While most people are well aware of caffeine’s energizing effects, not as many are aware of the benefits of combining caffeine with l-theanine. These two powerful nootropics have an incredible synergy, enhancing each other’s best qualities and reducing the risk of unwanted side effects. Though often under-appreciated and underrated, this remarkable combination can change the game for coffee lovers.
Caffeine: what exactly is it?
Most of us are familiar with caffeine. It’s found in a wide variety of everyday foods and medications, including tea, chocolate, energy drinks, sodas, and even some over-the-counter painkillers. In fact, caffeine is produced naturally by more than sixty plant species out in the wild, including cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves, and more.
The most common way that people ingest caffeine, however, is by drinking coffee. In 2017, coffee drinkers around the world consumed a staggering 157.38 million 60 kg bags of beans. In America, over half of adults drink an average of around three cups of coffee each day.
When consumed in moderation, coffee offers a variety of different health benefits. It’s been shown to protect against chronic and sometimes deadly conditions such as diabetes mellitus, various cancer lines, Parkinsons, and liver disease thanks to antioxidants naturally found in the raw beans. They help to protect your DNA against oxidative damage from free radicals and keep cells functioning normally.
While drinking coffee undoubtedly has many benefits, most people are drawn to the beverage thanks to its high caffeine content. A standard cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine straight to your system, offering a number of nootropic benefits that can help to improve your performance at home and work.
Enhance Your Focus
Many of us drink coffee to stay awake and alert as we sit through class, go to work, or watch the kids. It’s no secret that caffeine offers short-term stimulating benefits that can aid in concentration and keep you from losing your drive during the day. This nootropic substance does this by blocking the activity of adenosine, a chemical compound used in our sleep-wake cycle. When adenosine receptors in the body detect a rise in the chemical, they signal the brain to reduce its activity and prepare for sleep.
The caffeine molecules in a cup of coffee are able to block adenosine molecules from binding to their respective receptors, preventing them from signalling the brain to enter sleep mode. In essence, caffeine works by tricking your body into thinking that it’s not tired. This is why so many people find coffee to be the wake-up call that they need before facing a long day.
Caffeine can help to enhance your focus not only on mental tasks but also on physical ones. Ingesting caffeine before exercising has been shown to improve both performance and endurance. By having a coffee before your workout, you can make your most of the time at the gym without giving in to exhaustion.
Boost Your Memory
In addition to enhancing concentration, caffeine can also help to improve your memory. In a study by a team at John Hopkins University, researchers found that drinking caffeine while learning can help to improve recall twenty-four hours later. The ideal dose seems to be around 200 mg, which is about the amount of caffeine in a single large cup of coffee. In most test subjects, 100 mg wasn’t enough caffeine to produce a significant boost in performance, while a 300 mg dose came with negative cognitive side effects. In addition to enhancing long-term memory, caffeine may also give a small boost to your working memory.
Protect Yourself Against Cognitive Decline
Caffeine can have a long-term impact on memory and cognition, helping to reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than 50 million people worldwide, with around 10 million new diagnoses each year. Caffeine can help to slow or even prevent the onset of dementia in vulnerable populations. In one study, drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day during adulthood decreased the risk of developing dementia by up to as much as 65% in senior years.
While caffeine has plenty of beneficial effects to offer, the nootropic also has its downsides. Many coffee drinkers are familiar with the post-caffeine jitters, which are often coupled with feelings of irritability and anxiety. Too much coffee can also raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels, especially in those who have a genetic predisposition towards circulatory diseases. It’s best to moderate coffee consumption to reduce your risk of experiencing side effects.
Though it may sound like something derived in a lab, l-theanine comes from all natural sources. It’s extracted from the leaves of Camellias sinensis, more commonly known as tea leaves. Not only does this non-protein amino acid give green and black tea its rich umami flavor, but also acts as a relaxant. The compound can reduce your stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol and blocking excitatory responses in the brain, helping to keep both your heart rate and blood pressure at safe levels.
The compound was first identified by Japanese scientists in 1949 as a component of green tea leaves. Since then, many studies have pointed to the health benefits that this compound has to offer. In recent years, people around the world are beginning to recognize l-theanine for its impressive nootropic effects.
Amplify Alpha Brainwaves
L-theanine offers a soothing effect thanks to its association with alpha brainwaves, which promote relaxed and even creative thinking without making you feel drowsy. In fact, l-theanine can actually make you feel more alert despite its calming properties. Alpha brain waves are often associated with mindful thinking and meditation. Consuming L-theanine helps your brain to generate strong, consistent alpha waves and improve your overall mental health.
Improve Cognitive Function
L-theanine, like coffee, can help to sharpen your mental faculties. It aids in concentration, giving you the focus that you need to perform lengthy or repetitive tasks without losing steam. The compound can promote calm, concentration, and even mood by elevating levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This inhibitory neurotransmitter plays a key role in our fight-or-flight response, and thus, in our mental state. High levels of GABA in the nervous system reduce your chances of overstimulation and keep you feeling calm, even in high-stress situations.
Enhance Your Sleep Quality
By elevating levels of GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, l-theanine also helps to promote a healthy sleep cycle. It improves the duration and quality of non-REM sleep, leaving you feeling more refreshed in the morning. L-theanine has also been shown to reduce anxiety in children with ADHD, helping to improve sleep quality in children who often suffer from nightly disruptions to aid in concentration at school during the day.
Like caffeine, taking l-theanine doesn’t come without its risks. While the compound is generally safe, it interacts with certain prescription and over-the-counter medications for blood pressure. Because l-theanine itself naturally lowers blood pressure, it may compound on the effects of other drugs and lead to hypotension.
Combining L-theanine and Caffeine
While caffeine and l-theanine are both powerful nootropics on their own, they have even more to offer together. 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 canceling out common adverse side effects. Unfortunately, this winning combination isn’t widely known, but it offers potentially limitless benefits for those looking to boost their energy without enduring the afternoon jitters.
Why do the two ingredients work so well together?
Many of caffeine’s negative properties stem from the fact that it’s a vasoconstrictor. This means that drinking a cup of coffee will temporarily make your blood vessels smaller. With less room to flow, your blood pressure can skyrocket, causing your heart to beat faster and your body to sweat. For many people, their body interprets these symptoms as those of stress or anxiety and acts accordingly.
L-theanine not only helps to promote relaxation, helping to reduce stress brought on by that cup of coffee, but it also combats the vasoconstrictive properties of caffeine. It allows your blood to flow as normal, preventing your body from panicking. You also don’t have to worry as much about the adverse health effects of raising your blood pressure, such as damaged arteries, heart disease, and even an increased risk of aneurysm.
What are the effects of the combination?
Combining caffeine and l-theanine offers a variety of strong nootropic effects with few risks to your physical or mental health. Many people use the two ingredients in tandem to improve performance at home, at school, or in the workplace. Taking l-theanine alongside caffeine enhances both creativity and concentration, especially on cognitively demanding tasks. It also improves your ability to switch between different activities without losing alertness or accuracy by helping you to ignore distractions.
Combining l-theanine with caffeine also helps to reduce your risk of experiencing common negative side effects. You’re less likely to get a headache or anxiety, in part thanks to l-theanine canceling out the vasoconstriction and raised blood pressure caused by moderate to heavy caffeine intake. L-theanine also helps to prevent the all-too-familiar caffeine crash, which tends to happen when the energizing 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.
Is combining caffeine and L-theanine safe?
Both caffeine and L-theanine are perfectly safe in the appropriate dosage. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers l-theanine to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). It has few side effects, even at high dosages, and close to zero levels of toxicity. L-theanine also shows no negative interactions with caffeine when the two are taken together, making the combination safe to use daily. As with any nutritional change, though, you should always consult your doctor before adding new supplements to your diet.
What is the best daily dosage of each ingredient?
According to most experts, the ideal ratio of caffeine to l-theanine should be around 1:2. Assuming there is around 100 mg of caffeine in the average cup of coffee, you should add about 200 mg of l theanine to each drink. Really, however, it’s down to personal preference. You may have to experiment a little bit before you find the perfect ratio to suit your needs and sensitivity. Remember, however, that according to the FDA, you should avoid drinking any more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.
The Focus Blend
While the combination of caffeine and l-theanine undoubtedly offer a match made in heaven, you don’t necessarily have to stop there. This 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. While l-theanine and caffeine are used mainly for increasing alertness and enhancing focus, adding other nootropic ingredients into the mix can improve other mental faculties such as memory, motivation, or creative flow.
We use this principle in our revolutionary new Focus Blend to create a drink that’s so much more than just a wake-up call in the morning. This smart coffee uses a variety of supplements in addition to l-theanine to enhance the natural benefits of caffeine. In tandem, the balanced nootropic benefits of all these ingredients combine to create a strong balanced coffee blend that helps to boost mental performance.
This amino acid is crucial for healthy protein production. It’s been shown to help alleviate the effects of stress, including memory impairment and cognitive fatigue. It can also help to improve alertness after a period of sleep loss.
This compound is found naturally in the brain and helps to increase levels of acetylcholine, a chemical used in memory formation and learning. It can help to improve your focus and overall brainpower.
This amino acid, found primarily in animal tissue, plays a variety of roles in the body. It helps to maintain the balance of salts, minerals, and electrolytes in your body, regulate the immune system and support the central nervous system. When taken alongside caffeine, taurine can help to improve blood flow and reduce jitters.
Vitamin B6 and B12
B complex vitamins are an essential part of your everyday diet. Each plays a key role in maintaining both physical and mental health. Vitamin B6, in particular, helps to improve both short- and long-term memory, while vitamin B12 aids in focus and concentration.
The Bottom Line
Caffeine can help to increase focus throughout the day, but it can also lead to anxiety and jitters. Combining L-theanine and caffeine, a relaxing yet stimulating compound, can help to reduce harmful side effects while at the same time enhancing the nootropic properties of both ingredients. If you’re looking for a way to boost your focus without the stress, a combination of caffeine and l-theanine such as that found in our new Focus blend may be just the solution that you’re looking for.