Caffeine-Free Snacks that Boost Energy

If you can't function in the morning without a cup of coffee, you're not alone. More than 80 percent of people in the U.S. consume caffeine on a daily basis, according to a University of Washington study.

Caffeine is fast-acting—within 15 minutes of drinking you'll feel the effects—and can increase alertness. But caffeine has a dark side too. It can reduce fine motor coordination and increase insomnia, headaches, nervousness and dizziness, the study says.

One cup of coffee is OK. But more than one can do more harm than good. Luckily, there are at least five other ways to gain energy without drinking multiple cups of Joe.

More: 10 Natural Ways to Boost Energy

Grab a Pack of Gum

Next time you're in the grocery store, grab a pack of gum. Not only does it freshen your breath and improve oral health, it can also make you feel more alert. Research has shown that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain. It also speeds up blood pressure just enough to get the left and right side of the brain pumping. Pop a piece in early afternoon when your energy is low and you're hungry.

Decaf Green Tea

When it comes to health benefits, tea tops the charts, largely due to a high content of antioxidants. Green tea is one of the best food sources for catechins, which have been shown to be more powerful than vitamin C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and helping to fight diseases, according to Harvard Health. For maximum benefits, drink three cups a day and allow the tea to steep for at least 3 to 5 minutes.

Chocolate

A small dose of your favorite sweet treat contains several compounds, one being theobromine. Theobromine, which means "food of the gods" in Greek, works in a similar fashion to caffeine but is easier on the heart. Have a small stash in your desk drawer or work bag for that afternoon lull.

More: Chocolate Diet: Fact and Fiction

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