To perform at their best, video gamers need lightning-quick reaction time, intense focus and sustained energy. But, according to psychonutritionist and neuropsychologist Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., just drinking a cup of coffee or an energy drink isn’t the best choice. “Caffeine is great for energy but you’re likely missing something from your preparation that could make you more alert and focused.”

Talbott uses his own experience as an accomplished athlete to explain his reasoning. “There is a correlation between video gaming and the mental preparations that I might do before running a marathon or competing in an Iron Man triathlon,”  he said.

“There’s a commonality among all athletes and gamers. You can create a competitive advantage by getting your mind into the zone and staying there for a longer time than your competition. The top step of the podium isn’t about raising your performance; it’s about maintaining your performance when everyone else is falling away.”

Talbott’s three-step secret gives gamers a competitive advantage

Some gamers focus only on stimulants such as caffeine to prepare for competition. “Those may end up making you feel so amped up that you’re irritable, anxious and tense. That makes your performance worse!” he warns. “Caffeine alone won’t do it for you. To be in the zone, you also need relaxed alertness so your brain can do its work in a calm, focused, engaged manner.”

His three-step secret may enable you to get into the zone and stay there.

  1. Eat a healthy snack to balance your blood sugar levels. “This will help fuel your brain.”
  2. Add a stimulating component to excite brain energy. “This can be something caffeinated such as coffee, tea, energy drinks or soda.”
  3. Add L-theanine, an amino acid naturally occurring in green tea, to achieve an alert, relaxed state. “For this, I like a premium 100% L-theanine called Suntheanine. It promotes alpha waves as opposed to beta waves. Beta waves are associated with tension, irritability and anxiety, and can naturally increase when you drink too much coffee or some energy drinks. Too many beta waves may lead to stress and over-excitement, which may make concentration and focus difficult. The result of the caffeine/L-theanine combo is smooth, balanced energy and focus.* Talbott says that research has shown a 1:2 ratio of caffeine to Suntheanine may improve cognitive performance as well as your mood.*

Professional gamers worldwide are familiar with the complementary effects of L-theanine and caffeine, which Talbott explains work in different parts of the brain. “You’re activating your “do work” sensor with caffeine and your “calming” sensor with L-theanine to put yourself in the zone.”

For additional information on how you can stay amped up and tuned in as you compete in video games, visit