Is it just me or does it seem athletes LOVE stimulants like caffeine and yohimbe? While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a stimulant junkie sometimes you want the zip without the bang. This is especially true if you workout close to bedtime and you need a jolt of energy to get you through it.
Luckily, there are some ingredients like caffeine that will give you all the energy you need without causing you to toss and turn all night or feel freaked out of your mind.
One such ingredient is TeaCrine, which we will take an in-depth look at in this article.
TeaCrine is basically a patented form of the compound theacrine. It is an isolated purine alkaloid like caffeine and can provide many of the same benefits without the negative side effects some people may experience with stimulants.
Theacrine is found naturally in cupuacu fruit and the kucha tea leaf while the supplement TeaCrine is made synthetically in the lab.
The only real difference between TeaCrine and TheaCrine is the former is a patented ingredient. Whether TeaCrine works “better” than theacrine is up for debate.
However, TeaCrine does have the upper hand when it comes to studies in humans demonstrating positive benefits. My recommendation if you want to supplement with this compound is to use the patented TeaCrine.
TeaCrine (a patented for of TheaCrine) is made by the company Compound Solutions which is in California. It was originally created and researched in 2013 by Dr. Shawn Arent, Shawn Wells, Dr. Hector Lopez, and Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss.
In addition to TeaCrine, compound solutions makes other patented ingredients such as Dynamine, Peak O2, and Carb10.
TeaCrine works by affecting both the dopaminergic and adenosinergic pathways in the body. If that’s sounds thoroughly confusing all you really must know is TeaCrine interacts with certain neurotransmitters to product positive benefits.
For those of you who want to totally geek out about these two pathways read the next two sections. If your brain in spinning skip ahead to the TeaCrine benefits section.
As the name implies TeaCrine affects this system by increasing dopamine activity. More specifically, TeaCrine activates D1 and D2 dopamine receptors which increases dopaminergic signaling.
Other research has shown that TeaCrine affects this pathway by increasing activity in the nucleus accumbens region of the brain which is correlated to reward, motivation, and task completion.
TeaCrine affects this pathway by inhibiting adenosine. We’ve talked about adenosine in previous articles but all you have to know is adenosine can make you feel fatigued and relaxed. While these two things are not bad you definitely don’t want to go into a workout feeling tired.
TeaCrine inhibits adenosine by binding to A1 and A2a receptors, essentially blocking adenosine from binding to them which in turn can crush perceived feelings of fatigue.
Here are the clinically demonstrated benefits of TeaCrine. We will discuss each of these more in-depth in the research section.
Let’s take a brief looks at several of the studies done on TeaCrine.
A 2019 study conducted by Bell et al. took 24 male and female soccer players and had them perform four 90-minute randomized simulated soccer matches on a treadmill (think slow running combined with several short, fast sprints).
The four randomized 90 simulations had the subjects take:
All supplements and placebo were taken 30 minutes before the treadmill soccer simulation.
During and after each session the following variables were tested:
After the study was complete and the researchers crunched all the data they discovered:
In conclusion the researchers state “These findings suggest TeaCrine® favorably impacts endurance and the combination with caffeine provides greater benefits on cognitive function than either supplement independently.”
This 2019 randomized, double blind, cross over study conducted by Cesareo et al. took twelve resistance trained men and had them perform”
90 minutes before each test the subjects took either:
Upon completion of the testing and data collection the researchers discovered:
The results led the researchers to conclude that no supplementation protocol with TeaCrine, caffeine, TeaCrine/Caffeine, or placebo “improved muscular strength, power, or endurance performance in resistance-trained men. Only the 300mg of caffeine group improved measures of focus, energy, and motivation to exercise.
A 2014 study conducted by Habowski et. al took 15 healthy subjects and had them take either 100-400mg of TeaCrine or placebo and tested:
Upon completion of the studies the data demonstrated that:
The researchers concluded “These preliminary data support the benefits of acute TeaCrine supplementation on subjective “energy” levels and some indices of mental performance. Future studies are underway to confirm these neurotropic effects and explore potential benefits of TeaCrine on objective measures of cognitive and physical performance, inflammation, pain perception, and functional capacity.”
A 2016 study conducted by Taylor et al. took sixty healthy men and women and had them take one of the following daily for 8 weeks.
The purpose of this study was to essentially test the safety of TeaCrine.
Upon completion of the study the researchers discovered TeaCrine had no negative effect on blood pressure, heart rate, lipid profiles, and biomarkers of liver, kidney, and immune function.
Interestingly they also discovered lower LDL and total cholesterol in the TeaCrine group.
This led researcher to conclude that “These findings support the clinical safety and non-habituating neuro-energetic effects of TeaCrine® supplementation over 8 weeks of daily use (up to 300 mg/day). Moreover, there was no evidence of a tachyphylactic response that is typical of neuroactive agents such as caffeine and other stimulants.”
TeaCrine can be dosed in 2 different ways. With or without caffeine.
If you are combining TeaCrine with caffeine anhydrous take 125mg of TeaCrine with 150mg of caffeine before exercise.
If you are taking TeaCrine as a stand-alone supplement dose at 125mg before training.
All research studies that have demonstrated positive results had subjects take TeaCrine 30 minutes prior to exercise. Additionally, TeaCrine seems to work better when taken daily.
TeaCrine starts to appear in the blood 15 minutes after ingestion and reaches peak concentrations after 90 minutes before tapering off around the 6-hour mark.
Here is where things get interesting. TeaCrine’s half life is ~20 hours. This means half the amount you originally took is still in your blood long after your workout ends.
This can be extremely beneficial for individuals who do two a day workouts or those that have a mentally taxing job to do after exercise.
Currently there are no studies to suggest that you need to cycle off TeaCrine.
However, more long-term studies are needed to determine if TeaCrine provides the same benefits when taken over an extended period of time and if an individual can build a tolerance to it.
A 2016 study conducted by Taylor et. al found subjects who took TeaCrine daily for 8 weeks did not experience any negative changes for heart rate, blood pressure, lipid profiles, or kidney/liver biomarkers.
Other studies have also confirmed these findings.
Additionally, TeaCrine is an FDA GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) compound. This means the FDA has approved it and is safe for normal human consumption when dosed below 180mg per day.
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding and individuals on medications should always check with their doctor before taking TeaCrine.
Very few negative side effects have been reported when supplementing with TeaCrine.
A few individuals have reported feeling to over stimulated or having a hard time falling asleep. However, this may be due to these people combining TeaCrine with caffeine.
To be safe, be sure to consume TeaCrine at least 8-10 hours before bedtime. Additionally, 200mg of theanine can be taken with TeaCrine to take “the edge” off if you feel like you have too much energy.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that the patented compound TeaCrine or the generic version Theacrine have any negative interactions with prescriptions drugs. However, it is always best to check with your doctor before taking TeaCrine when on any medications.
TeaCrine can either be bought as a stand-alone supplement or part of a comprehensive pre-workout product. Here are my recommendations.
Nootropics Depot TeaCrine. You can either grab a 30-count bottle for 15.99 or a 90-count bottle for 41.99
Bulk stimulants TeaCrine tasteless powder. This one has 250mg per serving and 100 servings per bag.
Ronnie Coleman Yeah Buddy. It’s a silly name but this pre-workout packs a punch with 100mg of TeaCrine per serving plus efficacious amounts of citrulline, beta-alanine, choline, and caffeine. For 29.99 you get a 30 serving tub.
About The Author:
Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California. Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.