What Are Nootropics In Pre-Workouts?

by Nader Qudimat
Updated July 29, 2023

Pre-workout supplements have become a staple for many in the fitness world.

These products are designed to give you an extra boost of energy, focus, and endurance to help you get the most out of your workouts.

But a new pre-workout supplement has emerged in recent years: nootropic pre-workouts.

We'll dig into what nootropics are in pre-workouts and if they benefit you and your training...

What Are Nootropics In Pre-Workouts: Quick Overview

Nootropics in pre-workouts are cognitive-enhancing substances designed to boost mental performance during exercise.

They help improve focus, energy, and mental clarity, making your workouts more effective and efficient.

The Rise Of Nootropics

Nootropics, also known as "smart drugs" or cognitive enhancers, can improve brain function.

They've been around for decades, but it's only in recent years that they've gained popularity in the fitness world.

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics can enhance cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.

They work by increasing the brain's supply of neurochemicals, improving the brain's oxygen supply, or stimulating nerve growth.

The Origin Of Nootropics

The term "nootropic" was first coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea.

He derived the term from the Greek words nous, or "mind," and trepein meaning "to bend" or "turn." Giurgea believed that nootropics should enhance learning and memory, protect the brain, increase the efficacy of brain-related control mechanisms, and lack a strong sedative or stimulatory effect.

Variations Of Nootropics

Many types of nootropics exist, including both natural and synthetic substances.

Some of the most popular nootropics include caffeine, L-theanine, creatine, and Bacopa monnieri.

Each of these substances has a different mechanism of action and can provide different cognitive benefits.

The Benefits Of Nootropics In Pre-Workout Supplements

Nootropics can provide several benefits when used in pre-workout supplements.

They can help to increase energy, improve focus, and enhance muscle endurance.

This can help you to push harder during your workouts, leading to better results.

See best nootropic pre-workouts.

The Science Behind Nootropics And Exercise Performance

Several studies have shown that nootropics can enhance exercise performance.

For example, a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that a pre-workout supplement containing caffeine, creatine, and amino acids could significantly improve anaerobic peak power compared to a placebo.

How Nootropics Work

Nootropics work by influencing the brain's neurochemistry.

For instance, Huperzine and Choline are two common nootropics found in pre-workout supplements.

Huperzine works by inhibiting an enzyme that degrades the learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, thus increasing this neurotransmitter's levels and duration of action.

Choline, on the other hand, is a precursor to acetylcholine.

When supplemented, it increases the production of acetylcholine.

The synergy between Huperzine and Choline can lead to enhanced focus, mental clarity, and mind-muscle connection during workouts.

Side Effects And Interactions Of Nootropics

Like any supplement, nootropics can have potential side effects and interactions.

Some people may experience side effects such as insomnia, anxiety, or digestive issues.

It's also important to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

Nootropics vs Other Pre-Workout Ingredients

While nootropics can provide cognitive benefits, other pre-workout ingredients such as beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and BCAAs can provide physical performance benefits.

Therefore, many pre-workout supplements contain a combination of both nootropics and traditional pre-workout ingredients.

Who Should Use Nootropics In Pre-Workout?

Nootropic pre-workouts can be beneficial for anyone looking to improve their workout performance.

They can be particularly beneficial for those who participate in sports or exercises that require a high level of mental focus, such as weightlifting or CrossFit.

Who Should Avoid Nootropics In Pre-Workout?

While nootropic pre-workouts can benefit many people, they may not suit everyone.

Those with certain medical conditions, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, should talk to their doctor before using these supplements.

Additionally, those sensitive to stimulants may want to avoid pre-workouts containing caffeine or other stimulatory nootropics.

Comparing Nootropics To Other Pre-Workout Supplements

When comparing nootropic pre-workouts to other pre-workout supplements, it's important to consider your individual needs and goals.

While nootropic pre-workouts can provide cognitive benefits, other pre-workouts may provide more physical performance benefits.

Common Nootropic Ingredients

These are the common nootropics that are found in pre-workouts....

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a substance extracted from a Chinese club moss plant (Huperzia serrata).

It is known for its neuroprotective and nootropic effects.

Huperzine A works by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

It is particularly known for its ability to enhance memory and cognition.

Research shows Huperzine A can benefit people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

The recommended dosage for Huperzine A varies depending on the specific use, but generally, it is taken in the range of 50-200 mcg per day.


Choline is an essential nutrient used by the body for many functions.

One of the most important roles of choline in the body is to produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for memory and muscle control.

Several forms of choline supplements are available, including CDP-Choline (Citicoline) and Alpha-GPC.

  • CDP-Choline (Citicoline): Citicoline is a form of choline shown to have neuroprotective properties. It is used as a supplement for cognitive enhancement and to improve memory. Studies have shown that Citicoline can improve cognitive function in patients with cognitive impairments. The typical dosage for Citicoline is between 250-500 mg per day.
  • Alpha-GPC: Alpha-GPC is another form of choline often used as a nootropic supplement. It has been shown to increase the release of acetylcholine in the brain, improving memory and cognitive function. Research has shown that Alpha-GPC can improve cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The typical dosage for Alpha-GPC is between 300-600 mg per day. Read more on Alpha GPC here.

DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)

DMAE is a compound that is known to have nootropic benefits.

It is believed to increase the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory and cognition.

DMAE is often a nootropic supplement to improve memory, mood, and cognitive function.

Studies have shown that DMAE can improve cognitive function in patients with cognitive impairments.

The recommended dosage for DMAE varies depending on the specific use, but it is generally taken in the range of 100-300 mg daily.

Please note that while these nootropics have been studied for their cognitive-enhancing effects, more research is needed to understand their effects and potential side effects fully.


Caffeine is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee, and cacao plants.

It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system, helping you stay alert and preventing the onset of tiredness.

Here are some key points about caffeine:

  • Stimulant: Caffeine is classified as a psychoactive drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, making you feel more alert and boosting energy.
  • Common Sources: The most commonly consumed sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, and chocolate. It's also found in many sodas, energy drinks, weight loss pills, and medications.
  • Effects on the Body: Caffeine can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and urine production. It can also stimulate the release of natural acids in the stomach, which can cause heartburn and stomach upset.
  • Benefits: Some studies suggest that caffeine may help improve memory, decrease fatigue, improve mental functioning, and even boost endurance performance.
  • Side Effects: While moderate caffeine intake can be part of a healthy diet, excessive consumption can lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Brahmi, water hyssop, thyme-leaved gratiola, and herb of grace, is a plant that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries.

It grows in wet, tropical environments and has various health benefits.

Here are some key points about Bacopa Monnieri:

  • Powerful Antioxidants: Bacopa Monnieri contains powerful compounds that may have antioxidant effects. The main active compounds, called bacosides, have been shown to neutralize free radicals and prevent fat molecules from reacting with free radicals.
  • Reduces Inflammation: Bacopa Monnieri may help reduce inflammation by suppressing the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that stimulate an inflammatory immune response.
  • Boosts Brain Function: Research suggests that Bacopa Monnieri may help enhance brain function. It has been shown to improve spatial learning and retain information.
  • Reduces ADHD Symptoms: Bacopa Monnieri may help reduce ADHD symptoms such as restlessness, poor self-control, inattention, and impulsivity.
  • Prevents Anxiety and Stress: Bacopa Monnieri may help prevent anxiety and stress by elevating your mood and reducing cortisol levels, a hormone closely linked to stress levels.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure Levels: Bacopa Monnieri may help lower blood pressure levels by releasing nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow and lower blood pressure.
  • Anticancer Properties: Test-tube and animal studies have found that Bacopa Monnieri may have anticancer properties. Bacosides, the active class of compounds in Bacopa Monnieri, have been shown to block the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea, also known as arctic root or golden root, is an herb that grows in the cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia.

It's known for its adaptogenic properties, meaning it helps your body adapt to stress when consumed.

Here are some key points about Rhodiola Rosea:

  • Adaptogen: Rhodiola Rosea is a natural substance that increases your body's resistance to stress non-specific ways. Consuming adaptogens during stressful times is thought to help you handle stressful situations better.
  • Boosts Energy and Reduces Fatigue: Rhodiola Rosea is thought to help alleviate fatigue due to its adaptogenic properties. People with chronic fatigue who took Rhodiola Rosea experienced significant improvements in stress symptoms, fatigue, quality of life, mood, and concentration.
  • Improves Mental Performance: Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to increase mental performance during mentally stressful and physically strenuous times.
  • Potential Anticancer Properties: Salidroside, a potent component of Rhodiola Rosea, has been investigated for its anticancer properties. Test-tube and animal studies have shown that it may inhibit the growth of lung, bladder, gastric, and colon cancer cells.
  • May Help with Diabetes Management: Rhodiola Rosea may help protect against diabetes in rodents, suggesting it may be a valuable supplement for diabetes management in humans. However, more research in humans is needed.
  • Safety and Dosage: Rhodiola Rosea is considered safe with a low risk of side effects when taken in the recommended dosages. It's best to take Rhodiola Rosea on an empty stomach but not before bedtime, as it has a slightly stimulating effect. Most people take Rhodiola Rosea extract in capsules or tablets containing between 100 to 200 mg with 3 percent rosavins and 0.8–1 percent salidroside.

Other Resources On Pre-Workouts

For more information on pre-workout supplements and how they can enhance your workouts, check out these articles:

Frequently Asked Questions About Nootropics In Pre-Workout

What are nootropics in pre-workouts?

Nootropics in pre-workouts are cognitive-enhancing substances added to pre-workout supplements to improve mental focus, clarity, and energy during workouts. They are designed to enhance brain function and make your workouts more effective by improving your mental state.

How do nootropics in pre-workouts work?

Nootropics work by enhancing the brain's function in certain ways. Some nootropics increase the brain's neurochemicals, enzymes, or hormone supply. Others improve the brain's oxygen supply or stimulate nerve growth.

Are nootropics in pre-workouts safe?

Most nootropics in pre-workouts are considered safe for healthy individuals when taken at recommended dosages. However, it's always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

Can I take nootropics in pre-workouts every day?

While taking nootropics in pre-workouts regularly is generally safe, it's a good idea to cycle these supplements. This means taking them for a certain period, then taking a break before starting again. This can help prevent tolerance and ensure the nootropics remain effective.

What are some common nootropics found in pre-workouts?

Common nootropics found in pre-workouts include caffeine, huperzine, L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, and various forms of choline.

Can nootropics in pre-workouts improve my workout performance?

Yes, nootropics in pre-workouts can improve your workout performance by enhancing your focus, energy, and mental clarity. This can help you get the most out of your workouts and achieve your fitness goals more effectively.

Do nootropics in pre-workouts have side effects?

While most nootropics in pre-workouts are considered safe, they can have side effects, especially when taken in large amounts. These can include jitters, insomnia, stomach upset, and headaches. Always start with a lower dose to see how your body reacts.

Can I take nootropics in pre-workouts with other supplements?

Yes, nootropics in pre-workouts can be taken with other supplements. However, it's important to be aware of potential interactions and consult with a healthcare provider if unsure.

Are nootropics in pre-workouts suitable for everyone?

While nootropics in pre-workouts can benefit many people, they may not suit everyone. Individuals with certain health conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding, should consult a healthcare provider before using these supplements.

How long before a workout should I take a pre-workout with nootropics?

Taking a pre-workout with nootropics 20-30 minutes before your workout is generally recommended. This gives the ingredients time to start working. However, the exact timing can depend on the specific supplement and your response.

The Bottom Line: Are Nootropics in Pre-Workout Worth It?

Nootropic pre-workouts can be a great addition to your fitness regimen.

They can help to enhance your mental focus and energy, leading to better workout performance.

However, as with any supplement, it's important to research and choose a safe and effective product.

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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