Best Nootropic Stack: The Dirty Secret Nobody Wants to Tell You

When we buy Chinese food or a pizza, it’s natural to visit Yelp and seek the best reviews and restaurants. Once we find a trusted resource, each individual finds a different meal based on personal preference and taste.

Searching for the best nootropic stack involves the same motivation and steps. We first find a trusted resource (which you have done by visiting this site), but then we find different nootropics based on our personal preference and needs.

In this guide, we will teach you how to create the best nootropic stack for you. We are all unique. There is no one size fits all.

For those other guys who claim to have the super magic, awesome, spectacular best nootropic stack, it’s an illusion. To be clear: anyone who says they have the “best nootropic stack” is at best suspect or lying outright to sell you something.

Best Nootropic Stack for Mental Performance

Improving mental performance and optimizing cognition could mean many things for you. Would you like:

  • Focus and Concentration
  • Creativity
  • Mood Enhancement
  • Memory and Learning Ability
  • Anti-aging and Longevity

All of the above! Of course, anyone interested in nootropics would like to achieve all of these things, but sometimes this isn’t possible. It’s challenging to be both creative and focused at the same time. Sometimes smart drugs that increase focus, do not enhance mood.

Let’s look at each of these individually. Below, I’ll break down some options for beginners and more advanced users. At the end of this post, I’ll provide the best nootropic stack options for me.

Focus and Concentration

Far and away, the most desired cognitive goal is increasing focus and concentration. Here are a few suggestions:

Caffeine + L-Theanine – it may seem basic, but the basic caffeine + L-theanine combination is well studied and well-respected [1]. Try to take a 1:2 ratio respectively, but don’t take this daily. As many of you are aware, caffeine builds tolerance quickly. This is the combo that I buy.

Phenylpiracetam – the racetam family has a reputation for memory enhancement, but phenylpiracetam is a powerful concentration tool. I even verified this for my brain with QEEG maps while using phenylpiracetam. This also builds tolerance to cycle it. Get it here.

best nootropic stack

Noopept Sublingual – said to be 1000 times stronger than piracetam [2], noopept is a synthetic drug that interacts with the cholinergic system. By taking a sublingual solution, it helps avoid first-pass metabolism and goes directly to your brain. Get it here.

Creativity

In contrast to popular opinion, it’s challenging to have both focus and creativity. Most concentration comes independent of creative thought as they can be opposing cognitive tools:

Microdosing Psychedelics – a high percentage of Silicon Valley executives and entrepreneurs are using LSD and microdosing specifically. It is a great creativity tool. We cannot provide a source to purchase for obvious reasons, but our guide helps measure doses accurately.

Phenylpiracetam – even though phenylpiracetam does increase focus, it also helps with creativity and verbal fluency. As my QEEG (and studies on racetams) suggest, it is one of the few multi-purpose tools.

Modafinil – this is not for the feint of heart. In fact, I don’t recommend beginners use modafinil (aka provigil) because it is so intense. There is evidence modafinil improves working memory [3], which is a major part of creativity. It’s obviously a great focus tool, which makes it unique among smart drugs. .

Mood Enhancement

Improving mood is obviously enjoyable, but also helps with cognitive performance as well. Reducing anxiety and symptoms of depression has cognitive performance effects.

Ashwagandha – a basic Ayurvedic herb, many studies suggest ashwagandha can reduce symptoms of anxiety by up to 56.5% [4]. It’s a well-tested and useful nootropic compound if you have the right vendor. We recommend getting it here.

St. John’s Wort – a meta analysis of 5500 patients and 29 trials showed St. John’s Wort was no different than SSRI prescription drug medications, but it had fewer side effects [5]. It’s a natural mood enhance with a bit more safer profile. Get it here.

Tianeptine – once a prescription drug treatment, tianeptine is a potent anxiety reducer and mood booster. There is a slight addiction potential and other side effects, so tianeptine is not for a beginner. Get it here.

Memory and Learning Ability

The ability to learn and process new information is desirable to many smart drug enthusiasts:

Bacopa Monnieri – one of the most well-researched nootropics is bacopa. This Ayurvedic herb has been (and still is) used by children in India for thousands of years. This is a great beginner tool for memory, but it does take time (8 – 12 weeks). We recommend getting it here.

Piracetam – this is where it first began! Piracetam (aka nootropil) was discovered in the 1960s, which spawned the term “nootropics” It’s well researched in humans and animals, though it can be a subtle drug that times time to work. Get it here.

Centrophenoxine – as far as memory enhancement goes, centrophenoxine is one of the newcomers on the block, but already has a solid backing. Many people within the nootropics community love centrophenoxine for memory enhancement as a cholinergic option. Get it here.

Anti Aging and Longevity

There are many aspects of anti aging and even the greatest minds haven’t created a solution. Nonetheless, anti aging and neuroprotection often aid mitochondrial function and other foundational markers:

Coenzyme Q10 – this basic building block is additive to support mitochondrial function. Keep in mind that CoQ10 is fat soluble, so take it with a meal or fat source. Get it here.

PQQ – a perfect combination with the CoQ10, PQQ molecule aids in mitochondrial function and longevity. No long-term human studies exist with this compound, but theoretically there are many benefits. Get it here.

Quercetin – a natural antioxidant found in apples and onions, quercetin is one of the most powerful nutrients for aging and longevity. The bioflavonoid is beneficial in theory, but a naturopathic doctor and PhD researcher are both big proponents. Get it here.

All in One Best Nootropic Stack

Despite all of this valuable information, there are a certain percentage of readers who are still looking for the one product that will save the day.

I don’t believe this exists, but I understand most people don’t want to learn about all of these details. If you are hellbent on purchasing a premade or unique nootropic stack, consider the information below.

Our best recommendation for an all-in-one nootropic stack is Qualia (read our review here).

  • Nootrobox – good quality ingredients, safe, but often inadequate and expensive
  • TruBrain – high grade nootropics, safe, but very expensive
  • Alpha Brain – okay ingredients, but includes fillers. Quite expensive for what you get.
  • CILTEP – good ingredients, but expensive (also comes in Qualia and easy to DIY)
  • Four Sigmatic – good ingredients, but low efficacy or impact
  • OptiMind – not good ingredients, not great product, expensive
  • Addium – terrible product. Stay clear at all costs.

Best Nootropic Stack for Me

I’m a big proponent of cycling nootropics as much as possible. Using different nootropics helps to ensure certain aspects of the brain are not overworked, but they also increase the efficacy of the drugs.

Click on each of the example days to see the best nootropic stack for that particular day.

Day 1
Caffeine and L-Theanine (80 mg + 160 mg)
Noopept sublingual (0.5 mL)
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
Day 2
Phenylpiracetam (200 mg)
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
Day 3
Qualia (Step 1, not step 2)
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
Day 4
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
Day 5
Caffeine and L-Theanine (80 mg + 160 mg)
Phenylpiracetam (100 mg)
Creatine (5 g)
Day 6
Qualia (Step 1, not step 2)
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
Day 7
Quercetin (800 mg)
CoQ10 (200 mg)
Creatine (5 g)
Fish Oil (1000 mg DHA + 500 mg EPA)
References (Click to Expand)
  1. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681988
  2. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12596521
  3. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20653641
  4. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19718255
  5. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843608

Author

Nootropedia provides research-driven and accessible nootropics information. Don’t be in the dark about nootropics.
  • Mike

    Hi Mansal, thanks for another great article. I really enjoy reading (and watching your YouTube videos) what you have to say and I especially like that you have posted your weekly stack. You don’t take as many supplements/nootropics as I expected but I’m glad to see DHA/EPA is there in the doses that I have been taking and noticing a big improvement in my cognition and overall health. I see you take creatine nearly everyday. Is this for cognition or body? I’m wondering if I should add it to my routine? At the moment I take a multi vitamin including B complex, DHA/EPA in same doses and Mind Lab Pro pre-made stack. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I suffer from brain fog a LOT. Ive had loads of blood tests and nothing positive so far to indicate underlying health issues.

    • Mansal Denton

      Hey Mike, thank you for the kind words! It’s always encouraging to hear from fans. Indeed, I don’t take as many nootropics as most people expect. There isn’t a huge need to overload them when we do other basic things right.

      Creatine is great for both cognition and body. At a cellular level, creatine monohydrate helps to increase ATP (energy), which is true of muscle or brain cells. It will lead to SOME water and weight gain, but for a male it usually isn’t a huge problem unless bodybuilding (or kidney health issues).

      The Mind Pro Lab stack isn’t something I would or would not recommend. It’s probably more expensive than really effective IMO. If you want a pre-made stack (which I’m not saying should be your first line of defense), I’d suggest Qualia.

      Otherwise, tell me more about the brain fog and I’ll see what I can help with.

      • Mike

        Wow thanks for the speedy reply! I really appreciate you taking the time to get back to me. My brain fog has been a constant part of my life for many years now. I’ve recently had my liver, kidney, inflammation, full blood count, thyroid, vitamin b, magnesium and hormone levels checked and all have come back “normal”. I’m struggling to find what is causing my brain fog. is it an underlying medical condition or is my brain just not functioning as it should. Other cognitive symptoms are a definite lack of focus and concentration resulting in an inability to take in new information. Coupled with this are memory recall issues and verbal fluency problems. It’s really hindering my life, my ability to be productive and damaging my relationships as it’s causing irritability and a detachment from those I’m closest to. Anything you could advise would be great. Thanks again for your time.

        • Mansal Denton

          Hi Mike,

          If you don’t mind me asking, what is your age? How has this changed over time? It could be a dietary indicator. Unfortunately, many of those tests will not give you data that you need to clear things up. It seems you have the money to do some tests. Would you be willing to take a simple 23andme genetic test?

          This might provide you with some data (I’d also run it through Promethease) regarding your genetics. It could be that you are a poor methylator. I have used this and found some valuable insights (though more for long term than immediately useful).

          If you have a little more cash and willingness to go down the rabbit hole, I can introduce you to a consultant I know with a lot of expertise figuring out the causes of this type of thing. You’re very welcome!

          • Mike

            I’m just about to turn 39 years old later this month. Objectively I would say that I’ve never had the “best” cognition but over the last few years I’ve certainly noticed a significant decline in my focus, attention and concentration abilities which has led to learning and memory issues. In my early 30’s it would have been a lot easier for me to keep focussed enough to complete tasks that lasted more than a couple of minutes that now are a lot more challenging. In the last few months I have been experiencing blurred eyesight. I have been to an optometrist and there are no underlying health issues (I just need a stronger prescription!). I’m
            Just wondering if and how it’s all related. It’s a shame that the tests I recently I had done haven’t clarified my situation and your suggestion of a genetic test is intriguing. I don’t wish to give the impression that I am “made of money” as that is far from the truth but I do have disposable income available if it helps my brain function better. I’m a realist and I know it will never be “limitless” but I want to maximise what I’ve got. Thanks again.

          • Mike

            I have looked at 23andme.com and I am seriously going to consider ordering a DNA test from them. It is within my disposable income and maybe that will be the next direction for me to go in my search for a cognitive solution. Thank you for sending me down this path. I will let you know how it goes.

          • Mansal Denton

            Great! Glad to be of help. Hope it yields some good information.

  • Eric

    Great article and youtube video Mansel. Really enjoyed the concise information and found it easy to understand from a noob nooter’s perspective. Couple questions about your 7 day stack examples at the end. Are you taking choline sources with phenylpiracetam and noopet? Also your coq10 stack on day 7 did not include PQQ? Cheers from Toronto.

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Eric, thanks for the kind words 🙂 To answer your questions:

      No, I’m not taking choline sources mainly because my diet consists of a lot of eggs. I eat probably 2 dozen a week or so.

      I don’t always take PQQ. In fact, sometimes I simply forget to buy more LOL. It’s useful, but it is also expensive. I don’t believe CoQ10 alone provides the same advantages, but I know it helps somewhat. Cheers!

  • Mansal Denton

    Hi Naum, I take step 2 sometimes, but not ALL the time. It depends on how much I have to do / want to do in the day. The reason I don’t use it for two reasons. For one, it is very stimulating for me, which is what most people want from a nootropic.

    The other issue is, to take step 2 properly, one requires a fat source and I typically fast for extended periods. If I wait to take Step 2 when I eat my first meal (1-2PM) then it will disrupt my sleep.

    It’s more my personal preference than any real or significant danger / problem with Step 2. Typically, I keep the pills and use them intermittently. That’s how I make my Qualia product last for anywhere between 2-4 months (because I cycle with others).

    • Naum

      That’s what I figured. Thanks mansal, I also fast until 2pm. Maybe I’ll take 2 pills instead of the 6 and see how that feels. This way it won’t effect my sleep.

  • NaumyNaum

    Hi Mansal, Is is possible to have a comedown after this… felt on fire today for Day 1, now I’m feeling like I’m coming down and a bit head achey and foggy ?

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi there, are you speaking about Qualia (based on your previous comment)?

      If so, my first few days with Qualia were not amazing. Had some side effects until my body acclimated. Also regarding fogginess, what are the symptoms?

      Most time when I take too many stimulants or powerful nootropics, there is some downstream effects (i.e: laziness, tiredness) in the evening. Usually this is due to main brain chemicals being depleted, which is generally OK so long as I don’t do it habitually and have the food / sleep to replenish. Hope this helps