Smart Nootropic Stacks

They could help boost your performance in the gym.

While nootropics have been known to enhance cognition, mental acuity, and memory, they can also help with athletic performance, says Neil Paulvin, DO, a New York City-based physician. Athletes might see the most benefits by using a combination of nootropics rather than taking them individually. Certain nootropics can enhance each other’s positive effects, explains Chris Friesen, Ph.D., director at Friesen Sport & Performance Psychology in Ontario and author of the High Achievement Handbook series. Taking two or more together is known as a stack. One example is “combining caffeine and the amino acid commonly found in tea, l-theanine, which tends to decrease the physiological jitters from caffeine and also produces calmer and relaxation alpha waves in the brain,” says Friesen.

Just like any vitamin or supplement, all nootropics can have negative side effects that range from digestive discomfort and dizziness to insomnia, says Paulvin. And despite the fact that they’re legal, “we really don’t know what these drugs do to our bodies and brains over the long-term,” adds Friesen, which is why he recommends talking to your doctor first. As a general rule of thumb: Look for products that contain ingredients extracted from herbs or found in other natural sources, says Brandon Mentore, CSCS, a Philadelphia-based coach with Precision Nutrition.

Here, three nootropic stacks that Mentore finds are popular among athletes.