The primary benefit of theanine is its promotion of relaxation without tiredness.* Theanine pairs well with caffeine and stimulatory pre workout supplements. It helps reduce negative side effects associated with caffeine, such as the “caffeine jitters.”
Although structurally similar to glutamine, a precursor for the neurotransmitter amino acids GABA and glutamate, L-theanine is more effective at passing the blood-brain barrier.*
Sources of Theanine
Natural sources of theanine are comprised of tea leaves, primarily black and green tea varieties. Other fortified sources are drinks, such as neuro, and supplements such as pre workout and cognitive stacks.
How to Pair with Caffeine
Take about double the amount of theanine as caffeine (a 2:1 theanine to caffeine ratio). Due to caffeine tolerance varying per individual, start with this ratio and adjust as necessary.
Aside from the already mentioned synergy with caffeine, L-theanine is also taken by itself for its general calming properties.*
Theanine and Sleep Quality
Although L-theanine doesn’t normally cause sleepiness, it may promote sleep quality according to this study.*
Start with 100mg to assess your tolerance. Then increase up to 200mg if needed. L-Theanine’s half-life is fairly long at 2 to 5 hours, so do not take this more than twice daily. If taking the capsules, then start with one 200mg capsule and only increase to two capsules if needed. Do not exceed 2 capsules daily.
Theanine powder has a somewhat pleasant, yet unique taste. The unique taste it it elicits is called “umami”, which is our fifth taste after sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Here’s an overview of the umami taste if you’re unfamiliar.
Powder or Capsules?
Since L-theanine has a neutral to pleasant taste, it comes down to convenience. The encapsulated format will take longer to take effect.
Aside from pairing with caffeine, theanine powder is great for pairing with other stimulants or with a pre workout that makes you feel too anxious.
Theanine powder is one of the primary ingredients I use in my homemade energy drink mix, along with caffeine powder, taurine powder, and a sweetener. I prefer the powder format over capsules due to its low cost.