When you talk about bodybuilding supplements what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Was it protein powders, multi-minerals, branched chain amino acids, weight loss products, meal replacements, or testosterone boosters? If I was to guess, I bet that 99% of you did not even consider nootropics to be on that list.
However, before we start talking about the 6 bodybuilding nootropics, there are still some individuals who are unfamiliar with nootropics. Therefore, to clarify any basic questions; nootropic is a non-prescribed compound that enhances cognitive function and/or protects or repair the brain with no tolerance and few to no side effects. The compound is made up of different “stacks” or combination of amino acids, natural/synthetic compounds, herbs, vitamins, minerals and/or other supplements together to leverage synergistic effects.
Although, some of the ingredients below technically do not pass Dr. Guirgea criteria of being classed as a nootropic, there are numerous studies that prove that the ingredients below gives the user the ability to focus longer, think clearer, recall memory faster, reduce fatigue, and decrease stress response, which is ideal for bodybuilding.
So without further adieu, the top 6 bodybuilding nootropics to kill it at the gym are:
Technically, creatine can be considered as a nootropic, as your brain, just like your muscles, uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy. The creatine binds to phosphate making phosphocreatine, and this acts as a “buffer” to make ATP efficient. Therefore, the increase of the availability of phosphocreatine in your brain aids with ATP synthesis and energy formation.
This naturally occurring organic compound is found in relatively high concentrations in red meat. It is recommended to consume with high glycemic carbohydrate because the carbohydrates promote the release of insulin which facilitates cellular uptake of the amino acid compound like creatine. There are few side effects and one being gastrointestinal discomfort but drinking enough water will often solve this problem.
How it works is that creatine store creatine phosphate in the body and brain for use at another time; which is taken up by myocytes (muscle cells) and neuron (brain cells). More creatine in a cell means more phosphate stored, which is crucial for the synthesis of ATP. Since highly active cells such as myocytes and neurons consume vast amounts of energy in the form of ATP, the activity of these cells depends on how efficient and fast they can recycle used phosphate to build more ATP. It is because of this, that the extra energy stored in the brain can improve both short-term memory, reasoning skills, delay mental fatigue, do more work, or perform more effectively.
2) L-theanine and caffeine:
L-theanine and caffeine are considered to be one of the most common nootropic stacks in the market as they are both affordable and effective.
L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid and is found naturally in green tea leaves. It enables the user to reach an optimal state of relaxed concentration without feeling drowsy. When consumed as a supplement it is believed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and neurodegeneration. L-Theanine increases the levels of dopamine, GABA, and neurotransmitters serotonin which improves mood, recall, learning, calm focus, and speed and accuracy of performance.
Although caffeine is considered more of a stimulant than a nootropic, it is known for providing the user a feeling of energy, concentration, and alertness. It works by suppressing the production of adenosine in our body and increasing the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The only side effects of caffeine are that it leads to headaches and jitteriness if high quantities are consumed.
When the two ingredients pair up studies have shown a rise in focus, mood, and motivation, reduced heart rate, and blood pressure, and improved alpha wave levels. It seems that L-theanine negates the side effects of caffeine while enhancing the positives, which is perfect when in the gym.
3) Panax Ginseng:
Ginseng appears to be effective for cognition, immunity, and mood. It contains many substances affecting many different systems of the body. One being able to help the body rid itself from damaging free radicals, poisons, and toxins. This reduces inflammation in your cells while reducing pain thereby expediting recovery, and is the reason to why it is one of the best bodybuilding nootropics. Other benefits include normalizing out of harmony bodily functions, repair and boost the immune system, and limit damage from changes or stressors in the environment.
Specifically, Ginseng is known to increase both working and spatial memory and to protect against memory deficits. This can lead to improvements in concentration, focus, and thinking in tasks that require long periods of high-level cognitive function. When Ginseng is paired up with Gingko Biloba it results in greater accuracy and reduces errors in cognitive tests. Studies also have shown Ginseng to be somewhat effective at reducing the rate of cognitive decline from aging and toxins.
Although, Ginseng is a natural supplement it does have some side effects and is commonly due to overuse, overdose, or allergies. There have been reports of headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, high blood pressure, and skin rashes. If any of these occur, immediately lower the doses or stop taking the supplement for a while.
4) Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri is often used to improve the speed of recall and memory formation, make learning easier and faster, enhance clarity of thought, and augment overall brain function. This is especially useful when training in the gym because focus absolutely needed to get that mind-muscle connection. Bacopa Monnieri works by improving synaptic communication which enhances the growth and proliferation of dendrites. This improvement in neural signaling increase neural impulse transmission which is crucial to cognitive enhancement.
Bacopa Monnieri also modulates neurotransmitter such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. This affects the user mood because serotonin is strongly associated with mood and anxiety management. It is also because the serotonin is modulated which makes the user calm and feel a sense of tranquility. Similarly, dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for the brain’s reward and pleasure systems and is also closely tied to mood. Lastly, GABA is a powerful inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts to prevent anxiety by restricting the firing of neurons that are over-excited by stress. This is essential after a workout or during recovery days as you want to feel as relaxed and calm as possible.
5) Alpha GPC
Firstly, phosphatidylcholine helps both with the cell membrane creation and creates acetylcholine when necessary. Knowing this, Alpha GPC is a by-product of phosphatidylcholine instead of a precursor. This means, in the process of choline metabolism, Alpha GPC is closer to the form used by the cells.
Likewise, acetylcholine role in the brain is to enhance the intensity and quality of neuron signaling by increasing theta waves. In particular, acetylcholine enhances the encoding of memories in the cortex and prompts synaptogenesis (the normal development of synapses all through the brain). Overall, this improves memory encoding and helps other neurotransmitters to communicate messages. There was numerous clinical trial showing it to be an effective treatment for age-related memory loss associated with of disorder.
Alpha GPC has non-nootropic benefits as well, including the ability to enhance cell membrane health and promote rapid recovery after physical exertion. Since it stimulates the production of human growth hormone, it can be a valuable supplement for bodybuilders who want better performance, lean muscle mass, and energy during a workout, as well as a quick recovery time.
Piracetam can be considered one of the most effective bodybuilding nootropics in this list as it helps the user to get laser focus with every rep, with no jitters. This is because piracetam improves ATP metabolism and usage, cell membrane permeability, and mitochondrial electron transport chain, which facilitates the citric acid cycle. The citric acid cycle is responsible for the release of stored energy through the oxidation of acetyl-CoA derived from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Piracetam also affects multiple neurotransmitter systems such as acetylcholine, glutamate, and kainite, in so doing increasing blood flow and oxygen to modify cognitive, neuronal, and vascular functions. This improves the long-term brain health, as well as short term enhanced cognition. It is said to be crucial to stack choline or lecithin with piracetam to receive the benefits above, however, to take caution when supplementing with lecithin supplement, so there will not be a drop in acetylcholine levels in your brain.
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