- 1 How Nootropics Can Invigorate Your Life
- 2 List of the Best Nootropics for Energy
- 3 References
How Nootropics Can Invigorate Your Life
One of the most commonly sought-after qualities of nootropics is the ability to raise energy levels, so in this post I will be covering the best nootropics for energy.
Since the term “energy” in this context can be somewhat vague and hard to define, I will be covering nootropics that effect your energy levels in various ways.
Some of the nootropics on this list, namely CoQ10, D-Ribose, and Creatine, work by increasing ATP (adenosine triphosphate – the energy “currency” of the cells). By raising levels of ATP in the body, the cells are able to function at their peak capacity, which benefits not just the muscles, but the brain and organs.
There are also some nootopics on this list such as the amino acids citrulline and beta-alanine which directly benefit the body by improving physical performance.
I will also cover stimulants such as modafinil and phenylpiracetam, which can significantly improve energy levels, but may not be sustainable, long-term solutions.
Whether you’re looking for a short, strategic boost in energy, or sustainably raising energy levels over time, I will cover all best nootropics for improving energy levels.
List of the Best Nootropics for Energy
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a molecule that is responsible for energy production in the body. It is found ubiquitiously in animals and bacteria and it serves a critical role in the body.
CoQ10 it a fat-soluble psuedovitamin that supports the mitochondria – which is itself responsible for generating energy for the cells in the form of ATP. While CoQ10 is critical for survival, it is produced in our own bodies and supplementation is not essential for survival, hence it’s categorization as a psuedovitamin.
However, supplementation of CoQ10 will still provide benefit even for healthy individuals. It is especially effective for those with chronic fatigue and heart diseases.
CoQ10 enhances blood flow , decreases blood pressure , and protects the blood vessels , all of which may indirectly improve energy levels by ensuring sufficient circulation to the brain and muscles. CoQ10 has even been shown to improve exercise capacity and increase VO2 Max (maximum oxygen levels in the body) . It has also demonstrated anti-fatigue effects .
Lastly, CoQ10 has shown immense benefit for those suffering from fibromyalgia , which is a set of symptoms that includes chronic fatigue – the symptoms of which are reduced upon supplementation.
Overall, while CoQ10 is most beneficial for the heart and circulatory system, it does appear to be one of the best nootropics for energy and fatigue, especially if its physical fatigue.
A standard dose is considered to be between 100-200mg, with smaller doses being optimal for those who are looking to save money.
CoQ10 should be taken with meals as it is not absorbed easily on an empty stomach.
D-Ribose is a monosaccharide (simple sugar) that is a primary component of RNA. It is closely related to deoxyribose, which is the backbone of DNA. Ribose is known in two forms: D-Ribose and L-Ribose, with the former being the naturally occuring, widespread form and the latter being the synthetic derivative.
D-Ribose is involved in many different metabolic pathways that increase available energy for the cell . Ribose is also a component of ATP and has even been shown to enhance ATP resynthesis in the body . Even though d-ribose occurs naturally in the body, it is not always produced in sufficient amounts, especially after intense exercise . D-ribose is very difficult to acquire from diet, therefore supplementation may be needed to ensure sufficient ATP levels for energy production.
Like CoQ10 d-ribose is particularly effective for those with heart and fatigue related diseases, but will still provide benefit to healthy individuals by ensuring sufficient ATP concentrations in the body, thus ensuring stable energy metabolism.
One study had its patients subjected to a week of daily cycling sessions, and it was shown that the control group had greater ATP replenishment in contrast with the placebo . This study also demonstrated a significantly improved quality of life in the control group, with no difference in the placebo. This is likely due to the heart-health improving qualities.
D-Ribose has also been shown to improve symptoms of fibyomyalgia  as well as chronic fatigue syndrome , which further demonstrates its ability to raise energy levels.
One study showed significant physical improvements in healthy individuals as well. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Male bodybuilders between the age of 18 and 35 were given 20g of d-ribose daily for four weeks. The control group demonstrated significant improvements in both muscular strength and total worked performed .
D-Ribose shows a lot of promise as a nootropic for energy, and will be especially beneficial for those who have intensive exercise programs, as ATP tends to become depleted quite rapidly after exercise.
Research on dosage limits has indicated that taking 50–60 g per day of ribose can be well tolerated without side effects during a 2-year period . D-Ribose should be taken on an empty stomach to ensure maximal absorption.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are a group of amino acids that include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are all considered to be among the 9 essential amino acids. BCAAs play many roles in the body, with protein synthesis and glucose metabolism being one of the most significant.
Upon supplementation, BCAAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and assist with the production of energy in the brain .
BCAA’s have been shown to improve exercise performance , and decreases physical and mental fatigue , and may even prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness .
Overall, BCAAs are one of the best nootropics energy, as they not only improves exercise performance but can reduce mental fatigue as well, and may benefit those who are looking for increased levels of both physical and mental energy. BCAAs are a must if you exercise with any regularity since it both improves performance and prevents soreness.
The standard dosage of BCAAs is around 20g, with a balanced ratio of leucine and isoleucine. Beta alanine can be taken with or without meals, but is best absorbed on an empty stomach.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that acts as a rate-limited precursor to carnosine and is more effective than supplementing carnosine directly, as carnosine is broken down during digestion. Beta-alanine is one of the most popular and well-studied bodybuilding supplements out there along with creatine, and the evidence speaks for itself.
Beta-alanine has been shown to significantly augment exercise performance .
More specifically, it has been shown to reduce fatigue while increasing workload and power , as well as increase lean mass .
Beta-alanine is another must-have nootropic for increasing energy levels, and is perhaps the most impactful nootropic for improving exercise ability. It is an excellent preworkout supplement and even if you don’t exercise regularly, it can help you day to day in reducing fatigue and raising physical energy levels.
The standard daily dose for beta-alanine is 2-6g taken daily. Side effects are generally non-existent except for a harmless tingling sensation (parasthesia). Beta-alanine can be taken with or without meals, but is best absorbed on an empty stomach.
One study has shown that beta-alanine may be synergistic with creatine , so taking the two as part of a stack may be optimal.
Acetylcarnitine is the acetylated form of carnitine, and in this form it provides more stimulatory and nootropic effects than l-carnitine by itself. This is due to the fact that the addition of an acetyl group allows it to easily to cross the blood brain barrier.
When supplemented, ALCAR is used to promote longevity and reduce the harmful effects of aging, which achieves primarily by supporting the mitochondria and providing neuroprotective and antioxidant effects. ALCAR is also typically used to raise energy levels – it has been shown to reduce physical and mental fatigue  and improve anaerobic exercise performance .
ALCAR is an incredible nootropic. In many ways it is the epitome of a true nootropic: it has incredibly powerful neuroprotective qualities; including preventing against damage from oxidative stress, alcohol, and cognitive decline with aging , it enhances cognition , improves attention , and is well-tolerated with almost no side effects.
ALCAR also modestly increases levels of several key neurochemicals including acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and NGF .
Overall ALCAR is a very unique nootropic that can provide various mental and physical benefits, with increased energy being one of the most beneficial.
The recommended ALCAR dose is 250mg to 1000mg. I would recommend you start with smaller doses and up them until you find the sweet spot, as higher doses can be less effective. I found 650 mg to be the sweet spot. ALCAR can be taken with or without meals, but is best absorbed on an empty stomach.
Creatine is another naturally occurring substance that is found in many foods, particularly in red meat, and is a vital nutrient for our body. When supplemented it can provide further benefits that would be hard to attain from diet alone.
Creatine is no joke, there is perhaps no supplement in history which has been studied more thoroughly than creatine. This is for a simple reason: it works. This is not a placebo supplement that doesn’t actually do anything – it has real effects and real benefits. It also is extremely inexpensive and has almost no side effects except for GI distress (which only happens if you don’t drink enough water).
Creatine is more than a mere bodybuilding supplement; it is essential maintaining mental health and energy levels. It can be a great tool for fixing lethargy, brain fog, and poor concentration. There is even a range of conditions called cerebral creatine deficiency syndromes (CCDS) which results in mental retardation , and this may further drive home the point that this is not a mere bodybuilding supplement but a necessary nootropic nutrient for the body.
The main benefit of creatine is that it will grant you with more energy. Creatine is provides adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to the cells, the primary energy “currency” of the body. ATP is used in every metabolic process in the body, and will raise energy levels in both the body and brain. Since ATP is used by every cell in the body for energy, increasing it can directly improve energy levels of every muscle and organ of the body.
Creatine has overwhelming evidence that demonstrates its ability to increase power and improve physical performance in both exercise and athletic contexts . In terms of exercise performance, it appears to improve anaerobic exercise in particular .
Creatine is also remarkable reducing both mental and physical fatigue .
Creatine also notably reduces symptoms of depression , which demonstrates its critical role in maintaining mental health.
Overall creatine is the king of bodybuilding supplements, and for good reason. But creatine is more than a mere bodybuilding supplement; it is perhaps the best nootropic for energy for both the mind and body. I can say from personal experience that creatine actually benefits my mood and mental state just as much as my physical body, and is one of my favorite nootopics/supplements of all time.
The best form of to take is creatine monohydrate, which is both the cheapest and most effective form. For general purposes, it is recommended to take 5g a day with meals. It is also advised drink plenty of water (2-3 full glasses) to avoid any potential GI discomfort. It is not a good idea to take it with coffee or alcohol either as you may get diarrhea. Take it with breakfast in the morning and drink plenty of water and you’ll be fine. You can take higher doses of 10-20g for the first week to get it saturated in your system, but this does pose the risk of some mild GI discomfort.
Caffeine / L-Theanine
I’m sure many of you reading this have heard of this combination before, as it’s a fairly popular one among the nootropics community. There is an increasing body of literature which demonstrates caffeine as a nootropic .
When caffeine is taken with l-theanine, it is a completely different beast. Caffeine, as most of you are no doubt aware, is a stimulant found in many beverages, most notably coffee, which is used for it’s stimulatory properties.
While caffeine by itself does not have quite the same effect as a cup of coffee, it is still an effective stimulant on its own. Caffeine has a rather unique pharmacological profile – one of it’s primary MoA’s is antagonizing the neurotransmitter adenosine. Caffeine does this by blocking adenosine receptors, thereby preventing adenosine from getting absorbed into them .
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter which builds up over the course of the day and is used to signal to our body that we are tired . By preventing these receptors from binding adenosine, this has the effect that we all cherish: feeling more awake and alert in times where we may otherwise feel groggy and sluggish.
One of the common side effects of caffeine is anxiety and jitteriness. Caffeine is not particularly effective for concentration or focus overall, and in fact too much caffeine can be counterproductive as it can cause too much stimulation.
This effect is known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law , and can be applied to just about every situation, and is especially relevant with the use of stimulants such as caffeine.
This is where l-theanine comes in. L-theanine is a naturally occurring analogue of the amino acid glutamate, and is found most commonly in teas, particularly black tea.
L-theanine is effective at reducing anxiety , causes relaxation while simultaneously increasing attention , improves memory and decreases stress , and has neuroprotective qualities .
As an analogue of glutamate, it’s main mechanism of action seems to come from modulating glutamate receptors. It binds to all three glutamate receptors (AMPA, NMDA, and kainite), acting as an antagonist of the former two and agonist of the latter .
L-theanine has the unique quality of indirectly raising levels of dopamine, gaba, BDNF and NFG in the brain , as well as mixed results with serotonin . These effects account for some of its anxiolytic properties. The increase in BDNF and NGF levels and the neuroprotection account for some of it’s nootropic-like qualities.
For these reasons, l-theanine has known for some time to be quite synergistic (an effect greater than the sum of their separate effects) with caffeine and other stimulants. When taken together they are become more than merely the sum of the two parts. In other words, a combination of caffeine + l-theanine could be said to be 1+1=3 instead of 2 in terms of the effectiveness as a nootropic.
I have taken caffeine + l-theanine many times due to it’s relative cheapness, simplicity, and effectiveness. It’s a very reliable and well-rounded nootropic for raising energy levels, and can make zen-like flow states much more attainable.
Recommended dosage is either a 1:1 ratio or a 2:1 ratio of theanine to caffeine. A standard dose would then be something like 200mg of caffeine and 200mg or 400mg of theanine. I would personally recommend a 2:1 ratio as theanine does not diminish the effects of caffeine in higher doses. Caffeine/theanine can be taken with or without food but will absorb better on an empty stomach.
Phenylpiracetam is a nootropic stimulant that was developed in 1983 in Russian. The motivation for its development was to aid Russian Cosmonauts in maintaining alertness and warding off stress while in outer space. Phenylpiracetam is also commonly used in athletic doping due to it’s strong psychostimulatory effects which include increased psychomotor activity, tolerance to cold, and reduced anxiety, and as a result is one of the banned substances in the Olympics.
This may excite some of you and may scare others. Both reactions are quite reasonable. Phenylpiracetam is one of the most aggressive nootropic out there, especially in terms of its subjective effects.
Most “true” nootropics do not have particularly noticeable stimulatory effects, but rather have subtle effects that are best over the long-term. Phenylpiracetam is different. It’s more of an on-demand, nootropic stimulant. If your goal is to have stronger focus, attention, memory, physical energy, and overall mental clarity, then look no further.
The first thing you might notice is the name of this substance. It’s “Phenyl” piracetam. This drug is simply piracetam with a phenyl ring attached to it. This allows it to easily and rapidly cross the blood brain barrier (the “filtering” mechanism of the brain) which other racetams struggle to do effectively.
Interestingly enough, as aggressive of a drug as phenylpiracetam is, it appears to have strong neuroprotective effects , which help demonstrate its quality as a true nootropic. Studies have been performed on patients in a state of cognitive decline, whereby phenylpiracetam demonstrated cognitive-enhancing qualities, including higher brain functions, improved motor coordination, memory, attention, and counting, as well as higher mobility, lowered discomfort and anxiety, and resulted in more intense alpha and beta EEG activity . Phenylpiracetam also exhibits anti-depressive qualities .
Another study found that phenylpiracetam greatly improved the daily living activities of stroke patients after a year of use in contrast with the control group .
Now onto the stimulatory effects. Unlike every other racetam so far, phenylpiracetam has a strong affinity for dopamine. It increases the density of the d1, d2, and d3 dopamine receptors by 16%, 29%, and 62% respectively  which means that the dopamine is more efficiently absorbed in the synapses. In addition to this, it is also a mild dopamine reuptake inhibitor , which means that it keeps dopamine circulating in the brain by preventing it from being terminated in the synapses. It also appears to be a norepenephrine reuptake inhibitor as well , further increasing its utility as a stimulant.
In addition to an affinity for dopamine, it also binds to the nicotinic acetylcholine (nAChR) which can confer stimulating, anxiolytic, and cognitive benefits.
Phenylpiracetam also increased the density of the GABA-A receptor by 25% , which is responsible for feelings of relaxation. Phenylpiracetam has been known to decrease fear and anxiety and this is likely the main mechanism of action (MoA) behind this anxiolytic quality. This is unique among psychostimulants in that has both stimulating and relaxing characteristics.
Overall, Phenylpiracetam is quite unlike typical stimulants such as Adderall, which is characterized by being having overly-stimulating, addictive, and unpleasant side-effects as well as nefarious long-term consequences. Phenylpiracetam, however, appears to have neuroprotective and self-regulating effects as well as more general cognitive-enhancing effects, with more moderate stimulatory effects, making it much safer for general brain health, as it does not have any serious side effects, toxicity, or potential for addiction.
In my experience, Phenylpiracetam is an excellent nootropic for raising energy levels. It provides a very clean, astonishingly long stimulatory effect with zen-like focus, as well as increased mental clarity and creativity. It also has the quality of not causing any anxiety, over-excitement, or euphoria (which is addicting and counter-productive).
The half-life of phenylpiracetam is about 3-5 hours. The recommended dosage is 100-200mg taken up to 3 times daily.
Phenylpiracetam does not appear to have a strong affinity for the acetylcholine system, unlike other racetams, and therefore choline supplementation is not required. Even though it is fat-soluble, phenylpiracetam does not need to be taken with meals. It has been shown to be 100% absorbed in the gut within 30 minutes in a fasted state, so taking it the first thing in the morning may prove most effective.
Phenylpiracetam is best used on an as-needed basis, as repeated daily use does result in a tolerance and diminished effectiveness.
Rhodiola rosea is a nootropic herb of the adaptogen class. Rhodiola is characterized by conferring a wide range of benefits to both mental and physical health. It’s primary benefit appears to be reducing fatigue, and does so quite effectively .
Rhodiola has been shown to have strong nootropic effects, with improvements in cognition and memory being the most significant . It also shows potent neuroprotective and antioxidant effects . One of the active compounds, salidroside, has even been shown to cause neurogenesis when injected .
Rhodiola also confers benefits to general mental health. It improves mood , reduces stress , reduces depressive symptoms , reduces anxiety , with one study showing significant improvements in generalized anxiety disorder upon dosing .
Rhodiola Rosea’s mood-brightening effects appear to come from inhibiting monoamine oxidase , which is an enzyme responsible for breaking down dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. By inhibiting the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, a relative increase will occur.
Rhodiola is one of the most commonly used nootropic for increasing energy levels, despite not technically being a stimulant or bodybuilding supplement. It is excellent at reducing fatigue and improving general mental health, qualities which will benefit energy levels in a a very tangible way.
Rhodiola rosea is best taken as an extract that contain 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside, the most common of which is the SHR-5 extract.
There is a bell-curve response with doses, and so the less-is-more rule strongly applies here. Doses range from 100-680mg, and should not exceed 680mg in one day or it may lose effectiveness. Rhodiola rosea does not need to be taken with meals.
Where to Purchase Nootropics
All the nootropics mentioned in this post and more can be purchased at Nootropics Depot.
I recommend Nootropics Depot because they have been around for a long time and have maintained a solid reputation. They have excellent quality control metrics: they do in-house testing as well as independent 3rd-party testing, and they have certificates of analysis available for all of their products.