L-theanine is an amino acid that comes from green tea and is considered more of a “helper” nootropic in that it doesn’t do a whole lot by itself, but when combined with caffeine, the compound helps to mitigate any negative side effects and let you use that oh-so-sweet caffeine energy boost to its fullest potential. The combination of caffeine and l-theanine is what powers our 1-2-Go energy/focus booster. This powerful combination of caffeine and l-theanine in a 1:2 ratio respectively has been studied and shown to reduce susceptibility to distraction and increase alertness.
- Jitters: L-theanine helps to control the jittery feeling that you get when you either have a low caffeine tolerance or have a tolerance but take a lot at once (multiple cups of coffee or tea within a few hours).
- Poor sleep: some have trouble sleeping after taking caffeine, even if consumed hours before bedtime. L-theanine helps to get rid of this mild and chemically induced insomnia.
If you’ve experienced problems with caffeine in the past, it’s worth trying it out with L-theanine mixed in. You might find that your negative feelings associated with caffeine are gone, or at least noticeably reduced. Regular caffeine drinkers can continue with their usual caffeine consumption amounts and just add in 200mg of L-theanine with their first cups of tea or coffee.
For those who don’t usually drink coffee, we wouldn’t recommend starting off with coffee or tea. Your tolerance is low, and the caffeine estimates in coffee can vary wildly based on who made the particular pot of coffee that you’re drinking. Same with tea. With such a low tolerance, unintentionally going overboard is unpleasant.
To solve this problem, you can try our 1-2-Go product as it contains an amount of caffeine (80mg) that is roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee and includes the proper amount of l-theanine (160mg) to balance the caffeine. Eventually, as you become accustomed to caffeine and your tolerance goes up, you can start drinking coffee or tea and then switch to a sublingual l-theanine or continue with something like 1-2-Go.
Nootropic: Bacopa Monnieri
Perhaps you’re already at the top of your game, but you struggle with memory retention. Bacopa Monnieri (“Bacopa”) is a nootropic that can improve your memory in terms of names, faces, and general information recall. Bacopa is a natural nootropic that was covered in our history of cognitive enhancing supplements.
Beginners flock to Bacopa because it’s easy to order: you can get it directly on Amazon under the brands Bacognize or Himalaya. (Many options have free shipping and are under $15, which is pretty cheap compared to the rest of the nootropics on this list.) Note that we carry BaCognize’s branded version of Bacopa Monnieri extract in both powder and capsule format. You can buy bacopa monnieri in our shop.
The important thing to look for in Bacopa is the amount of bacosides in each pill. Most will have between 20% and 50% bacosides. You want to be getting 150mg of bacosides per day. See the mg dosage of each pill, then see what percentage is bacosides, then do the math. Easy, especially if you’ve already been taking your nootropic supplements!
As a heads up, Bacopa takes longer to kick in than other nootropics do. In fact, you sometimes have to continue usage for up to eight weeks before noticing any effects. But if you have the diligence, you can experience enhanced short and long-term memory without any other side effects. Just a simple boost to one of your cognitive skills.
Technically, Bacopa is also an “adaptogen”. This is a special type of compound which, by definition, fends off stress.
Some users report drowsiness when taking Bacopa because they’re already naturally relaxed and the adaptogen properties put them over the relaxation limit, but that’s the only commonly reported side effect. If you take it and start feeling sleepy, the solution is simple: take your dose at night. It can even function as a mild sleep aid. Because Bacopa works in the background, you don’t need to dose right before you need to remember something… it happens on autopilot throughout the day as long as you dose consistently. Bacopa is often stacked with other nootropics because of the minimal side effects.
Nootropic: St. John’s Wort
Breaking out of depression can be quite challenging. An option is going to the doctor’s office and being prescribed medication… but many people don’t want to go down that path, or already have and have had less than favorable results. They want to break out all by themselves with natural, non-addicting remedies.
If this sounds like you or someone you know and care for, take a look at St. John’s Wort. The compound doesn’t help your cognitive abilities in any way, but it does inhibit the uptake of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (increasing the amount of the vital chemicals in the brain). These are the chemicals that make you feel good. Researchers speculate that this is accomplished through Hyperforin (a phytochemical), but as with most nootropics, nothing has been proven definite.
Technically, St. John’s Wort is an SSRI, but it’s not a prescription that you’d get at the doctor’s office. In case you aren’t aware, SSRIs work by reducing the amount of serotonin that your brain can absorb from what’s produced in your body. This results in your body producing more serotonin than usual, which helps those who suffer from depression (and the lack of serotonin). Please note that SSRIs can have adverse reactions with other enhancers, so taking St. John’s Wort should be discussed with doctor especially if you are taking other medications.
Dosage with St. John’s Wort has to be consistent, and you have to evenly space your doses throughout the day so that you’re always signaling to your body that it needs to produce more serotonin. The standard dose is 300mg 3x daily, and the easy part about St. John’s Wort is that you can find it in capsules on Amazon or at your local convenience store for an incredibly low price. (Most are $10 – $15 for a full month.)
Believe it or not, your favorite bodybuilding supplement can also help your cognitive functions… but not in the ways that you might, at first glance, think.
When you take creatine, it’s converted into phosphocreatine, which helps your body to produce more adenosine triphosphate “ATP.” This supplemental ATP isn’t useful to your body until you have an actual, urgent need for it. For example, if you take creatine and go do “leg day” at the gym, your body will rapidly drain the phosphocreatine as you do squats and deadlifts to keep your ATP levels consistent.
This also works with mental tasks. Oral supplementation of creatine can increase the brain’s phosphocreatine levels by 3% to 13%.
That seems like a small increase, but it does have a noticeable effect.
- This increase has been shown to increase executive function (the management of cognitive processes) in sleep-deprived individuals.
- This increase enhances your performance on demanding tasks such as long hours of studying, trying to solve complicated math problems, figuring out a solution to a complete disaster at work, etc.
On top of that, you’ll get the physical benefits of taking creatine, too. Many weight lifters report that when supplementing creatine, their max lifts went up by 10% to 15%.
The cool thing about creatine is that it helps your mind and your body simultaneously. There are no side effects (besides cramps if you don’t drink enough water), and the positive effects are usually immediately noticeable (unlike some other nootropics).
Take five grams every morning, and make sure that you drink plenty of water while taking creatine. If you don’t, you will have negative side effects. More water is stored in your muscles when you take creatine, so you need to drink more in order to not get dehydrated.
Some recommend starting the first week with 20g per day. This increases the saturation rate so that you start to feel the effects from creatine quickly. It’s up to you if you want to do this or not, if you do, drink even more water than you would with 5g. A gallon a day should be your goal, although many skirt by with less than that. I’m currently using Hyperion Strength‘s enhanced creatine with taurine and fenugreek complex as my creatine supplement of choice.
Beginner Nootropics: Conclusion
If you’re a beginner, the nootropics above are the ones that you should be considering right now depending on what you’re hoping to get out of your nootropic usage. We’ll talk about nootropic stacks a little later. Taking a nootropic stack means taking several different nootropics every day so that their effects play off of each other. We’re going to give you five killer ones to try in a follow up post. With stacking, you can go above and beyond the already pretty amazing effects of the best beginner nootropics listed above.