The Ultimate Guide to Nootropics for Athletes + The Top 9 Nootropics for Performance
You know those days when you feel capable of anything? When your energy, stamina, and focus are tuned in, and you can perform at the best of your abilities?
The primary difference between these days and an average day isn’t your body; it’s your mind. Anyone who’s played competitive sports or pushed themselves as far as they can possibly go physically understands that peak performance has just as much to do with your mental state as your physical one.
What if I told you that there’s a way to up your game just by taking the right cognitive enhancement supplements? This category of supplements is known as nootropics, or “smart drugs.”
Nootropics can improve stamina and strength, increase motivation and focus, boost energy, enhance creativity, and support an optimal mood, all while boosting cognitive and cellular health.
By pairing nootropics with your traditional performance boosting supplements, you can take your game to places it’s never been before.
What are Nootropics
Nootropics are any drug or supplement that enhances cognitive function. They include a variety of all-natural supplements, prescription drugs, and synthetic compounds.
Some examples of nootropics that you’ve likely heard of include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Alpha GPC
- Lion’s mane mushroom
There are even more nootropics that you’ve likely never heard of. Many of the popular smart drugs are man-made compounds, also known as synthetic drugs and supplements, that are neither approved as prescription drugs nor available in health foods stores as supplements. To learn about these compounds, you generally need to be looking for them by researching nootropics, or have a neurohacker friend that lets you in on the secret.
Are Natural Nootropics or Synthetic Nootropics Better?
It’s only natural to wonder if you should be looking for natural compounds or synthetic ones to get the greatest benefit.
When it comes to long-term safety, natural nootropics tend to be better. As for noticeable, strong results, certain synthetic nootropics are arguably the strongest. That said, there are strong natural nootropics and safe synthetic ones.
Neurohackers tend to fall into one of two categories:
- Those that only want to use natural supplements
- Those that want to use anything and everything available to get the most benefit
For those who fall into the first group, there are numerous all-natural nootropics that can provide noticeable results, particularly when you take them daily for an extended period. For those who fall into the second group, there are ways to use both synthetic and natural nootropics to combine the benefits of both, with some synthetic nootropics offering more obvious benefit up front.
What are the Benefits and Uses of Nootropics for Athletes?
Benefit #1: Nootropics Enhance Focus and Concentration
We all have those moments—we’re in a CrossFit class or in the middle of a big game—and we’re so exhausted that our brains can’t focus on anything besides our pain or how tired we feel. This lack of focus makes us likely to give up rather than push harder, leading to poor performance.
Multiple nootropic compounds can strengthen both the intensity and the duration of our concentration. When we fully dedicate our minds to the task at hand, we are able to play all out.
Benefit #2: Nootropics Provide Alertness & Stimulation
Both mental and physical fatigue are the enemies of athletes everywhere. When we feel exhausted, whether mental, physical, or both, our performance suffers. When it’s severe enough, fatigue can stop us from hitting the gym at all.
There are multiple nootropics that can help to fight fatigue. Some of these provide stimulation, like caffeine, while others increase how alert we feel through other mechanisms (for example, by altering our brain waves or enhancing energy production in our brain).
The more alert we are, the harder we tend to push. This can help us to work harder, grow faster, and perform better.
Benefit #3: Nootropics Improve Mood
Some nootropics are popular thanks to their mood-boosting potential. These supplements range from antidepressant and anxiolytic compounds, to those that simply improve subjective well-being. When we’re in a better mood, we are more likely to hit the gym and bring our A-game to competitions.
Benefit #4: Nootropics Boost Stamina and Strength
While every nootropic has cognitive enhancing benefits, a select few can directly improve our athletic performance as well, allowing us to push both harder and longer.
These powerful compounds can increase our power output as well as boost our stamina through a variety of pathways, such as increasing the cellular energy that we have available or by reducing mental and physical fatigue.
Benefit #5: Nootropics Ramp Up Motivation
Easy workouts don’t produce the same results as strenuous ones, and to work ourselves hard enough for an activity to be strenuous, we need to feel motivated enough to do it. When we’re motivated, we’re more capable of taking on challenges and succeeding, rather than backing down or not pushing hard enough. By improving our moods, enhancing concentration, and giving us more mental energy, nootropics enhance our motivation.
Benefit #6: Nootropics Shorten Reaction Time
Through enhancing how our brains function, certain nootropics have been found to speed up how quickly we react to things. This is particularly useful if you play sports like soccer or football, where a split second can cost you—or win you—the game.
How Do Nootropics Work?
There are multiple pathways that nootropics take to enhance our mental and physical performance. These include boosting neurotransmitter levels, altering our brain waves, enhancing blood flow to the brain, and supporting brain cell growth and communication.
Thanks to the ways in which they work, some nootropics have an immediately registered benefits, like reducing fatigue through stimulation. Others will take longer to make a noticeable impact as they act through slowly enhancing the function and health of our brains.
The Best Nootropics for Athletes
Caffeine is the most widely used nootropic world-wide. We all know what caffeine does for us; it speeds up our reaction time, reduces fatigue, and gives us the energy we need to perform at our best. With all these benefits plus a good safety profile, caffeine is one of the best nootropics for athletes.
2. Cannabidiol (CBD)
CBD is a compound that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, the same plant that gives us marijuana. Unlike its sister cannabinoid THC, which gets you “high,” CBD does not have a psychoactive effect. Instead, researchers are finding numerous benefits for our health and wellness, many of which apply to athletes.
Among these, CBD can help to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage throughout the body. By reducing neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain) CBD may help enhance our cognitive health and function.
Research suggests that full spectrum hemp oil, which contains a synergistic blend of CBD and other phytonutrients found in cannabis, is the best choice. By taking daily CBD in tincture or capsule form, you can reap numerous benefits.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil is rich in the two omega-3 fatty acids thought to be the most important for the health of our brains: DHA and EPA. DHA, in particular, is important for mood and cognition. It’s used in the creation of brain cells, their synapses (connections between brain cells), and in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that play a role in our mood and cognitive function).
Be careful when sourcing fish oil as many of those on the market are rancid and do not provide the same benefits as a high-quality fish oil. Try Xwerks Omega, a fish oil made from sustainably sourced pure Antarctic Krill oil.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid used in our bodies to metabolize neurotransmitters. It enhances performance and memory during stressful situations thanks to its involvement in neurotransmitter production.
5. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea is one of the most powerful adaptogens that help the body and mind cope with stress. It’s been found to reduce fatigue, improve cognition, and enhance feelings of subjective well-being under stressful situations.
You may be surprised to learn that some of the benefits associated with BCAAs qualify them as nootropic supplements. Particularly, BCAA supplementation may improve reaction time, increase short-term memory following exercise, and offer a boost in energy.
And when it comes to physical performance, that is only the tip of the iceberg. In a study of 7 cyclists, taking BCAAs resulted in a 7% reduction in perceived exertion while not altering exercise performance.
It’s best to take a high-quality BCAA supplement during and after workouts to see maximum results.
DMAE is a compound used primarily to protect and improve brain health. It reduces the buildup of beta-amyloid, which is associated with age-related cognitive decline. As a supplement it’s used by neurohackers to improve energy, memory, mental clarity, and concentration, all while enhancing overall brain health.
8. B Vitamins
B vitamins are important for proper cellular function and are involved in a variety of metabolic reactions. Two of these vitamins, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, are both of particular importance, with research suggesting that supplementation my help to promote brain health and function.
Vitamin B6 is used in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters that help to support a positive mood. Additionally, vitamin B6 plays a role in the conversion of food into glucose, the primary energy source used to fuel our brains and our bodies.
Vitamin B12 is known to play an important role in protecting our brain health, with deficiency tied to cognitive decline and dementia. Additionally, it’s used in energy metabolism, with sufficient vitamin B12 important for our mental and physical energy and endurance. It’s particularly important for those who don’t each much seafood, such as vegetarians and vegans, to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
While most of the compounds that can boost athletic performance fall within the natural nootropic realm, there are some synthetic compounds that have shown impressive benefits for athletic prowess, one of which is phenylpiracetam.
Phenylpiracetam is a newer member of the racetam family of nootropics that is such a powerful stimulant that it’s banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Along with energy, users report an enhanced mood and concentration ability when taking this supplement.
If you’re looking for a nootropic that will provide you with an immediate, unmistakable edge, phenylpiracetam may be just what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that there are limited studies examining the safety of this nootropic, so if you decide to use it, start with a low dosage and work your way up. Additionally, don’t take this if you compete in a sport where its use is banned.
Delivering peak physical performance depends on two things: the state of our bodies and the state of our minds. Nootropics are the key to achieving optimal brain power, allowing us to perform at our best
Before you go out and purchase 10+ supplements that you need to take daily, there are products on the market designed with your optimal mental and physical performance in mind. Xwerks Ignite is the ultimate pre-workout supplement that contains five of the nootropics (caffeine, B vitamins, DMAE, L-tyrosine, and Rhodiola rosea) that you need to excel.
Now that you know how nootropics can help give you the edge you need to boost your athletic performance, you can start to use these supplements to achieve your goals and become the strongest, fastest you yet.