Standalone nootropics produce standalone effects. Stacking nootropics may synergize, multiply, and complement standalone effects for transcendent cognitive enhancement.
The art of alchemy may be dead but the search for the philosopher's stone is not. It's simply transfigured into the art of nootropic stacking, which simply refers to:
Combining two or more cognitive enhancing or neuroprotecting substances at the same time to produce a sum greater than its parts.
Single nootropic ingredients may help alleviate single issues, particularly nootropic nutrient deficiencies – e.g., B vitamin deficiency.
However, even these "single issue" nootropics may do better by stacking them with other nootropics that either:
A) target the same cognitive biopathway, or
B) require the complementary nootropic to fulfill its bio-benefit – e.g., B vitamins co-facilitate the neurochemical conversion of nootropic L-tyrosine.
Yet, the result of stacking nootropics isn't always a positive one.
Combining ingredients occasionally produces negative outcomes as well, whether it's due to poor ingredient interactions, intestinal absorption competition, or some other unforeseen adversity.
This is why many nootropic enthusiasts turn to pre-made nootropic stack supplements before jumping to their own DIY creations.
For both the new nootropic beginners and the nootropic veterans, we'll review everything you need to know about nootropic stacking strategies.
Let's get started.
The Beginner's Guide on Nootropic Stacking
A nootropic stack may consist of either:
A) standalone nootropics, or
B) nootropic sub-stacks – which may subdivide into more nootropic sub-stacks.
The stack of rocks pictured above encapsulates the potential complexity of a nootropic stack perfectly.
Altogether, the picture showcases a single stack – however, the stack is supported by two sub-stacks (the left and right "legs"), while also supporting tiny "accessory" stacks to the left and right of the main stack.
How this translates into a possible nootropic stack regimen:
- The single stack - involves every nootropic you consume within a day.
- The left and right "legs" - distinguish your morning stack and evening stacks; each containing their own corresponding nootropics.
- The tiny "accessory" stacks - consist of your "as-needed" nootropics; e.g., your workout stack, your studying stack, your anxiety stack, etc.
Granted, you don't necessarily need to stack as many nootropics as there are rocks in the image above. (In fact, that would probably be a bad idea.)
A nootropic stack may be as simple or complex as you need it to be – there is no single right or wrong way to create a personal nootropic stack.
Getting the stack right can be a delicate procedure.
But there are still right and wrong ways to go about crafting a functional nootropic stack. Such measures in determining the rightness or wrongness of a stack include:
- Dosaging - proper ratios between ingredients are important considerations to ensure that one ingredient is overpowering or nullifying the effects of another, especially if you're stacking stimulants with relaxants.
- Interaction - some ingredient pairs just do not mix well, regardless of dosage, and should be avoided to reduce risk of either side effect or no effect.
- Format - powders, pills, capsules, tablets, liquids... there are numerous methods to supplementing nootropics. Depending on the content and quantity of your nootropics, the format may have a significant impact on outcome.
Once you hit that stacking sweet spot, the next natural question is: How do I know if my stack is any good? Most of the time, the only way to find out is to consume it – yet, there are key components to a good nootropic stack worth keeping in mind.
What Makes a Good Nootropic Stack?
Not everyone shares the same cognitive goals and worries. What might significantly improve one person's cognition may do nothing for another's – or it may do something, just not what the user wants.
Granted, most natural nootropics come with universal benefits for everyone, but the degree to which those benefits are noticed – or appreciated – depends on the user.
Most nootropic supplements target a specific cognitive outcome: memory, focus, attention, energy, stress, neuroprotection – and stack their nootropic ingredients accordingly.
The Three Best Nootropic Stacking Strategies
The best nootropic supplements in 2020, however, have achieved a "Universal Nootropic" status by adhering to the measures that make for an all-around good nootropic supplement, those measures being:
Synergy can be accomplished by stacking nootropic ingredients that mutually amplify and enhance each other's brain-boosting bio-effects – resulting in 1 + 1 = 3 benefits.
Arguably, synergy is the ultimate goal of a well-rounded stack, the net result of the next two points.
Multiplication occurs when the same bio-benefit is targeted through multiple, diverse biopathways.
For example, if a nootropic user wished to enhance motivation, then a good stack would include nootropics that replenish dopamine as well as enhance dopamine receptors, resulting in a greater, comprehensive outcome.
For a complete, well-rounded experience, it's essential to find nootropic pairs that consist of complementary bio-effects.
The best complementary pairs operate by polishing off the "rough edges" of each involved nootropic while sustaining their cognitive benefits.
In fact, the (arguably) most popular nootropic stacking strategy works by this method, and it's a perfect start to our list:
Mind Lab Pro® Stacks Within Stacks
Natural Focus Stack: L-Theanine + Caffeine
The classic nootropic stack: green tea and a smart phone.
L-theanine, as a standalone nootropic, is one of the most effective, reliable cognitive enhancers on the market, used by both students and athletes for its acute relaxant properties.
Why students? The anxiolytic amino's promotion of alpha brainwaves helps to stabilize lucid thinking in a way that bolsters attention and free-flowing creativity without putting a damper on energy or motivation.1 Great for calm, collected focus during lectures, exams, and study sessions.
Why athletes? The boosts on calm focus help to maintain a clear head in the gym and after a workout, enhancing post-exercise relaxation for deeper recovery. The amino's support on inhibitory neurotransmitters may help bodybuilders achieve better sleep for bigger muscle gains.2
Why not? Good question: why not supplement L-theanine, even if you're not a student or athlete? L-theanine is one of the few nootropics to universally benefit cognition, and its cognitive enhancing effects become more pronounced when stacked with the world's favorite stimulant drug. More on Mind Lab Pro® L-Theanine
Stacking Tip: The combined effect of L-theanine (100 mg) and caffeine (50 mg) has been found to improve various cognitive measures on performance and mood, including speed and accuracy of performance and reduced susceptibility to distracting information.3 With that in mind, shoot for a 2:1 L-theanine to caffeine ratio.
Ultimate Memory Stack: Citicoline + Bacopa Monnieri
Of the nootropic choline donors, citicoline is the best for its two-in-one nootropic status, granted by its two bound compounds:
- Choline - precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter involved in learning, memory, and neuromuscular activation.4
- Cytidine - precursor compound to uridine, a nootropic nucleotype involved in synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis. More on Mind Lab Pro® Citicoline
Acetylcholine receptor in a phospholipid bilayer.
Whereas citicoline supplies raw choline for acetylcholine production, Bacopa monnieri may further enhance the brain's acetylcholine status by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for acetylcholine breakdown. The combination may not only improve acetylcholine levels but keep them active longer for enhanced memory and learning capacity. More on Mind Lab Pro® Bacopa
Stacking Tip: While Mind Lab Pro® sports an entirely caffeine-free, synthetic-free design, piracetam users may greatly benefit by Mind Lab Pro®'s citicoline. Racetams also engage the brain's cholinergic pathways, yet often cause brain burnout without an additional choline source. Combining citicoline with racetams may alleviate the latter's risk of side effects.5
Maximum Motivation Stack: N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine + B Vitamins
In neurotransmitter terms, the word "motivation" stands synonymous with the catecholamine brain chemical dopamine. As a key component of the Reward Pathway, dopamine essentially rewards the brain with pleasure upon learning new information, solving a hard problem, etc. A healthy dopamine response lends to healthy motivation levels.
Which is why L-tyrosine, a precursor to catecholamines, is a popular nootropic options among users low on motivational fuel. Even highly active individuals experience overwhelming levels of stress, which in turn may contribute to tyrosine burnout.
- Supplementing L-tyrosine may help replenish dopamine levels affected by high stress and activity, keeping your motivation momentum rolling through otherwise hard times. More on Mind Lab Pro® N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
However, to maximize L-tyrosine's motivational potential, be sure to stack the amino with B vitamins, co-factors in L-tyrosine's ultimate conversion to dopamine and other catecholamines. Given that B vitamin levels naturally deplete as we age, supplementing them may generally improve motivation and mood levels affected by aging. More on Mind Lab Pro® B Vitamins
Stacking Tip: Always look for the best amino and vitamin ingredient forms. For 100% Brainpower™ performance, Mind Lab Pro® uses the premium L-tyrosine form: N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine – in addition to an easily absorbed NutriGenesis® (formerly BioGenesis™) blend of B vitamins.
Brain Longevity Stack: Pine Bark Extract + Lion's Mane Mushroom
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
To protect itself against the salty winds of coastal environments, maritine pine bark carries a rich antioxidant complex known as proanthocyanidins, which may be extracted and supplemented to reduce the age-accelerating effects of free radicals in the brain. The primary nootropic benefits of these polyphenols are:
- Cerebral Circulation - proanthocyanidins may relax blood vessels, boosting delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.6
- Neuroregeneration - flavonoids have suggested links to increased activity of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key to brain growth.7 More on Mind Lab Pro® Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Brain cells require constant nourishment and protection for healthy growth and maintenance.
Lion's Mane Mushroom
This aptly named fungus is one of the few natural substances with links to the brain's natural production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).7 In the brain, NGF helps sustain healthy cognitive function by:
- Promoting neuronal growth, connectivity, and organization.
- Enhancing long-term potentiation (LTP).
- Modulating myelination – the protective sheaths – of neurons.8,9 More on Mind Lab Pro® Lion's Mane Mushroom
Together, Maritime Pine Bark Extract and Lion's Mane Mushroom may contribute towards similar neuroregenerative and neuroprotective results by targeting similar brain health biomechanisms: free radical reduction, brain-derived growth factor, nerve growth factor, and more.
Stacking Tip: Natural nootropics are best supplemented in their bio-active formats. Mind Lab Pro® supplies pine bark extract and lion's mane mushroom as highly potent, full spectrum extracts for better, safer results.
Competitive Brainpower Stack: Rhodiola Rosea + Phosphatidylserine
Competitive brainpower applies to both the academic and athlete -- essentially anyone who relies on the quickness and clarity of their cognitive senses to succeed.
For the academic, Rhodiola rosea may significantly enhance one's thinking capacity by reducing the negative, mind-numbing effects of stress and fatigue. And for the athlete, the adaptogen's stress and fatigue reducing benefits may improve the brain and body's resistance to exercise-induced stress and exhaustion. More on Mind Lab Pro® Rhodiola Rosea
Phosphatidylserine, on the other hand, despite a stronger association with age-related memory benefits, seems to also double as sports nutrition. One study has found phosphatidylserine to improve golf performance.10 And another study demonstrated a reduction in exercise-induced stress associated with over-training.11 More on Mind Lab Pro® Phosphatidylserine
- Together, Rhodiola and phosphatidylserine may help keep the brain and body in tip-top shape, exceeding your performance beyond that of your competition.
Stacking Tip: Rhodiola rosea extract affects cognition quickly, lasting up to 4-6 hours, whereas phosphatidylserine requires long-term supplementation to reach peak effect. Both can be supplemented daily.
Mood Boosting Stack: L-Theanine + B Vitamins
As the calming agent in green tea, L-theanine essentially acts as a natural anxiolytic, ameliorating anxiety for better mood control. If the amino complements caffeine by reducing the stimulant's jitters without negatively affecting focus or energy, so does the nootropic "mellow out" cognition in the face of anxiety. And L-theanine does this by promoting alpha brainwave states:
- Alpha brainwaves associate with creative, free-flow thinking; a slightly meditative mindset that's still "zoned in" on the task at hand. Great for creatives.
B vitamins, namely vitamin B6, assist with mood balance on the brain chemical end, optimizing catecholamine synthesis for bright, healthy emotions. Together in Mind Lab Pro®, L-theanine and B vitamins may support positive mood balance across two bio-pathways for overall better emotional control.
Sunset or sunrise? No matter, there's joy in both.
Stacking Tip: Note that L-theanine and B vitamins have already been listed in other stacks on this list. Stacking L-theanine and B vitamins with L-tyrosine and caffeine may create a stack-on-stack nootropic multiplicity of benefits, ranging from mood, motivation, focus, and energy.
Crash-Free Energy Stack: Citicoline + Rhodiola Rosea
In addition to supporting cholinergic memory status, citicoline also significantly improves brain energy output. Essentially, citicoline operates as a mini-nootropic stack – it may not possess as much choline as, say, alpha-GPC, but it stacks its choline with uridine-producing cytidine, a combination that possesses significant energy production potential. One study finding a 14% increase in brain ATP and 7% increase in phosphocreatine levels with citicoline supplementation.12
And the boost on basic, natural energy contributes to other brain health benefits, such as enhanced neurotransmission and synaptic plasticity.
Rhodiola rosea operates from the other end, reducing energy loss by limiting the negative effects of stress hormone cortisol. In short bursts, cortisol helps the brain and body adapt to stressful, high activity conditions. Yet, in excess the hormone may significantly damage cognitive efficiency.
Thus, stacking citicoline with Rhodiola rosea may help sustain long-term brain energy, minus the usual crash side effects associated with typical synthetic stimulants.
Stacking Tip: Brain activity, maintenance, growth – basically every brain action requires energy. Mind Lab Pro® stacks citicoline and Rhodiola not only to improve cognitive energy but to create a solid enough base for the other nootropic stacks to operate at full efficiency.
Nootropic Stacking Conclusion
Mind Lab Pro® nootropic stacks-within-stacks strategy layers the brain benefits for an all natural, all powerful Universal Nootropic™ design.
Mind Lab Pro® packs its all natural capsules to their edges with nootropic stacks within stacks within stacks, achieving a unique and smartly crafted synergy of brain boosting benefits. And while each nootropic stack focuses on a particular cognitive issue, the sum total of this nootropic synergy comes out to the same thing: 100% Brainpower™.
Next-Level Performance Stacking: Mind Lab Pro® + Other Supplements
Due to its innovative stacking strategies, Mind Lab Pro® is the single greatest nutritional supplement for enhancing brain health and cognitive function. As such, Mind Lab Pro® can optimize many different aspects of life that are driven by healthy brainpower.
Mind Lab Pro® delivers superior cognitive results when taken on its own.
But since your brain is your entire universe, stacking Mind Lab Pro® with supplements outside the brain health category also opens up a whole world of exciting performance possibilities.
Let's take a look at some nutritional supplement categories that may produce the greatest combined benefits when stacked with Mind Lab Pro®.
Mind Lab Pro® + Multivitamin Supplement
Mind Lab Pro® supplies a complex of nootropics that work to support brain health and cognitive function at the same time. After all, a healthy brain simply functions better.
- The starting point of healthy function across all organs and body systems, including the brain, is a strong foundation of essential vitamins and minerals.
However, there are several other essential nutrients for brain health that are not found in Mind Lab Pro®. Therefore, a good-quality multivitamin supplement is the first priority when it comes to stacking other supplements with Mind Lab Pro®.
In addition to the B6, B9, and B12 found in Mind Lab Pro®, a multivitamin supplement will supply brain health nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and others.
Recommended Multivitamin to stack with Mind Lab Pro®:
Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi
Like Mind Lab Pro®, Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi uses NutriGenesis® nature-identical vitamins and minerals with cofactors and probiotics that boost nutrient bioavailability, metabolism and utilization.
Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi is an ideal nutritional starting point for vibrant overall health – including brain health, especially when stacked with Mind Lab Pro®.
Mind Lab Pro® + Energy Supplement
Mind Lab Pro® helps to support mental energy in several different ways. These energizing effects in the brain can be complemented and even amplified by stacking Mind Lab Pro® with a good energy supplement. Some ingredients to look for in energy supplements that work well in conjunction with Mind Lab Pro include:
- CoQ10 – present in nearly every cell in the body, CoQ10 enables the bioenergetic processes that power all life forms on earth, simply by transporting electron
- PQQ – similar to CoQ10, PQQ is a cell energizer with antioxidant properties that is notable for its ability to help support, optimize and multiply cells' mitochondria power plants that produce ATP energy
- Acetyl L-Carnitine + Alpha Lipoic Acid – this emerging energy stack has been shown in research to help with food metabolism, power-up muscle, and protect cells mitochondria with high antioxidant activity
The above natural energizers are all stimulant-free, matching well with Mind Lab Pro®'s design. However, Mind Lab Pro® also stacks well caffeine for those who prefer stimulant-driven energy formulas.
Recommended Energy Supplement to stack with Mind Lab Pro®:
Performance Lab® Energy
Performance Lab® Energy supplies the CoQ10, PQQ and the ALCAR/ALA combo to support ATP energy production, mitochondrial function and overall metabolic efficiency.
Promoting crash-free vitality at a cellular level, Performance Lab® Energy energizes body and mind without using stimulants. Its clean, sustained vitality support combines with Mind Lab Pro® to unleash superior whole-life energy.
Mind Lab Pro® + Pre-Workout Supplement
Athletes and fitness buffs sometimes take Mind Lab Pro® before workouts to "get in the zone" – gaining focus, motivation, and energy to train with greater mental intensity and achieve greater results.
On its own, Mind Lab Pro® can function as a pre-workout supplement – but it really only works on the cognitive aspects of training.
Therefore, stacking Mind Lab Pro® with an advanced physical pre-workout supplement can deliver even better training performance:
- Mind Lab Pro® can amp up your drive, intensity and focus to achieve greatness in the gym or on the playing field;
- The right pre-workout supplement then powers up muscles for strength, power and endurance – helping your body to realize what your brain can visualize.
Recommended Pre-Workout Supplement to stack with Mind Lab Pro®:
Performance Lab® SPORT Pre
Featuring Creapure® pH10 creatine, Setria® Performance Blend, Ajinomoto® amino acids and more, Performance Lab® SPORT Pre supports muscle energy, lactic acid buffering, blood flow to muscles, electrolyte replenishment, oxygen utilization and muscle strength.
As it enhances muscle power, training intensity and endurance, Performance Lab® SPORT Pre works in harmony with Mind Lab Pro® to promote superior mind-body performance.
Mind Lab Pro® + Sleep Supplement
Mind Lab Pro® enables you to work harder, study longer, and generally compete at a higher level of cognitive intensity throughout many aspects of your life. This is a highly sought after benefit; however, what goes up must come down.
Healthy downtime from high-performance thinking driven by Mind Lab Pro® must include adequate rest, including deep regenerative sleep. For this reason, it is smart to combine Mind Lab Pro® with a quality sleep supplement.
Recommended Sleep Supplement to stack with Mind Lab Pro®:
Performance Lab® Sleep
Featuring NutriGenesis® Magnesium, CherryPURE® 50:1 tart cherry extract and TryptoPure® L-Tryptophan, Performance Lab® Sleep supports calming neurotransmitters, muscle and nerve relaxation, muscle and joint comfort, sleep onset, sleep quality and healthy circadian rhythm.
The result: Performance Lab® Sleep not only help you to get to sleep faster and more easily, but also extends regenerative sleep phases. This deep sleep support optimizes brain regeneration, replenishes lost neurotransmitters, and promotes brain cell repair – helping to rejuvenate the brain and amplify Mind Lab Pro®'s 100% Brainpower™ effects the next day.
Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® are Opti-Nutra Quality.
Made to the same exacting standards of excellence, Mind Lab Pro® and Performance Lab® formulas stack together perfectly to produce superior health and performance results in both body and mind.
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- Jager R et al. The effect of phosphatidylserine on golf performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007; 4: 23.
- Starks MA et al. The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Jul 28; 5: 11.
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