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Healthy ways to deal with a coffee crash

Drinking Coffee
Photo: Stocksy/Michaela Ravasio

Forget the political divide. The line between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers can be way more intense.

If you’re firmly in the first camp, just the aroma of espresso and roasted beans can be enough to excite you. Every Monday, your Instagram is full of memes thanking the coffee gods for getting you through the day. And you get it. Truly.

But when that beloved buzz wears off, the party stops. Suddenly, you’re tired—and a little cranky. So what do you do? It can seem like there are only two solutions: pour another cup or suffer through it.

So we tapped renowned nutritionist and Nutritious Life founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, to find a better way.

First, she wants to get one thing straight: “Caffeine does not give you energy. The only thing that can provide energy is calories,” she says. She explains that coffee works similarly to a painkiller–you may feel a certain way for a little while (in the case of coffee, more alert and awake), but once it wears off, you’re back to your normal state.

So what should you do when that buzzy brew wears off? Keep reading for Glassman’s advice on dealing with caffeine emergencies.

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Photo: Stocksnap/Krzysztof Puszczyński

Drink up (as in water)

When you’re sitting in a climate-controlled office all day, sipping water doesn’t seem all that important—it’s not like you’re sweating. But it is, and Glassman says if all you’re drinking is a cup of coffee in the morning and that’s it, you’re going to feel the effects of a caffeine dip more. “When you are dehydrated, you feel tired,” she says.

And dehydration doesn’t just come in the form of athletes fainting on the sidelines—a lot of people are walking around dehydrated without even knowing it. Drinking 11 cups of liquid a day (and no, not all coffee) will make that crash a lot less powerful.


Photo: Foodies Feed
Photo: Foodies Feed

Give your body real fuel

You need stuff with actual nutrients in it to function at your best. And since coffee fools your body by giving you fake energy, Glassman explains that a cold brew breakfast is actually bad news.

If you tend to feel your crash after lunch, Glassman says it’s because you need to eat something more nutrient-dense. “If you eat fried food or something loaded with sugar in it for lunch, you’re going to feel a crash after lunch,” she notes. “It’s important to eat wholesome foods with protein to stay energized.” (Looking for new options? These five plant-based sources of protein might surprise you.)


coffee crash what to do
Photo: Pixabay

Give yourself a bedtime

Ready for some advice you already know but (maybe) keep ignoring? Get more sleep. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it’s crucial to avoiding that post-java collapse. “When you haven’t gotten enough sleep so you take a stimulant, you’re of course going to stop feeling alert as soon as it wears off,” Glassman says, reiterating that coffee is a Band-Aid, not a solution.

So no, you don’t have to give up coffee to avoid the crash. Putting these three tips into practice will help you power through. “If you stay hydrated, eat consistently throughout the day, and get enough sleep, your morning cup of coffee will give you a nice buzz and you won’t feel the effects so dramatically when it wears off,” our expert explains. “It will just be a nice little boost.”

Want to part ways with coffee for good? Here’s what to sip on instead. And you’ve heard about the world’s healthiest blended coffee drink, right?