Peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Spaghetti and meatballs. L-theanine and caffeine.
Some things just work incredibly well together. This is absolutely true of l-theanine and caffeine. This powerful combo is a great nootropic mini-stack.
We all know that caffeine gives us a boost in mood, focus, and wakefulness. But it often comes at a cost. Some people experience caffeine jitters and a big crash a few hours after consumption. By combining caffeine with l-theanine, you can eliminate the jitters and crash completely.
In this article, we’re going to discuss this safe-and-effective, tried-and-true nootropic stack. Let’s start by taking a quick look at what l-theanine and caffeine are.
What Is L-Theanine?
Just about everyone knows what caffeine is. There’s a good chance you’ve got some flowing through your system right now. But l-theanine isn’t nearly as well known as caffeine. So what is it?
L-theanine (often just called theanine) is a non-essential amino acid that is found naturally in green tea. It’s no secret that green tea is good for you and l-theanine is part of the reason why. Unfortunately, you’d have to drink tons of green tea to get the enough l-theanine to notice its calming effect. One cup only contains about 20 milligrams. But you can experience this and other l-theanine benefits by taking it in supplement form.
But l-theanine doesn’t just reduce anxiety. For most people, it reduces anxiety without causing sedation. Prescription anxiolytics (anxiety reducers) definitely work, but they often leave you feeling like a zombie. L-theanine has been shown to be as effective at reducing anxiety as some prescription anxiolytics but without being as sedating.
Decreased anxiety is only one of l-theanine’s benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the others.
Benefits Of L-Theanine
In addition to being a potent anxiety reducer, l-theanine has also been shown to improve sleep quality. And, when taken in combination with caffeine, it has been shown to even improve mood. Here are some of the main benefits of l-theanine by itself:
- Decreased anxiety
- Decreased physical and mental stress
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased relaxation
What Is Caffeine?
I won’t say very much about caffeine because you probably know all about it already. Like I said earlier, there’s a good chance you’ve got some in your system as you read this. More than half of all Americans consume caffeine daily. Worldwide, caffeine is the most-commonly-used psychoactive substance, even more than alcohol.
There’s a reason why so many people consume caffeine: it’s generally safe and unquestionably effective. Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases wakefulness by affecting the compound adenosine in the brain. Users find that it helps them to stay away, stay focused, and be more productive.
Unfortunately, a lot of caffeine users also find that it increases anxiety, causes jitters, and makes it harder to fall asleep. And a few hours after consumption, a lot of users report the dreaded crash when the caffeine wears off and their energy levels plummet.
Fortunately, these potential side effects of caffeine can be reduced or eliminated entirely by consuming it with l-theanine. Let’s briefly look at the benefits of caffeine by itself. Then we’ll explore the magic of consuming l-theanine and caffeine together.
Benefits Of Caffeine
Caffeine has a lot of potential benefits. Here are some of its well-known benefits that have been scientifically established:
- Reduced fatigue and drowsiness
- Increased wakefulness
- Improved reaction time and motor coordination
- Improved focus and concentration
- Increased physical performance
- Increased productivity
L-Theanine And Caffeine Stack
If you’re not familiar with the term stack, it simply means taking two-or-more nootropics together to increase their effectiveness. L-theanine and caffeine is one of the simplest, safest, and most-effective nootropic stacks. This magic combo provides all the benefits of caffeine without many of its side effects.
Users of this stack, myself included, find that it creates a state of calm focus. I get the wakefulness and increased productivity from the caffeine without the anxiety, crash, and insomnia that usually go along with it. But it’s not just me and other users of this stack that report these benefits. There is plenty of science to back up these claims.
A 2017 review looked at the effect that the constituents of green tea (caffeine, l-theanine, and EGCG) had on mood and cognition. This review looked at 49 human studies that had previously been conducted. The researchers concluded that l-theanine and caffeine “have clear beneficial effects on sustained attention, memory, and suppression of distraction.” In other words, l-theanine and caffeine clearly have a nootropic effect.
Another review published nearly a decade earlier in the scientific journal Biological Psychology looked at the psychological effects of l-theanine, caffeine, and the two together. This review found that l-theanine and caffeine together reduced mental fatigue, decreased headaches, increased wakefulness and alertness, and improved several aspects of memory and attention. The researchers also briefly discussed mechanisms of action, noting that both l-theanine and caffeine affect the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
As far as nootropic stacks go, it doesn’t get any simpler than this one. And there are plenty of studies to support its safety and effectiveness. Let’s review the caffeine-and-l-theanine stack’s benefits.
Benefits Of The Caffeine And L-Theanine Stack
Here are some of the reported benefits of taking l-theanine and caffeine together:
- Increased focus
- Increased wakefulness and alertness
- Reduced fatigue and tiredness
- Improved memory and concentration
- Increased productivity
- Creates a state of calm focus
- Increased energy
- Improved physical and sports performance
L-Theanine and Caffeine Safety
L-theanine has a great safety profile. In fact, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has given it the rating of GRAS or generally recognized as safe. And studies show that it’s incredibly safe even at extremely high doses. However, some people may experience mild side effects from l-theanine. These rare side effects can include headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, and low blood pressure.
Like l-theanine, the FDA has also given caffeine the designation GRAS. When taken in reasonable amounts, caffeine is generally very safe. However, extremely high doses of caffeine can be lethal. And caffeine can have a number of potential side effects. These include anxiety, insomnia, jitters, upset stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, and others.
When taken together, especially at recommended dosages, l-theanine and caffeine seem to be extremely safe. L-theanine may even reduce some of the negative effects of caffeine like increased blood pressure.
Caffeine & L-Theanine Dosage
A wide range of dosages have been used in the dozens of studies done on l-theanine and caffeine. Depending on the study, participants were given anywhere from 50-2,000 milligrams (mg) of l-theanine and anywhere from 50-400 mg of caffeine. Within these ranges, the researchers found no serious side effects.
For nootropic purposes, most users take anywhere from 100-400 mg of l-theanine and 50-200 mg of caffeine. Some people like a theanine-to-caffeine ratio of 2:1. In other words, twice as much l-theanine as caffeine. Others find a 1:1 ratio to work best.
As always, you want to start low and work your way up as needed. If you don’t regularly consume caffeine, you may have great results with as little as 50 mg of caffeine and 100 mg of l-theanine. However, you may need a higher dosage if you’re a regular caffeine consumer like me. To notice the benefits of l-theanine and caffeine, I need to take at least 200 mg of each. Sometimes I’ll go as high as 400 mg of each but never higher than that in a 24-hour period.