I love caffeine and I'm not afraid to admit it. I like being busy, I like being productive and I love a productive workout. So what is my common denominator in achieving these three things? That's right... caffeine. The holy grail of energy. I'd much rather take a caffeine pill with a big glass of water, then suck down an energy drink that is filled with synthetic fillers that I can't even name, or a toxic can of diet pop that can rot my teeth. No thank you.
However, caffeine, by itself, has its many challenges. After that initial rush of energy (which puts me into a good mood!) I tend to find myself struggling to concentrate..I begin feeling jittery, impatient and often struggle to sit at my desk and focus... I'd rather be moving around. If I'm driving (which I do for extremely long intervals), working out, or working on chores... caffeine, by itself, is fantastic... but otherwise, I run into issues.
So thus this sent me into discovering an alternative. This alternative needed to be something that would give me great energy.. but keep me relaxed enough when I'm in the office to stay focused at my desk and be productive. This led to me discovering this little secret called L-Theanine.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is found in teas (perhaps a key ingredient as to why people LOVE tea). Its mainly known for its relaxing characteristics without the "sedation" (as many relaxants = sleep). It's most commonly associated with caffeine, at usually a 2:1 - two parts theanine to 1 part caffeine - ratio. However, you can buy it completely on its own at nearly any store as it is an over the counter drug and no prescription is required. It's widely used in the world, especially in Asia (big tea drinkers there) where people use it for a large variety of reasons. In fact, some people go as far as using it to improve their sleep (when it isn't with caffeine obviously) because it helps them relax without them feeling drowsy the next morning.
The typical cup of tea only possesses roughly 20mg of L-Theanine... however, at greater doses some researchers have discovered that L-Theanine influences influence alpha brain waves and thus has been linked to cognitive benefits. These benefits include boost in move, greater concentration, anti-anxiety benefits and so forth. However, with many things, research is not only limited... but reflective of the design of the study itself. If you are interested in reading more research.. refer to the references at the bottom of the post.
I purchased my caffeine + theanine combination through amazon; however, you can likely find it over the counter at a variety of local stores. I wasn't entirely sure about the product at the time, and I love saving money; therefore I went with one of the cheaper products. The version I purchased on Amazon can be found here.
Another benefit of caffeine/theanine pill? The price. The average energy drink costs nearly 2 dollars a piece.. where one of these pills costs you roughly 25 cents or less, for the the same key ingredients. Below I attached a snippet of some prices for 200 mg of Theanine.. just to put into perspective how cheap it really is. Mix it with a 100 mg dose of caffeine - or buy the combo for roughly the same price, and you won't only be focused and energetic (simultaneously) but you will also be saving tremendous money over the long run.
My personal experience with the Caffeine + L-Theanine would be considered "subtle". Because of my high caffeine tolerance (pre-workout problem), I have found a double dosing of this pill to be of greater benefit. It's the perfect amount of energy for any afternoon in my desk, especially without the jitters and racing heart caffeine alone is known for. It isn't a "jaw dropping feeling"... but with that said, I don't want it to be. I don't want it to be addicting or consuming, I just want it to be a subtle energy boost. The best word to describe the feeling is alert, focused and content. I seem to avoid distractions more and can tolerate staring at my screen for more then 20 minute increments. Interesting, how something so simple can affect your brain efficiency. I highly recommend you try it for yourself (what do you have to lose?) and I believe many of you will find it highly beneficial for that mid-afternoon productivity push you likely find yourself seeking in the afternoon.
As always, this is simply a recommendation, and I in no way endorse this product if you feel that it will not benefit you or affect you negative in any way.
With that said...
If you are looking for something a bit more concentrated... then I recommend you check out my post on propranolol here. It's a prescription known to help social anxiety and keep you calm in highly stressful situations.
Do you use caffeine? Have you tried L-Theanine? What are your experiences?
Bryan, Janet. "Nutrition Reviews." Psychological Effects of Dietary Components of Tea: Caffeine and L-theanine | Nutrition Reviews. International Life Sciences Institute, 2008. Web. 05 Jan. 2017.
Owen, G. N., H. Parnell, and E. A. De Bruin. "The effects of L-theanine caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood." Biological psychology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2008. Web. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18006208>.