With the increasing popularity of nootropics, there's been a huge increase in poor and overhyped supplements. There are hundreds of different products, but in my experience, very few of them actually work.
Being a certified fitness coach, I teamed up with a few colleagues and clients and spent over six weeks researching and testing nootropics to uncover the best ones we can recommend to our clients and readers.
So today, we are going to tell you about our test results and research to give you the best chance of finding effective supplements.
The Best Nootropic Supplements For Men
- Best Overall Nootropic Supplement for Men: Braini
- Cheapest Nootropic Supplement for Men: Host Defense Lion's Mane
- Best Male Formulated Nootropic for Best Focus: Mind Lab Pro
- Best Caffeine-Free Nootropic Pills for Men: Onnit Alpha-Brain
- Best Vegan Nootropic Supplement for Men: Mind Lab Pro
- Best Gluten-Free Nootropic Capsules for Men: Host Defense Lion's Mane
- Nootropic Supplement Best for Male Bodybuilders: Braini
- Natural Nootropic Formula Best for Men: NOOCUBE
- Best Nootropic for Muscle Growth: Mind Lab Pro
- Best Nootropic for Beginners: Mind Lab Pro
Our Top Nootropic Supplements (December 2023)
1 - Braini (Best Overall & for Bodybuilders)
Braini contains Peptylin, NeurXcel, and wild Canadian blueberry — three well-researched ingredients by the Journal of Medicinal Food for their ability to enhance cognition and attention .
A recent randomized trial actually demonstrated Braini’s effectiveness in boosting cognitive flexibility and executive function (focus and multitasking) .
Having tested it for a month, I experienced better focus and concentration during workouts, which allowed me to adopt new exercises quickly and perform better overall.
- Braini Proprietary Blend (Peptylin, NeurXcel, and wild Canadian blueberry): 700 mg
- Product was proved successful in a clinical trial
- Enhances mental clarity and focus with strenuous physical activity
- Noticeable results in 30 days with a money-back guarantee
- Safe for all ages, starting from eight
- It takes a bit longer to feel the full effects
2 - Mind Lab Pro (Best for Focus, Beginners & Vegans)
Mind Lab Pro is one the strongest brain-boosting supplements available today, designed to improve brain functions such as motivation, memory, mental clarity, focus, and calmness.
The company boasts its formula containing 11 natural nootropics that are effective for everyone, from professionals and students to athletes and senior citizens. And I personally experienced a great mental boost from day 1.
- Lions Mane Mushroom: 500 mg
- Citicoline: 200 mg
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine 175 mg
- Made from high-quality ingredients with no proprietary blend
- Enhances cognitive function
- Effectively boosts short and long term memory
- Improves creativity and abstract thinking
- Comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee
- Only available on the company website
- Might be hard to stack with other supplements
With the tagline "100% Natural Brain Power", we liked that Mind Lab Pro provides pure and clean ingredients—nothing in the way of fillers or stimulants.
3 - Onnit Alpha-Brain (Best Caffeine-Free)
Onnit’s Alpha-Brain, backed by Joe Rogan, promises to get you “into the zone” by sustaining focus and energy with carefully selected botanicals and amino acids.
The addition of B6 to the formula is good as it promotes many body functions, including enhancing focus and cognitive function, and many users report feeling the effects quickly .
Though the back of the label gives some ingredient information, I am not a fan of the proprietary blends as they lack transparency. But our test results show that it delivers great results for better focus.
- Vitamin B6: 10 mg
- It is caffeine-free, which can appeal to users sensitive to caffeine.
- It contains vitamin B6 for enhancing brain function.
- Bulk order discount.
- “Blends” on the label lack ingredient transparency.
4 - Hunter Focus
Hunter Focus, from the Hunter Evolve brand, is a nootropic with an emphasis on giving you more. In some instances, you’ll find 25% more of these key ingredients in a serving on Hunter Focus.
One example is Bacopa Monnieri, which is at 200 mg in the Hunter Focus formula. You’ll normally see it at around 150mg in other products. This dedication to large servings means that you’re getting more for your money, which brings us onto price.
- Lion's Mane Mushroom: 500 mg
- Ashwagandha Extract: 500 mg
- Bacopa Monnieri: 200 mg
- Large ingredient sizes per serving – A huge 180 capsules in each bottle, that’s 6 per day
- Can improve brain function such as memory, productivity, and mood
- Other reviews indicate concentration and focus improvements
- Transparent formula
- More expensive, but you get much more for your money
Hunter Focus utilizes safe and tested ingredients proven to deliver the brain function advantage and help the brain cells unlock their potential.
5 - NOOCUBE Brain Productivity (Best Natural)
This is not just a cool name with an even cooler logo but a nootropic that a lot of users are leaving positive reviews in the Facebook groups and forums I researched. One of the most common highlights I saw in reviews is that it works very well to improve concentration.
I noticed the effects within about 30 minutes of taking the supplement, which is pretty effective. I didn't see any reviews reporting side effects, which makes the product really enticing.
- Bacopa Monnieri: 250 mg
- L-Tyrosine: 250 mg
- Cat's Claw Concentrate: 175 mg
- All-natural nootropic ingredients
- Enhances cognitive function
- Improves focus and concentration
- Boosts memory and learning
- Not vegan certified
With a promise to "upgrade the brain", Noocube combines several natural herbs and brain-boosting amino acids to create a synergy in the brain cells to improve memory and focus as well as upgrade learning capabilities.
A bottle of Noocube is already enough for a month and if you feel like the product's not for you, you can get a full refund within 60 days after your purchase.
The only downside I could find is that it isn’t vegan-friendly, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a plant-based product.
6 - TruBrain
What attracted me to the TruBrain product is the very convenient liquid form that comes in small pouches.
You can choose from 5 formulas namely Sleep, Mellow, Medium, Strong, and Extra Strong, which are designed to target different problem areas in cognitive function.
Some of the active ingredients include melatonin, hemp oil, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, L-Carnitine, and Adrafinil, and these allow brain cells to make new connections through proper modulation of oxygen and blood flow.
No doubt that podcast host Joe Rogan loves this product.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine: 500 mg
- N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine: 350 mg
- Noopept: 20 mg
- Boosts brain function and mental output
- Choose from 5 formulas with the option to include caffeine
- Good source of vitamin C
- Not the cheapest option on a daily basis
It’s not the cheapest option when you work it out on a per day basis, but if you’re looking for convenience, then this is a good choice for your mental function.
7 - Host Defense Lion's Mane (Cheapest & Gluten-Free)
As a wholly organic and 100% sustainable product, only the best of the crops make it into these nootropic supplements.
Being gluten-free and vegan-friendly, our testing team found these capsules are suitable for everyone who wants to enhance their mental performance, such as focus, mental clarity, cognitive abilities, and memory.
- Lion's Mane: 1000 mg
- Made from certified organic ingredients
- Enhances cognitive function for better focus, mental clarity, and memory
- Improves brain function by supporting nerve growth factor for better mental health
- Supports cerebral and nervous systems
- May cause a slight itchiness in a very small number of people
These smart drugs can also help to boost your nervous and immune systems so that both your body and mind are in tip-top shape.
We noticed that many users comment on how they feel more energized, focused, positive, clear-minded, and confident after taking Horse Defense Lion's Mane. Some people say that this particular brand works better for their mental function than the others that they have tried.
8 - Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
This creatine monohydrate powder supports muscle strength, size, and power when used as part of your post-workout shake.
My dietitian pointed out that creatine is a fantastic compound that helps transport muscle-building nutrients to your body tissue by way of fluids, especially in the form of creatine monohydrate. One teaspoon a day is sufficient to promote muscle gain and power successfully.
- Creatine Monohydrate: 5000 mg
- Low dosage yet great results
- Increases mental performance and brain function
- Heightens energy levels
- Enhance energy reserves in muscles while minimizing protein breakdown
- No side effects
- No flavoring so can taste a bit bland
- Chalky and hard to dissolve in water
- No scoop included
This powder is one of the most popular supplements around, but some might not like the flavor and texture since it's a bit bland and chalky. Others also complain about how it stays solid in water even after stirring and shaking.
Blending it with your flavored drink of choice might help, but it still depends on your taste preferences.
9 - Jarrow Formulas Theanine
Containing the relaxant theanine, which is abundant in green tea, we found it to be one of the best brain supplements for helping you to relax and unwind.
By working on the dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters in your brain cells, these capsules will help you to achieve a state of calmness that will allow the worries of the day to float away, leaving you feeling serene and stress-free.
Best of all, this nootropic supplement does this without making you drowsy, so you can enjoy your tranquil mood without the fear of nodding off.
This also means that you can put your great mood to use in whichever way you choose.
- L-Theanine: 200 mg
- Relieves stress
- Does not make you drowsy
- Promotes learning abilities
- Not the most pleasant taste
- May not be suitable if you take blood pressure meds
Many people have found that by relieving the mind of stress and transforming it into a relaxed state, this creates the perfect mental environment for learning, so these capsules may come in extremely useful if you are studying.
10 - New Chapter Rhodiola Force
This Rhodiola Rosea supplement from New Chapter is a 100% all-natural herbal stress relief smart drug designed to help you focus and stay sharp all day.
We noticed that it also aids sleep and assists you in dealing with fatigue since it has been specifically formulated to work when you are under conditions of sleeplessness and overexertion.
Taking this supplement first thing in the morning is the perfect way to boost your stamina and sustain your energy throughout the day.
- Rhodiola Rosea Extract: 300 mg
- 100% all-natural and herbal
- Works all day long
- Will help you sleep
- Reduces anxiety
- Can cause headaches in a very small group of people
Rhodiola Force is a non-GMO, 100% vegan, and gluten, dairy, and soy-free supplement that will blend into your body to give you a natural uplift, so you can have both the mental and physical capacity to take on whatever the day throws at you.
Most users note that the dosage of Rhodiola extract in this supplement is just right to serve its purpose. However, it can cause mild headaches in a few people.
11 - Neuro Gums and Mints
Every now and then comes a time to try something new and fun, so instead of going for the usual form of pills or capsules, why not try gums and mints?
What makes these little guys stand out is a variety of products based on your goals. Whether you want to improve your energy and focus, work on your calmness and clarity, or your ideal state, there's FDA-approved gum and mint for you.
And since it’s very difficult to say ‘no’ to a food-for-mind piece of candy, there are already hundreds of positive comments about its efficiency and different tastes.
- Natural Caffeine: 40 mg
- L-Theanine: 60 mg
- A great selection of products and tastes available
- Lab-tested and compliant with the major standards
- Comes in a tiny tin box that fits any pocket or purse
- Contains sorbitol and caffeine
Mind the dosage, though, since we noticed that it contains small amounts of sorbitol and caffeine per serving which are substances that not all people tolerate well.
The maximum dosage per day is 10 pieces, which sums up to 400 mg of caffeine. It might not be a good idea to unconsciously take pieces throughout the day, especially for people who are sensitive to caffeine.
12 - Adrafinil by Double Wood
Adrafinil is a non-nonsense nootropic that claims to be one of the most powerful on the market without prescription.
It was originally developed by Louis Lafon Laboratories in France in the 1970s to treat narcolepsy. Over time, it has been used as a brain supplement for its ability to stimulate and enhance concentration and calmness in healthy individuals.
That being said, my experience fully supports that claim. The easy-to-swallow capsule contains 300 mg of Adrafinil, and it is recommended to be taken on an empty stomach in the morning.
- Adrafinil: 300 mg
- Improves cognitive function
- Sharp reduction in mental and physical fatigue
- Increase in mental acuity
- Enhances focus and concentration
- Capsule made from gelatin so not veggie or vegan friendly
Although it should be noted that many claim they have to double the dose to 600mg to get the most out of the nootropic, which is obviously not recommended or endorsed officially.
How We Determined the Best Nootropic Supplements for Men
In our quest to identify the top nootropic supplements tailored for men, we took into account multiple essential factors.
Recognizing that cognitive and mental performance goals differ significantly among men, our criteria aimed to cater to a diverse array of requirements, with a focus on enhancing natural cognitive functions.
The ingredient profile in nootropic supplements for men can be extensive and frequently evolving. Yet, our research remained fixed on both cutting-edge and time-tested ingredients.
Our selection approach meticulously ensured that both novel and classic components were scrutinized for their proven impact on enhancing cognitive abilities and overall mental wellness.
Most nootropic supplements for men typically fall within the $1.50 to $2.50 per dose range. Those featuring a blend of ingredients like bacopa, lion's mane, and other specialized elements might command a premium, often exceeding $2.50 per capsule.
Our curated list leans towards the $1.50 to $2.00 range, ensuring a mix of potent, elite ingredients without compromising on value for money. We believe that a reliable nootropic supplement justifies a modest financial outlay.
The potency of nootropic supplements is paramount. We prioritized products underpinned by robust scientific evidence and tangible real-world outcomes. Furthermore, we validated these findings with a dedicated group of testers who shared their firsthand experiences.
Our endorsements are anchored in concrete evidence, assuring consumers that they can expect a marked enhancement in cognitive functions and overall mental health, especially when complemented with a balanced diet and regular mental exercises.
We all react in different ways to medication, whether it's natural or lab-based. Despite the fact that all manufacturers of treatments rigorously test their brain function products and try to minimize side effects, they cannot always be avoided.
Thankfully, when it comes to natural remedies, side effects usually only appear in a very mild form.
Related product: ONNIT Alpha Brain review
Do Nootropic Supplements Work?
Nootropics come in many forms, making it tricky to say if they truly boost brain function and ward off mental fatigue.
Yet, with so many folks singing their praises, there's got to be some fire where there's smoke.
Doctors mainly use pharmaceutical nootropics to treat mental health issues.
But given their proven track record, even the mentally fit are hopping on the bandwagon to sharpen their minds.
Take Himalaya, the company behind Organic Bacopa Monnieri. They ran a test asking healthy folks to recall words and phrases. Spoiler alert: those who took their product left the placebo group in the dust.
Natural nootropics might be the safer bet, but don't expect one to be a brainy Swiss Army knife. That's why some folks mix and match them, aiming for the same punch as supplements. But more on that later.
Loads of users swear by nootropics for mental and physical boosts. But the magic's in the ingredients. So, roll up your sleeves and play around with what's out there. You might just hit the jackpot and find the perfect fit for you.
What Are The Best Natural Nootropics?
The best natural nootropics to boost brain function are caffeine, L-theanine, Rhodiola, bacopa monnieri, lion's mane, tyrosine, citicoline, ashwagandha, GABA, ginseng, creatine, ALA, and alpha GPC. We describe each of their benefits below .
- Caffeine is a nootropic, and it can keep you alert and focused, just like those brain health supplements listed above. However, mind the dosage as caffeine can cause jitters and energy crashes when consumed in excess .
- L-Theanine can have a direct and marked impact on physical and, specifically, mental health in the form of a stress reliever and anti-anxiety agent .
- Rhodiola targets mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as mental fatigue and sleep problems through its anti-inflammatory properties .
- Bacopa Monnieri is known as the best natural nootropic for mood enhancement. But it has also been used in traditional Asian medicine for millennia, which has proven benefits when it comes to focusing the mind and sharpening your thinking and problem-solving skills .
- Lion’s Mane is known to have many health benefits above and beyond those listed earlier. Aside from helping relieve mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, it is also thought to be capable of protecting us from dementia .
- Tyrosine is essential to produce extremely important brain chemicals, among others, called neurotransmitters. Such chemicals like dopamine and epinephrine help regulate your mood, sleep, learning ability, memory, digestion, and appetite .
- Citicoline can boost the production of acetylcholine, which can improve cognition in healthy adults. It also plays a role in the increased energy production in the brain, which can sharpen your focus and attention .
- Ashwagandha is thought to be an adaptogen that can improve your immune system and help you perform better under stress. It is also widely used to combat fatigue and joint pain, reduce anxiety symptoms, and treat diabetes and cancer .
- GABA or gamma-Aminobutyric acid is widely regarded as the best natural treatment for anxiety and depression and is one of the most clinically researched natural smart drugs . Aside from supporting overall brain health, it is thought to have properties that can affect growth hormones, brain energy production, and even sleep and reproductive issues.
- Ginseng , also known as Panax ginseng, is a plant from Asia that is mentioned as a medicinal tool in documents dating back to 196 AD. This natural nootropic can be used to treat a multitude of brain health conditions including mental fatigue and memory loss and even menopause problems .
- Creatine, as we have seen earlier, is basically a booster that will boost your athletic and mental performance and help you bulk up. But recent studies suggest that it may have an important antidepressant effect which can help treat depressive disorders .
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) in nootropic supplement form can protect the body’s cells, specifically brain cells. This can help preserve and possibly enhance memory and cognitive function. Recent studies and clinical trials establish its potential in treating neurological and psychiatric conditions such as mood disorders, Alzheimer's, Alzheimerand schizophrenia .
- Alpha GPC is perhaps the best supplement for preserving and increasing the power of your memory, as well as boosting your brain cells. Aside from improving overall mental performance, this brain-boosting supplement has shown promise in treating Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases .
What Are The Potential Side Effects?
Three of the most common potential side effects of taking the nootropic supplements listed above are:
- Brain Fog. It means that you experience very short periods of a sensation of confusion and disorientation that can result in anxiety and fear. This usually passes quite quickly and occurs less frequently as time goes on.
- Insomnia. As the nootropic you take interrupts the body’s regular cycle, you might at first find it difficult to fall and remain asleep. In time, this problem will pass, but many people find doing yoga and napping when you can, regardless of the time of day and when convenient obviously, can help alleviate the symptoms.
- Digestive Discomfort. As with the other side effects, this will also pass soon and usually takes the form of wind, stomach twinges, and rumblings. The problem will be very mild and will not last long, and will only pose little discomfort or disturbance.
Since there are various forms of nootropics on the market, it's quite hard to find the perfect brain energy supplement for your needs. On top of that, a certain nootropic doesn't work for all types of people, so what might be an effective brain function supplement for some could be useless for others.
Here are some factors that you need to consider in making your own choice.
Nootropics come in various forms so you need to choose one that will specifically target your brain function goals. Whether it's for improving your focus, energy, motivation, brain power, learning, mental health, and overall well-being, there is definitely a right combination of ingredients to help you get to your end goal.
In general, it's best to skip supplements with caffeine and instead, just stick to all-natural, brain-boosting ingredients. But in some cases where the formula works best with caffeine, mind the dosage to make sure that you're not overdosing.
It's an especially important consideration when you're caffeine-sensitive since you might end up with unwanted side effects like sleeplessness at night or jitters during the day.
Since some nootropics are not regulated by the FDA, it's a must to check the product for safety. Make sure that the formula is free of GMOs, artificial ingredients, preservatives, and common allergens.
It's also a good idea to read online reviews first to know other people's experience in terms of results and adverse effects. Lastly, when consuming a supplement for the first time, start with the lowest dosage possible and observe how it affects your body.
Natural vs. Synthetic Nootropics: A Comparative Insight
Natural nootropics, derived from herbs like Bacopa Monnieri and Ginkgo Biloba, have been used for centuries to enhance cognitive functions. Their long history suggests a level of safety and efficacy, often with fewer side effects.
However, their effects might be subtle and take time to manifest. On the other hand, synthetic nootropics, such as Modafinil and Racetams, offer potent and rapid results. They are specifically designed to target certain brain functions, ensuring pronounced effects .
Being man-made, they might carry a higher risk of side effects and unknown long-term implications. Thus, while natural nootropics offer gentle, holistic benefits, synthetics provide targeted, potent boosts, each with its own set of considerations.
Specialized vs. Generalized Nootropics: Tailoring Cognitive Enhancement
Specialized nootropics, like Noopept, target specific cognitive areas, such as memory enhancement or attention span. They're ideal for those with pinpointed needs, like students preparing for exams.
In contrast, generalized nootropics, like Rhodiola Rosea, offer a broad spectrum of cognitive benefits, from mood elevation to increased mental stamina . They're suitable for individuals seeking overall cognitive well-being.
My personal experience has involved spending several months trying out general nootropics first to see which ingredients agree with me the most. Then I fine tuned things to different areas of my life.
Nootropic Stacking: Crafting a Cognitive Symphony
What is the most effective nootropic?
Caffeine is one of the most effective nootropics, closely followed by L-Theanine. We all know the stimulating effect that caffeine has with quite a fast action to wake us up in the morning.
L-theanine, on the other hand, is proven to promote so-called alpha brain waves which are associated with a relaxed and creative state of mind. Like caffeine, it also works almost instantly to make us feel alert, focused, and full of energy.
But then, there's really no one-size-fits-all nootropics that will target your needs. Some may look for nootropics to help with overall cognitive performance or with specific ones like memory, concentration, focus, energy, calmness, and even anxiety.
Is there a pill to make you smarter?
Yes, there is a pill that can make you smarter: nootropic supplements. They are generally made from a handful of different ingredients which work together to improve memory, creativity, and concentration.
Can nootropics cause anxiety?
Generally speaking, nootropics will not cause anxiety. However, if you have existing mental health issues, then some of the ingredients, especially stimulants, can cause an increase in anxiety levels. Otherwise, nootropics, especially those low in stimulants, can help with anxiety.
If you have such concerns, speak with your doctor before choosing any nootropic supplement to avoid adverse reactions.
What is the strongest nootropic?
The strongest nootropic, aside from prescription medication, is caffeine. Its effects are very clear to anyone who cannot function without that morning coffee, and it works within minutes of taking it.
Are nootropics safe?
Yes, most nootropics are safe, especially those that contain all-natural brain-boosting herbs, vitamins, and minerals. However, synthetic nootropic supplements may have more potent long-term effects such as poor mood regulation, insomnia, and depression.
Unless you are overdosing or using illegal products, nootropics are generally safe to use.
Do nootropics help with brain fog?
Depending on the cause, some nootropics can help with brain fog.
It is a common symptom of many underlying issues and diseases but whatever the cause, it can cloud your thoughts which inhibits focus, concentration, and motivation.
Are nootropics legal?
The legality of nootropics depends on their form and your location. All-natural nootropic supplements or smart drugs are not typically regulated as a drug, so you will need to check with your local laws to know its legal status.
Will I fail a drug test if I take nootropics?
You will not fail a drug test if you take nootropics if you use high-quality, legitimate nootropics from trusted brands. Always check the ingredients to make sure that the product is safe and legal.
If you're not sure what nootropics to take, consult your doctor to know which product can resolve your problems.
Are nootropics addictive?
No, nootropics are not addictive, except for caffeine, which can be slightly addictive on a certain degree of consumption.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, it's best to choose caffeine-free products like our recommended nootropic supplement, Mind Lab Pro. It contains all-natural high-potency ingredients that can significantly improve your cognitive function even without caffeine.
Keep in mind that nootropic supplements are designed to help with memory, concentration, and focus, hence, it is not meant to damage your brain health.
How long does it take for nootropics to start working?
It depends on what ingredients are used, but generally, nootropics start working anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours after intake.
Our Verdict on the Best Nootropic for Men
After evaluating all the data I collected, my team concluded that the #1 spot on the list goes to Braini.
Successful clinical trials and most of our colleagues and clients who tried it are further proof of its quality and effectiveness.
With science-backed ingredients, Braini successfully helped me with brain fog and enhanced creativity and focus.
I also find it helps me out in the gym, allowing me to have a laser-sharp focus on workouts.
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