How Are Nootropics Different From Energy Drinks? (Studies)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 26, 2024
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Nootropics and energizing drinks are among the most consumed energy and brain function enhancement products.

Both can improve your mental performance and focus, but which one is more effective?

To obtain the differences and their effectiveness, I worked with my dietitian to study my clients.

We placed them into two groups: the nootropic drink group and the energy drink group, and here is what we found out.

Quick Summary

  • Nootropics differ from energy drinks in that they primarily enhance cognitive functions such as memory and focus, whereas energy drinks boost physical energy and alertness.
  • While nootropics work on neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones for brain health, energy drinks contain caffeine and other ingredients for immediate energy.
  • According to the International Journal of Health Sciences, many energizing drinks contain taurine, vitamin B, and amino acids to improve cognitive function and enhance biological processes.
  • In my view, nootropics offer a more beneficial approach for long-term cognitive enhancement compared to the short-term effects of energy drinks.

Energy Drinks And Nootropics: What They Do?

Spilled nootropics from a container top view

Nootropics, sometimes known as "smart drugs," are a type of compound that can improve brain performance, according to the Nutrients [1]. They are also known as cognitive enhancers or memory boosters. From my experience, they significantly improved my focus during coaching sessions.

Nootropics stand out for their cognitive benefits, particularly in enhancing cognitive flexibility, which is vital for activities like strategic planning and multitasking, and in improving stress resilience and memory, crucial for maintaining mental health and productivity.

Nootropic drinks are believed to enhance brain function by influencing neurotransmitters, enzymes, and hormones. These drinks typically include a range of substances, with many being natural and generally safe, though caution is recommended.

Prescription nootropics, which often have stimulant properties, are used to treat conditions like ADHD, narcolepsy, and Alzheimer's [2].

Non-prescription drugs that can improve cognitive function or attention, such as coffee and creatine, are also considered nootropics.

They are not intended to treat illnesses, although they may influence cognition, memory, and other mental processes.

"Nootropics are known as cognitive enhancers, substances that magnify how the brain's many cognitive functions operate and how we interpret information."

- Amira Guirguis, Pharmacist

On the other hand, energizing drinks are becoming an increasingly popular drink choice among young people, both as a caffeine supply for completing work and for recreational purposes.

I've noticed a marked increase in alertness in my clients who consume them.

These beverages may appear harmless, and several companies even sell them as healthy products containing natural nootropic ingredients.

These drinks have various beneficial ingredients that increase the consumer's alertness and involvement in the tasks.

Caffeine is among the most commonly used substances to keep the brain active and awake.

According to the International Journal of Health Sciences, many energizing drinks also contain taurine, which improves cognitive function, and vitamin B and amino acid, which enhances other biological processes [3].

Nootropics And Energy Drinks: Which Is Safer?

Man listening to music while drinking energy drink

Nootropics are a safer option than energy drinks. Nootropic side effects are infrequent and far less severe than those linked with long-term energy drink intake. In my coaching experience, nootropics have proven to be a safer option than energy drinks with minimal side effects observed in clients.

Both, though, are common sources of increased "GO" power.

These great pick-me-ups can deliver that much-needed boost and maintain the body and mind for hours straight.

Energizing drinks and nootropics contain carefully formulated nootropic natural and synthetic ingredients that are intended to increase brain performance.

While the general health risks of energy drinks are well-known, it's important to note specific conditions like obesity, which can be exacerbated by the high sugar content in these drinks, and metabolic issues resulting from the body's struggle to process their complex mix of additives and sugars.

Nootropics And Energy Drinks: Advantages

Spilled nootropics supplements, woman drinking energy drink

They have both produced certain advantages that may benefit cognitive performance and overall well-being.

Here are some of the benefits of taking nootropics and energy beverages.

Benefits of Nootropics

  • Improved Focus: Piracetams are a typical nootropic substance that can boost energy and promote focus [4]. This is an essential first step toward improving your memory. This works well for students and employees who need to stay attentive during long periods of mental work.
  • Improved Mood: It has been shown that negative moods are among the most significant impediments to our ability to absorb and retrieve information. Sulbutiamine is, however, one nootropic that has received great praise for its ability to boost mood and overcome diseases such as stress, depression, and anxiety, which may substantially impair cognitive thinking, based on the study published in PubMed [5].
  • Memory Enhancement: A wide range of nootropics boost memory retention and recall by promoting cell growth and strengthening neural connections.

My clients on nootropics reported having experienced increased memory and focus, where they could recall the tiny details of their day.

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Benefits Of Energy Beverages

  • Improve brain function: Among the most prominent reasons for drinking these beverages is to enhance cognitive function and boost mental performance. Multiple studies demonstrate that energizing drinks can increase cognitive parameters such as memory, focus, and response speed while lowering mental fatigue [6].
  • Boosts energy: People also use these drinks to help them operate when they are sleep-deprived or exhausted. The carefully chosen components have been shown to increase alertness and offer the energy required to push through the last hour and accomplish deadlines on time.

The clients on energy drinks experienced a boost in energy and a slight increase in our focus on training.

Health Concerns Of Energy Drinks And Nootropics

A bearded person showing energy drink on camera, spilled white and blue pills

Despite all the benefits of energizing drinks and nootropics, they may cause severe side effects on overall health.

Let's look at the health concerns in detail.

Nootropics Side Effects

  • Physiological Disturbance: Excessive usage of some "natural" cognitive enhancers can have negative health consequences, but these are usually small and infrequent. St. John's Wort is an example; in big doses, this ingredient can cause restlessness, sleep deprivation, diarrhea, and even drowsiness, according to the Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects [7].
  • Dependency: Like any performance booster, too much of a good thing may be detrimental. While taking an enhancer does not have any major negative health impacts, it is possible to build a tolerance for its nootropic effects after repeated usage.

My clients experienced mild headaches and insomnia after utilizing nootropics for three weeks.

Energizing Drinks Side Effects

  • Heart Concerns: Studies published in World Journal of Cardiology have shown that using these drinks daily might contribute to cardiovascular problems early in life. This may include hypertension, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), and even heart failure [8].
  • Metabolic Issues: Because an energizing drink includes so many additives, minerals, and sugars, the body may go into overdrive attempting to metabolize it.
  • Psychological Impediment: While an energy drink might be a good physical performance booster, drinking too much can also impair your ability to think and operate.

After drinking these drinks daily for two weeks, some of my clients reported having experienced feelings of irritation, anxiety, and nervousness.


Do Energy Drinks Have Nootropics?

Yes, energy drinks have nootropics such as caffeine, that stimulates brain function and increases focus.

What Is the Best Nootropic For Energy And Focus?

The best nootropics for energy and focus include caffeine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, and Ginkgo Biloba, that stimulate the alpha brain waves associated with concentration.

Which Energy Drink Is Good For The Brain?

The energy drink that is good for the brain is Raize. Its key ingredients have been well crafted and backed by scientific studies.

What Happens If You Drink Energy Drinks Everyday?

If you drink energy drinks everyday, you may experience effects such as heart arrhythmia, anxiety, headaches, and high blood pressure.


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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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