Supercharge brainpower at no cost to brain health with the best caffeine pills.

Caffeine pills get a bad rap in the nootropic community.

And for a good reason:

  • Many nootropic supplements use caffeine to mask the ineffectiveness of their formulas.

It’s easy to trick the brain into thinking that a supposed “brain health” supplement is working when that supplement is stock full of feel-good caffeine.

The same principle applies to other health and fitness supplements. Such as pre-workout stacks and energy boosters.

After all, our mind’s default setting tends to seek what feels good in the short-term. Rather than what feels good in the long-term.

Even though the long-term benefits of, say, a healthy nootropic stack are more stable over time.

But this isn’t to say that there are no benefits to adding a bit of stimulation to your daily health stack.

In fact... when modestly dosed and when paired with nootropics, caffeine may be an effective performance enhancing tool for both athletes and academics—and everyone else seeking better cognitive performance.

In this article, we cover the key distinctions between a “good” caffeine pill vs. a “bad” caffeine pill, as well as our selection for the Best Natural Caffeine Pills for More Brainpower in 2020.

The Beginner’s Guide on Caffeine Pills

It doesn’t get much simpler than caffeine pills, right?

Toss a little bit of caffeine into a pill. Et voila! There you have it:

...a caffeine pill… right?

While this is how many supplement manufacturers go about formulating their caffeine pills and energy stacks, this is far from the best way to formulate a caffeine pill.

Even worse, many other supplement manufacturers deceitfully sell caffeine pills under the guise of providing a brain healthy nootropic stack full of advanced, exotic brain boosters and herbal extracts (that ultimately are too underdosed to work).

We call these types of disingenuous supplements “fairy dust.”

Caffeine with a Sprinkle of Fairy Dust

Because the term “caffeine pill” has become somewhat of a pejorative, many supplement manufacturers have resorted to creative marketing tricks to sell their cheap caffeine pills under a different name.

Naturally, many of these types of caffeine pills have hijacked the nootropic market.

Rather than improve upon their caffeine pill formulas, they resort to a technique called “fairy dusting.

What is fairy dusting?

This involves hiding an excess amount of caffeine within a long list of extremely poorly dosed nootropics and herbal extracts.

A quick glance at the Supplement Facts of a “fairy dusted” caffeine supplement would give the false impression that its caffeine content is in good company with many other nootropics.

Because caffeine feels noticeably good, it’s easy to mistake the stimulatory effects of caffeine as a sign that all those nootropics listed on the Supplement Facts are actually working.

For those expecting genuine nootropic results this is annoying.

However, for those not expecting caffeine at all—and who may have a heightened sensitivity to caffeine—these pills may be harmful to their health and performance.

One of the easiest ways to get away with selling caffeinated fairy dust is by hiding the ingredients beneath a proprietary blend.

The Problem with Proprietary Blends in caffeine supplements

Have you ever wondered why some caffeine supplements reveal their individual ingredient dosages while others do not?

This is because some caffeine supplements hide their dosages under a proprietary blend.

What are proprietary blends?

In a proprietary blend, the names of the ingredients used in the formula are listed but not the precise amount of each ingredient.

On the Supplement Facts, a proprietary blend may be listed as a “blend,” a “complex,” a “matrix,” a “Super Duper Advanced Proprietary X-Treme Blend”—anything to connote that the following list of ingredients is so advanced and special as to warrant secrecy from competing supplement companies.

So what's the problem with proprietary blends?

The problem with this is that proprietary blends obscure ingredient dosages to buying customers, intentionally keeping the customers in the dark, as is often the case when caffeine is involved.

More often than not, if you see caffeine listed at the top of a proprietary blend, odds are caffeine is the formula’s only bio-active ingredient—the rest is useless, sparkly fairy dust.

Bottom Line: Proprietary blends keep the customers, not competitors, in the dark.

Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer?

Fairy dust or no, the question remains: is caffeine a nootropic?

Because caffeine offers a quick, easy fix of feel-good stimulation, there’s a reasonable notion that we enjoy caffeine at the expense of our health. And, certainly, many of us do negatively impact our health by consuming excessive amounts of caffeine.

Even so, research does suggest that caffeine’s “indirect action on arousal, mood and concentration contributes in large part to its cognitive enhancing properties.”[1]

The emphasis on “indirect” here is noteworthy. Taken at a modest dosage, caffeine seems to indirectly improve mood, alertness, and athletic performance. Yet, though it does have cognitive enhancing properties, unlike true nootropics, caffeine is better classified as a stimulant.

The Difference Between Stimulants vs. Nootropics In terms of Cognitive Performance

Roughly speaking, stimulants promote short-term cognitive performance at the cost of long-term brain health. 

On the other hand, nootropics promote cognitive performance by strengthening brain health.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for virtually all psychotropic substances: if it makes you feel really, really good with very little effort, odds are it’s not good for you.

Though many nootropics provide noticeable, reliable, fast-acting results, many of the best nootropics require ongoing daily supplementation to reach peak effect.

Think of it like exercising: after one workout, you won’t notice any significant results.

However, after several weeks of consistent exercise, you’ll definitely notice a boost in your health and fitness.

Caffeine somewhat straddles that line.

A little bit of daily caffeine does have its advantages.

Yet, we tend to consume too much daily caffeine, resulting in a fun jolt of brain-waking energy and a not-so-fun accumulation of jittery side effects.

A bottle of Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab Stim

Caffeine Boosts Three Key Aspects of Performance

If caffeine has cognitive enhancing properties when taken correctly, what are they?

And are there other health and fitness advantages to supplementing caffeine?


And here are three key aspects of caffeine’s performance enhancing benefits:

1) Nootropic Cognition

No doubt, the most observable effect of caffeine is its boost on cognitive performance.

Though not exactly a true-blue nootropic, caffeine does improve cognitive performance. Caffeine seems to do this by improving:

  • Neurotransmitters: as an adenosine antagonist, caffeine influences neurotransmitter activity related to acetylcholine, dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin, all of which contributes to caffeine’s stimulant effect;[2]
  • Neuroprotection: by boosting gene expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth factor associated with memory, emotional stability, and brain development, caffeine may possess neuroprotective and neuroregenerative advantages that helps regulate long-term synaptic plasticity;[3]
  • Mood Levels: some serotonergic nootropics require long-term supplementation to reach peak effect, whereas caffeine’s mood boosts occur almost immediately, [4] likely due to the stimulant’s promotion of GABAergic, dopaminergic, and serotonergic activities.

2) Athletic Intensity

Of course, responses to caffeine’s ergogenic potential may vary from individual to individual based on weight and type of sport. But for the most part even low doses of caffeine seem to boost athletic intensity and performance.[5]

Naturally, the boost on mood and alertness may improve high-intensity training results and competitive performance. However, caffeine may also possess an analgesic (pain relieving) effect that’s beneficial to sport performance.[6]

3) Thermogenic Fat Loss

Caffeine may assist with healthy weight management and fat loss by promoting thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and energy intake (EI).[7]

Though the full extent of caffeine’s effects on appetite require further research, current data suggests caffeine to be an effective dietary aid and weight management tool for increasing fat loss.

In addition to boosting thermogenesis (calorie burning), this is also likely due to caffeine’s indirect association with high-intensity activities, such as exercise.

What to Look for in a Caffeine Supplement

With caffeine pill supplements, as with all supplements, the three criteria of a “good” supplement stack involve:

  • Transparency: supplements with no proprietary blends or obscured ingredient dosages;
  • Quality: supplements with natural caffeine paired with natural, potent ingredients;
  • Quantity: supplements without too much caffeine to ensure scalability—i.e., that you can take as many or as little caffeine pills per serving as desired.

Particular to caffeine pills, however, is the need for additional nootropics—namely L-theanine—to balance and smooth out the stimulant’s jittery, rough edges.

Below are a few Mind Lab Pro® nootropics supplements that pair well with caffeine—that may help maximize the stimulant’s positive effects while minimizing its unwelcomed side effects.

Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics with Caffeine

Though all Mind Lab Pro® nootropics supplements work to improve your brainpower with or without caffeine, the following cognitive enhancers work particularly well with caffeine.

The first nootropic on this list is practically a must-have when taking caffeine.


Extracted from green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis), L-theanine is an anxiolytic amino acid that helps calm the mind without also sedating it.

The well-known Caffeine + L-Theanine stack is well-known for a reason:

This nootropic combination works incredibly well - delivering the familiar stimulant benefits of caffeine while mitigating the stimulant’s negative jittery side effects.

Why does green tea calm the mind while coffee ramps it up, despite both having caffeine?

It's in large part due to green tea’s L-theanine content, which works by promoting alpha brainwaves, the electric brain frequencies associated with calm, free-flow thinking.[8]

  • One study on the combined use of caffeine (50 mg) and L-theanine (100 mg) found the combination effective at improving participants’ speed and accuracy on attention-switching tasks and resistance to distractions on memory tasks, leading to the conclusion that “L-theanine and caffeine in combination are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks.”[9]

More on Mind Lab Pro® L-Theanine here.


A pro-catecholamine amino acid that acutely improves mood, motivation, and attention under conditions of high stress and sleep deprivation.

Under stressful conditions, the brain naturally burns through the body’s L-Tyrosine reserves to synthesize catecholamine neurotransmitters, a class of neurochemicals associated with attention, alertness, and other fight-or-flight brain bio-pathways.

By essentially putting the brain and body in a simulated state of stress, caffeine’s stimulant effects increase the brain’s demands for L-tyrosine, thereby increasing tyrosine burnout.

And once your tyrosine reserves burnout, your brain burns out and the brain fog kicks in.

  • Interestingly, one study observed positive effects on athletic performance with the combination of caffeine, L-theanine, and L-tyrosine, leading the researchers to the conclusion that “supplementation with caffeine, theanine and tyrosine could potentially hold ergogenic value for athletes in sports requiring rapid and accurate movements.”[10]

More on Mind Lab Pro® L-Tyrosine here.

Rhodiola Rosea

Powerful herbal adaptogen from Siberia that may influence the release of stress hormones while improving energy metabolism for better brainpower and physical performance.

One of the most exciting botanical nootropics is Rhodiola rosea, a highly bio-active herbal ergogenic and cognitive enhancer that may help mitigate the deleterious side effects of caffeine by reducing excess stress hormone cortisol activity.

Triggered by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the body’s stress response system, cortisol is secreted under conditions of stress.

By helping regulate cortisol secretion, Rhodiola may help lower excess stress hormone in the face of heightened stress.[11]

  • Given that caffeine may elevate stress hormone cortisol by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS),[12] Rhodiola rosea’s demonstrated regulatory benefits on stress hormone cortisol secretion may be useful in combating any potentially harmful aspects of caffeine’s stress-inducing bio-activities.

More on Mind Lab Pro® Rhodiola Rosea here.

B Vitamins

Involved in hundreds of bodily pathways, B-vitamins play key roles in sustaining healthy neurotransmitter levels and energy metabolism.

Supporting serotonin and catecholamine syntheses, B-vitamins are essential to long-term brain health and cognitive performance.

Due to their co-participation in the synthesis of mood- and focus-related neurochemicals, B-vitamins are also essential to sustaining caffeine’s stimulatory effects.

However, due to caffeine’s diuretic effect, we tend to rapidly urinate high levels of our B-vitamins when we consume caffeine.[13]

This partially explains the post-energy crash that comes with consuming high levels of caffeine.

Supplementing a smart B-vitamin complex may help replenish vitamin levels lost to caffeine’s diuretic effect, thereby sustaining cognitive performance well after the stimulant wears off.

More on Mind Lab Pro® Vitamin B6 here.

More on Mind Lab Pro® Vitamin B9 here.

More on Mind Lab Pro® Vitamin B12 here.

Best Caffeine Pills to Buy in 2020

A bottle of Performance Lab Stim

Call it Caffeine 2.0: Performance Lab® Stim is an ultramodern stim stack for today’s ultramodern thinkers, from competitive athletes to hard-working academics—and beyond.

To Buy, Visit: 

Performance Lab Stim: Quick Review 

Much more than a caffeine pill, Performance Lab® Stim delivers an ultramodern take on the traditional stim stacks by augmenting everyone’s favorite stimulant -caffeine - with a smart selection of caffeine-balancing amino acids and vitamins.

With 50mg Natural Caffeine + 100mg Suntheanine®, an advanced L-theanine form, Performance Lab® Stim is a superior, performance-tuned supplement that, thanks to its slim formula design, stacks easily with other cognitive enhancing supplements.

However, caffeine and L-theanine isn’t all this supplement is about. For a deeper look at this stim stack, let’s check out Stim’s formula.

Performance Lab® Stim Formula Analysis

The ingredients listed on Performance Lab® Stim’s Supplement Facts include:

  • NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex
    • Riboflavin+ (Vitamin B2), 500mcg
    • Vitamin B6+, 750mcg
    • Folate+ (Vitamin B9), 167 mcg
    • Vitamin B12+, 2mcg
  • Natural Caffeine (from Coffea robusta seeds), 50mg
  • Suntheanine® L-Theanine, 100mg
  • Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, 250mg

Whereas many caffeine pill stacks tend to overdo it on the stimulation, supplying upwards of 300+ mg of caffeine per serving, Performance Lab® Stim supplies a modest 50mg caffeine.

Taking this short, sweet, and simple approach to caffeine comes with two remarkable benefits:

(1) this amount minimizes the cognitive impairing side effects of caffeine

(2) this amount allows you to better customize your intake, depending on your caffeine tolerance.

Need more than 50mg caffeine? Double or triple the pill count per serving.

Even at these higher dosages, the caffeine stays within manageable territory, thanks to the performance-tuning and caffeine-balancing advantages of Stim’s unique two-stack formula design.

Performance Lab® Stim improves caffeine’s cognitive enhancing effects with an innovative dual-stack formula design, which splits into the following:

Stack #1 – Performance-Tuned Stimulation

\the central “caffeine pill” component to this formula is comprised of the popular and well-researched caffeine + L-theanine duo at a 2:1 ratio of natural caffeine extracted from Coffea robusta seeds and bio-enhanced L-theanine as Suntheanine®.

Stack #2 – Caffeine Balance and Recovery

What goes up must come down, and, thus, to counteract the stimulatory high of caffeine, Performance Lab® Stim supplies a smart counterbalancing addition of L-tyrosine.

This replenishes the catecholamine depletion effects of caffeine, and a potent, easy-to-absorb B-vitamin complex (B2, B6, B9, B12) that helps restore B-vitamins lost to caffeine’s diuretic effect.

Additionally, Performance Lab® Stim, like all Performance Lab® products, prepares and delivers its formula without any artificial additives or synthetic chemicals.

Instead, Stim encapsulates its ingredients in the clean, probiotic-cultured NutriCap® capsules.

Inside and out, this stim stack is all-natural, plant-based, vegan-friendly, eco-friendly, non-GMO goodness—nothing more, nothing less.

Who takes Performance Lab® Stim?

Performance Lab® Stim is a caffeine pill designed for both nootropic enthusiasts and stim junkies alike.

If you’re caffeine sensitive, yet you still enjoy the familiar boost of focus and energy that comes with caffeine, the modest 50mg caffeine dose per serving makes this a reasonable portion of nootropic-enhanced stimulation.

Likewise, for those who enjoy much more caffeine, yet still do not enjoy the post-energy crash that comes with that much stimulation, this formula’s easy stackability and balance+recovery ingredients definitely make this an appealing stim stack option.

How to take Performance Lab® Stim

The directions for Performance Lab® Stim supplements are:

Take 1 capsule for stimulation. Taken as directed, Stim’s 50 mg caffeine serving size is effective for most.

Those with greater tolerance or a higher optimal caffeine dose may take additional Stim NutriCaps® in 50 mg caffeine increments up to 250 mg (5 NutriCaps®) per day, due to the formula’s scalable design.

Where to buy Performance Lab® Stim

To buy Performance Lab® Stim supplements, visit here.

All Performance Lab® products sell exclusively through, including a wide range of stim-free health and fitness supplements that stack well with Performance Lab® Stim’s optional add-on stim formula.

Our Final Thoughts on the Best Caffeine Supplements for Cognitive Performance

Mind Lab Pro® + Performance Lab® Stim stack the best stim-free cognitive enhancers with the best caffeine pills for more brainpower in 2020.

Brain performance doesn’t have to come at the cost of brain health.

Likewise, enjoying the feel-good benefits of caffeine doesn’t have to come with the feel-bad parts.

  • What goes up must come down. Thankfully, with Performance Lab® Stim’s brain-balancing vitamins and aminos, the stimulatory high of Stim’s caffeine doesn’t follow with a brain-bruising crash-landing.

And with both Mind Lab Pro®’s neuroprotecting cognitive enhancers and Performance Lab® Stim’s additional vitamins and aminos, not only will you enjoy the popular performance advantages of caffeine + L-theanine, but your brain will also enjoy the long-term benefits of this brain-nourishing nootropics.

Even though caffeine is a short-term brain booster, that doesn’t mean your natural caffeine pills can’t also come with long-term health advantages.

To see drastic improvements in both your short- and long-term cognitive performance, stack Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® Stim.

To get the best deal on Mind Lab Pro®, click here.

To get the best deal on Performance Lab® Stim, click here.

BONUS – Ultimate Stim + Stim-Free Energy Stack

Take your pick: stim or stim-free energy? Or, better yet, why not both?

Thanks to Mind Lab Pro®’s Universal Nootropic™ formula design and Performance Lab® Stim’s slim stim “scalable” formula, these two supplements stack easily not only with each other but with other cognitive enhancers and energy boosters—stim or stim-free.

To create the Ultimate Stim + Stim-Free Energy Stack, consider stacking Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® Stim with the following supplements:

Performance Lab® Energy

The ultimate stim-free energy booster for ATP production, mitochondrial genesis and function, overall metabolic efficiency, and more.

Ingredients: Acetyl L-Carnitine (from Acetyl L-Carnitine HCL), Microencapsulated Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, MicroActive® Q10 (Coenzyme Q10), BioPQQ® (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone [PQQ]), BioPerine® Black Pepper Extract (Piper nigrum) (fruit) (95% piperine)

  • Designed for natural ATP energy enhancement, Performance Lab® Energy is the perfect stim-free complement to Performance Lab® Stim’s caffeine-powered formula. Whereas Stim promotes acute focus, energy, and mood boosts, Performance Lab® Energy works as a daily energy enhance for a natural boost on long-term, cellular energy. Taken together, Stim works on today’s energy levels while Performance Lab® Energy strengthens your energy-producing baseline for better overall vitality every day.

A bottle of Performance Lab Energy

To get the best deal on Performance Lab® Energy, click here.

Performance Lab® MCT

A healthy fat source to pair with fat-soluble nootropics and a clean performance fuel for brain energy, fasted training, metabolism, and overall health.

Ingredients: C8/C10 MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) Oil from 100% Organic Coconuts

  • Combining C8 MCT (caprylic acid), the most keto-active MCT, with C10 MCT, a mitochondrial energy boosting MCT, Performance Lab® MCT is a substantial upgrade over the usual C8-heavy bulletproof-style MCT oil. And extracted from 100% organic coconuts via hexane-free technology and distilled 3X for purity, this MCT oil is easily one of the cleanest brain energy oils available. Stack with Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® Stim daily to keep your body metabolically charged and your brain well-fueled with ketone energy.

A bottle of Performance Lab MCT

To get the best deal on Performance Lab® MCT, click here.

Performance Lab® SPORT Pre

The cleanest stim-free PWO supplying muscle-priming creatine and muscle-pumping L-citrulline (and more) for all-around enhanced exercise performance.

Ingredients: Sodium (from Himalayan Pink Salt), Creatine (as Creapure® pH10), Cordyceps Sinensis (as Cordyceps Super™), L-Citrulline, L-Glutamine (from Ajinomoto®), L-Carnosine (N-beta-alanyl-histidine), Himalayan Pink Salt, Maritime Pine Bark Extract

  • Supplying plant-based sports nutrition in prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® capsules, Performance Lab® SPORT Pre is the cleanest, greenest pre-workout supplement to improve exercise performance without the use of stimulants or synthetics. By boosting muscle energy and circulation with creatine, L-citrulline, and cordyceps—in addition to many more natural fitness boosters—SPORT Pre primes muscle tissue for both aerobic and anaerobic athletes. And by pairing SPORT Pre with Performance Lab® Stim, you may enjoy this stim-free stack with the optional competitive advantages of Stim’s nootropic-enhanced caffeine.

A bottle of Performance Lab Pre

To get the best deal on Performance Lab® SPORT Pre, click here.


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  2. Daly JW et al. The role of adenosine receptors in the central action of caffeine. Pharmacopsychoecologia. 1994; 7(2): 201-213.
  3. Lao-Peregrin C et al. Caffeine-mediated BDNF release regulates long-term synaptic plasticity through activation of IRS2 signaling. Addict Biol. 2017 Nov; 22(6): 1706-1718.
  4. Bjorness TE, Greene RW. Adenosine and Sleep. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009 Sep; 7(3): 238-245.
  5. Spriet LL. Exercise and Sport Performance with Low Doses of Caffeine. Sports Med. 2014; 44(Suppl 2): 175-184.
  6. Davis JK, Green JM. Caffeine and anaerobic performance: ergogenic value and mechanisms of action. Sports Med. 2009; 39(10): 813-32.
  7. Harpaz E et al. The effect of caffeine on energy balance. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2017 Jan 1; 28(1): 1-10.
  8. Nobre AC et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17 Suppl 1: 167-8.
  9. Owen GN et al. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug; 11(4): 193-8.
  10. Zaragoza J et al. Effects of acute caffeine, theanine and tyrosine supplementation on mental and physical performance in athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019; 16: 56.
  11. Anghelescu IG et al. Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2018 Nov; 22(4): 242-252.
  12. Lovallo WR et al. Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Mar; 83(3): 441-447.
  13. Ulvik A et al. Coffee consumption and circulating B-vitamins in healthy middle-aged men and women. Clin Chem. 2008 Sep; 54(9): 1489-96.