L-theanine is a strange paradoxical supplement. Studies show that L-theanine can make you feel more relaxed and alert at the same time.
L-Theanine is an amino acid commonly found in green and black teas. Research by Oxford University shows that L-theanine provides a natural form of relaxation without overt drowsiness. When combined with caffeine, L-theanine promotes better focus, faster working memory, and makes people feel more alert.
7 Potential Benefits of L-Theanine
- Reduces Stress
- Improves Focus
- Reduces Anxiety
- Increases Energy
- Improves Alertness
- Promotes Relaxation
- Improves Quality of Sleep
L-Theanine for Focus and Alertness
According to one study published in Nutritional Neuroscience, a group of young adults who drank a beverage containing L-theanine and caffeine reported better focus and performance. The group also reported feeling more alert and less tired overall.
Furthermore, research shows that the beneficial effects of L-theanine become apparent within a half-hour of consumption. L-theanine delivers the most benefits to the brain, liver, and muscles. L-theanine boosts the amount of glycogen in the liver, which provides energy to the body during a workout.
Additionally, L-theanine improves the production of nitric oxide, delivering oxygen to the muscles, and improving overall blood flow. For these reasons, supplement companies often mix L-theanine with caffeine in pre-workout formulas. This combination of caffeine and L-theanine provides the energy of caffeine with little to no side effects.
L-Theanine and Sleep
The fact that L-theanine improves focus and alertness, while, at the same time, enhancing relaxation seems like a contradiction. How can a supplement that makes you feel more alert also make you feel more relaxed?
Studies show that L-theanine can help reduce heart rate levels, which can help you to relax and fall asleep. Research by the University of Canberra found that L-theanine helps both humans and animals to experience more restful sleep.
Another study examined the effects of L-theanine on 98 students ranging in age from eight to twelve. One group of students were given 100 mg of L-theanine in two chewable tablets twice a day, and the other group of students were given placebo tablets with no L-theanine.
The students who took L-theanine tablets reported longer, more restful sleep after 6-weeks. Despite the promising results, more research is needed to prove the safety and efficacy of L-theanine in young people.
L-Theanine for Stress Relief and Anxiety
Drinking a cup of hot tea can be soothing for anyone, but studies show that tea (containing theanine) may be beneficial for individuals suffering from high levels of anxiety and stress.
The Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism published a study of five randomized trials to examine the effect of theanine on stress and anxiety levels.
The researchers examined a total of 104 participants and found that L-theanine provides a significant reduction in anxiety in people who reported experiencing stress in their lives.
Another study by researchers in Australia noted that L-theanine increases relaxation and reduces resting heart rate levels, helping to reduce overall stress.
Safety and Side Effects
So far, studies have discovered no side effects associated with L-theanine. Research indicates that L-theanine is safe to consume in recommended doses. However, it’s best to monitor your caffeine intake when combining caffeine with L-theanine.
Some individuals may experience nausea, stomach upset, or irritability when consuming large amounts of L-theanine.
Studies often recommend between 25 mg and 500 mg of L-theanine, however, when it comes to workout performance, 200–300 mg of L-theanine with 100–200 mg of caffeine appears to be the sweet spot.
If you drink several cups of coffee in the morning, one good way to start incorporating L-theanine into your diet is to switch a couple of coffees out for green tea.
If you’re a newcomer to brewing, be sure not to steep green tea for too long because this results in a bitter taste. Keep in mind that it’s easy to brew two or three cups of green tea with one bag of green tea.
Supplementing with L-theanine is another option. Many pre-workout supplements include L-theanine, although the amount of L-theanine found in pre-workout supplements may not be high enough to improve performance.
You can also purchase L-theanine in pill form (which is still affordable), taking a tablet or two with caffeine before hitting the gym. After consuming L-theanine, monitor your energy levels (journaling helps) and adjust the dose according to your body’s needs.
Effectiveness of L-Theanine
Whether you’re trying to reduce post-caffeine jitters, improve sleep quality, or boost your workout performance, L-theanine’s safety and efficacy make it a supplement worth adding to your diet.