L-theanine is a common ingredient found in pre-workouts for its ability to improve focus and productivity while training.
However, it has also been shown to help bring about stress relief, making l-theanine worth looking into for supplementation on its own.
L-theanine, also known as theanine, N-ethyl-L-glutamine, and Gamma-glutamyl ethyl amide, is a non-essential amino acid, which means it is not naturally produced by the body.
However, like essential amino acids, it also helps build protein structures in the body.
It is also like other non-essential amino acids in that it helps the body fight off illness.
Theanine is most often found in supplement form; however, it is also present in trace amounts in black, green, white, and oolong tea. It’s also found in some mushrooms.
How L-Theanine Helps With Stress
Research shows that l-theanine produces several unique effects on the brain that, in turn, help boost cognitive function and mood.
However, the main way it works is by permeating the protective blood barrier lining in the brain, where it induces a calming effect.
This calming effect has also been shown to increase GABA and dopamine concentrations in the brain, which promotes alpha brain wave activity and reduces emotional and physical tension.
The production of the amino acid glycine also increases after taking L-theanine, which helps promote sleep, cellular function, and more.
Meanwhile, L-theanine’s chemical structure is similar to the neurotransmitter glutamate, so it behaves, in the same way, to help balance brain activity and prevent mood disorders, and more.
It also helps you maintain focus when switching your mind back and forth between tasks. Therefore, it is also useful if maintaining your attention during mental work is a problem.
Finally, L-theanine may also buffer the strong effects of caffeine when it is included as an ingredient in caffeinated drinks.
What are L-Theanine Uses
All the brain-enhancing benefits of L-theanine enable it applicable for many uses, including a protein-building amino acid in and of itself; however, some of the most common applications include:
L-theanine’s positive effects on GABA levels help keep the nervous system balanced, which assists you with remaining calm under pressure. Therefore, it can be taken as a daily supplement to help increase Gaba activity in the brain to promote a calm and peaceful mood throughout the day.
This is especially true if your lifestyle causes you to experience high levels of stress, frustration, and anxiety regularly.
The tranquility that balanced Gaba levels bring about when taking L-theanine may also induce relaxation to help promote better sleep.
Hence, it may also be taken before going to bed to help prevent tossing and turning and the inability to fall or stay asleep during the night.
Some L-theanine supplements for sleep also contain other natural rest-promoting ingredients, such as valerian root, lemon balm, and more for added sleep power.
Improve Focus and Mental Clarity
L-theanine’s soothing effect on the mind may also help approve attention and focus during vigorous physical training, intensive academic studying, and more for improved results.
It also helps combat the effects of exercise, which exerts stress on the body.
This way, you can achieve quality rest and sleep for better muscle recovery, so you can continue to train at peak performance and reach your workout goals.
Some research shows that it may also help manage the short attention span, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness associated with ADHD.
Combat the Effects of Caffeine
One of the main ways to receive the effects of l-theanine is via supplementation from pre-workouts or other products. However, it can also be found naturally in both black and green tea, where it is shown to even help cancel out some of the stimulating effects of the caffeine in the tea.
In fact, various studies show that L-theanine ingested in combination with any caffeinated drink can help prevent jitters and the crash associated with the stimulant.
This enables you to still enjoy your morning or afternoon energy boost via a cup of coffee, green or black tea, or pre-workout without the subsequent side effects that caffeine is known for.
L-theanine is also shown to improve mental energy and concentration when combined with caffeine.
However, it is still recommended that, even while taking the amino acid with caffeine, you still only consume caffeinated drinks in moderation to avoid losing quality sleep and stress support.
How Much L-Theanine Should be Taken for Stress Relief
L-theanine supplement doses differ from product to product. However, it is recommended that the average adult takes no more than 200 to 400mg daily for stress reduction.
It is also recommended that you begin with just half a dose, or no more than 100mg, to see how your body reacts to it before gradually working your way up to a full dose for added precaution.
When in doubt, follow the manufacturer’s recommended dose for their product and never take more than that to avoid unwanted side effects.
L-theanine is also found in black, green, white, and oolong teas; however, they only contain less than 40mg of the amino acid. It’s also found in some mushrooms but, again, only in small amounts.
Therefore, when obtaining l-theanine via tea or mushrooms, you may have to consume more to get the daily recommended amount. But, since some teas also contain caffeine, which can cause overstimulation when ingested in excess, it may be best to receive l-theanine in supplement form.
When Should L-Theanine be Taken for Stress?
L-theanine has many uses to help combat stress; therefore, its intended use will dictate when is the best time to take it. However, it can be taken more than once a day to experience its benefits anytime.
For instance, taking a dose of L-theanine before you start your day can help you prepare for your daily work tasks by increasing your mental clarity and helping you stay focused so you can be more productive.
When taken in the afternoon, theanine can be used to help revive your tired or groggy mind, especially when combined with a caffeinated beverage, which can help you finish strong at the end of the day.
Then come late evening, you can take another dose of the amino acid to help you unwind or get ready for a good night’s sleep.
If you are taking theanine to get quality rest at night, then be sure to take it between a half hour to an hour before bedtime to give it time to do its job. This way, your mind will be relaxed and ready for sleep at your scheduled time.
Is L-theanine Safe to Use?
Theanine is generally considered safe for most individuals when taken correctly.
However, it is always wise to begin supplementation with the amino acid by starting with just half the recommended dose and never taking more than the recommended amount to avoid adverse reactions.
In fact, l-theanine taken in doses higher than 400mg has been shown to cause various negative side effects, including nausea, headaches, and more in some people.
However, there are times when a medical professional may recommend a higher dose for some people, which may be fine for them and cause no side effects.
There are some cases when taking L-theanine is never recommended without talking to your doctor first.
For instance, while the amino acid is usually considered safe for most adults, it is not recommended that anyone under the age of 18 take it without the permission of their physician, pediatrician, or another medical practitioner.
It is also not recommended that breastfeeding or expecting moms take theanine unless their doctor has deemed it safe for their infant or unborn child and has then permitted them to do so.
L-theanine can also adversely interact with certain prescription medications.
So if you are on a doctor-prescribed medicine regimen, you should also check with your doctor before supplementing with l-theanine to be sure it is compatible with your prescription.
Likewise, if you have any other medical condition, it is also recommended to seek professional advice before taking l-theanine to ensure it won’t complicate the condition.
Even if you are an otherwise healthy individual, consulting your doctor first will help you know if l-theanine supplementation is right for you. They can also recommend the proper dose you should take to avoid side effects.
Lastly, because l-theanine is also found in natural teas that contain caffeine, when using these teas to reap the benefits of theanine, you need to also keep track of your caffeine intake to ensure you stay within the safe recommended limit.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may also want to avoid products that contain l-theanine in combination with the stimulant to prevent overstimulating your nervous system, which can cause anxiousness, jitteriness, jumpiness, and more.
So there you have it, l-theanine provides many benefits towards improving your cognitive health and managing stress, which makes it an ingredient worth seeking out in your pre-workouts, teas, and more. Or it can be simply taken on its own for its results.