to try.
Consider the Purpose of Your Morning Drinks
In his mega-bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advised readers to “Begin With the End in Mind®” (Habit 2). Given that many of us begin the day with our cheeks pressed into drool stains on our pillows, that might be a bit of a tall order first thing. But as we choose our morning routines, it’s a good mindset.
So what do you want to get from your morning beverages? Here are some possible answers.
Drinks That Give You Energy in the Morning
If you jump out of bed in the morning quivering in anticipation of the day ahead, just bursting with irrepressible energy, you are very much in the minority. In fact, surveys suggest that almost two-thirds of Americans say they rarely wake up feeling rested and energized. It makes sense, then, that many people want a burst of energy in the morning, which is one reason caffeinated beverages are so popular.
You might begin your day with a beverage to get your motor running, aid with concentration and focus, and boost your mood. While coffee is the poster child for wake-up drinks — and can offer significant health benefits — coffee alternatives can also increase your energy. Some, like black and green teas, coffee-mushroom blends, and commercial energy drinks, also provide caffeine.
But caffeine isn’t for everyone, and not everyone reacts well to it. One person’s “This is a pleasant pick-me-up” may be another’s “Why is my heart thundering like the last lap of a NASCAR race?” So you may want to start some (or all) of your days without caffeinating.
Energy Drinks with Synthetic Caffeine
Also, some drinks with added caffeine are not the healthiest breakfast drinks. Many provide synthetic caffeine, a substance first created by Monsanto (now Bayer) that appears to behave differently than its natural counterpart. Your body absorbs and metabolizes synthetic caffeine faster, which can lead to a quicker spike in energy, as well as a faster and more dramatic crash afterward. And other ingredients in so-called energy drinks, including white sugar and artificial flavors and colors, are cause for concern as well.
(Most of the caffeine that’s used in the beverage industry — for drinks like Red Bull and Rockstar, as well as Coca-Cola and Pepsi — is synthetic caffeine.)
If you’re not partial to caffeine, and are wondering what to drink instead of coffee or tea in the morning, some energizing alternatives include chicory root and maca. Chicory root coffee, a New Orleans staple, comes from a root that’s related to dandelion as well as sharp salad greens like radicchio, frisée, and endive. (Bonus points for wondering if you should pronounce it “en-dive” or “on-deeve” in your head just now. The answer, according to the canonically authoritative Endive.com website: “en-dive” is for curly endive, the disheveled-looking leafy variety, while the elegant “on-deeve” is reserved for the smooth, tightly packed Belgian endive variety.)
Chicory root has sometimes been added to coffee as a tastes-somewhat-like-it filler to help people extend their supply of the more expensive bean. In addition to water, warmth, and taste, chicory root is a rich source of inulin, a kind of insoluble prebiotic fiber that your beneficial gut bacteria absolutely adore. Long prized as an herbal remedy, chicory root’s health benefits have begun to attract scientific attention as well.
Chicory root’s bitter taste can wake up your appetite and trigger the secretion of bile. At the same time, it has also been used to counter the stimulant effects of coffee, as it can induce relaxation and calm in those who consume it. (That sounds like the best of both worlds to me!)
Another plant that makes a fine morning pick-you-up beverage is maca. This root from the cruciferous family, originally from the Andes, has become popular since rumors of its aphrodisiacal properties began circulating on the internet. While this purported effect may not be entirely welcome at 7:30 in the morning when you’re trying to wake up, get the kids dressed and fed, and hit the freeway — or home office desk — by 8:15, there’s more. Maca may also improve mood and brain function, both of which can come in handy when your twins demand an all-potato-chip breakfast, and you are wondering what you did with your keys. (Not that I would know anything about that!)
Healthiest Breakfast Drinks to Hydrate You
Given that most Americans are chronically dehydrated, drinking water at any time of the day is often a good idea. And, since most of us start the day by releasing water from our bodies after a night of breathing and sweating away moisture, the morning is a perfect time to rehydrate.
Many people even wake up feeling dehydrated. A number of things can exacerbate the body’s nightly water loss, including breathing dysregulation (like snoring, mouth breathing, and sleep apnea), night sweats, an over-warm bedroom, hormonal imbalances, and side effects of common meds, such as antidepressants.
Even in the absence of these factors, it’s a good idea to hydrate when you first wake up, especially if you exercise in the morning. Dehydration can cause dry mouth, malaise, foggy thinking, drowsiness, and even dizziness throughout the day. So if you want to perform at your highest level, both mentally and physically, make sure you replace any fluids you’ve lost during the night.
Plus, there’s evidence that water consumption tends to reduce the intake of calories, sugar, and saturated fat — so, bonus!
Drinking Water (or Broth) in the Morning
Plain water is a good place to start. One way to decrease the odds of dehydration first thing is to have drinking water accessible and visible right when you get up. A water bottle, tall glass, or mason jar on your bedside table can serve as a visual cue to drink as soon as you wake. Alternately, set your drinking water on the bathroom counter and drink as soon as you’re done peeing (or do both simultaneously and imagine you’re a straw — I won’t judge).
In addition to pure water, you may want to have some vegetable broth in the morning (which may already have electrolytes like sodium and potassium in it), or add electrolytes to your water. (If you’re a fan of the movie Idiocracy, you’ll smile every time you hear the word.) After all, when you sweat, you lose electrolytes in addition to water. If you like, you can create a homemade electrolyte drink, or add slices of fruit to water.
(Sidenote: My favorite “first thing” morning drink is a tablespoon of Purality Health’s Curcumin Gold mixed into a glass of water. It’s an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, and tastes pretty good, too.)
Healthy Morning Drink Ideas to Kickstart Your Metabolism
Drinking enough fluids in the morning can jumpstart your metabolism, which helps manage your appetite and weight. Make sure to avoid sugary drinks that can cause blood sugar fluctuations and contribute to food cravings throughout the day.
We’ve seen that chicory root can get the digestive juices flowing thanks to its compounds that our taste buds find bitter. Another way to boost metabolism and reduce cravings is to add some plant-based protein to your morning beverage. No, I’m not suggesting floating tofu cubes in your morning joe. But you can add nuts, seeds, or nut or seed butters to smoothies and shakes.
There are also compounds in some herbal or “fasting” teas called catechins that promote satiety. Green tea, for example, contains a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that appears to decrease levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant gut hormone.
Get Vital Nutrients in the Morning
Water is great, and so are electrolytes, but why stop there? There’s a world of awesome nutrients out there, and drinking your fruits and veggies can get them inside you where they can do good things. Fresh juices and smoothies are wonderful and tasty delivery systems for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and many other valuable phytonutrients.
Green smoothies pack a particularly powerful nutritional wallop, as the blending appears to increase the bioavailability of phytochemicals found in plant foods. And with smoothies, unlike juices, you get fiber as well. To aid in the absorption of some nutrients and prevent later blood sugar crashes, you can add healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, or nut or seed butters. And some teas can also contribute antioxidants to your diet. That EGCG, which as we’ve seen is a catechin and not a New York City punk music club from the 80s, also helps prevent free radicals and so protects your cells from damage.
Relax with a Morning Beverage
What if you don’t want or need a burst of energy first thing in the morning? You can also drink a relaxing hot beverage while you listen to Gregorian Chants, Andean flute music, or the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson movie.
Golden milks and adaptogenic elixirs can be especially comforting in the morning. They provide warmth and comfort on a cold day. And teas in particular can stimulate the production of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain.
What to Drink in the Morning
Let’s put our morning beverage options in one place. As you can see from this impressive list, you’ve got a lot of choices.
Types of morning drinks include:
- Coffee and coffee drinks
- Tea and tea drinks
- Caffeine alternatives
- Adaptogenic elixirs
- Plant-based milks
- Golden milks
- Vegan milkshakes
- Water (with or without additions like apple cider vinegar, herbs, or fruit slices)
- And vegetable stocks and broths deserve an honorable mention, too!
Recipes for Healthy Morning Drinks
Finding a beverage to suit your morning personality could be fairly simple with the options below. Food Revolution Network’s Creamy Golden Milk can add some groundedness to complement natural, early morning energy. Or, swap out your coffee for a more delicate caffeine boost with the Soothing Spiced Matcha Tea.
If you’re the DIY type, then jump to Sweet and Nutty Oat Milk with Cinnamon Spice to experience a sense of accomplishment first thing. For a vibrant visual energy boost that has natural nitrates to stimulate circulation, make (and drink!) the Beet Carrot Turmeric Juice. For a fiber-fueled morning and to keep things running smoothly, turn to the Creamy Kale Pineapple Smoothie. And for mindful creatives, the Tea for the Mind and Creativity is made for you!
Finally, FRN’s potent Fire Cider is meant to be enjoyed as a tonic and not for the faint of heart. Mix it with water for a morning hydration beverage with immune-supporting benefits.
If you’re the get-up-and-go type who jumps out of bed easily in the morning but you want a grounding drink to help balance your natural energy, then Food Revolution Network’s Creamy Golden Milk might be an ideal choice. In addition to enjoying this drink as a morning beverage, we encourage you to take your time with it — sip and savor the earthy creaminess while feeling the nutrients work their way toward your cells and soothe your soul along the way.
Looking to replace those java jitters with something that offers sustained energy without coffee’s sometimes less-than-pleasant side effects? Matcha tea to the rescue! Starting your day with Soothing Spiced Matcha Tea provides calm, lasting energy support and a gentle sense of awareness and focus. A warning, from experience: The feel-good vibes are captivating, and you might not want to start your day without this healing blend of matcha, turmeric, and cinnamon spice ever again!
If you want to feel empowered in the morning by making your own creamy (plant) milk beverage from scratch, then Sweet and Nutty Oat Milk with Cinnamon Spice is your new morning mate. This easy-to-make drink tastes divine, eliminates packaging, and saves on costs while encouraging a sense of peaceful relaxation.
Not only will the beautiful and vibrant array of colors in this Beet Carrot Tumeric Juice help to wake you up, but you’ll also enjoy an anti-inflammatory explosion of flavor and nutrients! Don’t have a juicer? No problem! Blender instructions for this power-packed juice are provided as well.
Like to start your day with plenty of fiber (who doesn’t!)? Look no further than this Creamy Kale Pineapple Smoothie that is rich in prebiotic fiber from bananas, as well as a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber from all of the plant ingredients. It’s also brimming with vitamin C (pineapple), carotenoids (kale), and omega-3s (chia seeds) for a well-rounded smoothie that can support immune, eye, and brain health.
Herbs can have seemingly magical effects, from supporting the immune system to fighting inflammation to boosting cognitive function. Rosemary, sage, mint, and lemon balm have all been shown to support memory, focus, and other cognitive functions. What’s more, steeping them together as a tea is a wonderful way to enjoy a flavorful beverage that hydrates and heals with every sip. Make a large batch for the week; then enjoy it on ice or warm it on the stove as a part of your morning ritual.
After you’ve hydrated in the morning with one to two glasses of water, enjoy an ounce of Food Revolution Network’s Fire Cider, which includes immune-supporting ginger, turmeric, onion, garlic, and horseradish root. These root vegetables have their own unique phytonutrients that contribute to their growth underground and to your health when consumed. This invigorating tonic is sure to wake you up — naturally! If drinking it solo isn’t for you, try mixing it with a glass of water for a morning hydration beverage with immune-supporting benefits.
Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast Beverage!
Waking up with a healthy morning beverage can contribute to your overall health and well-being and help set the tone for your day. What you drink matters. Depending on your needs and goals, there are many drinks to consider.
So tomorrow, when you arise from slumber, consider the different types of morning drinks — and what they can do for you. You may want to add some variety to your morning by giving one of these delicious and healthy recipes a try.