One of the great things about pre-workout supplements is that they boost mental as well as physical performance. The first time I tried a good pre-workout I was blown away by how good it made me feel and how motivated I got to do my workout.
Almost all pre-workouts contain nootropics, simply because caffeine is a nootropic, and almost all pre-workouts have caffeine (other than stim-free versions).
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are substances that improve mood and enhance cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation.
Pre-workout supplements often contain ingredients that serve dual purposes: to enhance physical performance and to improve mental focus and clarity. So some of the ingredients on the list may surprise you because you don’t think of them as primarily being nootropic in action.
Common Nootropic Ingredients
Here’s a list of common nootropic ingredients found in pre-workout formulations:
- Caffeine: A well-known stimulant that can increase alertness, focus, and energy levels.
- L-Theanine: Often paired with caffeine, L-Theanine can promote relaxation without drowsiness, potentially helping to smooth out the jitters that caffeine can produce.
- Beta-Alanine: While primarily known for its performance-enhancing properties and the “tingling” sensation it causes, it might also aid in cognitive function under stressful conditions.
- Tyrosine: An amino acid precursor to neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help improve focus and reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive performance.
- Taurine: Often included for its potential to reduce the jitters from caffeine and to improve mental focus.
- Rhodiola Rosea: An adaptogen that can help reduce fatigue and improve brain function, especially during periods of stress.
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom: Believed to support brain health and cognitive function.
- Bacopa Monnieri: An adaptogenic herb that may enhance cognitive function and reduce stress.
- Alpha-GPC: A choline-containing compound that can boost acetylcholine in the brain, potentially supporting memory and focus.
- Huperzine A: Acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which might increase acetylcholine levels in the brain, potentially supporting cognitive function.
- Noopept: A peptide that is believed to offer nootropic benefits, although it’s less common than other ingredients on this list.
- Phosphatidylserine: A phospholipid that’s a component of neuronal membranes and may support cognitive function, especially under stress.
- Choline Bitartrate: A source of choline, which is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in many brain functions, including muscle control and memory.
- DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol): Believed to increase levels of acetylcholine, which can lead to improved focus and mental clarity.
- Theacrine (as TeaCrine®): Structurally similar to caffeine, it provides stimulatory effects but with a smoother, longer-lasting profile.
When choosing a pre-workout, pay attention to its nootropics because they end up playing a big role in how the pre-workout makes you feel. And how you feel plays a big role in the success of your workouts.
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