As the kids go back to school it’s likely back-to-work time for you. If so, you’re probably going to be needing your morning mug of coffee more than ever. You can’t really get going without your caffeine hit, right? But, did you know that coffee isn’t your only option for getting your energy boost?

Coffee, like lots of things, is fine in small doses. But, if you’re finding yourself chained to the coffee maker, changing your habits could have a huge effect on your health.

How much coffee should you be drinking each day?

Think you might need to curb your cappuccino intake? Here are a few tell-tale signs that you’re having too much caffeine:

● Low energy: most of us drink coffee when we need a boost, but too much can have the opposite effect. Watch out for mid-afternoon slumps.

● Weight gain: caffeine increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to stress eating and weight gain.

● Poor-quality sleep: it takes your body four to six hours to process caffeine, so a mid-afternoon macchiato might be taking its toll on your zzz’s.

● Mineral deficiencies: caffeine limits your body’s ability to absorb iron and can lower the storage of zinc, magnesium, calcium, and other essential minerals that are important to your health.

If you want to keep an eye on your health while still having the energy to keep up with your kiddos, here are five amazing alternatives to coffee:

1. Matcha Green Tea

Matcha tea is created by grinding down the entire green tea leaf until it’s a vibrant green powder bursting with energizing health benefits. Matcha is rapidly growing in popularity as the alternative to coffee; ask your friends and they’ve probably heard of its super powers.

A standard cup of matcha contains less caffeine than your usual cup of coffee, but the amino acids mean that it’s absorbed by your body much more slowly. This means six to eight hours of boosted energy without the mid-afternoon lull that often comes with drinking coffee.

Matcha is the ultimate sidekick for moms as it’s bursting with cancer-fighting antioxidants and weight-loss properties. Your concentration and memory will thank you too, as it has the highest natural levels of the amino acid L-theanine. Perfect for those days when you feel like you have a million things to do!

Preparing matcha is quick and easy: just dissolve 2 teaspoons of matcha powder in a mug of hot water, give it a stir, and enjoy.

2. Green Juices

You probably have a daily battle trying to get your kids to eat their greens, but have you thought about drinking them instead? Our body needs vegetables to function, but it’s the green ones with less sugar, lower calories and more antioxidants that’ll really make you shine. Spinach, for example, is full of iron which prevents anemia, and kale is packed with potassium, which helps to keep your blood pressure under control and protects against heart disease.

All it takes to protect your heart’s health is one green juice per day, and studies have actually shown that guzzling 300 ml per day for six weeks can reduce LDL cholesterol by a massive 9 percent.

For a quick and delicious juice, whizz up a handful each of kale, spinach, cucumber and celery, two chunks of fresh ginger and two wedges of green apple. A supplement such as spirulina can be added for an extra boost, as can barley greens, or matcha powder.

3. Water

Do you often feel totally exhausted but you’re not sure why? Sure, there could be a hundred reasons for it, but most likely it’s because you’re not drinking enough water. When you’re dehydrated your body will weaken, and fatigue is one of the first signs that you haven’t had enough water. Don’t believe it? A study on athletes showed that dehydration was linked to low performance, so it might also be the reason that you’re struggling to keep up with your hectic life.

And the real issue is, if you’re dehydrated you won’t be able to sleep properly as it interrupts your sleep patterns and makes you restless, so you won’t be able to replenish your energy levels.

Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink a glass of water: if you’re feeling thirsty it’s already too late as that’s one of the final signs of dehydration. Instead, keep hydrated throughout the day to keep your productivity levels nice and high.

Try to drink 2 liters of water every day for maximum alertness. If that sounds a little dull, make your water more interesting by adding spices, herbs, or low-sugar fruit (try cucumber, fresh mint, and root ginger).

4. Protein-based smoothie

If you work out at the gym or go to exercise classes, you’ll already know that your body needs protein to fuel it. But, protein is good for the mind, too. It’s able to boost the brain’s production of the chemical orexin, which will help boost your concentration and alertness.

If you like making smoothies for the family, an easy way to add more protein to your diet is by adding it to your drink. There are endless superfoods that are bursting with protein and can easily be added to smoothies, such as nut butter, silken tofu, and raw cashews. If you like your smoothies a little thicker, throw in hemp hearts, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, or whole oats.

For a delicious recipe that everyone will enjoy, mix ¾ cup almond milk, ¼ cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in water), 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1 frozen banana (cut into pieces), 2 tablespoons whole oats and a pinch of cinnamon.

5. Yerba mate

If you’ve ever traveled to South America you’ll know how loco the locals are for their yerba mate. Mate (pronounced mah-teh) is made from the leaves of the Yerba plant and is prepared in the same way as green tea. It actually tastes pretty similar, too.

Mate only contains 75 percent of the caffeine that your after-lunch coffee does, but it has those healthy amino acids that are also found in matcha so the energy boost is long-lasting.

To prepare mate, steep the leaves in hot water (not boiling) before serving in a traditional wooden bowl with a metal straw.

A word of warning: mate has a pretty powerful natural high, so don’t drink it just before bedtime or you might be up all night.

In summary:

If you’re not totally hooked on coffee then it won’t be necessary to ditch it altogether, and reigning your habit in will usually be enough to have a positive effect on your well-being. But, if you want to see a real boost to your health, think about switching one or two of your daily coffees for one of the alternatives on our list.

Drinking healthier drinks not only sets a good impression for your family, it’ll leave you feeling healthy and energized. And, for an extra super-mom boost, adding superfoods like matcha green tea powder will give you all the energy you need to take on even the busiest days.

The most important thing of all is to make sure that you’re properly hydrated and that you’re consuming plenty of water and protein to keep your energy levels where you need them to be.

* Erin Young is a health writer, tea expert, and owner of two tea brands: Evergreen Matcha in the USA and Zen Green Tea Matcha in Australia and this essay was published with her permission.*