Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug; many of us can’t bear the thought of forgoing our daily dose. However, caffeine heavy hitters can rest easy, as caffeine actually has advantageous effects upon our brain function and our performance.
We all know the dilemma of do I or don’t I when considering caffeine after 3pm, the risk of being too wired to sleep or of being too anxious after too many cups of coffee. Enter L-theanine; this amino acid provides mental clarity and is a natural mood enhancer, and when combined with caffeine, these less desirable side effects are alleviated, allowing greater mental clarity and a concentrated focus.
So for those feeling guilty about their caffeine dependence, rest assured, caffeine, especially when combined with L-theanine, is beneficial to our mental and physical health.
As it turns out, your morning coffee is not a placebo.
Performance Powerhouse: Synergy of L-theanine and Caffeine
Consistent, focused energy, an enhanced mood and better cognitive performance are all possible with the combination of L-theanine and Caffeine. To get maximum cognitive benefit out of caffeine, without the side effects, the synergy of L-theanine and Caffeine is a winning combination to provide us with powerhouse performance.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in primarily in green and black tea, and provides benefits such as boosted mood and energy, calmed nerves, better concentration and a heightened learning capacity.
When combined with caffeine however, the benefits of the two are enhanced tenfold, resulting in “a clear state of mental alertness derived from the caffeine, but without the jitters” , with the calming effect of L-theanine balancing out the stimulant properties of caffeine, to provide maximum benefit without the side effects, improving “performance on cognitively demanding tasks better than each stimulant on its own”.
Essentially this means that thanks to the natural stimulant properties of caffeine and the calming effects of L-theanine, the synergy of the two allow us to get energized without getting jittery, providing us with a stabilized boost minus the energy crash that can sometimes follow. By combining the two, we are able to optimize our performance to improve our focus and achieve greater mental clarity whether it comes to studying, working out or simply tackling the day ahead of us.
Improved brain function & memory
Many of us who rely on our caffeine buzz like to think that we function better after a caffeine hit, and as it turns out that indeed the case, with evidence supporting the idea that caffeine actually promotes better brain activity. Whilst the stimulant capacity of caffeine is partly responsible, this can also be put down to the fact that caffeine increases neural firing in the brain, to which our brain responds by releasing more neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and glutamate; stimulants that are associated with memory and attention.
In one study in particular, researchers from John Hopkins University found that caffeine not only enhances cognitive effects in the moment, but also strengthens our memories in the long run, whilst another study found that those who consumed caffeine before an exam did better on tests in the areas of memory, cognition and attention. This improved brain function from caffeine benefits both our mind and our body, as the release of dopamine triggered by caffeine gives us more energy to motivate us to workout, along with helping to sustain workouts for longer and improve performance through increasing endurance and stamina.
For when we need to be on top of our game at work or just need a boost to provide us with mental clarity, caffeine is extremely effective at providing us with a heightened sense of alertness to allow us to make the most out of our day.
This can be put down to caffeine’s function as an adenosine impersonator.
Adenosine is the brain transmitter responsible for “nudging you toward sleep, or at least taking it easy”. Through blocking adenosine from bonding with adenosine receptors that make us sleepy, caffeine instead clears the fog to reinvigorate us, and by attaching to these adenosine receptors instead, caffeine allows energy boosting neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and glutamate, to flow freely. This also prompts the pituitary glands to send a message to our adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline, essentially "…taking the chaperones out of a high school dance” and providing us with supercharged vitality.
WORDS BY CLAUDIA STACEY-MURRAY