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INTRODUCTION TO L-THEANINE
Recent years have seen green tea receiving a tremendous amount of positive press. At the moment, it is touted for its ability to promote fat loss, its high antioxidant content, and numerous health benefits. However, these remarkable attributes only comprise one part of the narrative. There’s another reason people are turning to green tea in large numbers; one that you can feel.
Let’s cut to the chase. L-Theanine is the new wonder ingredient people in the health and fitness community have been talking about. It is an amino acid mostly found in green tea and almost no other place in nature, at least for the average Joe and Jane.
This component has been recently popping up in various supplements, ranging from pre-workouts to nootropics, as an isolated nutrient, and for a good reason. According to recent research, this constituent can promote feelings of calm and focus while improving productivity.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s dive deeper into the subject to get a better glimpse of what makes this nutrient so unique. The following is a comprehensive lowdown regarding L-Theanine, not sparing the dirt.
What is L-Theanine?
In its most straightforward description, this constituent is an amino acid that is mostly found in tea leaves. The amino acid was discovered in 1949 when a Japanese scientist was researching the components of tea. While tea is the most common nutritional source for this compound, it is also found in some varieties of mushrooms. In food, notably green tea, L-Theanine is considered to be an excellent source of umami, the aromatic, broth-like taste.
Experts studying the umami flavor have made some fascinating discoveries. For instance, it has been linked to decreasing the risk of obesity, may stimulate metabolism and may trigger feelings of satiation and prolong the period before hunger sets in after eating.
Evidence also exists pointing out that L-Theanine, when taken in tea, may alter how one perceives taste, particularly diminishing the feeling of sourness in edibles such as grapefruit and chocolate.
What Is So Special About L-Theanine?
This dietary supplement may benefit an individual in more ways than most people can conceive, including one’s physical, cognitive, mental, and exercise performance. That said, it would be better to get a more detailed look into how the mechanisms of this much-hyped supplement.
Promotes Alpha Waves
Interestingly, this supplement has been known to trigger the production of alpha brain waves. Mark you, these are the same waves produced when one is in a state of deep meditation. This is when sensory inputs are reduced, and the mind is utterly clear of unwanted thoughts and distractions. These waves are also present during REM sleep.
As a result of triggering the release of these waves, this supplement enhances focus, relaxation, and creativity. The cherry on the cake is that this ingredient provides relaxation without sedating.
Consequently, this is an excellent option for people looking to enhance their wakeful relaxation without having to worry about being sleepy fatigued during the day.
Boosts GABA Levels
In case you are wondering, GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is prevalent in the cortex, responsible for motor and vision control among other cortical functions.
L-Theanine, therefore, elevates the levels of GABA together with dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals (neurotransmitters) play a crucial role in the brain to control mood, alertness, emotions, energy, appetite, concentration, sleep, and other cognitive functions.
Raising the levels of these calming chemicals promotes relaxation, provides a feel-good effect and can improve the quality of sleep (let’s not get started on the benefits of high-quality sleep)
Reduces Levels of Excitatory Brain Chemicals
Quite impressive this nutrient, as it functions to increase chemicals that increase feelings of calmness, L-Theanine also reduces brain chemicals linked to anxiety and stress. This is, in fact, a way that the herbal extract can help to safeguard the brain against stress and age-related damage.
What Are the L-Theanine Benefits?
This supplement is associated with numerous benefits for people of all ages, and all walks of life. However, before proceeding much, let’s see how it can enhance athletic performance.
Boosting Energy and Stamina
L-Theanine helps to boost energy and stamina by naturally stimulating the brain and the body’s natural pathways for synthesizing energy. For instance, this supplement helps to improve the cellular production of ATP (energy) and increase the amount of oxygen in circulation in the brain. As a result, it improves athletic stamina and promotes healthy metabolism.
What’s more, the foundation of all physical and cognitive processes is a well-stocked backup of cellular energy ready to support athletic functions. However, without sufficient sleep and energy levels, athletes cannot perform at their peak, and this is where L-Theanine comes in.
Improving Motivation and Intensity
Every fitness enthusiast and athlete has occasionally experienced fits of stagnation with their workouts. Although several factors may cause a lack of motivation, this supplement may help with the neurochemical pathways to motivation, instituting the cognitive basis for high-intensity exercises.
Whether due to nutrient deficiency or brain burnout, L-Theanine may boost motivation through:
- Enhancing catecholamine activity– catecholamine neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine) play a crucial role in sustaining mood and motivation.
- Boosting energy efficiency- increasing energy efficiency in the brain reduces burnout and feelings of fatigue for enhanced motivation.
Boosting Attention and Multitasking
Athletics and sporting activities, in general, require high levels of keenness and multitasking as athletes must process their roles and moves mentally about other players’ roles and positions.
Consequently, their cognitive capacity for working memory (task-related information) must always be top-notch. With the cognitive support provided by L-Theanine, an athlete will always be in their best mental form, void of distractions.
Promoting Stress Management
Athletes may still encounter physical stress even in the absence of psychological stress. These may emanate from oxidative stress and the stress hormone cortisol. However, this supplement acts as an adaptogen to regulate one’s response to stressful activities, eventually making the stressors non- existent.
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, one may also reap the following benefits of using L-Theanine.
Improving Sleep Quality
Given its potential to enhance relaxation and reduce stress, this supplement can benefit your sleep in two ways.
First, it can help you drift into slumber faster during bedtime, and it can also enhance the quality of your sleep.
Helps to Maintain Healthy Weight
The sleep promotion and anti-anxiety effects of this supplement may help one to maintain a healthy weight. After all, reducing stress and getting enough sleep is key to adhering to a healthy diet. Not to mention, the appetite-suppressing potential of L-Theanine will help you to avoid weight gain in general.
The nutrient has also been shown to contribute to weight maintenance in a more direct role, as it may limit the accumulation of fat and also help to prevent obesity.
Is L-Theanine Safe?
Well, safety is relative, but healthy adults tolerate L-Theanine well.
However, people in these three groups should consult with their physician before supplementing with L-Theanine.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Individuals with low blood pressure- This supplement is known to lower blood pressure.
It is crucial to note that the National Institute of Health warns against drinking more than five cups of green tea within 24 hours.
When it comes to interactions with other supplements or drugs, one must also be vigilant. Therefore, one must always consult with their physician if they are on either of the following medications or supplements.
- Stimulant medication
- Hypertension drugs
- Caffeine-containing supplements
- Drugs/supplements known to lower blood pressure
Some of the effects of these interactions include increasing or decreasing sleepiness and drowsiness, interfering with the condition under medication, and interfering with the effectiveness of the drugs or supplements.
Overall, this supplement is safe.
The clinically effective dose of any substance is the amount that produces the desired outcomes or response.
When it comes to L-Theanine, it functions in a dose-dependent manner. This means that the more of it you consume, the more benefits you will realize (of course, up to some point).
That said, the benefits we’re targeting are realized in the range of 100 to 200 mg of the substance per day.
However, some individuals have reported more effective doses at 300 to 400 mg per day. While such treatments are not recommended, studies have shown that the supplement is unlikely to cause toxicity or any other complications.
For safety purposes, do not go ahead and stuff yourself on grams and grams of the stuff as you can still accomplish your intended goal with a smaller dose.
So, what’s the overall take on L-Theanine?
This amino acid found in green tea reduces anxiety and causes feelings of relaxation. However, unlike prescription drugs, it relieves stress without causing drowsiness, causing fatigue or impairing motor behavior. In fact, it has been found to enhance concentration and focus.
This is a supplement that can help an athlete to compete in their best form, and can also help to enhance your workouts, and improve the overall quality of your life. Ultimately, it is entirely safe for consumption, save for a few contraindications, where one must consult their physician.
Anyway, L-Theanine is readily available for purchase online, and you can always try it out and gauge whether it lives up to the hype.