I’ve mentioned this in another article on using caffeine post-exercise to increase glycogen re-synthesis. When you use caffeine post-exercise, it can increase carbohydrate reloading and sharpness of the mind.
However, research also shows that when l-theanine is used post-exercise, it can limit the drop in focus and concentration that might otherwise be experienced after a workout – thus increasing mental alertness.
To give you a quick explanation: You might think that using caffein, more specifically, in this case, l-theanine, after exercise might sound like an odd idea, right? But more people are now taking theanine and in some cases coffee post-exercise to improve physical and mental performance.
When L-Theanine is used post-exercise, it has the ability to give your mind a mental lift, improving your mood, immune system, and brain wave activity – assisting mental alertness and concentration after your workout.
Therefore, if you train earlier on in the day, and you often feel fatigued post-exercise, then you may want to substitute your pre-caffeine fix for a post theanine mental boost. Read on to discover more:
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How Using L-Theanine Can Improve Post-Exercise Mental Alertness
If you train in the morning or mid-day, then I’m sure you’ll agree that your mental focus and energy will soon start to fade as the day progresses.
That’s because most of us don’t have the luxury of sleeping after our ‘day-time’ workouts like professional paid athletes.
Therefore, improving ‘energy re-synthesis’ with the use of supplements and dieting protocols should be a priority if you want to feel mentally energized all-day. That’s where using L-theanine comes in.
Study on Theanine Post-Exercise
In a study to test the role of theanine post-exercise on mental alertness, a group of researchers took 14 healthy male subjects who completed a cycling test to exhaustion.
This test was structured so the participants would cycle for 3 minutes to failure then repeat 5 times, while on the last round, they would cycle for 4 minutes – totalling 16 minutes.
After the exercise was completed, the group relaxed in a darkened room and were given 50 or 200 mg of l-theanine.
EEG Mapping (monitoring brain-wave patters), heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose and stress hormones were tested throughout different periods – 30, 45, 60, and 120-minute intervals.
The results showed the group using 50 mg of theanine had a significant reduction of Alpha 2 proteins – by approximately 50%. Alpha 2 proteins have been linked to blood pressure control in the brain, thus, creating a drop in mental focus post-exercise – unless l-theanine is used.
As for the group using 200 mg of l-theanine, they showed no additional benefit – which then highlights smaller doses of 50 mg to be most beneficial. (I)
Other Benefits of L-Theanine Supplementation
Here’s a list of additional benefits linked to l-theanine supplementation for recovery:
Theanine is well-known to improve mood and a sense of well-being. This is thanks to its ability to increase levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid).
Furthermore, it helps to maintain higher energy levels in the brain, resulting in a more positive outlook throughout the day. Supplementation of 50 mg l-theanine post-exercise can increase mood and alertness after exercise. (II)
As theanine acts in a similar way to the caffeine found in coffee (stimulating GABA brain activity) it also helps to keep your mind focused on the task-at-hand.
However, the difference is, l-theanine won’t overstimulate or cause stress hormones to increase as aggressively, such as cortisol – which would otherwise occur after drinking too much coffee, for example.
If cortisol is a concern for you, where you find your stress levels are elevated frequently, ether via emotional stressors or exercise – I suggest looking into Ashwagandha as it helps to create homeostasis.
Increases glycogen re-synthesis
One study shows that coffee post-exercise increases glycogen re-synthesis. (III) There have also been suggestions that lower doses of caffeine may help to increase the rate at which your body absorbs nutrients into your muscles post-exercise as equal as higher doses.
The current research suggests using 8mg of coffee per kg b/w. This means that l-theanine may also benefit nutrient absorption post-exercise as it contains similar properties as coffee – just less potent. (IV)
How Much Theanine To Use Post Exercise?
As we’ve just seen from the above study, using 50 mg of theanine provided the best results, as opposed to using 200 mg of theanine.
Therefore, for mental regeneration, using as little as 50 mg after a workout can give you that mental lift you’ve been looking for after a tough workout – helping you to remain, or even increase productivity.
Other Ways To Increase Focus Post-Exercise
Taking in carbohydrates and protein post-exercise is a must – this helps to refuel your muscles and mind. Typically within two hours post-exercise is when your muscles and mind are primed to receive nutrition – more specifically carbohydrates.
The studies show that adding protein with your post-workout carbohydrate meal can increase glycogen re-synthesis, further. This is because it increases the insulin response needed for enhanced nutrient delivery into your muscles. Read: benefits of carbohydrates post-exercise
Using coffee (caffeine) combined with carbohydrates has been shown to increase glycogen re-synthesis significantly – helping you to recover at a much quicker rate.
Studies show that using coffee with your first post-exercise meals has been can increase the rate of glycogen absorption into your muscles by an additional 66%. Read: caffeine post-exercise: enhanced recovery
Sport Nutrition Recommendation?
For a safe and fast way to beat your post-workout blues, you might want to try using l-theanine.
It’s packed full of health benefits that go way beyond improving mental sharpness after your workout. I know it’s worked for me, so it could also work for you too.
Personally, I like to use coffee after my morning workout. I do this because it allows time for the higher caffeine content found in coffee to wear off throughout the day – limiting the wakefulness it may cause.
Coffee post-exercise is a great tool to help increase glycogen re-synthesis significantly – 66% additional glycogen absorption.
On the other hand, if I exercise in the afternoons, then I’ll reach for a theanine containing supplement. Or even green/regular tea to help maintain mental sharpness for the rest of the working day ahead. I do this to avoid too many stimulants later on in the day – theanine is perfect for this.
As for how much to use, 50 mg of theanine is beneficial for increasing mental sharpness post-workout. But if you are looking to increase your immune system, lower inflammation, and feel alpha brain wave activity benefits – then upwards of 150 mg per day are beneficial.
(I, II) Jäger, Ralf, et al. “Improving Mental Regeneration after Physical Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, BioMed Central, 17 Sept. 2008. (source)
(III) Loureiro, Laís Monteiro Rodrigues, et al. “Effects of Coffee Components on Muscle Glycogen Recovery: A Systematic Review.” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 May 2018. (source)
(IV) Pedersen, David J, et al. “High Rates of Muscle Glycogen Resynthesis after Exhaustive Exercise When Carbohydrate Is Coingested with Caffeine.” Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2008. (source)