Nootropic Stacks for Beginners
Everyone wants to work better, smarter, and faster. Some people just want to think more clearly, while others want to stay competitive. Nootropic stacks promise a way to get there, one that doesn’t involve prescription drugs.
It’s not just the average person who’s interested, either – Silicon Valley execs are now tapping into the benefits of nootropics for greater productivity. If anything, entrepreneurs stand to benefit from nootropics the most.
Keep reading for the full beginner’s guide to nootropic stacks – and how beginners can stack their own nootropics.
What are Nootropic Stacks?
First: what the heck are nootropic stacks? Or, rather, what the heck is a nootropic?
To put it simply, it’s a supplement. Except, instead of a supplement for your bones or muscles, it’s a supplement for your brain.
Nootropics, sometimes referred to as “smart drugs”, are designed to enhance cognitive performance through a variety of brain pathways – encouraging your brain to work more effectively. They’ve even been studied as a treatment for memory disorders such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Nootropics can be naturally occurring, like American Ginseng, or lab-produced, like Piracetam.
Don’t get too confused by the phrase nootropic stacks – all it means is taking a combination of nootropics for a certain result, the same way you might take a combination of vitamins. Exactly the same, actually – some nootropics are vitamins.
How Do They Work?
There are a lot of nootropics out there, so there is no sweeping explanation of how each one works.
Broadly speaking, depending on what nootropic or nootropic stacks you’re using, they work by tweaking your brain chemistry – altering your brain’s neurochemicals, hormones, and enzymes.
That said, nootropic stacks are developing and changing quickly, especially as interest in their potential grows. After all, the promise of getting a better brain today instead of waiting a thousand years for evolution to make one for you is an alluring promise indeed. It’s hacking, but for your brain chemistry.
What Nootropics Are Not
Before you get confused, let’s back it up a step.
When you think of smart drugs, specifically smart drugs that college students are likely to use, you’re probably thinking of Ritalin, Adderall, and/or modafinil. The first two are ADHD medication; the third is prescribed for narcolepsy.
Let’s be clear: Ritalin, Adderall, and modafinil are NOT nootropics.
One more time for the kids in the back: prescription ADHD and narcolepsy drugs are NOT nootropics, and you shouldn’t be taking them in nootropic stacks. Unless, of course, a doctor has prescribed them to you for their intended purposes and you’re taking them at the recommended dosage.
Oh, and FYI: prescription antidepressants aren’t technically nootropics either. Sorry.
If you’re not sure what the line is or if you need them (or if nootropics might interact with medications you already take,) for the sake of all that’s good, don’t ask the internet for medical advice. Go talk to your doctor.
Nootropics are mostly concerned with giving a boost to the already healthy brain of someone who wants to perform a little better. Think of it like a caffeine pill (in fact, one of the most popular nootropic stacks includes caffeine. More on that topic in a minute.)
Get Started with Nootropic Stacks
You’ve seen the movie Limitless, right? The one where Bradley Cooper takes a magic pill that makes him a genius?
Real talk: if you think nootropic stacks will turn your life into Limitless (whether your feelings on that are positive or negative,) that’s not how nootropics work.
These aren’t magic pills, and they’re not genius pills either. Think of it like your morning cuppa joe or daily espresso shot – they’re a boost to your regular functioning.
Got it? Great. Let’s talk about stacks.
What You Want in a Stack
Two golden rules to keep in mind:
1) Always start out by trying individual nootropics before you try nootropic stacks
2) Know what you want your stack to accomplish for you.
One Step at a Time
First, why start out with individual nootropics? There are a few reasons for this.
The most obvious is cost – it costs more money every month to keep yourself in three nootropics instead of one. The second reason is just a good scientific method – don’t introduce multiple variables until you’ve established what the first variable actually does.
In other words: if you don’t know whether one nootropic is actually benefiting you before you start adding others, you could be wasting your money. And if you don’t know which component of the stack isn’t working, you won’t know which nootropic to swap out.
Save yourself some frustration and some moolah. Build the foundations of your nootropic stacks one brick at a time.
Know What You Want
The second half is logical when you think about it.
Nootropic stacks can accomplish a lot depending on what you want to target – better concentration, better memory, better workplace performance, etc. If you don’t know what you want your nootropics to actually achieve, you won’t know what to pay attention to in order to make sure they’re actually working.
Also, if you get sidetracked by one outcome when what you actually wanted was something else, you’re wasting your time and money.
Know thyself. Know what you want from your stacks.
Popular Beginner’s Stacks
And now, ladies and gents, it’s time for the fun part: nootropic stacks!
There are a lot of crazy combinations you can go mad scientist with on your kitchen counter, and bolder, experienced users have long lists of their daily intake (one guy by the name of Ray Kurzweil takes 150 pills a day in pursuit of immortality.)
For the beginner, though, it’s best to start out simple, with the stuff that’s popular and has known results. Here are two of the more popular nootropic stacks to get you started.
Caffeine and L-Theanine
Good old caffeine. Nectar of the gods.
It’s also one-third of the simplest nootropic stack out there. The stack is easy: one part caffeine and two parts L-Theanine. It’s also easy to find the ingredients if this is your starting stack: L-Theanine is available anywhere vitamins are sold, and caffeine? Well, it is one of the world’s most popular drugs.
The stack works as a one-two punch. The caffeine dose is there to give you the energy and focus boost you’re looking for, and the L-Theanine is there to keep a lid on the caffeine.
Because, let’s be real: caffeine is the nectar of the gods, but it’s not precise stuff and people can react badly to it (looking at you, caffeine jitters! Also it can cause insomnia, lack of sleep, and anxiety.)
How to Dose
Dosing caffeine and L-Theanine is simple. If you already drink a cup of coffee every morning, just add 200mg of L-Theanine to your morning cup.
If you don’t drink caffeine on the regular, you’re better off starting with a caffeine pill – while you can estimate how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee, it varies wildly depending on how it’s made and the type of coffee.
You can buy caffeine pills at any gas station, but they’re usually in 200mg, which is too much for those unaccustomed to caffeine even with the L-Theanine, so cut it in half.
Piracetam, Oxiracetam, and Alpha-GPC
Piracetam is a popular starter nootropic because it’s also one of the oldest and has the most clinical research. Researchers are clear on what it does and how it works. In fact, it’s the nootropic that started it all.
Piracetam is the backbone here. It can enhance memory, improve mood, and reduce anxiety. It works well on its own, but combining it with a choline source (like alpha-GPC here) makes it more potent.
Oxiracetam is in the same nootropics family as piracetam – racetams. Also like piracetam, it has an excellent safety record. In this stack, it adds to piracetam’s ability to focus you.
Then there’s alpha-GPC. It acts on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which piracetam and oxiracetam also work on. And like the other two, it’s safe and affordable.
Types of Stacks
Of course, there are a lot more stacks than just those two. And the whole point of stacks is to give a greater boost than any individual nootropic could on its own, so there’s a lot of room to experiment with stacks.
Basically: the possibilities are endless.
Depending on what you’re after, and how comfortable you are with making your own stacks versus relying on what other people have proven effective, you have a couple options for getting started.
For the newbie to nootropics, preformulated stacks are a great way to start. Especially if you’re antsy about doing some mad science with your own nootropics and doses.
You buy these stacks from supplement manufacturers – there are plenty in the nootropics business (just stick to the reliable ones.) The beauty of these stacks is that they’re known entities. The dosage is controlled and the effects of the nootropics are known.
It’s also about convenience. If you measure your own doses, you have to have your own equipment, which is more of an investment and a hassle.
That’s also the downside of preformulated stacks – you can’t experiment to find what works for you.
But for the uninitiated? Preformulated stacks are a great way to get your toes in the water without as much risk.
Then, there are custom stacks. These take a bit more adventure and are good for someone who’s more willing to tinker in order to find a combination that works.
It also makes more sense from an economic standpoint. If you buy your own nootropics individually, you can dodge the cost of packaging and shipping, and you can buy only the ones you need. It’s a blank canvas for you to have fun with.
The problem with creating your own custom stack, especially for beginners, is just that – it’s a blank canvas. It could be anything. The doses could be anything. And beginners don’t know where to start for basic nootropics, what constitutes a normal or excessive dose, and what combinations will work well together.
That said, if you do the research and are willing to be patient for the time it takes to adjust the doses for the effect you want, then if you’re feeling adventurous, custom stacks can be a satisfying way to boost your brainpower.
For those interested in doing a bit of experimenting, here are some resources to find quality nootropics outside of preformulated stacks.
Designing Your Own Stack
Okay, you say, I’m adventurous! Let’s do this!
Hold your horses, cowboy. You need to know a few things about nootropics, the first being that less is more.
Think of it this way. You could drink a cup of coffee, or you could drink a whole pot of coffee. You know that drinking the cup will give you a certain result – better focus, more energy, etc. – and you might think that adding more coffee is a good way to get more of that great result.
Anyone who ever actually consumed a whole pot of coffee will tell you it’s a horrible idea. On the other hand, a sip won’t do much for you.
Same thing goes with nootropic dosages. Start out at a comparatively low dose and see how you respond to it for a little while. Even if you think you have a great tolerance for this stuff, better to have it proven true than find out how wrong you were.
This also gives you some time to understand what side effects (and negative effects) you’re willing and able to tolerate. You’ll also find out if this nootropic is safe for you.
But seriously: if you’re ever in doubt, talk to your doctor. Even if you’re not in doubt, ask your doctor anyway. They have a wealth of medical knowledge you don’t have (funny how medical school does that.) It’ll save you a lot of trouble later.
Keep Your Nootropic Facts Straight
Love nootropics? Excited about nootropics? Curious about nootropics? Same here.