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A Not So Basic Preworkout

preworkout with nootropicsI’ll start this article off by stating the obvious—there are a ton of preworkouts, and plenty work very well. Unfortunately, most of them work by simply stimulating the central nervous system, failing to offer much else.

The first few times they’re great, but then tolerance sets in. This results in a workout plan that starts off productive but ultimately falters, with all of that focused and intense energy you brought to the gym taking a detour around exercise number two.

Before you know it you’re sucking at the last drops of preworkout left in your water bottle.

Exercise requires being present, and nothing ruins that more than a feeling of flatness sweeping over you as you try, and fail, to push yourself. That brings me to another very important aspect of fitness most preworkouts miss out on: improving the mind-muscle connection.

What is the Mind-Muscle Connection?

The idea of a mind-muscle connection finds its roots in “broscience”, but there is some evidence to back up its claim.

An informal study was performed on experienced bodybuilders with EMGs used to test whether load, cadence, and form dictate muscle activation, or whether it is possible to mentally focus neural drive towards specific, targeted muscles and away from others.

The results confirmed the idea of the connection between the brain and body. That’s why this stack of compounds is built around nootropics that can not only aid both physical and mental performance separately, but act to enhance the connection between them.

What’s Not In It

This mix will not include typical stimulants for a few reasons:

  1. Many people don’t respond well to them.
  2. To ensure you are able to work out for as long and intensely as you have to without having to worry about “burning out”.
  3. Some workouts you might not need the extra energy, but you will still need the focus and motivation this stack offers. You can always add a stimulant if you so desire.

This isn’t to say stimulants are bad, but saving them for when you truly need help can ensure you get the absolute most out of them when you need it. Plus, they may not be applicable to all situations. When I run, for example, being “stimmed” out of my mind usually results in a poor workout, but when I’m calm and focused on the task at hand I notice the miles tend to breeze by.

What’s In It?

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC Skeletal Formula

Alpha GPC Skeletal Formula

Aside from its ability to increase focus [1], Alpha GPC has demonstrated possible effectiveness at increasing strength and growth hormone output (after 48 hours of fasting) [2], and potential to increase fat oxidation [3].

What makes this valuable is this acetylcholine precursor’s ability to increase the mind-muscle connection. When acetylcholine is released at the neuromuscular junction it crosses the synapses where it binds to receptors on the surface of muscle fibers, causing muscular contractions. The more this communication can be improved, the more muscle fibers you will be able to recruit resulting in better quality contractions and results.

There are less expensive acetylcholine precursors that can be substituted, like CDP Choline, but the true magic of Alpha GPC lies in its ability to improve self control and impulsiveness [4]. If you’ve ever skipped one too many workouts, or ate a dozen donuts and forgot your diet, you understand how beneficial this can be.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam powder not only prevents the overly stimulated feelings sometimes associated with Alpha GPC, but it seems to keep strength consistent throughout workouts [5]. Some users actually report increased strength output during the later part of their workouts.

Aniracetam is also incredibly effective as an anxiolytic and mood enhancer, and this can make a big difference on those days when working out sounds too cumbersome, or if you’re one of the many people that have anxiety that’s directly related to being at the gym [6].

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate is a combination of the amino acid citrulline and malic acid. It increases energy levels by removing ammonia from the body. Basically, citrulline malate adds another level of anti-fatigue, allowing you to train harder and for longer periods of time. [7]

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is an amino acid that combines with the amino acid histidine in muscle cells to form carnosine, which is critical for muscle strength. Carnosine is an acid buffer, and it prevents the rise in hydrogen ions during high intensity exercises. It staves off the dreaded lactic acid burn and prevents muscle fatigue, increasing the amount of work you can perform at high intensities [8].

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a stimulant, but it doesn’t come with the typical unpleasant side effects. This nootropic improves motivation, focus, and energy by improving neuronal communication and transmission [9, 10]. It also improves motor coordination and resistance to muscular fatigue [11], and it acts as a potent mood enhancer [12].

Preworkout Stack Dosages

Alpha GPC: 300-600mg (fat-soluble) Take with food 90-120 minutes before your workout.

Aniracetam: 1-1.5g (fat-soluble) Take with food 90-120 minutes before your workout.

Some people become too relaxed from aniracetam during the “first half” of its effects, but it is short lived in the body and its metabolites typically reverse the overly calm feelings aniracetam induces [13].

Citrulline Malate: 6-8g Taken around 60 minutes before training.

Beta alanine: 2-5g Beta alanine can be taken all at once with citrulline malate before your workout, but large doses can result in an uncomfortable tingling feeling called paresthesia, and this can be avoided by taking smaller doses of 800mg-1g throughout the day.

Sulbutiamine: 300mg (fat-soluble) Taken with food around 60 minutes before training.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21156078
  2. http://www.jissn.com/content/5/S1/P15
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673596
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20428999
  5. http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/7/921.full.pdf
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11597608
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386132
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11911459
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4059305
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573727
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10858919
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9572910

 

Nootropics and Creativity: How to Safely Boost your Artistic Side

Nootropics and Creativity

Whether you’re looking to kickstart your novel, paint the next Mona Lisa, or devise a brilliant business plan for your new start-up, creativity is important. It is also no secret that creativity can be a notoriously fickle thing—completely there one day, then gone the next.

It seems like sometimes no matter how devoted you are, no matter how hard you try, there’s just nothing there and everything you try to think up comes out feeling flat. Here’s where nootropics can offer you a quick edge.

Since nootropics are a class of smart drugs designed to benignly tweak your brain performance, there’s a good chance that there’s one out there that will pluck your creativity strings just the right way. Take a look at some of the best compounds for giving you an artistic boost when your muse just refuses to show up.

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is the next step up from Piracetam on the ladder of nootropics. It also produces very distinct effects. It’s cited as the best anti-anxiety nootropic, and as a nootropic that enhances creativity. How exactly does it accomplish this?

First off, Aniracetam is an AMPA modulator. This fact means that in one way or another it enhances the functioning of your AMPA receptors, which are excitatory receptors linked to mood and memory [1]. Secondly, it increases blood flow in the association context—the payoff being that holistic thinking becomes easier [1]. It’s also somewhat anxiolytic; reduced anxiety is something any stumped creative type could use [2].

There are also a few secondary effects that help creativity. Aniracetam can also make vision sharper and more vivid, boost literary fluidity (easier reading!), and make it easier to grasp abstract concepts [2]. Chalk it up to improved communication between brain hemispheres, which is one more way that Aniracetam enhances cognition [3].

The trade off? Naturally creative types may find their thinking taking on a more logical edge thanks to boosted right brain activity, while more literal-minded users will see their logical thought processes become a bit more abstract. It’s a great tool whether you’re looking to enhance your creative project, or just tackle it from a slightly shifted neurological perspective.

Phenibut

Phenibut doesn’t “cause” creativity, but it certainly primes you for it! One of the most important aspects of creativity is flow—the ability to shut everything out and focus entirely on the task at hand. Easier said than done. Your worst enemy? Outside thoughts, stress, worries, doubts…all the small grievances that you’re probably trying to get away from with creativity in the first place.

Phenibut benefits the aspiring artist in two ways. First, it hits your GABA-B receptors, which affect stress and calmness [4]. The overall effect is a soothed, tranquil, present feeling, the sort you might get from exercise or meditation. Studies have also shown that it decreases your inability to act in a negative emotional situation. Like, say, feeling stuck because you can’t generate a new creative idea [5].

Secondly, phenibut has been shown to stimulate dopamine [6]. Tweaked dopamine means a heightened sense of pleasure and meaning from all your sensory input. This is important to creativity in its own right, but dopamine has also been specifically proven to have a strong correlation to creativity. Evidence-based reports even cite phenibut as having mild benefits for memory recall: important if you’re working on an elaborate creative project [7].

Making sure you’re taking a safe amount of phenibut will ensure you aren’t left with a disrupted dopamine system the next day. Dose responsibly and cycle your phenibut often, and you’ll be on your way to having a sure-fire nootropic shortcut to a creative headspace. Dosing irresponsibly can result in many side effects.

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a thiamine derived compound created in Japan to combat asthenia, a chronic fatigue that is mentally, not physically, based [8]. Since thiamine is B-vitamin based, that’s exactly what sulbutiamine will reverse! After a safe dose, look for boosted levels of energy that’ll help you complete all your unfinished tasks, creative or otherwise. In other words, it’s been proven to be effective at reducing mental fatigue [9].

It’s important to consider more factors than just “feeling creative” when looking to enhance creativity — focus and energy are crucial even to the most creative mind. Thanks to sulbutiamine, you can make sure you aren’t too worn down to dream.

However, the list of creativity-specific benefits you get from this nootropic don’t stop there. It’s been shown to reduce psycho-behavioral inhibitions — in other words, it eases your conditioned fears [10]. If there’s something you avoid or get stressed by, sulbutiamine makes it easier to approach. So long writer’s block!

Coluracetam

Coluracetam is one of the newest compounds to hit the market, and is the latest iteration in the veritable racetam family. How does it help with creativity? It’s all in the name. Coluracetam is alleged to have ‘’sensory enhancing properties”—colors, for instance look richer.

It’s also alleged to enhance sounds, brighten vision, and thrust the user into an anxiety-dampened, creativity-free headspace. It achieves all this by being the first choline uptake enhancer; it makes the brain turn choline into learning-and-information neurotransmitter acetylcholine faster and more fully [11]. That means you are able to take in more sensory information at once, while simultaneously having more “raw data” to commit to memory.

While the anecdotal feedback on the substance has been very positive so far, it’s worth considering that coluracetam is a very young nootropic, and the clinical research on it is slim at best. While there are no indications that it will deviate from the racetam trend by being anything other than safe and non-toxic, it’s worth using some caution if you’re considering picking some up.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re too tired to focus, out of imaginative ideas, or just not quite as fired up about creativity as you used to be, nootropics offer something to benefit you. Read up on your substance of choice, take the recommended dose, and see for yourself how quickly you can get that brush back in your hand!

Sources

Aniracetam:

[1] – http://examine.com/supplements/Aniracetam/

[2] – http://www.braintropic.com/racetam-comparison/

[3] – http://www.smartdrugsforthought.com/what-is-aniracetam/

Phenibut:

[4] – http://www.raysahelian.com/phenibut.html

[5] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17944107

[6] – http://www.phenibutforanxiety.com/thescienceofphenibut.php

[7] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11830761

Sulbutiamine:

[8] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447

[9] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12973384

[10] – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447

Coluracetam:

[11] – http://examine.com/supplements/Coluracetam/