Monday, 4 Jul 2022

I’m a Serious Coffee-Lover — But This Mushroom-Based Alternative Was a Total Game-Changer

My unending love for coffee is well-documented, cartoonish and embarrassing. I’ll own that. My process of working through a pot a day via getting too distracted to remember I’m drinking a drink, letting it get too cold and pouring hot coffee over that room-temperature mug and repeating that process all day is something all my friends and family have been known to side-eye and joke about for going on a decade now. So when I told many of those same people that I was going to be testing out a coffee-alternative using mushrooms for a few weeks (once again asserting my lab rat status for my beloved SheKnows readers), I got laughed at. A bunch.

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But the drink in question, Zolt’s PEAK +Mushroom Complex, came from the same folks who made DREAMY — a melatonin and collagen-based drink that I enjoyed for trying to actually get some sleep earlier this year — so I was feeling optimistic that it’d be worth a try. Or at the very least a good story. 

So in a week after I’d hit one important big caffeine-fueled deadline and where I had a pretty heavy push for another big project, I decided it was time to give it a go.

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A little about the product: Like the other drink powder “mixie sticks” in Zolt’s line, they come in these easy to use and store packs. PEAK is a naturally caffeinated using green tea and choline and organic Reishi, Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps mushrooms that support your immune system, reduce inflammation and support mood stability, among other benefits. It comes in a sweet clementine flavor that feels fairly fresh considering its coming out of a little bag and that feels really refreshing over some 16oz of ice water in the morning. It’s really not too far off in vibe from a morning glass of OJ — but with a boost. 

I tried mine in my favorite blender but found that I was able to get the mix consistency I wanted with my favorite jar and reusable straw combo, so you don’t need to worry about taking big old powdery sips. While it sounds obvious, it’s always a thing I’m concerned about when dealing with drink mixes, so I’m happy to report it’s a non-issue. And, as I say for just about all supplements and wellness products, I do recommend a convo with a doctor or trusted medical provider about whether this product is a good fit for you and to make sure all the ingredients pair well with your existing routine and lifestyle. 

On day one, I mixed up my drink and also brewed a pot of coffee (thinking that I could have my PEAK and then nurse the pot all day as usual). I found the flavor good, if a little bit sweet given my taste for black coffee. I finished it over the course of an hour of sipping and answering emails and felt alert and ready to accomplish what I needed to do. But, I did make a bit of an error by chasing my PEAK with 2.5 cups, finding myself feeling decidedly over-caffeinated by 4pm. I knew the feeling well because I’ve found myself on the wrong side of caffeine consumption quite a few times before and made the executive decision to forgo the bonus coffee for the rest of this trial run. If only because I didn’t particularly need more caffeine and probably could drink more water during the day. (Health Editors, we’re just like you!) and I didn’t want my habits to keep me from getting a real read on this product.

And days two through seven were significantly better after making that call. I had my AM drink and let it be the star of the show along with a glass of water. I even drank her outside in the sun and took a little walk to start my day, since I generally think trying out a new health or wellness product or supplement is a good chance to set some routine intentions and model the kind of “be nice to your body” behaviors we all tend to forget about anyway.

I found myself much happier than day one, I didn’t crave the coffee and opted for water or seltzer to sip on throughout the day. Again, this was a week where I was working on a big project that needed my attention and keeping quite a few plates spinning, which usually are times where my mood, food and movement habits tend to take a nose-dive. But I did find myself in pretty good spirits all week, energized without being manic or over-hyped and not feeling deprived or grumpy about the lack of coffee in my hand (much to the shock of anyone who knows me). I also didn’t have too much of an issue winding down at the end of these busy days, which can sometimes happen if I’m knocking out a pot+ of coffee in a 12 hour window.

All in all, I found this experiment surprisingly successful — giving my body a break from the barrage of hot black coffee I subject it to each day and giving me a chance to disrupt my patterns and listen a little bit more to what my body actually wants (most of the time it’s water, TBH) without experiencing any of the nasty side-effects of cutting caffeine for real. While I did resume my standing date with my coffee pot (the brand remains strong), I have also reached for PEAK on a few mornings when more coffee just didn’t feel like the move for my stomach. Balance, my friends, is key. 

Before you go, check out our favorite inspiring quotes that promote positive attitudes about food and bodies:

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