Because nootropics is a quickly evolving field, there’s a lot of conflicting anecdotal evidence and scientific data about the best ways to hack your brain effectively. For example, theanine is known to be safe and effective for a variety of uses, but with its three hour half life and fast-approaching peak, who knows when to take it and with what? Read on for a guide.
What is theanine?
Theanine (also called L-theanine or 5-N-Ethyl-Glutamine in some ingredient lists) is an amino acid that can act as a non-sedating relaxant for many users. It’s been making a big stir as a dietary supplement in recent years, because while it isn’t one of the essential amino acids and is not commonly found in most diets, it could be beneficial for many and has a slew of applications. The only natural dietary source of theanine is green tea, so you’ve probably already had some at some point without even realizing it. Unfortunately, it occurs at too low a level to be therapeutic unless you consume a lot of green tea, so most of us haven’t gotten to experience its calming effects.
At its root, theanine can help you reduce stress and relax without putting you to sleep. While theanine lets some users de-stress, it also tends to help sharpen the impact of certain stimulants, like caffeine. With so many potential benefits, consider timing your dosage to get the outcome you want.
When should I take theanine?
Theanine stacks well with caffeine—some research suggests you should take one alongside the other at a two-to-one ratio. Some users report anecdotally that it helps take the “edge” off a cup of coffee and makes them less jittery. There’s also evidence that it will enhance the increased energy and concentration that caffeine brings. This is theanine’s primary draw for nootropics users, so you will frequently see it listed as an ingredient in cognition-oriented supplements. If this is what you’re hoping to experience with theanine, your best bet may be to take 200 milligrams with 100 milligrams of caffeine or one cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
Some people prefer to use theanine to regulate their anxiety, either alone or as part of their overall regimen. It’s unusual to find relaxants that don’t make you drowsy, so this is a good solution for many people who struggle with anxiety but also want to stay sharp. This kind of theanine user has best results when they take theanine throughout the day, typically along with their meals.
If you don’t like coffee and don’t struggle with unwanted anxiety, there’s strong evidence that links it to better sleep, which is linked to myriad health and wellness benefits. Some people like to take a little theanine at a time throughout the day to prepare for sleep, while others have reported good outcomes taking their daily dose of theanine in the evening as part of their bedtime routine.
Since there are so many ways theanine can benefit you, time your intake to get the effects you want.
Where can I get theanine?
You’ll get some of the benefits of theanine just from drinking a few cups of green tea each day, but if you’d like to fully experience what theanine can do, your best bet may be a supplement.
Nootrobox’s SPRINT and Go Cubes offer theanine paired with caffeine and B vitamins to increase concentration and alertness, while Coffee Blenders has coffee with theanine blended right in it so you don’t have to remember your supplement. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s body is different; some users report better results if they take their theanine supplement about 45 minutes to an hour before they have caffeine in any form.
If it’s the anti-anxiety or sleep-improving properties of theanine you want to tap into, you might be better off to take your supplement sans stimulants, whether that’s as a stand alone or as part of a calming blend of other compounds.
Have you used theanine? Did it help you concentrate? When did you take it? Share with us in the comments.