Caffeine Throwdown: Making it through a school day

Teachers need caffeine; it's just a fact of life! I'm not a coffee drinker, so I've always looked for alternative, somewhat healthy ways to consume caffeine. This Caffeine Throwdown post gives you several ideas for non-coffee caffeine drinks to help you make it through a school day!
Different levels of tired need different kinds of solutions. Some mornings, I can make it to school solely by excitement for the day, morning radio, loud music in the car, or a decent breakfast.

Other mornings, especially after a late night of grading, I'm so tired that my eyes basically hurt, and I can't seem to swat all the cobwebs out of my brain!

But as someone who doesn't like coffee (and who can't bring herself to get up EVEN earlier to work out before school), I'm constantly looking for The Perfect Drink: some form of (comparatively) healthy caffeine that doesn't taste gross and can help me finish waking up - especially on cold, dark Ohio mornings!

I've been a loyal Diet Coke drinker, but I've really begun to notice the negative effects it has on me. Over the last several months, I've experimented with a few other drinks that claim to to wake you up to see if any of them can keep me going during a school day!

Here are today's six contestants, in order from least to most effective wake-up power (with a few other factors mixed in).

If there are other drinks you'd like me to try and post about, leave me a suggestion in the comments, and I will do this again!

#6: Store-brand energy drink mix

  • Positives: It seemed like a good idea?
  • Negatives: It didn't mix in with my water very well, so you could taste the little granules, and the flavor wasn't anything to write home about, either. 
  • Final verdict: You have to drink it for it to work, and I didn't want to drink it.

#5: Lipton Green Tea (traditional)

  • Positives: Green tea is probably the second-best thing you can drink in terms of health, and I buy tea bag versions that are fruity (like mango or pomegranate) that smell and taste good; the added sugar is worth it to me to cancel out the slightly bitter taste. It's also warm to hold! :)
  • Negatives: It didn't wake me up much. Drinking this is more of a placebo "it's good for you" effect than a noticeable pick-me-up. 
  • Final verdict: Drink on mornings when you are mostly awake already and want to feel healthy.
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#4: Lipton Tea & Honey Drink Mix
  • Positives: Tastes like a fruity, less-sugary version of Kool Aid (which I love), with none of the usual green-tea bitterness. 
  • Negatives: READ THE DIRECTIONS. If you pour an entire packet into your waterbottle (and not just half, as they suggest), you will be running to the bathroom like you're in the middle of a detox program! 
  • Final verdict: Great to sip, but not a lot of wake-up power. Drink in the afternoon. 
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#3: Diet Coke
  • Positives: I personally like the taste, and it really does wake me up! Hooray! :-)
  • Negatives: Everyone is different, but I experience increased hunger and increased anxiety/stress on the days when I drink it. (And, though I can't fully prove it, I think it makes it harder for me to lose weight.) I have to do so sparingly (and would like to get rid of it completely), even though it wakes me up. Guess that's what I get for allowing so many chemicals in!
  • Final verdict: Use only on the mornings when you have to (I'm limiting to no more than 2x/week and plan to cut back further). 
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#2: Spark by Advocare
  • Positives: Wakes me up fully without a crash or jitters. I really like the fruit punch flavor the best! 
  • Negatives: Only the cost, but you can make a bottle or packet stretch for a while. It also isn't available in stores yet; I buy it from my friends who are Advocare sellers.
  • Final verdict: If it's within your budget, go for it! I could use it daily without negative effects.
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#1: 5-Hour Energy
  • Positives: Another drink that wakes me up fully without jitters or a crash later. 
  • Negatives: There are mixed opinions out there about how good this is for you. In theory, it's better than others since it's just vitamins, but it's still something to pay attention to over time. 
  • Final verdict: I use it infrequently, mainly when I'm out of tea or Spark. It only took the #1 spot because it can be purchased more easily than Spark. 
How do you wake up? Let me know if you have ideas or a product I should try! 

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