episode 15: l-theanine + coffee/caffeine: a noob's nootropic combo

You’re not gonna like this, but turns out caffeine is really bad for you. Listen to blue sell you on the merits of l-theanine, one of the most popular and effective nootropics on the market, and the best dosage to take in conjunction with coffee.




shout out to my roommate, whose daughter is smarter than she looks and figured out my podcast name and told her mother about it.

so now i guess she knows about my plot to murder her.

man, can’t keep anything a secret anymore. everyone is an nsa contractor.

i want to begin by saying if you are considering taking any supplement i recommend, you might wanna see a doctor to make sure you are in the greatest of health because i cant be responsible for what you do to your body. 

i am only here to give you information based on the latest research, as well as some insight into my own experience.

if you decide to do as i do, please be prepared to lie in the bed you make.
all right, let’s get into it. 

number one. the idea for this episode began a look between the synergistic relationship between l-theanine and caffeine. 

throughout my research, i am learning that the negative effects of caffeine may likely outweigh the positive, so i feel hesitant to recommend caffeine as anything more than an occasional pep. 

yes, it’s true there is no replacement for good nutrition (i say as i contemplate whether or not i wanna eat some french fries…), and you may find that simply not eating crap food and eating food with sustenance, vitamins, and nutrients, can greatly improve your health and mood. you honestly don’t even need to listen to this episode, you should just go eat more fruits and vegetables, functional foods.

For the sake of this episode though, let’s just say you’re a coffee drinker.
caffeine is the most popular psychoactive drug in the world. i know you’ve heard this before.

it’s found naturally in over 60 known plants, it’s an organic pesticide, and when humans get their hands on it, they love the stimulating effects, the jolt of energy, that bump in clarity after a cup of coffee.

but if you’re a coffee drinker, you know that there are some unpleasant side effects once you reach a certain threshold. that gross jittery feeling. the headache. increased heartbeat.

if you’re like me, sometimes too much makes you wanna throw up.
everyone’s body is different, so everyone’s tolerance ranges.

but when your body reacts this way, it’s because it’s trying to tell you it can’t handle so much caffeine.

so what do you do?

right now, i’d honestly say just cut out coffee and caffeine altogether, but i’ll be fair and say that there are some very minor benefits to caffeine in moderation.

HOWEVER, you’re probably not drinking in moderation. coffee has at least three times as much caffeine as tea does. and i bet you drink more than a cup of day to keep yourself motivated.

so if you’re telling yourself it’s not an option to quit (hint: yeah it is, you’re the one in charge here), then i got an amino acid to sell you, bruh.

but before you do that, i highly recommend you do some research on how caffeine affects you physiologically, alters your brain chemistry, and how tolerance and withdrawal are detrimental to you long-term.

caffeine is a stimulant, it can be addictive, it blocks adenosine, which makes you feel tired and produces more serotonin and GABA receptors, which sounds good and all that, until your body is dependent on the caffeine, you go through withdrawals, and it affects your mood and energy levels.

coffee triggers extra production of epinephrine and cortisol, wearing out your adrenal glands over time because your body feels like it is under constant stress.

coffee can exacerbate anxiety, even causing a panic attack. even though caffeine can enhance memory, focus, and alertness, it has a slew of side effects when you push beyond your tolerance.

this is where theanine may help.

if you go pubmed right now and search for theanine, you will find over 400 clinical trials, reviews and articles, and over a hundred on the theanine/caffeine synergistic relationship the two have.

to sum it up:

l-theanine is an amino acid most commonly found in green tea. millions of people in eastern culture have been consuming green tea on a regular basis for generations for medicinal purposes, so there is no secret sauce here.

theanine works by stimulating alpha brain waves, which is responsible for relaxation and mental alertness. 

it also helps form GABA, which blocks the release of serotonin and dopamine.

And to consume enough theanine would require you to pick up a green tea habit. And I am not really a green tea kind of person. 

So let’s say for example you’ve already improved your diet and want to improve your mental cognition, eliminate brain fog, and reduce anxiety. 
if you’re someone who is always on the go, you may already rely on something like coffee. i for one have let it take control of me. 

but over the past couple of weeks, I have switched to decaf (yeah i know decaf still has minute amounts of caffeine in it but thats not the point. the point is to reduce your caffeine intake).

the most common ratio of l-theanine and caffeine is 2:1. this means you should consume twice as much theanine as caffeine. 

a quick google search shows that – on average – one 8 oz cup of coffee has 95mg of caffeine. 

one 8 oz cup of coffee is not that much. i know many of you listening probably have at least 2-3 cups a day. and if that’s you, lemme just say you’re addicted, you addict you.

so for every 8 oz cup of coffee, you should have 200mg of theanine. i rounded it up for simplicity’s sake since many capsules on the market right now are 200mg.

caffeine on its own is great for focus and concentration, especially if you find yourself in a setting that requires attention to detail.

if you’re in an environment where you need to be awake and alert, maybe your job, school project is cognitively demanding. 

caffeine in small doses is good for this; however, it’s sort of difficult to focus when you’re crashing, when your heart is racing and your hands are jittery.

but when you combine l-theanine with caffeine, you get the added benefit of increased alpha waves, which calms your brain down. when your brain’s alpha waves are dominant, you’re more aware of your surroundings and distracting stimuli are tossed into the background.
physiologically, it lowers your cortisol levels, which is helpful for those whose anxiety is a symptom of high cortisol.

theanine is highly studied, it’s been shown to lower blood pressure, promote alpha waves without causing drowsiness, and could improve sleep quality. side effects are minimal and is shown to be one of the safest supplements out there.

and if you ask me, theanine on its own can greatly improve your quality of life, and it’s worth checking out, especially as a way to wean yourself off of coffee.

so maybe let that be a challenge to you this month. i hope you’ve been paying attention because theanine really is the shit if you have mild anxiety.

as you start taking theanine with your coffee, you should consider slowly carving caffeine out of your routine, even if it means simply switching to decaf. the negative side effects of caffeine will eventually overtake any positive changes you’ve made to your lifestyle anyway, and it’s best to recognize it now before more damage is done.

in the meantime, remember your 2:1 ratio, let me know how you’re doing with cutting out that caffeine, and make sure you subscribe on iTunes, spotify, stitcher or whatever your favorite platform is.

i should be leaving a couple of links in the show notes for the research if you wanna check them out, or you could just go to pubmed yourself and do your own research. i really do wanna hear about your successes, your struggles.

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