A Review of Nootropics Use in Sports

nootropics athletics

Nootropics can help your athletic performance.

Most individuals take nootropic supplements to boost cognition, to improve their focus, to help them study for a test, and so on.  However, many athletes may be surprised to find that nootropics can help them to perform better physically.

It would make logical sense that a supplement that can improve focus and clarity would have a positive effect on the body’s response to physical activity. The better you can focus on the task at hand, the better you will perform. Certain nootropics even directly improve muscle contraction and growth.

Some nootropics like phenylpiracetam are so effective at improving athletic performance that they are banned from competitive sports; others are equally as effective and entirely fine to use for any sport. So how do nootropics work with your body to improve your athleticism?

How Nootropics Help Athletic Performance

nootropics soccer

Nootropics can help boost cognition, which can help you think on your feet.

Taking nootropics affects the brain’s levels of neurotransmitters, which helps the brain to connect with muscle tissue and send out signals.  Raising neurotransmitter levels can help the brain to communicate more efficiently with the rest of the body, and can improve reaction times by promoting a higher level of cognition.

Specifically, most nootropics increase acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter commonly known to improve memory and learning. However, acetylcholine also improves muscle control as well as balance. Mental and physical fitness are linked, and so a quicker and healthier brain produces faster reflexes and greater endurance.  The effects of individual nootropics on physical activity vary, however, so you will need to choose wisely.

Benefits of Different Nootropics in Sports


nootropics hockey

Nootropics can also help build muscle (so that you win a fight or two in hockey).

Alpha GPC has been linked to increased levels of growth hormone as well as quicker fat oxidation, meaning that it promotes muscle gains and helps to burn fat leading to improved physical performance and body composition [1].  Aniracetam, in addition to being more potent than other racetam supplements like piracetam, can help to reduce anxiety as well as increase focus [2]. 

Oxiracetam increases spatial learning, which helps your brain to improve physical coordination. Huperzine A prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine to improve memory and muscle control; it also increase alertness.

All of these nootropics will improve neuronal communication between the brain and body, but also have specialized individual effects.  With all of these options to choose from, it is a simple matter of picking a nootropic and seeing which is best for your sports performance.

Which Nootropics Are Right For You?

You may be curious about trying nootropics to improve physical performance, and there are many excellent choices out there.  Be careful of taking supplements that may be banned from a particular sport, but otherwise experiment and find what works best for you.

Weightlifters find Alpha GPC and Huperzine A 1% helpful in doses of 300mg and 10mg respectively, usually stacked together.  Other athletes may find aniracetam and oxiracetam useful in doses around 750mg two times per day.  Find the stack or single supplement that works best for you, and enjoy greater athletic success!



DIY AlphaBrain Stack

Alphabrain DIYThere’s been a lot of hype about Onnit’s AlphaBrain recently, but the price along with some of the ingredients have left many balking.

While some of the ingredients are solid additions, others have nootropic fans wondering why they’re included at all.

Over at Reddit, many users questioned the inclusion of Oat Straw, declaring it useless and with good reason: there is very little clinical or scientific evidence to support its supposed nootropic abilities.

AC-11 is another inclusion that has raised many eyebrows. In a different Reddit post, users  denounced AC-11 as a gimmick. One individual, /u/ZombieChalmers,  went so far as to call it “a superfluous ingredient used to differentiate alpha-brain from other products”.

Then there is the issue of cost.

If you’re used to buying powders in bulk and capping them yourself, $34.95 for a 15 day supply or $79.95 for a 45 day supply may strike you as outrageously overpriced.

In this case, the convenience does not outweigh the cost.  Thankfully, there is a way to create a similar stack for way less and without the pointless supplements.

Alphabrain Ingredients

Supplement Amount per serving (2 caps)
Alpha GPC 100mg
Huperzine A .5% 40mg
Vinpocetine 5mg
AC-11® 350mg
Phosphatidylserine (From Soy) 50mg
Bacopa (50% bacosides) 100mg
Pterostilbene 750mcg
L-Tyrosine 300mg
L-Theanine 200mg
Oat Straw (20:1) 100mg
Vitamin B-6 10mg
All supplement and pricing info for AlphaBrain was obtained from Onnit’s site

Getting More For Less

From my preferred supplement source, you can find replacements for the following:

Supplement Serving Size Cost per 100 Servings
Alpha GCP 50% 500mg 50g for $23.99
Huperzine 1% 20mg 2g for $19.98
Vinpocetine 10mg 1g for $2.99
Resveratrol (chemically related to Pterostilbene) 250mg 25g for $15.95
Phosphatidylserine 20% (From Soy) 100mg 10g for $7.95
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) 400mg 50g for $5.49**
L-Theanine 200mg 20g for $5.33

**125 servings

Cost Breakdown

That’s $81.68 for a 100 day supply of a very similar stack (thus breaking down to $36.76 for a 45 day supply and $12.25 for a 15 day supply). As you can see, this 100 day supply costs only slightly more than Onnit’s 45 day supply. That is awesome savings.

Supply 100 Days 45 Days 15 Days
HSW Cost $81.68 $36.76 $12.25
Onnit Cost $79.95 $34.95

Many prefer to buy supplements in bulk so as to avoid having to reorder stacks every month or so. Additionally, these supplements are available in smaller and larger sizes for those who want to go smaller or bigger. Bear in mind, the larger the size, the more you save!

While capping your own supplements may seem like a lot of work, it can save you big bucks at the end of the day, not to mention you can customize your stack to avoid publicity stunts and useless “nootropics” like Oat Straw.

What Do These Supplements Do?

Alpha GPC: This is a choline source that is great for improving memory and learning. There are multiple choline sources on the market; however, Alpha GPC has a higher absorption rate. Find it here.

Huperzine A: This supplement helps with memory retention by increasing acetylcholine levels. Those looking to improve their memory and focus will benefit from an increase in acetylcholine.

Vinpocetine: Vinpocetine enhances memory function and increases blood flow to the brain.

Resveratrol: This antioxidant is perhaps most famously found in red wine and is known for it’s ability to boost cellular health, cardiovascular health, blood flow to the brain, and more.

Phosphatidylserine: This supplement supports a strong memory as well as numerous neurotransmitter system such as acetylcholine, dopamine, seratonine, and more.

NALT: NALT is believed to be easier to absorb/more bioavailable than L-Tyrosine. NALT transforms into L-DOPA, which is a precursor for many neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and more. All of this can result in a boost in mood and cognitive function.

L-Theanine: This is an excellent supplement to reduce anxiety as its stress fighting abilities promote a sense of calm and wellbeing. Additionally, theanine can support a healthy immune system.

Best Nootropics for Memory in the Short Term

Best nootropics for memory, huperzine-a.When we start to become very interested and specific in our health and fitness related goals we see a direct correlation in the increase of supplements and our knowledge of the field. Specifically we begin to discover certain methods of reaching a level that we never thought to be attainable before and in most cases is not attainable naturally. If you match this profile then you may have already stumbled upon the family of nootropics. Often referred to as memory or cognitive enhancers, nootropics are a class of substances that can be taken via supplements and functional foods. They can enhance and improve quality of life in a rather specific manner. The specific attribute we want to look at in this analysis of nootropics involves short term memory.

Nootropics for Short Term Memory

Short term memory is a very often overlooked yet essential part of our daily lives. In fact, many people struggle with severe impaired short term memory and are not aware of it or its implications. On a personal level I can say that I struggle with short term memory in that I sometimes struggle to remember what I had for breakfast six hours ago, yet I can remember a conversation I had with a significant other over six years ago. Why is this, and what can nootropics do for me to help alleviate this problem?

While you may have heard of prescription strength nootropic solutions, this analysis will focus on over the counter products that act in a similar and in some cases enhanced fashion in contrast to their prescription strength counter parts. Two supplements that have been shown to do just that are huperzine-A and piracetam.

Huperzine A

Huperzine-A is an extracted compound from the herbs of the huperzicae family and is known to be an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, essentially meaning that it stops an enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine. Still lost? Acetylcholine is known as the learning neurotransmitter and is also involved in muscle contraction; therefore inhibiting the breakdown of this neurotransmitter leads to an increased presence in the brain and increased benefits. Note that this is a very simplified breakdown of a complicated process in the brain and in no means should serve as scientific reference.


The next nootropic that has been strongly linked to short term memory improvement is none other than the father of nootropics, piracetam. Piracetam is a member of the racetam family and is among the most researched nootropics. In research specific to memory loss piracetam has shown a significant ability to increase the power of memory in healthy human after only a two week period. This comes in addition to the many other health benefits that are often associated with piracetam and its family of nootropics. With little to no side effects reported and a very low toxicity piracetam makes a great candidate for improving short term memory loss in addition to being a solid choice for an everyday cognitive enhancing supplement.

How to Take Nootropics for Memory

With all supplements and nootropics are certainly no exception it is important to pay attention your body’s individual response. Additionally one should always carefully read the packaging and label information on any new product before implementing it into your daily stack or routine.