A Beginner’s Nootropic: L-Theanine and Caffeine

Imagine you wake up in the morning, begin your routine, and have a hot cup of coffee to jumpstart your day. Things are going well, but suddenly you feel a bit jittery and anxious.

Your heart is fluttering, you feel euphoric, but it’s also a little hard to focus on the task at hand. Here is the reality…

There are negative side effects of caffeine… by itself.

The combination of caffeine and L Theanine is considered by many to be the best place for a beginner to start with nootropics.

The reason caffeine and theanine are useful for beginners is because of the simplicity and amount of data supporting the combination.

Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green tea (but also in other types). Caffeine is found in coffee, cocoa, and there is even some in tea as well. Combined, these two ingredients do some magical things.

caffeine and l-theanine

Better Together: L Theanine and Caffeine

What makes L-Theanine and caffeine so great together?

Synergy.

Caffeine is great for concentration, improving attention, and focus. The downside is increased heart rate, blood pressure, and anxious / jittery feelings.

L Theanine is a relaxant that can reduce heart rate and blood pressure [1], promote alpha brain waves (associated with relaxation) and provide balance for the brain to avoid jitters.

But combined, caffeine and L-theanine work better together.

You can concentrate on your work more thoroughly, be more creative, and achieve more success with the absence of headaches, crashes, and anxiety. The combination gives you the power to perform better than taking either alone.

Don’t believe me? Here is some evidence:

  • “…suggests that L-theanine and caffeine in combination are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks.” (Journal of Nutritional Neuroscience, 2008) [2]
  • “…’Headache’ and ‘tired’ ratings were reduced and ‘alert’ ratings increased. There was also a significant positive caffeine x L-theanine interaction on delayed word recognition reaction time.” (Journal of Biological Psychology, 2008) [3]

According to the Reddit Nootropics group “The combination of L-theanine and caffeine may improve attention more than caffeine alone.” [4]

Most companies find individual ingredients with studies, but have no evidence for the combinations that they make.

Unlike many other popular nootropic combinations, such as Alpha Brain or CILTEP, the combination of L Theanine and caffeine has a lot of independent evidence.

Safety Concerns: I’m Not Going to Die, Right?

I’ll admit, when I was first introduced to names like “L theanine”, the idea of combining things and consuming it scared me a little bit.

Combining L-theanine and caffeine is incredibly safe.

There are 409 independent studies on caffeine cited on Examine.com. The side effects of caffeine are well documented and (I’m guessing) if you are a professional or student that has your own experience.

L-Theanine also has a great safety track record. The United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) considers L Theanine G.R.A.S. – “generally regarded as safe”, which is a rare distinction. High doses in animals doesn’t cause toxicity [5]. The L theanine side effects are few and far between, so there is little to worry about (even if you take a high L-theanine dosage).

L-Theanine: There is More Than Meets the Eye

L-Theanine is definitely one of those “under the radar” supplements that can drastically improve your brain health.

The Alternative Medicine Review published a study showing L theanine anxiety benefits for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The L theanine helped hyperactive kids get more sleep and a better sleep quality [6].

You know that relaxed feeling you get where work effortlessly flows through you? Usually, that happens when your brain is in an alpha wave state. One of the L-theanine benefits is an increase of alpha brain waves [7], which promotes relaxed, creative, and stress free thinking.

But here is a little secret most people don’t know…

Theanine can even improve your memory. A 2014 study in Nutritional Neuroscience showed theanine to improve BDNF (fertilizer for your brain) by 25%, which helps improve memory and general cognitive function [8].

Making it Better: The Power of Chocolate

I’m a chocolate fanatic. I’m healthy and exercise a lot, but my vice is chocolate. And I don’t mean a piece of chocolate… I enjoy the entire bar.

There is a reason for that. I’m super sensitive to caffeine in high doses (even 1 cup). I get jittery easily so I had to come up with an alternative stimulant just as good as caffeine without the crash.

Theobromine is the stimulant found in cacao (chocolate) and it is stimulatory without causing jitters like caffeine (at least for some people).

caffeine-curve

Getting Started with Caffeine and L Theanine

When getting started with a caffeine + L-Theanine supplement, there is a proper ratio you must try to maintain. Numerous studies show the caffeine L Theanine ratio must be 1:2.

This caffeine theanine ratio is best for improving your concentration and alertness while reducing the negative side effects and jitters.

There is approximately 100 mg in a single cup of coffee, but sometimes that can still be a bit much. I prefer 80 mg of caffeine. Then I add 160 mg of L theanine. This L theanine dosage is regarded as the best for your L theanine and caffeine combination.

If you want to buy and make your own, caffeine pills are fairly cheap. It will not cost more than $10 – $15 for a bottle. You can also buy your own L Theanine, which is a bit more expensive. If you want L-theanine pills, you will probably pay $15 – 30.

Unlike other nootropics, L theanine and caffeine isn’t cost prohibitive to nearly anyone. For a 2 month supply of caffeine and L theanine you only have to pay 40 cents per day.

That is less than two quarters to improve your concentration and achieve more success while preventing negative side effects and feelings of caffeine.

caffeine + L-theanine

References (Click to Expand)
  1. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16930802
  2. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
  3. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208
  4. //www.reddit.com/r/nootropics/wiki/beginners
  5. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16759779
  6. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22214254
  7. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328
  8. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24621060

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  • John Tilton

    I wish you could buy coffee mixed with l theanine. How about you all?

    • Mansal Denton

      Well, it’s possible to buy the powder and then just add it to the coffee. Think that would work for you?

      • John Tilton

        That’s what I currently do. I’m just saying that coffee already mixed with l theanine would be a cool product. Wouldn’t you say so?

        • Mansal Denton

          Yeah, that might be a cool idea! Might be something for a cafe, though. Most of the time coffee snobs wouldn’t appreciate something pre-made 😛