Home Fitness Best Nootropics For Athletic Performance (2024)
Best Nootropics For Athletic Performance (2024)
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Best Nootropics For Athletic Performance (2024)

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In the pursuit of athletic excellence, even small elements can make a profound difference in overall performance. While on the surface it may seem sports require mostly physical qualities, everyone engaged, even in low-level competition, will tell you the mind is just as, if not more important, than the body.

Nootropics are natural and legal brain performance boosters. They can enhance focus, clarity, reaction time, mind flexibility, and even physical qualities such as power and recovery.

As someone whose main trade is improving athletes’ performance, the topic of the best nootropic for athletic performance is close to my heart. My top picks include various products for different needs and budgets.

  • Best Nootropic For Athletic Performance: Vyvamind
  • Best Non-Stimulant Nootropic For Athletic Performance: NooCube
  • Best Budget Nootropic For Athletic Performance: Qualia Mind
  • Best Natural Nootropic For Athletic Performance: Braini
  • Best Nootropic Pre-Workout For Athletic Performance: Pre Lab Pro
  • Best Nootropic For Endurance: Hunter Focus
NootropicPricePrice per Serving
Vyvamind$74.99 – $207$2.30 – $2.50
NooCube$64.99 – $194.99$1.30 – $2.17
Qualia Mind$39.00 – $159.00$1.77 – $7.22
Braini$59.99 – $259.99$1.73 – $2.00
Pre Lab Pro$59.99 – $177$2.21 – $2.95
Hunter Focus$90 – $270$2.25 – $3.00

Best Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Vyvamind

Vyvamind Brain Supplement

Pros

  • The caffeine/L-theanine stack provides an immediate and dependable effect, making it a solid pre-workout choice.
  • Continuous use improves cognitive flexibility and decision-making.
  • No speculative substances to raise the price.

Cons

  • Other products have more ingredients, providing more potential benefits.
VyvamindPricePrice per Serving
1 Bottle$74.99$2.50 per serving
2 Bottles$139.98$2.33 per serving
3 Bottles$207$2.30 per serving

Best Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Vyvamind

Boost brain power with the most effective nootropic combination of caffeine/l-theanine.

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Vyvamind

Nootropics help athletic performance in multiple ways, but providing energy and stamina is the most immediate and noticeable. This is why I’ve chosen one of my favorite stimulant nootropics, Vyvamind, as the best in this category.

Vyvamind uses the powerhouse nootropic and energy stack caffeine + L-theanine. This product contains 75 mg of coffee, which is about equivalent to one cup of coffee.

The L-theanine acts in tandem to reduce the edge and jitteriness caused by the caffeine while increasing its immense effects on focus and clarity of mind.

Caffeine has long been established to considerably boost reflexes, reaction time, and alertness and reduce perceived exertion. L-theanine increases focus and reduces anxiety on its own, but when combined with caffeine, it further boosts the effects [1,2].    

Other components of Vyvamind that work together to boost mental capacity include L-tyrosine, which has been linked to increased cognitive flexibility, and citicoline, which improves memory retention and recall [3,4].

Vyvamind is a great solution to take daily, ideally before training sessions. It will boost your athletic performance by providing instant energy and focus surge and improving the mind-muscle connection and cognitive flexibility in high-stress situations.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my Vyvamind review.

Best Non-Stimulant Nootropic For Athletic Performance

NooCube

NooCube Brain Productivity

Pros

  • A comprehensive formula containing known nootropics.
  • No stimulants, so you can take it before evening practice.
  • The price is excellent.

Cons

  • Some ingredients are underdosed.
NooCubePricePrice per Serving
1 Bottle$64.99$2.17 per serving
3 Bottles$129.99$1.44 per serving
5 Bottles$194.99$1.30 per serving

Best Non-Stimulant Nootropic For Athletic Performance

NooCube Brain Productivity

Boost brain power with no side effects or caffeine.

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NooCube

Athletes usually prefer stimulant-based nootropics, but if you train late in the evening, taking caffeine can have a disastrous effect on your sleep and recovery. If this is the case, one of the best nootropics for you is Noocube.

The Noocube formula is comprehensive and aims to deliver benefits across all cognitive areas. NooCube recipe contains well-known nootropic ingredients such as Bacopa Monnieri [7], L-Tyrosine [8], and L-Theanine [5][6] to help improve focus and concentration and reduce stress.

Stress and anxiety are perhaps the worst enemies of athletic performance, and reducing them without side effects is paramount for athletes.

Other cognitive enhancers in Noocube, such as Bacopa Monierri, Huperzine, and Choline Bitartrate, improve memory and attention span, allowing you to stay focused on the field and perform at your best.

The price of Noocube is also excellent for what it is, ranging from $1.95 for a single purchase to $1.30 if you buy in bulk. The formulation, combined with the price, makes it easy to recommend.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my NooCube supplement review.

Best Budget Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind Nootropic

Pros

  • Powerful energy and focus booster thanks to the caffeine/L-theanine/taurine combo.
  • Several potent cognitive boosters improve the ability to stay focused and think clearly for longer.
  • First bottle is only $39 (and cheaper using code “LBEB”).

Cons

  • One of the most expensive nootropics after the initial buy.
Qualia MindPricePrice per Serving
1st Bottle$39.00 (“LBEB” saves 15%)$1.77 per serving
1 Bottle (No sub)$159.00$7.22 per serving
1 Bottle (Sub)$139$6.31 per serving

Best Budget Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Qualia Mind Nootropic

A premium nootropic blend designed for short and long term brain boosting benefits.

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Qualia Mind Cognitive Supplement

Qualia Mind is usually the last product you would consider a budget offer, but their policy is to sell the first bottle for a quarter of the regular price, which makes one serving cost $1.77.

And let me tell you, Qualia Mind is perhaps the best full-spectrum nootropic on the market, aimed at high-performing professionals and athletes looking for the best possible product.

Qualia contains the best legal stimulant stack of caffeine + L-theanine + taurine, supplying you with instant energy, focus, and clarity of mind with no side effects. But this is far from the complete list of ingredients.

The formulation is extensive and contains a bunch of proven nootropics in doses higher than the competition. This includes Citicoline, Alpha GPC, Bacopa monnieri, and L-tyrosine, which enhance mind flexibility, clarity, and the ability to stay alert under stress.

Rhodiola Rosea is another ingredient of Qualia Mind that is used as a performance enhancer for the body and brain by reducing excess stress hormone cortisol.

The combination of elements delivering immense short- and long-term effects makes Qualia Mind one of the best nootropics an athlete can use.

Qualia Mind is actually one of the most expensive nootropics on the market, but it’s worth it if you are after peak performance. The policy of selling the first bottle for only $39 is great for everyone who wants to test the waters without overspending.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my Qualia Mind review.

Best Natural Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Braini

Braini Natural Memory Nootropic

Pros

  • Natural ingredients unique to Braini boost multiple mental facets of athletic performance.
  • Studies show great results in young and active people and NFL players, making it perfect for athletes.
  • You can measure your own improvements through a specific test Braini provide.

Cons

  • No energy-boosting ingredients.
BrainiPricePrice per Serving
1 Bottle$59.99$2.00 per serving
3 Bottles$169.99$1.89 per serving
5 Bottles$259.99$1.73 per serving

Best Natural Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Braini

A powerful brain supplement designed for long term gains in mental energy.

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Braini

A few things distinguish Braini from the other products on this list. It contains exclusive ingredients, uses a third-party brain assessment tool, and is one of the few nootropics with a complete formula independent study.

The four-ingredient mixture provides remarkable mental benefits, especially attractive for athletes, such as enhanced motor and processing speed, decision-making, multitasking, clearer focus, and reduced stress.

Braini has two exclusive components not found in any other product to deliver the effects: NeruXcel and Peptylin. The first is the result of extensive research and development, and it contains SDA and GLA, two scientifically verified omega-3s that improve brain mobility.

Peptilyn, in particular, has shown the ability to enhance brain synapses and give therapeutic benefits.

I admit I was skeptical about the benefits, but Braini has a clever technique for measuring your own performance. The organization provides a test you should take before and after 30 days of consumption. An independent study found an average 7.8% improvement in cognitive performance [9].

Trials were conducted for several age groups, including 18–30-year-olds, who showed significant improvements across six cognitive tests.

Furthermore, the product was tested on NFL athletes who suffered concussions, and the results showed immense improvements in cognitive flexibility. The findings make Braini a potential game-changer for athletes in contact and combat sports who frequently take blows to the head.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my Braini review.

Best Nootropic Pre-Workout For Athletic Performance

Pre Lab Pro

Pre Lab Pro

Pros

  • Informed sports tick means the product has been tested for banned substances.
  • Caffeine + L-theanine for a reliable energy boost without side effects.
  • It contains ingredients that enhance both physical and mental performance.

Cons

  • The taste can deter a lot of people from the product.
  • More expensive than many other pre-workouts.
Pre Lab ProPricePrice per Serving
1 Bottle$59.99$2.95 per serving
2 Bottles$118.00$2.95 per serving
4 Bottles$177.00$2.21 per serving

Best Nootropic Pre-Workout For Athletic Performance

Pre Lab Pro

A low-stim pre-workout blended with cognitive-enhancing ingredients.

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Pre Lab Pro Nootropic Pre Workout

While the rest of the nootropics on this list are great for athletes, the only one specifically designed for athletic performance is Pre Lab Pro.

Pre Lab Pro is an all-in-one stimulant nootropic that includes multiple substances, a couple of which make it more appropriate for athletes.

Pre Lab Pro is a popular choice among competitive athletes because it carries the Informed-Sport tick, indicating it is free of banned substances, and you will not fail a competition drug test.

It’s also ideal for those who don’t tolerate too much caffeine, combining a small amount with L-theanine to keep you focused but not anxious.

Performance-enhancing substances such as L-citrulline/L-glutathione, red beet powder, and Himalayan pink salt help you maintain your strength and endurance levels while training and enhance recovery after the work is done.

If I have to point to a couple of disadvantages, the distinct flavor may take some time to adjust to, and it costs more than other pre-workouts.

However, the extra price is worth it because Pre Lab Pro combines the typical benefits of pre-workouts, like higher energy and power output, with nootropic qualities such as improved focus, alertness, mental clarity, and motivation.

My Pre Lab Pro review shares my experiences.

Best Nootropic For Endurance

Hunter Focus

Hunter Focus Memory Nootropic

Pros

  • Caffeine is perhaps the best legal performance enhancer.
  • Bigger doses of the core components compared to much of the competition.
  • L-carnitine and Rhodiola rosea increase endurance during exercise and post-workout recovery.

Cons

  • Quite expensive.
Hunter FocusPricePrice per Serving
1 Bottle$90$3.00 per serving
3 Bottles$180$3.00 per serving
5 Bottles$270$2.25 per serving

Best Nootropic For Endurance

Hunter Focus

A comprehensive nootropic supplement with a blend of endurance ingredients.

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Hunter Focus

Another high-quality product suitable for athletes is Hunter Focus. It follows the same recipe as most other nootropics, but the doses in Hunter Focus are higher than those of competitors like Noocube, Nooceptin, and Mind Lab Pro.

The tried and tested caffeine and L-theanine combo in a perfect 1:2 ratio provides all the mental and physical performance benefits you can expect from it.

The key ingredients like Bacopa Monnieri [10] boost cognitive function and memory, while the well-known Ashwagandha root and Ginko Biloba improve working memory and reduce stress.

At the same time, L-theanine and L-tyrosine promote concertation and reduce stress and anxiety.

A key ingredient for sports performance inside Hunter Focus is L-carnitine, which improves recovery from exercise, reduces muscle soreness and even improves high-intensity performance [11,12,13].

Because of the extensive ingredients list and the higher doses, Hunter Focus is more expensive than many of its competitors, but it’s still half the price of Qualia Mind.

I would recommend Hunter Focus as more of a premium option for athletes looking for an edge in training in competition. The nootropic stack is excellent, and the solid dose of L-carnitine and Rhodiola rosea will help you delay fatigue and increase your endurance.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my Hunter Focus review.

Nootropic Supplements To Avoid For Athletes

Neuriva

Neuriva Brain Supplement

There are a few extremely popular nootropics readily available in large pharmacies and grocery stores, making them an easy choice to pick up instead of researching and ordering online.

The first item on this list is Neuriva. If you read the label, you will be guaranteed an improvement in memory, focus, and concentration. However, the modest ingredients list makes them very unlikely to experience.

The formulation has two active ingredients: coffee fruit extract and phosphatidylserine.

The first lacks independent studies since the manufacturer funded all available ones, whereas the second has some scientific support. Even if the formulation has some effects (which I sincerely doubt), they are more geared towards maintaining cognitive abilities as you age, not performance enhancement.

I further explain why in my Neuriva review.

Prevagen

Prevagen comes next among the “grocery store nootropics,” as I like to call them. This one contains a single active component, Apoaequorin, which should provide all advertised benefits.

I wouldn’t mind the limited formula if the components were genuinely beneficial, but Apoaequorin has only been studied internally inside the company that manufactures it; therefore, I find it difficult to trust the study’s neutrality.

I would not recommend Prevagen to anyone, let alone athletes who need actual performance enhancers and not empty promises.

You can read my in-depth breakdown in my Prevagen review.

Focus Factor

Focus Factor Nootropic

Focus Factor completes the triad of nootropics to avoid. This product is better formulated than the other two and contains over a dozen potent nootropic ingredients, many of which are present in some of my recommendations. 

However, all of them are crammed in a 640 mg proprietary blend. For reference, a few ingredients need as much alone to be effective, so you can imagine how many benefits you can expect from just a few specks of each substance.

My Focus Factor review goes into more detail why.

How To Pick The Best Nootropics For Athletes

Best Nootropics For Athletes

Ingredients & Formulation

Naturally, the ingredients and dosages of a nootropic make it or break it as a product. For athletic performance, you need just as much mental power as you need physical, and ideally, a product boosts these areas sufficiently.

Nootropics are usually targeted at students, working professionals, and the elderly, but they can greatly benefit athletes.

The more obvious effects include improved energy and stamina. This is done by naturally enhancing the brain and body’s natural energy synthesis with stimulants like caffeine, usually aided by L-theanine, for optimal effect. This leads to more alertness, attention, and extended endurance.

Other ways nootropics improve athletic performance are by enhancing motivation and mood, strengthening the capacity for fast decision-making, processing complex information on the move, and strengthening the mind-muscle connection.

Additionally, many ingredients reduce stress and anxiety, which can ruin your performance at the worst moments.

The synergistic effects of a formulation outweigh the individual benefits. Many substances work much better in tandem, like caffeine, L-theanine, and taurine.

Dosage

While the complete formulation is most significant about a nootropic’s effect, individual dosages are also very important.

Most products do not have complete formulation studies, so we can only compare the doses to relevant individual studies. This way, we can gauge if an ingredient is likely to deliver the proven benefits.

Too often, nootropics put only a fragment of what has been proven efficacious, but boast about its inclusion in marketing materials nonetheless. Here are some recommended dosages of popular nootropic ingredients:

  • Bacopa monnieri: >300 mg
  • L-tyrosine: >2 g
  • Caffeine/L-theanine: 1:2 ratio
  • Lion’s mane mushroom extract: >1 g
  • Rhodiola rosea: 100-170 mg, with a rosavin content of 3.6-6.14 mg

Stimulant vs. Non-Stimulant

Nootropics For Athletic Performance

Caffeine and other stimulants can instantly increase focus and alertness, but they may also cause jitteriness or an energy crash after the caffeine has been eliminated from the body. 

Non-stimulant nootropics, on the other hand, may contain substances that promote long-term focus and cognitive performance without providing an instant boost.

Your decision about stimulant versus non-stimulant solutions will be determined by your sensitivity to stimulants, the time of day you want to use the product and your overall goals.

Some nootropics, like Vyvamind and Pre Lab Pro, are excellent pre-workout supplements, while others, like Braini and Noocube, can be used at any time of day.

All nootropics with stimulants on this list also have ingredients providing long-term benefits.

Third-Party Testing

Third-party testing by independent labs ensures a supplement contains the ingredients it claims to include and is free of contaminants.

This testing can ensure the substance is pure, potent, and safe. Furthermore, the informed sport tick indicates it has been tested for banned substances, which is critical for competitive athletes who are frequently subjected to drug tests.

Look for items that have passed third-party testing and provide access to the results, giving you peace of mind about the quality. From this list, the product with the most third-party testing and Informed sports mark is Pre Lab Pro.

Clinical Research

Clinical research is essential for separating marketing gimmicks from facts. Unfortunately, most nootropics do not have independent, complete product research except Braini. The others rely on studies on the individual ingredients.

Price

Prices of nootropics can vary widely—from $1.30 to $7 per serving. To get the most value for your money, you should buy in bulk and stock for 3 or 4 months, while single purchases cost more.

This is a standard market policy, but in the case of nootropics, it is also beneficial to take a product for a few months to feel the full effects.

While the price does not always indicate quality, more expensive products like Qualia Mind and Hunter Pro have much higher doses of ingredients, and a serving has more pills. I often suggest people buy mid-price options such as Vyvamind and Noocube.

Stay away from the cheapest options like Neuriva or Focus Factor. They are much cheaper because they contain significantly fewer or lower doses of their components and are unlikely to deliver tangible benefits.

Frequently Asked Nootropics For Athletes Questions

Do Athletes Take Nootropics?

Athletes need nootropics as much as anyone else. Sports require immense focus, motivation, drive, rapid decision-making, and many mental attributes nootropics are known to improve. Some products also contain caffeine and other ingredients, turning them into excellent pre-workout supplements.

Are Nootropics Safe to Use for Athletes?

All good-quality nootropics use natural ingredients, making them safe for most people, including athletes.

However, some products also bear the informed sports mark, meaning they have been thoroughly tested for banned substances by various drug-testing athletic regulators. If you are subject to frequent testing, it may be best to only use such products.

Can Nootropics Improve Reaction Time in Athletes?

Nootropics show great potential in increasing mental focus and clarity and, by extension, reaction times. Clinical studies also prove the effectiveness of certain substances in improving the speed and accuracy of motor responses. 

Summary

Vyvamind is my favorite nootropic for athletic performance thanks to its simple, straight-to-the-point formulation. It delivers an instant energy boost and long-term focus and mind flexibility enhancements without side effects.

If you want something without stimulants but with the potential for larger long-term benefits, Noocube is both affordable and effective. Pre-Lab Pro is an excellent choice for a pre-workout supplement enhanced with nootropics, while Braini is a unique offer already popular among elite athletes.

Best Nootropic For Athletic Performance

Vyvamind

Boost brain power with the most effective nootropic combination of caffeine/l-theanine.

CHECK CURRENT DEALS
Vyvamind

References

  1. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological psychology, 77(2), 113-122.
  2. Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutritional neuroscience, 11(4), 193-198.
  3. Nakazaki, E., Mah, E., Sanoshy, K., Citrolo, D., & Watanabe, F. (2021). Citicoline and memory function in healthy older adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 151(8), 2153-2160.
  4. Steenbergen, L., Sellaro, R., Hommel, B., & Colzato, L. S. (2015). Tyrosine promotes cognitive flexibility: evidence from proactive vs. reactive control during task switching performance. Neuropsychologia, 69, 50-55.
  5. Hidese, S., Ogawa, S., Ota, M., Ishida, I., Yasukawa, Z., Ozeki, M., & Kunugi, H. (2019). Effects of L-theanine administration on stress-related symptoms and cognitive functions in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients, 11(10), 2362.
  6. Williams, J. L., Everett, J. M., D’Cunha, N. M., Sergi, D., Georgousopoulou, E. N., Keegan, R. J., … & Naumovski, N. (2020). The effects of green tea amino acid L-theanine consumption on the ability to manage stress and anxiety levels: A systematic review. Plant foods for human nutrition, 75, 12-23.
  7. Reay, J. L., Kennedy, D. O., & Scholey, A. B. (2006). Effects of Panax ginseng, consumed with and without glucose, on blood glucose levels and cognitive performance during sustained ‘mentally demanding tasks. Journal of Psychopharmacology20(6), 771-781.
  8. Kongkeaw, C., Dilokthornsakul, P., Thanarangsarit, P., Limpeanchob, N., & Scholfield, C. N. (2014). Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. Journal of ethnopharmacology151(1), 528-535.
  9. Lanou AJ, Mast AC, Hill BD, Kim SS, Hanaway P. A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial of a Novel Dietary Supplement on Standardized CNS Vital Signs Cognitive Performance Parameters in Adults. J Integr Complement Med. 2023 May;29(5):303-312. doi: 10.1089/jicm.2022.0543. Epub 2023 Feb 28. PMID: 36856456.
  10. Kongkeaw, C., Dilokthornsakul, P., Thanarangsarit, P., Limpeanchob, N., & Scholfield, C. N. (2014). Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. Journal of ethnopharmacology151(1), 528-535.
  11. Stefan M, Sharp M, Gheith R, Lowery R, Ottinger C, Wilson J, Durkee S, Bellamine A. L-Carnitine Tartrate Supplementation for 5 Weeks Improves Exercise Recovery in Men and Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 28;13(10):3432. doi: 10.3390/nu13103432. PMID: 34684429; PMCID: PMC8541253.
  12. Stefan M, Sharp M, Gheith R, Lowery R, Ottinger C, Wilson J, Durkee S, Bellamine A. L-Carnitine Tartrate Supplementation for 5 Weeks Improves Exercise Recovery in Men and Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 28;13(10):3432. doi: 10.3390/nu13103432. PMID: 34684429; PMCID: PMC8541253.
  13. Mielgo-Ayuso J, Pietrantonio L, Viribay A, Calleja-González J, González-Bernal J, Fernández-Lázaro D. Effect of Acute and Chronic Oral l-Carnitine Supplementation on Exercise Performance Based on the Exercise Intensity: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2021 Dec 3;13(12):4359. doi: 10.3390/nu13124359. PMID: 34959912; PMCID: PMC8704793.

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James de Lacey James is a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. He owns Sweet Science of Fighting, is a published scientific researcher and has completed his Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. He's combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.