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5 Alternatives to Coffee Surgeons Can Use to Stay Alert

By Thomas Gole, DO, FAAFP18 Dec 2015

alternatives-to-coffeeYou’re working the night shift or you’re on hour 12 of a 24-hour shift. You’re tired, so you head to the cafeteria to grab your usual cup (or two) of coffee.

But are there alternatives to your usual cup of joe that can provide you with just as much or more energy? Here we explore a few alternatives to coffee medical professionals can use to stay alert.

1. Add Some Magnesium to Your Diet

Chances are, you’re on your feet all day going from patient to patient with barely time to eat a snack, let alone a balanced diet. And while magnesium won’t give you the instant energy boost of coffee, the mineral is important for maintaining energy—even a slight deficiency can cause a drop in energy levels. For more magnesium, try adding these things to your diet:

  • A handful of almonds, hazelnuts or cashews
  • Whole grains, like a bowl of bran cereal
  • More fish

2. Take an Extra Walk

If you can, adding a quick 10-minute walk to your day can help increase your energy. Researchers found taking a 10-minute walk helped increase energy levels for up to two hours. Try taking an extra lap around the cardiac unit or walking around the block outside the hospital for an energy boost. If you can get outside, the fresh air can do even more for your energy levels.

3. Eat

You’re busy seeing patients or performing procedures and it can be very easy to forget to eat. While snacking when you can helps to take the edge off hunger, it doesn’t replace what a full meal can provide in terms of energy. Of these meals, breakfast is the most important, so if you can, at least try to eat a meal when you wake up.

4. Keep Hydrated

Just like making time to eat when you’re seeing patients or in surgery, making time to drink enough water is equally as important. If you can, keep a water bottle with you or be sure to take a drink when you have a break in your schedule.

5. Add Some Protein to Your Coffee

Give your coffee an extra boost by making it a latte. The addition of milk to your daily cup or cups of coffee gives you some extra protein.

You don’t have to solely rely on coffee to keep your energy up during shifts. Adding some healthy snacks, eating regular meals and keeping hydrated can make a big difference in your overall energy levels.

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