Nootropics for Weight Loss (Is It Effective or Not?)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 8, 2023
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You’ll often hear dietitians and personal trainers highlight that if you want to lose weight, you need a healthy diet and a great exercise routine.

And while there’s a lot of truth in that, your mental state, motivation, and focus can also play a critical role in your weight loss journey.

During a conversation with my dietitian, I decided to spend a few days researching scientific literature and studies to find out if you can take nootropics for weight loss.

It turns out that you have to be careful with the ingredients, and that’s where things get interesting.

Quick Summary

  • To aid weight loss, nootropics can enhance mental focus and motivation, indirectly contributing to better adherence to diet and exercise routines.
  • Nootropics are explored for their unique ability to positively influence cognitive functions, thereby supporting healthier lifestyle choices and exercise consistency.
  • According to a 2021 National Institutes of Health article, nootropics boost motivation and focus, essential for maintaining a balanced diet and regular gym visits.
  • In my opinion, integrating nootropics into a weight loss plan can be a game-changer for those struggling with the mental challenges of dieting and exercise.

Do Nootropics Contribute to Weight Loss? 

Picking up nootropics

Yes, nootropics may contribute to weight loss, but not in a direct fat-burning kind of way.

While there are supplements that can boost your metabolic rate, nootropics can help with motivation and focus to stay on track.

Drawing from my experience, I've found that individuals who struggle with maintaining motivation for a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine tend to experience weight gain more frequently.

They eat the wrong food and skip the daily physical activity, only to end up on the sofa with a box of donuts.

According to a 20212 article published in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), what nootropics can do is boost your motivation and focus so that you stick with a balanced diet and get up off your backside for those trips to the gym [1].

Why Is the Brain Important for Losing Weight? 

An illustration of previous weight to the weight result

Per a 2018  research published in ScienceDaily, the brain is important for losing weight as improved brain activity can result in better self-control, meaning that focus and cognition affect weight loss by keeping you on the right track [2].

1. Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue can influence your motivation to exercise and eat healthily in different ways.

If you generally plan to go running or to the gym in the morning, then a bad sleep quality due to a stressful day at work will mean you wake up fatigued.

What also regularly happens is that people hit that afternoon slump at work and then get a candy bar and soda to bridge the few hours left.

Overcoming chronic fatigue can be one of the best ways to stay on a weight-loss path and lose fat.

2. Lack of Focus

My personal experience as a fitness coach is that you can always tell when people are struggling with a weight loss regimen due to a lack of focus.

One dead giveaway is that people might do all their reps and sets, but when you look at the quality and form of each movement, they’re very far off target.

When you improve focus and get rid of distractions going on in your head about work and family life, you can ensure that every second of every rep provides the best possible results.

And that is the best possible way to deal with abdominal fat distribution and boost lean muscle mass development.

3. Increased Stress

Stressed woman reading a paper

The stress hormone cortisol can be one of the most disruptive hormones, and when you end up with chronic stress levels, it can have a huge impact on weight loss efforts.

According to insights from Orlando Health, cortisol can increase fat and carbohydrate metabolism, which, in theory, would lead to body fat loss [3].

But this also increases hunger cravings making it more difficult to control your appetite and stick with a balanced diet.

4. Reduced Motivation

And finally, to achieve weight loss goals, you’re going to need a lot of mental motivation.

Getting to a healthy weight is never easy, and maintaining that body fat loss can be even more challenging.

Based on the information from the study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), no matter how much support you get from your friends, family, and personal trainer, if your brain chemicals are not balanced for motivation, then you will struggle with every trip to the gym [4].

What Ingredients Can Help? 

Different ingredients for nootropics

There are several ingredients that my dietitian highlighted would help with improved brain activity to boost weight loss.

Here are the main ones to consider.

1. Phosphatidylserine

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), phosphatidylserine is a fat-soluble amino acid, and in randomized controlled trials, scientists have shown that it can help rebalance the chemicals in your brain to boost those responsible for focus, motivation, and even happiness [5].

“Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an amino acid derivative compound that is fat-soluble and found in high amounts in the brain, where it contributes to cognitive functioning.”
- Kamal Patel, MPH, MBA at Examine.com

2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Based on the insights from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this mushroom extract has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, but modern science has also shown that it can improve cognitive function [6].

With improvements mainly on the focus side, taking a supplement with this ingredient before you head to the gym could make significant differences in the quality of your workout.

And with improved quality, rather than quantity, this organic nootropic comes with progress toward your ideal body composition.

3. Rhodiola Rosea 

Yellow Rhodiola Rosea flowers

Based on research from Wiley, it is shown that this ingredient can significantly impact brain energy and, therefore, motivation and focus as well [7].

My dietitian also said that she’d seen great results with people who take it in order to support weight loss faster through a calorie-restrictive diet.

It’s not that it’s an appetite suppressant, but it just seems to help people avoid battling those thoughts of a candy bar.

Related: Side Effects of Rhodiola Rosea

4. Cat’s Claw Extract

Researchers have found several different connections between cat’s claw extract and cognitive function.

The most notable one is the impact on mood and focus, with some major benefits for lifting brain fog without the use of stimulants.

And no, cats are not used to get this ingredient; it’s sourced from a plant.

5. Alpha GPC

Holding a single nootropics pill

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, also known as Alpha GPC, is a compound that is often used as a dietary supplement.

It is a derivative of phosphatidylcholine and a precursor of acetylcholine, which means it helps the brain to transmit messages.

It has been shown to increase motivation and delay fatigue. These effects are caused by Alpha GPC increasing the release of acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin [8].

6. L-Theanine

Based on the insights from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), L-theanine has been linked to several different brain functions and stress markers [9].

It can even have a positive impact on anxiety, and those benefits also translate into improved energy expenditure on mental tasks.

You’ll also often find this ingredient in weight loss and pre-workout supplements that aim to burn fat and build up muscle mass.

FAQs

How Can I Control My Brain to Lose Weight?

You can control your brain to lose weight by making sure you don’t have chemical imbalances for neurotransmitters. By balancing serotonin and dopamine, as well as better stress management, you could make quite an impact on how motivated you are to shed some pounds.

What Mentally Helps You Lose Weight?

Motivation and focus are what mentally help you lose weight effectively and consistently. Many people can maintain motivation for a few weeks, but it gradually fades and results in weight gain again. With a nootropic helping hand, you can stay on track more consistently.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9133906/
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181018141126.htm
  3. https://www.orlandohealth.com/content-hub/how-too-much-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-and-what-to-do-about-it
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6381300/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17349923/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/
  7. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ptr.6778
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235064/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836118/
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