Beat the Fatigue: Caffeine and Beyond
The semester is drawing to a close, leaving more students sacrificing sleep to finish assignments by their deadlines and to study for exams. To combat the constant brain fatigue, students often turn to caffeinated beverages. From those that just need a mid-afternoon jolt to the students that have consumed three cups of coffee before they make it to their 9 a.m. class, finding caffeine on campus is often a necessity. And guess what? You're in luck! There are UNF Dining locations all over campus where students can get their caffeine fix.
At the library? Starbucks is just around the corner! Walking by the Student Union on your way to class? Swing by Einstein Bagels or Outtakes! Einstein's has a variety of different coffee drinks, hot or iced, as well as your regular cup of Joe. Hungry? You can also grab a whole wheat bagel with reduced fat cream cheese while you're there. Outtakes has two locations, and both serve Starbucks-brewed coffee as well as a variety of bottled caffeinated beverages found in their refrigerated section. Study session at your dorm? You can find caffeinated beverages at both the Osprey Cafe and Ozzie’s.
Note that caffeine can cause jitters and heightened anxiety in some people, while it may barely have a noticeable impact in others. Mayo Clinic recommends a consumption of no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day, which is the amount of caffeine in four cups of home-brewed coffee.  To put this in perspective, one Grande Dark Roast at Starbucks has 260 mg of caffeine while a Grande Chai Tea Latte has 95 mg of caffeine.  For further comparison, a standard 12 oz can of Coca-Cola has 34 mg of caffeine, and a 16 oz Monster has about 160 mg of caffeine. [3,4] If you happen to be one of those people who wants to cut down on your intake, there are other options to boost your energy levels without consuming as much caffeine...
Fueling up with Food
Has anyone ever told you that fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein can provide sustainable energy?! I know, crazy right?! Well, I was super anxious to find out which ones provide the most and figured for those of you avoiding coffee or tea, this would be really helpful for those study crunch times!
To start, foods that are red and purple are generally high in antioxidants and can help you feel more energized throughout the day. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pomegranate juice/seeds, apples, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and grapefruits are packed full of fiber, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and many more energy-supporting nutrients.  Many of these healthier food choices are available right here on campus. The Osprey Cafe, Outtakes, Chopped and Wrapped, and Jamba Juice are just a few places on campus to acquire some of these energizing super foods. For example, the Osprey Cafe is famous for making smoothies packed full of nutrient-dense fruits, so don’t forget to stop by and grab yourself a pick-me-up! At the gym? Stop by Jamba Juice for an energy boosting recovery drink!
Did you know that beta-carotene is often added to energy drinks? Beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, is a nutrient that can help the body naturally recover from stress and prevent illness, all while helping give you a needed energy boost! Sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, nectarines, and butternut squash are all excellent sources of beta-carotene and can help you feel energized for longer.  You can find many of these foods offered at the Osprey Cafe.
Omega-3 fatty acids are another key way to obtain sustainable energy in your diet without sipping on that traditional cup of joe! Salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, are just some of the few omega-3 rich foods and all of these help with sustained brain activity that will help to keep you alert and on your toes.  Check out the packaged nut snacks at Outtakes, the salads at Chopped and Wrapped, or the dishes at the Osprey cafe for some of these foods!
Lastly, watch out for your added sugar intake. While a quick sugar high may be tempting, a sugar crash may be just around the corner and can lead you to feel just as sleepy. Consuming nutrient-dense foods with a moderate caffeine intake is your best bet to staying alert throughout the day. Now that you’re informed on how to keep those energy levels up while on campus, you’re ready to take on the nearly approaching exam season!
Stay healthy, Ospreys!