Real Energy combines caffeine and L-theanine for the optimal energy boost without jitters. Read more to find out how!
Often people take supplements to enhance muscle or cardiovascular health. But a new class of supplements known as Nootropics, are supplements to influence your brain. These supplements have the potential to modify several cognitive domains such as attention, mental alertness, processing speed, task switching, and mood. Two nootropics that are emerging in scientific literature are caffeine and L-theanine. More recently, scientists have found that combining these two supplements may have the greatest cognitive effects. Dr. Scott Forbes, TDF Sports expert and assistant professor at Brandon University, breaks it down for us.
Caffeine is naturally occurring in over 60 plants, with the most common source being in the form of coffee or tea. Exercising individuals consume caffeine to enhance endurance exercise performance, which has been proven by science over and over. More recently, studies show caffeine can also enhance strength training adaptations. A recent systematic review by Jozo Grgic and colleagues published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2018, “showed significant ergogenic effects of caffeine ingestion on maximal muscle strength of upper body and muscle power.”
How It Works
So, how does caffeine work? Originally, the theory was that caffeine stimulated the sympathetic nervous system. This would lead to a cascade of events that would increase the amount of fat being used as a fuel source. The theory was that it would spare muscle glycogen (another fuel used during exercise). Glycogen is an important fuel for sprinting fast at the end of a race, therefore, the athlete with the most glycogen at the end of the race would win the race. Therefore, if you can use less glycogen early in the race, you would have more left in the tank at the end of the race. Unfortunately, when studies looked at fat being used as a fuel source during exercise with and without caffeine, it made no difference!
The Brain with Caffeine
Caffeine seems to work via a central (brain) mechanism. If adenosine binds to the receptors in the brain, it causes drowsiness. Caffeine blocks these receptors and prevents adenosine binding which increases mental alertness. Caffeine also makes exercise feel easier. Scientists measure how hard exercise is by using a perceived exertion scale. When individuals consume caffeine, they say exercise feels easier. A recent study showed this might be related to enhancing brain function. For example, it required less activation of the brain to get the same motor output when on caffeine. Basically, it required less from the brain to get the same muscle contractions and power output.
But is caffeine safe? Well, it’s one of the world’s most popular drinks, so the good news is it’s safe. The Dietitians of Canada, says that “moderate caffeine intake does not increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, or cancer” and “contrary to popular opinion, caffeinated drinks do not dehydrate us, especially if we are used to caffeine”. But what is moderate caffeine intake? Health Canada states that adults should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg/day.
Tea is often associated with a state of mental relaxation and reduced anxiety. L-theanine, which is a unique amino acid, may be the culprit. A study conducted in 2008 and published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined how L-theanine may actually work. The compound may have a direct effect on the brain, increasing activity of the alpha frequency waves. These brain waves induce relaxation and mental clarity without causing drowsiness. The researchers concluded that, “L-theanine, at realistic dietary levels, has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal. Furthermore, alpha activity is known to play an important role in critical aspects of attention, and further research is therefore focused on understanding the effect of L-theanine on attentional processes.”
Is L-theanine safe? The United States Food and Drug Association (FDA) considers L-theanine to be “generally regarded as safe”, which is a rare distinction. The L-theanine side effects are extremely rare, so there is little to worry about.
Combining Caffeine and L-theanine
Caffeine and L-theanine alone show an influence on brain function. One increases alertness, concentration, improves attention, and focus, while the other causes mental relaxation and reduces anxiety. Would these cancel each other out? Or, would they lead to laser focus and mental clarity? Well, let’s look at the research.
A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience in 2008 looked at the combined effect of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance. They gave participants 50 mg of caffeine with and without 100 mg of L-theanine. Participants reported improved subjective alertness and accuracy on an attention-switching task. The L-theanine and caffeine combination improved both speed and accuracy of performance on this task. They also found the combination reduced susceptibility to distracting information. They concluded that “L-theanine and caffeine in combination are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks”. Another study also published in Nutritional Neuroscience in 2010 found that 97 mg of L-theanine and 40 mg of caffeine helps to focus attention compared to a placebo. Specifically, they found an improvement in accuracy during task switching, self-reported alertness, and reduced self-reported tiredness.
Real Energy for Optimal Brain Function
There’s anecdotal and hard evidence that caffeine enhances exercise performance. Caffeine acts as adenosine receptor antagonists and can improve alertness and attention. L-theanine has direct effects on alpha brain waves and causes mental relaxation and reduced anxiety. Science supports the combination of these two ingredients for optimal brain function. From a safety perspective, both caffeine and L-theanine are incredibly safe in healthy individuals.