L Theanine + Caffeine For A Nootropic Mental Performance Boost

L-Theanine and Caffeine are the perfect nootropic combination for mental performance.

Most people are well aware of caffeine's energising effects, however, when you add some L-Theanine, the combination has amazing benefits. The product is greater than the sum of its parts. They are synergistic and enhance each other's best qualities and reduce the risk of unwanted side effects. The ultimate marriage if you will. This remarkable combination is a staple for anyone who has been involved in nootropics or neurohacking, but for those who haven't heard of it before - get ready for a game changer! 

It is one of the most well-known "nootropic stacks" and is a combination of caffeine with L-theanine, usually at a ratio of 1:2 respectively. The latter ingredient is a psychoactive amino acid found in tea, which can negate the side effects of caffeine (such as heart rate, blood pressure, etc) while increasing the positive aspects of focus and concentration. 

Essentially you get rid of caffeine's jittery side effects while sustaining the stimulant's boosts on focus and energy. So you enjoy more of a calm, controlled energised mental state! 

For those sensitive to caffeine, this is great news.

And for those who are simply tired of caffeine’s crap (but still absolutely love the stuff), this is the ultimate combo. Before we explore the combination, we might start by discussing both of the individual ingredients. 

What is caffeine? 

Most of us are very familiar with caffeine. It's what provides the energy boost in your cup of coffee! Caffeine is the most widely used substance on the planet, ninety percent of the world’s population consumes caffeine in some form. It is one of the most researched nootropics in how it affects the human body as well.

Caffeine is found in a very wide variety of everyday foods and even medications, such as chocolate, tea, lollies, energy drinks, sport supplements, soft drinks and even pain killers. 

Caffeine content in foodsSource: Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The most common way people have caffeine is by drinking coffee. In fact, in 2018/2019, around 9.92 billion kilograms of coffee was consumed worldwide! [1]

Caffeine is consumed around the world for its beneficial effects on energy, physical and mental performance, alertness, and mood. Many people praise its ability to keep them awake and focused on their tasks. Additionally, most of its side effects tend to decrease with prolonged consumption.

Caffeine works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you to remain alert and to prevent feelings of fatigue. In a more scientific way, caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine in the brain, which is the neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.

Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly tired and wanting a rest. As well as blocking adenosine receptors, it also increases adrenaline levels by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.In this way, caffeine is more of a brain-stimulating drug than a brain-nourishing nootropic. 

Is Caffeine a nootropic?

No - not by itself. It does have nootropic qualities when paired with other nootropics. Though some people often describe stimulants as “nootropic” they don’t actually qualify as nootropics, and this is based on the standards of the doctor that invented the concept of nootropics: Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea.

Caffeine is classed as a stimulant, and therefore it is not a nootropic.

Caffeine can increase your focus

Many of us drink coffee to remain awake and alert as we go to work, watch the kids, prepare for a presentation, study or do physical exercise. A lot of us know that caffeine can offer short-term stimulating benefits that can assist with concentration and keep you from losing your motivation and drive throughout the day. 

The benefits of caffeine consumption aren't just limited to mental performance either, there are many studies that show the benefits to physical performance. [2]

Caffeine can boost your memory

On top of helping out with enhanced focus and concentration, caffeine also helps with improving memory. Caffeine has been found to increase learning ability as well, and improve recall 24 hours afterwards. [3] While contributing to long-term memory, it may also improve your working memory (the part of short-term memory which is integral for reasoning, decision making and behaviour. [4]

...but what if you could enhance that cup even more so you can enjoy a lot more mental performance??

Enter L-theanine...

What is L-Theanine?

L-theanine (N-ethyl-L-glutamine) or theanine is is a cognitive enhancing amino acid commonly found in Camellia sinensis (green tea) leaves. 

As one of the key bio-active ingredient in green tea, L-theanine is responsible for the calming (but not drowsy) effects that comes with sipping on a cup of tea. 

Research indicates that L-theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness. Promoting a feeling best described as “Zenergy” (being calm, attentive and energised) whereby there is a sensation of energy with control - so you are focused with mental clarity. 

L-theanine is anxiolytic, meaning it helps combat anxiety. It helps relax the mind and sharpen focus by reducing anxiety. However, it’s most significant benefit is it’s ability to reduce mental fatigue and stress.

Benefits of L-theanine:

Anxiety and stress relief

L-theanine can help to promote the alpha brainwave frequency (8-14 Hz), which is an electric neural state often associated with calm, creative thinking.  This is best described as a sort of “flow” state, when you are “in the zone,” and you feel relaxed, creative and alert.[5]  In fact, L-theanine can actually make you feel more alert despite its calming properties. L-theanine helps your brain to generate strong, consistent alpha waves and improve your overall mental health. [6] [7]

When paired with caffeine, L-theanine’s anxiolytic effects sustain the focus and energy benefits of caffeine while mitigating the jittery side effects that come with taking caffeine alone. [8]

Improved Cognitive Function and better mood

L-theanine can help to sharpen your focus and generally improve your mental performance. It is the perfect nootropic for work as it gives you clear focus and concentration when performing lengthy and repetitive tasks without losing drive - such as when you're at work or studying. [9] Many studies have found it helps people to feel more alert and less tired, as well as an improved sense of wellbeing through a boosted mood. [10] [11]

Better immunity and health benefits

L-theanine may support the body in fighting off illness and boost your body's immune system. Several studies have suggested that taking L-theane could improve your immunity, which means your far less likely to get sick. It can help to support the immune system by decreasing the incidence of respiratory infections.  [12]

Other research has found supplemention with l-theanine may beneficially improve immune health status in athletes as well, who are particularly susceptible to infection due to all of their strenuous training. [13] It also has potential anti-inflammatory effects to fight illness. [14]

The benefits of caffeine + L-Theanine

I know what you're thinking! 

If caffeine stimulates energy and L-theanine promotes calm, wouldn’t these two ingredients work against each other? 

The answer is quite the opposite! 

While both ingredients offer a lot by themselves, the synergistic effect of caffeine's stimulatory properties and the calming action of l-theanine helps to bring out the best of both ingredients while cancelling out common adverse side effects. 

This winning combination isn't mainstream (yet) which is a shame as it offers potentially limitless benefits for those looking to boost their energy without dealing with the jitters, anxiety or restlessness from coffee alone.

To get the most out of this combination, research suggests a theanine-to-caffeine ratio of 2:1 - which means if your coffee gives you 100mg of caffeine, you want to add 200mg of theanine to it. Savvy coffee has already done this for you, which makes it easier, as otherwise you're guesstimating how much caffeine is really in your coffee! 

How come they are such a great combination?

Most of caffeine's negative effects are reduced by L-Theanine, but why?

Caffeine's unwanted effects primarily stem from that fact that it is a "vasoconstrictor", which means that it will temporarily make your blood vessels smaller. As there is less room to flow, your blood pressure with increase, which causes your heart to beat faster and your body temperature to rise. For most people, this releases cortisol, and the symptoms of stress or anxiety often follow, as well as a dose of jitters and restlessness. 

By combining L-Theanine, you not only take the edge off the caffeine hit, but you helps to reduce the stress and negative effects of the coffee. It does this by combating the vasoconstrictive properties of caffeine, allowing your blood to flow as normal, and preventing your body from stressing. [15

The stacked ingredients also help to reduce your risk of experiencing common negative side effects. You’re far less likely to get a headache or anxiety, in part thanks to l-theanine cancelling out the vasoconstriction and raised blood pressure caused by caffeine intake. But also, because L-theanine helps to prevent the all-too-familiar caffeine crash, which tends to happen when the energising effects of your last cup of coffee wear off. You’ll be able to maintain focus throughout the day without succumbing to exhaustion and jitters. [16]

The benefits of the winning combination

Most people use the two ingredients together to improve mental performance in the workplace, playing sport or gaming, at home, or while studying. The combination helps people to improve thinking speed, reaction time, performance in multitasking, improvements in memory and reduced susceptibility to distractions. [17] 

By enhancing your creativity, concentration and ability to perform on cognitively demanding tasks without losing alertness or mental accuracy - the combination is often loved by esport gamers and hard workers everywhere! [18]

While the benefits of caffeine and l-theanine are undoubtedly brilliant you don't need to stop there! You can add other nootropics to this "stack" and further improve your mental performance! The caffeine:theanine combination is a great foundation for your daily nootropic routine, but there are other nootropics that can work together with this combination to give you an even better overall effect.

By adding more nootropics that are synergistic, you can make your coffee even smarter again to enhance your mental performance even more!