The Beginner’s Guide to Popular Nootropic Supplements and Stacks

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Beginner's Guide to Nootropic Stacks

Welcome! If you’re reading this, you’ve taken an important first step in learning more about the world of nootropics and brain enhancing supplements. Whether you’re a writer, gamer, or entrepreneur looking for a mental edge, nootropic companies promise a lot — but what boost can you really get from the popular brain supplements? We put them to the test (repeatedly) so we can write on the science AND our personal experience with each and every brand.

What follows in our beginner’s guide to nootropic stacks is a wealth of information regarding the world’s most popular brain boosters, constantly updated with new supplements, formulations, and our experiences. Our site also provides info on the best brain health supplement manufacturers for those looking to develop their own.

But we’re not just listing the most popular products available. We’re testing each and every one of them to give you a real-world take on the best nootropics.

What We Do

Many nootropic products are “broad spectrum” stacks, which we use to refer to supplements that combine ingredients impacting cognitive function in multiple — sometimes complimentary, sometimes completely standalone — ways.

That means there’s significant overlap between some formulas, even across manufacturers. That’s why we insist so heavily upon real-world use before we write our reviews. Supplements that appear to contain the same ingredients might include them in different amounts, concentrations, or forms, which ultimately affects the consumer experience. While it’s easy to make an initial judgement based on the label alone, the proof really is in the pudding. That’s true for taking these supplements as standalones and — as experienced nootropic users sometimes do — in combination.

Today, countless supplement companies produce nootropic supplements targeted at the consumer, and access to potent nootropics is no longer restricted to the kitchen chemist ordering bulk compounds. We purchase each and every supplement we review in order to replicate the average sales experience. No special treatment, no special tester formulas, no remixing — we’re purchasing and reviewing the exact same products available to the average consumer and nootropic enthusiast.

What We Review

Best Nootropics Stacks For Beginners Guide

It’s important to note that BrainWiz does not review prescription drugs or raw ingredients labeled for research use. Homemade combinations of raw ingredient powders were once the main outlet for biohackers harnessing nootropic ingredients; however, this practice carriers with it its own series of risks, including unverified sourcing and issues with self dosing.

We’ve dedicated our time and site to reviewing nootropic stacks and supplements readily available to the consumer. It’s still important to remember there is no one governing body overseeing nootropic supplements, and as with any supplement regimen, it’s a good idea to consult with a medical professional if you have preexisting conditions or currently take medication.

Nootropics for Productivity

Iced CoffeeMost people use nootropics to increase their productivity at work. It’s the same reason people drink coffee like there’s no tomorrow — and in fact, coffee and popular nootropic supplements often contain some of the same active ingredients! Caffeine is one of the most common and most researched nootropic ingredients, and it’s a powerful anti-fatigue agent that can boost focus and attention at work.

But caffeine can be more potent than people think, and in some nootropic stacks, it can actually be a hindrance for focus. Caffeine’s side effects can include jitters and shortened attention spans, which is why many nootropic makers pair it with compounds like l-theanine, which “smooths out” coffee’s boost and improves its effectiveness in concentration. If you’re looking at a nootropic stack that contains caffeine, consider all the ingredients beforehand. Some may enhance and accentuate stimulating effects, while others — including additional stimulants besides caffeine — may create an experience that means more jitters than focus.

For supplements that contain caffeine and other stimulants, start small or at a lower dosage to assess what it does to your work output — a half dose may be plenty to give you the edge you’re looking for. 

Other common nootropic ingredients for productivity include various forms of choline — an important neurotransmitter — and substances that enhance choline metabolism. Nootropic stacks often contain choline paired with these other compounds in one package. Taking an ingredient involved in choline metabolism — like piracetam, noopept, and other related and more advanced nootropic compounds — withouadequate choline available to the brain has been known to result in headaches for some users.

Caffeine and cholinergics are two of the most common classes of compounds we see for beginner productivity stacks, and many of our favorite broad spectrum nootropics contain both groups.

Nootropics for Stress

It’s important to remember that nootropics aren’t meant to treat illnesses or medical conditions, and if you’re dealing with significant anxiety or signs of chronic stress, a brain supplement is rarely the answer. However, many nootropic ingredients can help users stay productive or focused in stressful situations.

These include adaptogens like bacopa monnieri and rhodiola rosea, two herbal extracts that help reduce some of the negative side effects associated with stressful events (like a deadline or mountains of work). In our experience, they tend not to “remove” stress altogether, but rather may take the edge off the fatigue stressful situations can accelerate.

Best Magnesium Brain SupplementMagnesium is also another supplement that our testers have found to have a relaxing or calming effect; magnesium compounds like magnesium threonate (branded as Magtein) may be more bioavailable to the brain and can also help improve sleep quality in some users. Many Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, which can contribute to restlessness.

If you’re especially sensitive to caffeine or if stimulants contribute to anxiety, consider a stimulant-free nootropics stack. It’s worth noting that some adaptogens — notably rhodiola — may actually have mild stimulatory effects for some users.

Supplement Summaries

Without further delay, below is a frequently updated list of our reviewed supplements, listed from top rated to bottom rated by our testers. We’re constantly working to improve our reviews and test the latest nootropics on the market. We hope you enjoy this compilation of our recent reviews and that it helps you find the best nootropic stack for your needs!

Neurofuse

Neurofuse ReviewManufacturerNeurofuse
Our Take: Consistent energy and focus is what our testers got from Neurofuse’s blend. Neurofuse may not be the most innovative stack on the market, but after testing it out, we actually respect that. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and falling flat, Neurofuse built a broad spectrium nootropic that delivers on its promise of both energy and focus. It’s not the fastest acting  nootropic we’ve tested (that’s likely Lumonol), but it’s probably all you need for a brain boost in a convenient delivery system (as opposed to combining multiple supplements or trying to time things precisely — generally beginner-friendly). Two of our testers felt diminishing effects after roughly a week of taking Neurofuse. After a few days off from the supplement, taking one or more capsules  of Neurorise once again produced a good wave of energy and concentration. We recommend cycling it every week or so for maximum effect. Read our full Neurofuse review here.

Stacks Well WithMagTech, BioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.7/5

Lumonol

Lumonol ReviewManufacturer: Avanse Nutraceuticals
Our Take: Lumonol is a broad spectrum nootropic stack with many of the most popular ingredients we see in this class of supplements. However, in addition to common ingredients in mainstream stacks, Lumonol also contains a few very potent ingredients that boosted it above the crowd in effectiveness and speed of action.

One of these additions is Noopept, a compound somewhat similar in effect Piracetam, a long-time preferred ingredient for nootropic/brain supplement pioneers. However, a much lower dosage of Noopept is needed to achieve the same cognitive boost — up to 1000 times less. Noopept metabolizes very quickly, within 25 minutes or less after oral ingestion, and it has a potentially cumulative effect, meaning it could get more effective after repeated use. Our testers felt its effects very quickly after taking Lumonol, possibly because of Noopept’s inclusion in the stack.

Lumonol was effective for our testers. However, this is a potent stack that contains stimulants such as caffeine from guarana in addition to a wide range of ingredients, and individual tolerance varied for us. We recommend starting with a half dosage to assess tolerance. Read our full Lumonol review here.

Stacks Well WithLumonol Nova, MagTech, BioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.6/5

RISE

IMG_5540ManufacturerNootrobox
Our Take: Silicon Valley-based nootropics manufacturer Nootrobox has received significant press and a huge injection of cash from top venture capitalists to produce innovative nootropic formulas. RISE is one of their first supplements, a combination of adaptogens Bacopa and Rhodiola and choline source Alpha-GPC. With a relatively short, stimulant-free ingredient list, RISE contains clinically-backed ingredients in a form that pairs well with coffee/tea/caffeine. RISE is as straightforward combination of adaptogens and choline that can promote clear thinking and reduce the negative effects of stress. Read our full RISE review here.

Stacks Well With: Sprint, Lumonol Nova, Matcha Chai Latte, MagTechBioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.6/5

Alpha BRAIN

20150817_154827Manufacturer: Onnit
Our TakeAlpha BRAIN is an effective caffeine-free and BSCG Certified nootropic stacked with a number of effective earth-grown ingredients. This BSCG certification signifies that Alpha Brain is drug-free and comprised only of naturally grown ingredients, making it somewhat unique in the nootropic space.

In addition to a cognitive boost, some users feel increased focus and stamina. When taken in the afternoon, Alpha BRAIN can induce vivid, lucid dreams at night. Though its perceived effects seem to diminish over time, taking a break from the supplement for a few days seems to be enough time for its effectiveness to return. Read our full Alpha BRAIN review here.

Stacks Well With: MagTech, New Mood, Smart Caffeine, Coffee
BrainWiz Rating: 4.5/5

truBrain Shots

IMG_5188 (1)Manufacturer: truBrain
Our Take: truBrain has innovative packaging and marketing behind it, but what impresses us most about the company is the team of trained neuroscientists and researchers who develop their products. Most of our testers enjoyed the product, and there’s more to truBrain’s shots than novelty. These shots contain oxiracetam, a member of the potent racetam class of compounds popular among biohackers, and consumer-facing nootropics manufacturers have only recently begun incorporating them in mainstream stacks. Our testers felt no jitters when taking truBrain shots, which is a rarity for supplements that include moderate to significant amounts of caffeine. The effects did build over time, so it takes a bit of patience in order to get the  maximum benefits of this supplement. Individuals taking MAO-inhibitors or who suffer from compromised renal function or hemophilia should not take truBrain.

If you drink smoothies or protein shakes, or are looking for a brain supplement that provides all-day clarity, truBrain’s shots are convenient and pleasant-tasting additions to a morning routine. Read our full truBrain review here.

Stacks Well WithBioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.5/5

Alpha BRAIN Instant

Review of Alpha BRAIN instant, an Onnit nootropic supplementManufacturer: Onnit
Our TakeAlpha BRAIN Instant is a powdered version of Onnit’s popular Alpha BRAIN supplement. Though similarly formulated, Alpha BRAIN Instant contains different amounts of active Onnit blends per serving than Alpha BRAIN in capsule form.

Read our full Alpha BRAIN Instant review here.

Stacks Well With: MagTech, New Mood, Smart Caffeine, Coffee
BrainWiz Rating: 4.5/5

MagTech

MagTech by Natural StacksManufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our Take: Magnesium is one of the minerals many Westerners are deficient in. It plays important roles in muscular health, sleep, and brain function. Magnesium comes in many different compounds and forms, of which MagTech contains three highly absorbable forms that are better able to cross the blood/brain barrier than most. Our testers appreciated the improved sleep quality and overall improvement in mood they experienced while taking it. The effects on focus and memory recall may take longer to feel than the nearly immediate improvement they felt in rest quality.

Overall, this is the top magnesium-based supplement we’ve tried. Because it’s a fairly straightforward magnesium supplement, MagTech is one of the few supplements we’ve had success pairing with almost all broad spectrum nootropic stacks. Read our full MagTech review here.

Stacks Well With: Pairs well with most broad spectrum stacks
BrainWiz Rating: 4.5/5

BioCreatine

BioCreatine Natural Stacks ReviewManufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our Take:Research-backed strength-builder creatine monohydrate — common for most high level athletes, generally safe to use, and not a banned performance enhancer — has some impressive nootropic properties, and brain supplement manufacturers are taking note.

BioCreatine is the best creatine supplement our testers have ever tried for both athletic performance and cognitive enhancement. It’s easy to take, seems to contain high-quality creatine monohydrate, and is generally cost-effective compared to a lot of other creatine supplements sold as nootropics. Our testers who have previously taken creatine preferred this over all other brands and supplements they’ve tried. Read our full BioCreatine review here.

Stacks Well With: Lumonol, Unfair AdvantageMagTech, Alpha BRAIN, truBrain
BrainWiz Rating: 4.5/5

Smart Caffeine

Smart Caffeine By Natural StacksManufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our Take: Smart Caffeine is a straightforward pairing of theanine and caffeine in a 2-to-1 ratio. Often paired with caffeine, l-theanine’s effects appear complementary to the world’s most popular stimulant. It may also increase brain activity and memory. L-theanine is commonly found in green tea, and a standard cup contains around 20 mg (so one pill of Smart Caffeine contains a high dosage relative to standard tea consumption). Though common, caffeine is still a stimulant, so start slowly if you’re sensitive to such substances. Read our full Smart Caffeine review here.

Stacks Well With: Caffeine/stimulant-free stacks such as Alpha BRAIN and Dopamine Brain Food, MCT Oil and capsules, Magnesium supplements
BrainWiz Rating: 4.4/5

SPRINT

Review of nootropic Sprint, made by Nootrobox

Manufacturer: Nootrobox
Our Take: SPRINT by Nootrobox got us excited with some more rarely seen ingredients on top of a tried-and-true base pairing, and overall, it feels like a pretty standard caffeine-theanine pairing with just a little something extra. If you’re looking for a simple, beginner’s nootropic stack, SPRINT may be a good starting point that pairs well with Nootrobox’s RISE supplement. Read our full SPRINT review here.

Stacks Well With: Caffeine/stimulant-free stacks such as RISEAlpha BRAIN, and Dopamine Brain Food, MCT Oil and capsules, Magnesium supplements
BrainWiz Rating: 4.4/5

Unfair Advantage

IMG_4906Manufacturer: Bulletproof
Our Take: Unfair Advantage is a combination of forms of PQQ and CoQ10, compounds tied to antioxidant effects and mitochondrial production. Our testers have had a lot of success stacking it with other popular nootropic supplements, as there’s rarely ingredient overlap with Unfair Advantage. This is one supplement where we’ve seen some significant variability in effects from person to person, especially when it comes to speed and duration of effects, so user experience may vary. Read our full Unfair Advantage review here.

Stacks Well WithBrain Octane SoftgelsCholine Force, Neurorise
BrainWiz Rating: 4.3/5

GABAwave

20150817_154836Manufacturer: Bulletproof
Our Take: [Note: Currently, GABAwave is unavailable from the Bulletproof/Upgraded Self. Recently, we’ve seen many phenibut-containing supplements taken off the market.] GABAwave is Bulletproof’s form of phenibut, a nootropic compound that is known for its ability to easily transport GABA across the blood-brain barrier. It is linked to improved cognitive function, and many users also feel a release in stress and anxiety, as well as improved sleep. Read our full GABAwave review here.

Stacks Well With: Note: May cause increased sensitive and side effects when paired with stimulants or alcohol.
BrainWiz Rating: 4.3/5

Neuro Elite

Neuro EliteManufacturer: Neuro Elite
Our Take: Neuro Elite is a broad spectrum nootropic stack that our testers found consistent and dependable. It also contains caffeine and a research-supported blend of energy boosters, making it ideal for morning consumption (but not great for the evening). Neuro Elite was especially good and effective for use when facing stressful situations, likely due to its included adaptogens. Read our full Neuro Elite review here.

Stacks Well With: MagTech, BioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.3/5

Rhodiola Extract by Solaray

Rhodiola by SolarayManufacturer: Solaray
Our Take: Rhodiola rosea is one of the most well-researched and well-known nootropic ingredients derived from plants. This adaptogen is linked to increased feelings of physical and mental endurance while reducing the negative effects of stress — all with very few reported side effects. Solaray produces one of the most popular formulations. It’s straightforward without an unnecessarily high concentration; it’s unlikely that very high doses of Rhodiola Rosea are more effective at reducing fatigue and improving cognition over lower doses, and after a certain point (think north of 600 mg), high amounts might actually be ineffective. Rhodiola is often paired with other ingredients in nootropic stacks, and it’s also been effective for our testers on its own. Read our full Rhodiola by Solaray review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, Smart Caffeine, truBrain
BrainWiz Rating: 4.2/5

Dopamine Brain Food

Dopamine Brain Food reviewManufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our TakeDopamine Brain Food is a caffeine-free stack designed to increase and support the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, creativity, and athletic ability. Our testers generally liked this product, and most of them have said that they will keep the product in their supplement rotation. Though its observed effects can  diminish over time, taking a break from the supplement for a couple of days was enough time for its effectiveness to return. Our testers had the most success with cycling this product as opposed to continuous use. Read our full Dopamine Brain Food review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, MagTechBioCreatine, Smart Caffeine
BrainWiz Rating: 4.1/5

Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps

Review of Mushroom Coffee Cordyceps, a Four Sigmatic product

Manufacturer: Four Sigmatic
Our TakeFour Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps surprised us and — at least mildly — impressed even our biggest coffee fanatics. It may be a great option for people who do well on smaller amounts of caffeine but would still like the buzz and energy boost with a lower instance of jitters and no crash. The flavor of the coffee is good, albeit extremely mildit will likely be too light for those accustomed to a stronger brew. Some of our bolder testers mixed it with both protein shakes and coffee with great success. Read our full Mushroom Coffee with Cordyceps review here.
Stacks Well With: Other adaptogenic blends like RISE
BrainWiz Rating: 4.1/5

Brain Octane Softgels

Bulletproof Brain Octane Softgels ReviewManufacturer: Bulletproof
Our TakeBrain Octane Softgels are an ultra-portable version of Bulletproof’s popular Brain Octane Oil, a highly refined version of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). While the amount of fatty acids in a serving (or two) of softgels is significantly lower than in a tablespoon of the liquid oil, our testers found the capsules to be a handy option suited for the workplace or travel. These could be a welcome stimulant-free addition to a existing nootropic stacks. Read our full Brain Octane Softgels review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, Smart Caffeine, Alpha BRAIN, Neurorise, Lumonol, Neuro Elite, Unfair Advantage, Choline Force
BrainWiz Rating: 4/5

Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane

Our review of Mushroom Coffee Lions Mane, including our personal experience and side effects. A Four Sigmatic product.

Manufacturer: Four Sigmatic
Our Take:Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane was generally well received by our testers, who appreciated its mild taste and calming effect. While we’re slightly skeptical this amount of Lion’s Mane can significantly boost cognition with one serving, we enjoyed the rhodiola-caffeine pairing for a stress-fighting combo. For its cost and ingredient profile, Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane provides solid value for its cost-per-serving in a travel-friendly and convenient delivery system. Read our full Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane review here.
Stacks Well With: Other adaptogenic blends like RISE
BrainWiz Rating: 4/5

Matcha Chai Latte (Onnit)

Matcha Chai Tea By OnnitManufacturer: Onnit
Our TakeOnnit Whole Spice Matcha Chai Latte Tea contains both caffeine and L-theanine, along with some other neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and energy-sustaining ingredients. It’s first and foremost a delicious coffee replacement — be it in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up — and secondly a mild nootropic in its own right. The Whole Spice Matcha Chai Latte is a mild nootropic when used on its on, and a great product to stack with caffeine-free supplements, like Alpha BRAIN. Our testers reported experiencing clarity, sharper focus, and a calm alertness even with a pretty mild caffeine content. Read our full Matcha Chai Latte review here.

Stacks Well WithAlpha BRAIN, Rhodiola, RISE
BrainWiz Rating: 4/5

Serotonin Brain Food

Seratonin Brain Food ReviewManufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our Take: Like Dopamine Brain Food, Serotonin Brain Food is a caffeine-free stack designed to increase and support the production of a neurotransmitter, in this case serotonin. It contains magnesium glycinate, zinc, l-tryptophan, and rhodiola for a stack that seemed to enhance relaxation and calm more than focus. Read our full Serotonin Brain Food review here.
Stacks Well With: Coffee, MagTechBioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 4/5

Choline Force

Choline ForceManufacturer: Bulletproof
Our TakeCholine Force is a caffeine-free nootropic stack that’s may be best for those suffering from a choline deficiency. In addition to a cognitive boost and improved focus, some users feel increased physical energy. However, we have tested broad-spectrum nootropic stacks that worked more consistently across users. Though its perceived effects seem to diminish over time, taking a break from the supplement for a few days seems to be enough time for its effectiveness to return. Read our full Choline Force review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, Smart Caffeine, Unfair AdvantageMagTech
BrainWiz Rating: 3.9/5

Lumonol Nova

Lumonol NovaManufacturer: Avanse Nutraceuticals
Our TakeLumonol Nova is simple stack featuring L-Tyrosine, Caffeine, and L-Theanine as active ingredients. It gives a calm and clean energy boost, unlike the jitters some experience from caffeine on its own or in coffee. Our testers felt focused and energized, and the energy just mellowed out, rather than producing a crash. It tested similar to Smart Caffeine, and our testers were split as to which they preferred. For beginners in the world of nootropics, a simple two-ingredient stack like Smart Caffeine is usually a good starting point and may be a better option for the caffeine-theanine pairing.

Those who paired it with Lumonol felt that the effects of both supplements were heightened and complemented by each other. This may not be the best supplement for those not willing to give up their cup of coffee, but it is a convenient energy and mood booster. Read our full Lumonol Nova review here.

Stacks Well WithLumonol, Rhodiola
BrainWiz Rating: 3.9/5

Neuro-Mag

Neuro-Mag By Life ExtensionManufacturer: Life Extension
Our TakeNeuro-Mag is a straightforward way to supplement magnesium threonate, its only active ingredient. It can be taken on its own and stacks well with other supplements we’ve tested. Studies have linked supplementation of this form of magnesium with neuroprotective effects and improved brain health, especially in older subjects.

There are several other nootropic magnesium stacks on the market that include other forms of magnesium in addition to magnesium threonate. Our favorite of these is MagTech, which all our testers preferred to Neuro-Mag. Read our full Neuro-Mag review here.

Stacks Well With: Pairs well with most broad spectrum stacks
BrainWiz Rating: 3.9/5

brüd Coffee and truBrain Focus Sticks

Review of Brud Coffee Focus Sticks, a TruBrain product

Manufacturer: truBrain
Our Take: truBrain’s new coffee blend is a tasty light roast, though not the most flavorful or potent blend we’ve tried by any means. Their Focus Sticks contain a pairing of Alpha-GPC and Theanine, and when taken with their coffee in hot or cold forms, our testers enjoyed increased focus. However, they also found the Focus Stick delivery system and packaging to be awkward and paired with unnecessary sweetener. Read our full review of truBrain’s coffee and Focus Sticks here.
Stacks Well With: Coffee
BrainWiz Rating: 3.8/5

OptiMind

IMG_0135 (2)Manufacturer: AlternaScript
Our Take: OptiMind’s formula consists of a number of popular nootropic ingredients paired with energy boosters like caffeine and B vitamins. Our testers experienced a mental and physical boost, but the fact that the amount of caffeine per serving is not listed had some of our testers feeling like Goldilocks: It took awhile to find the right dosage for them.

OptiMind’s manufacturer has some mainstream traction, and their formula is a bit different than others we’ve encountered (for example, it doesn’t contain a direct form of choline, but it does have ingredients involved in choline production). If you’re interested in trying OptiMind, we recommend starting with a low dosage to assess tolerance. Read our full OptiMind review here.

Stacks Well With: Choline rich foods
BrainWiz Rating: 3.8/5

CogniYouth

CogniYouthManufacturer: CogniYouth
Our Take: CogniYouth is a basic broad-spectrum stack of very common nootropic ingredients. It is also stimulant free. The manufacturer claims it was originally designed as a “brain vitamin” to aid in long-term brain health and cognition maintenance with age. It could be a good option for those looking to get the adaptogenic benefits of Rhodiola rosea and Bacopa monnieri  without a lot of excess ingredients. Read our full CogniYouth review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, Unfair Advantage, BioCreatine
BrainWiz Rating: 3.7/5

Cognitex

File_000Manufacturer: Life Extension
Our TakeCognitex is a mild cognitive enhancer with apparent cumulative effects, and it is a potential option for those just starting to explore nootropics. It contains a broad spectrum of common nootropic ingredients — including Alpha GPC — along with some lesser-seen, branded extracts. It is a caffeine and stimulant-free stack. Read our full Cognitex review here.

Stacks Well WithSmart Caffeine, MagTech, Unfair Advantage
BrainWiz Rating: 3.7/5 [Controversial]

SharpMind

SharpMind by SolarayManufacturer: Solaray
Our Take: SharpMind is a caffeine-free nootropic stack best for those without a sensitivity to Ginkgo. Our testers found the effects to be mild, but generally consistent, with only one tester not feeling any effects. This is potentially a good starting stack for beginners. This supplement may pair well with coffee tea or guarana, for those who drink caffeine regularly. Read our full SharpMind review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee, Smart CaffeineLumonol Nova
BrainWiz Rating: 3.7/5

Neuro Clarity

Neuro Clarity ReviewManufacturer: Nutrition Essentials
Our Take: Neuro Clarity is a fairly basic stack of non-stimulatory ingredients. Many are involved in the metabolism of choline, though this supplement surprisingly contains no significant choline source, which seems to be a significant oversight. Pairing with a choline-rich food or supplement may increase the effects of Neuro Clarity. Read our full Neuro Clarity review here.

Stacks Well With: Choline rich foods
BrainWiz Rating: 3.4/5

Ginkgo Smart

IMG_5142Manufacturer: Irwin Naturals
Our Take: Ginkgo smart is another broad-spectrum nootropic stack that also contains omega-3 fatty acids and may double as a fish oil supplement. We found its effects quickly noticeable but not very long lasting, though we did experience some stomach cramps when taking it apart from food. Read our full Ginkgo Smart review here.

Stacks Well With: Smart Caffeine, MagTech, BioCreatine, RISE (half dosage)
BrainWiz Rating: 3.3/5

FOCUSfactor

FOCUSfactor by Synergy CHC CorpManufacturer: Synergy CHC Corp
Our TakeFOCUSfactor is a “brain health supplement” marketed as nutrition for the brain; the manufacturer claims it improves memory, concentration, and focus. What stands out about FOCUSfactor is that the 40-ingredient supplement reads a lot like a multivitamin up until the “Synergistic and Proprietary Formulation,” which blends a number of common nootropic ingredients. Overall, FOCUSfactor is a very mild caffeine-free nootropic stack and multivitamin, and the amounts for most of its nootropic ingredients are unlisted. Read our full FOCUSfactor review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee
BrainWiz Rating: 3/5

Focus Fast

Focus Fast ReviewManufacturer: Enyotics
Our Take: Focus Fast is another combo multivitamin/nootropic stack with undisclosed amounts of key ingredients (see FOCUSfast, above). Read our full Focus Fast review here.

Stacks Well With: Coffee
BrainWiz Rating: 2.9/5

CILTEP

IMG_5398Manufacturer: Natural Stacks
Our Take: CILTEP is one of the most talked-about and hyped nootropic stacks in recent memory. Somewhat unique among nootropics, CILTEP claims to operate by increasing long-term potentiation (LTP) within the brain; LTP is a consistent strengthening of synapses within the brain. It’s thought that memory formation and synaptic strength are heavily connected, and by inducing long-term potentiation, the makers of CILTEP claim its ingredients can boost memory, focus, and cognition. The science behind CILTEP is based on complex chemical interactions and ingredients that still have a long way to go as far as research-backed effectiveness; it’s possible CILTEP’s long-term potentiation mechanism isn’t actually occurring at a significant level. Positive effects on cognition may result from the action of individual ingredients as opposed to the proposed pathways outlined above. Read our full CILTEP review here.

Stacks Well WithSmart Caffeine, MagTech, Dopamine Brain Food
BrainWiz Rating: 2.5/5 [Controversial]

Nootroo

Nootroo LabelManufacturer: Life Extension
Our Take: Nootroo is a relatively straightforward stack that comes in two forms: one contains gold flakes, and the other silver flakes, and they’re meant to be taken on alternating days. The formulas are essentially the same, except for the featured ingredient: noopept for gold and phenylpiracetam for silver. In addition, Nootroo contains choline (as Cognizin), theanine, and caffeine.

While the ingredients in these stacks are well-researched and known give a cognitive boost — as they have in other supplements we’ve tested — there is no information available on the amounts of each ingredient in Nootroo’s proprietary blends, and our testers felt significant jitters without a ton of upside when taking this supplement. Read our full Nootroo review here.

Stacks Well With: N/A
BrainWiz Rating: 2.4/5

Addium

Review of the Addium nootropic supplement, including side effects

Manufacturer: Precision Labs
Our Take: Addium felt much more like a quick stimulant rush with a resulting crash with its combo of stimulants and common nootropic ingredients (in unspecified amounts). The amount of caffeine in Addium is not listed, and most testers felt like it was the equivalent to about 2 shots of espresso.  If you are a coffee drinker, you may want to try Addium in the afternoon, instead of that second cup of coffee. This may not be the best supplement for those sensitive to niacin or stimulants in general. Read our full Addium review here.
Stacks Well With: N/A
BrainWiz Rating: 2/3.5

Glutathione Force

Glutathione Force review Bulletproof productManufacturer: Bulletproof
Our Take: Glutathione is an incredibly important molecule for human bodies, and an entire “glutathione system” based around its role as one of the body’s most important antioxidants. Glutathione acts through a complex system of enzymes and processes, and the theory behind glutathione supplementation is to provide cells with more of the molecules necessary for this entire system to run well. However, glutathione is generally fairly abundant in food, and there’s some debate over whether or not supplemented glutathione can actually make it to the body’s cells intact.

Our testers experienced very limited results from this supplement. Glutathione Force is an interesting idea in theory, but in practice there’s not a ton of evidence the body is able to utilize it as the manufacturer claims. For now, supplementing N-Acetylcysteine may be more effective to promote the antioxidant benefits of the glutathione system. Read our full Glutathione Force review here.

Stacks Well With: N/A
BrainWiz Rating: 2.1/5

Brain Awake

Brain AwakeManufacturer: Irwin Naturals
Our Take: Brain Awake had a similar effect to Bulletproof Coffee, but it wasn’t quite as pronounced, and the focus our testers felt wasn’t nearly as sharp as other supplements in recent memory. The inclusion of Holy Basil extract as the adaptogen of choice also has us scratching our heads a little bit, as there are similarly effective choices in existence without the same potential side effects.

If you like the effects of Bulletproof Coffee but aren’t a coffee drinker, Brain Awake is a zero-prep-required substitute. Overall, our testers reached for other supplements after their trial of Brain Awake was over. Read our full Brain Awake review here.

Stacks Well With: N/A
BrainWiz Rating: 2/5

Focus+

Review of the brain supplement Excelerol Focus Plus by

Manufacturer: Excelerol
Our Take: Focus+ by Excelerol is a liquid capsule nootropic stack. The list of ingredients in the Focus+ stack is familiar, featuring a significant number of well-researched nootropics, paired with an unknown (but observationally high) dose of stimulants and adaptogens. Focus+ may be a good alternative for non-coffee drinkers looking for a buzz, but for our testers, the benefits stopped there. Despite having an impressive list of ingredients, the fact that neither the quantities nor concentration of many ingredients listed makes us doubt there’s enough of them in the stack to really make a difference. Read our full Focus+ review here.

Stacks Well With: N/A
BrainWiz Rating: 1.9/5

Some Our Favorite Supplement Stacks

Some of the most common questions we get revolve around which nootropic combos we like for various purposes. This can be anything from fighting fatigue to improving conversational recall or staying our sharpest when traveling. Below are some of our testers’ favorite stacks for various situations and challenges. Click the links on each to learn more about how we’ve found success timing each stack for maximum effect.

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