Tired of long lines at coffee shops, but don’t want to lose that pep in your step? Or maybe it’s late at night, and you can’t figure out why your head is still humming along at an accelerated speed of thought. Well, there are some unexpected places you may have had caffeine that didn’t involve a cup of joe.
Here are eight surprising sources of caffeine sure to give you a boost when you need it – or keep you awake when you don’t.
Ah, one of the likeliest suspects when it comes to keeping you awake at night. The darker the chocolate, the more caffeine you’ll find. At the high end of the spectrum, dark chocolate contains about 12 mg’s per ounce, which is about the same as each fluid ounce of coffee.
Milk chocolate hovers right around 9 mg of caffeine per ounce while white chocolate will only give you a decent sugar rush.
2. Non-Cola Sodas
We all know that Coke and Pepsi have a little bit of zing thrown in, but even some non-cola soft drinks add a little bit of caffeine to their tinctures. And we’re not just talking energy drinks and Mountain Dew – Sunkist, Surge, A&W Cream Soda – even some root beers like Barq’s pour a healthy helping of caffeine into their formulas.
3. Protein Bars
You might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, hold on a minute, we already talked about the caffeine in chocolate?” While a lot of protein bars are just glorified Snickers with mountain climbers on their packaging, it goes a little deeper than that. Some brands like Cliff and Zone put up to 50 mg of caffeine into their treats, which is about half a small cup of coffee.
4. Yerba Mate
With a flavor that lands somewhere between grass and green tea, not many people would consider yerba mate a pick-me-up. The mixture contains about 42.5 mg of caffeine in a typical 4 oz. mate gourd, which is only slightly less than the same amount of coffee.
But if you’re invited to engage in the social tradition of passing around the gourd in countries like Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, don’t pass it up – no matter when you’d like to get to sleep.
5. Decaf Coffee
You’ve probably looked at that orange-topped kettle of coffee at diners and wondered just how they managed to get the caffeine out of the coffee. Well, the truth is that they haven’t, at least not entirely.
There’s a reason it’s called “decaffeinated” instead of “uncaffeinated," and it’s the 3 to 16 mg of caffeine that remains behind in each cup. But when you consider that that’s down from the usual 95 mg, it’s quite impressive.
There’s a reason you often see guarana listed as an ingredient in energy drinks. Much like coffee, guarana fruit contains caffeine, but at over twice the potency of coffee: 2-4.5% caffeine compared to 1-2% in coffee.
This fruit is just a different way of getting your jolt, but one that’s sometimes favored by health nuts for their increased concentration of caffeine and the health implications thereof – see below.
7. Weight Loss Pills
One of the amazing side-effects of caffeine is how it stimulates your metabolism, actually helping you to burn your body’s fuel. Most stimulants will also curb appetite, promote digestion, and decrease perceived exertion – all positive things to the dieter.
In fact, count yourself lucky if caffeine’s the most powerful stimulant in your diet pills, as many use amphetamine-like compounds.
8. Migraine-Related Pain Relievers
Caffeine helps pain relievers work faster, especially in cases of tension headaches and migraines. Sometimes, a cup of coffee will even be enough to dispel the discomfort.
That’s why OTC migraine medications, such as Excedrin, use caffeine in conjunction with pain relievers like aspirin and acetaminophen to quickly alleviate your symptoms.