For those of you looking for natural ways to increase energy and reduce anxiety, theanine is probably top of your list. This amino acid is one of the most widely used natural supplements for stress and anxiety reduction in the world. It is a key ingredient in nootropics, pre-workouts, sleep aids, and caffeine pills, to name just a few supplement categories using theanine today.
It is fair to say that theanine’s popularity has exploded over the last few years. This has been the result of new research being released which shows theanine to be a supplement with broad benefits, few side effects, and untapped potential.
With the steep rise in the popularity of theanine has come a flurry of questions about the substance from our readers. One of the most common questons we get asked is how much theanine they should be taking alongside caffeine to minimize side effects and enhance the stimulant’s action.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at what theanine is, what it does in the brain, and how much you should take alongside caffeine for best results.
What is L-Theanine?
L-Theanine is an amino acid. It is more properly know as L-γ-glutamylethylamide or N⁵-ethyl-L-glutamine, and it is an analogue of the proteinogenic amino acids L-glutamate and L-glutamine. These are two of the most important proteinogenic amino acids; they play a vital role in everything from central nervous system function to protein synthesis. Theanine is naturally occuring. The best natural source of theanine is black tea (although it is often mistakenly said to be abundant in green tea). Theanine is found in other plants, as well as some fungus species, but black tea is the only source you can reasonable use to get theanine via your diet.
L-Theanine is used in a wide variety of supplements, from brain supplements and caffeine pills to sleep aids and pre-workouts. The reason theanine is used in such a broad range of different supplement types – with seemingly contradictory goals – is that it has a broad range of effects which are desirable in lots of different contexts.
The benefits of taking L-Theanine supplements include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved sleep quality
- Reduced sleep latency
- Improved mood
- Enhanced focus and mental clarity
- Reduced side effects from caffeine and other stimulants
- Lower blood pressure
Looking at these benefits, it is little wonder that theanine is so widely used in supplements today.
So how much theanine should you be using?
More specifically, how much theanine do you need to combine with caffeine to reduce its side effects?
What is the best L-Theanine and Caffeine Dosage?
What matters more than the dosage of theanine and caffeine is the ratio of dosages. Study after study has made it clear that theanine and caffeine are best taken at a 2:1 ratio. That means for every 50mg of caffeine you take, you should combine it with 100mg of theanine for optimal results.
Now there is an upper limit on how much caffeine you should be taking per day, for reasons of safety and to avoid addiction. This limit is around 400mg per day; above this level, you are in serious danger of long-term side effects from caffeine abuse.
There is also an upper limit on how much theanine you can reasonably expect to get benefits from. Theanine does produce diminishin returns above a certain dose. Taking more than around 500mg per day is completely pointless; beond 500mg you are not going to get any more benefits by taking more milligrams of theanine. But since we don’t see why you would take more than 150mg of caffeine at any one time, this is perfectly fine, as you therefore should never need more than about 300mg of theanine!
L-Theanine and Caffeine For Anxiety
If you are looking to reduce anxiety, then a theanine and caffeine stack is probably not the best supplement for you. While theanine is an effective anxiolytic, caffeine can make anxiety significantly worse. The last thing someon with chronic or acute anxiety needs is a big dose of cafeine hitting their system; this can make anxiety worse and potentiall trigger a panic attack.
Theanine does help reduce any anxiety associated with caffeine consumption, but only to a point. Those of you who are particularly sensitive to caffeine will still find your anxiety levels rising after consuming large doses of caffeine, even with theanine thrown in as well.
If you have anxiety and you are going to consume caffeine, then it is essential that you keep the caffeine dose low and couple it with plenty of theanine. For those of you with severe anxiety, we recommend taking no more than 50mg of caffeine at a time and coupling it with 200mg of theanine daily.
L-Theanine and Caffeine For Energy
If your goal is to increase energy levels, then you should still not deviate from the 2:1 theanine to caffeine ratio when choosing a dose. Theanine does not cancel out any of the energy-boosting effects of caffeine. In fact, theanine is known to heighten and accentuate caffeine’s energy-boosting properties!
For a clean, sustained increase in energy, we recommend coupling about 75mg of caffeine with 150mg of theanine. This dose has been found in clinical trials to provide a significant increase in energy, focus and mental clarity without causing side effects. A lower dose of cagffeine can be used as the L-Theanine will heighten the benefits of the stimulant while making it a “cleaner” energy kick.
The Ultimate Theanine Stack
Theanine is an incredibly versatile nootropic. It has some very broad and significant benefits when used properly.
L-Theanine does have several major nootropic benefits on its own. This is why theanine supplements are so popular. But L-Theanine is invariably much more effective when combined with other substances like nootropics, energy boosters and anxiolytics. To get the most out of theanine, you really need to stack it.
For overall cognitive performance, stress control and mood support, we think it is best to stack Theanine with Tyrosine and either Citicoline or Alpha-GPC depending on your preference.
Taking all of these substances together will produce the biggest improvements in anxiety levels, focus, memory function and motivation levels.
Brian Johnson is current Editor of Vagarights.com and a long-time writer for VAGA. A former psychologist, Brian is passionate about improving mental health and finding ways to stave off cognitive decline. He is an expert on nootropics, cognitive enhancement and biohacking more broadly. You can see his work on Google scholar.