If you’ve been browsing the site, you likely already know the benefits of some basic nootropics such as those in the racetam family. All of the supplements we discuss here have cognitive enhancing effects on their own but if you want to fully experience nootropics then you’ll want to how to stack nootropics to create a synergistic effect.
Whether it’s for daily memory enhancement in your day-to-day life, studying for college, or just for those people who want to maximize their mind’s potential, there is a combination of nootropics that is perfect for you.
What is a Nootropic Stack?
A nootropic stack, simply put, is the combination of two or more supplements that have beneficial effects on memory, learning, focus, or motivation, in order to create a synergistic effect in the brain greater than any increase in cognition than the supplements you “stack” could create on their own. It’s a supplementation technique that many nootropic users take advantage of to boost the abilities of their brain further than any single supplement could do on its own.
There are two ways you can get started with nootropic stacks.
One option is to simply buy a preformulated stack from a supplement manufacturer that has created their own combination of nootropics into capsule form.
These “off the shelf” nootropics have the benefit of being guaranteed to work to some degree and offer convenience over weighing out and mixing your own nootropic combinations.
The downside of choosing a preformulated stack is that you lose the ability to experiment with the dosages and the individual components of the stack.
However, these preformulated stacks are great if you’re looking for a convenient “ready to go” introduction to nootropics that can be taken on their own or used as a base which can be expanded on by taking them with other nootropics such as a racetam.
Make sure you stick to reputable companies when choosing a preformulated nootropic. This is why BrainStack by Maven Labs and Mind Lab Pro by Opti-Nutra are our preformulated nootropic stacks of choice as they are developed by reputable companies and their blends have been masterfully crafted.
Creating your own stack gives you full flexibility to be creative as you want and to make changes to you stack components and dosages as you see fit. Creating your own stack is also much more economical than purchasing a brand name preformulated stack since you aren’t passed along the extra costs of marketing and packaging. Most people that get serious about nootropics opt for designing their own stack for these reasons: full control and cheaper price tag.
The main negative of creating your stack is that new users are often unsure of where to start, what to take, and how much to dose. We recommend that new users stick to the stacks in this guide or this popular nootropic stack for something a more ambitious.
However, if you do the research, and are willing to adjust the dosages of your supplementation until you get the effects you want, creating your own stack is the way to go. If making your own custom stack sounds too tedious or complicated for you, read our Alpha Brain Review for more details on our favorite preformulated nootropic.
NOTE: If you plan to make your own stack, many nootropics come in bulk powder form. You’ll need an accurate scale to measure your doses. Read our article on the how to measure and consume nootropics for more details.
Before You Start Taking a Custom Stack
You need to establish a couple things to yourself first before you start taking a nootropic stack.
First, you need to understand that more isn’t always better.
Let’s use coffee as an example.
If you go out and drink an entire pot of coffee at once, you are probably going to feel like pretty terrible, unless you have heroic tolerance to caffeine.
Comparably, a sip of coffee probably won’t have any noticeable effect on you. Most people need a cup or two of coffee to get the desired effects.
If you are going to start your own nootropic stack, you need to keep this concept in mind. Start with a low dose to see how a certain supplement affects you before taking a full dose. Always err on the side of too little and then slowly increase your dosages as you see how your mind and body react. It’s also a good idea to get familiar with each nootropic in your stack on its own before trying several new nootropics all together for the first time.
While nootropics are generally considered safe, using some common sense and precaution can go a long way.
Second, you need to ask yourself a few things like:
- What do I want to accomplish with this stack?
- How much am I willing to spend?
- When and how often am I willing to take this stack?
- Is this a stack I need to take over time to get effects from?
- Am I willing to deal with any negative effects from this stack?
- Is this stack safe?
Answer these questions, and expect your answers to change as you research more and more in the nootropic world and realize what is possible with these supplements.
Now on to our third point…
RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH.
This is the most important part of any designing any successful nootropic stack.
Despite the many users of nootropics and anecdotal reports, they are still very new supplements and as such an essential part of making a stack to take the time to research what the are putting in their body.
It’s also a good idea to take some time to learn how the nootropics you take actual work. Knowing how one nootropic works could be a deciding point in picking another, picking two that work on the exact same pathways in the point is just a waste of money and probably effects, whereas you could pick two with different effects and get a synergistic effect that will increase memory in the brain to a greater degree.
Another important part of researching is looking at studies and experience reports by other nootropic users. This is the best way to find out if something is effective or not. Pubmed is a great resource for studies and the Longecity forums are a good place to read up on experience reports.
If you are on medication, have any physical or psychological issues, you should consult with a medical professional if you want to be certain that it is safe for you to take nootropics.
Design Your Own Nootropic Stack
You can be smarter, study harder, and be more motivated if you design your stack correctly, and there is always room to change and modify your stack as time goes on to modify your needs.
The possibilities really are endless. But…
Our advice: start simple.
If you are a beginner to the nootropic world, you should start by keeping things simple.
Caffeine + L-Theanine Nootropic Stack
Sometimes the simplest stacks can be the most effective.
For example, stacking two supplements you’re probably already very familiar with, caffeine, which is found primarily in coffee, and L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, is a highly praised and inexpensive stack among nootropic users that like to keep things simple. Taken together, usually at a 2:1 ratio of L-theanine to caffeine, results in a boost of mental energy that is tamed into a cool focus by the L-theanine. It’s a perfect example of how two different nootropics can work together in tandem to round each other out and produce excellent effects.
An Example Beginner’s Nootropic Stack
Benefits of starting with piracetam and a choline supplement:
- Easy – Only two nootropic supplements involved.
- Cheap – This combination is relatively cheap compared to more advanced nootropics.
- Safe – Both have a high safety threshold.
- Synergistic – They complement each other well.
- Room to grow – It’s a good foundation that can be built upon for something more advanced.
So let’s get right into it. Here is an example of timing and dosage.
An 8:1 ratio of piracetam to choline is often recommended but there are recommendations that vary as much as a 3:1 ratio to as little as a 50:1 ratio. Other people don’t even take choline, however, I wouldn’t recommend this since choline and piracetam have a very synergistic relationship and will only maximize the stacks potential.
Although a beginner could start with another racetam than piracetam, we recommend it as a good place to start due to its low side effect profile and it will also give a good baseline to compare other nootropics to. Basically, it’s a good introduction to the racetam family of nootropics and from there you can expand to others.
An Alternative Beginner’s Nootropic Stack
Aniracetam is another popular beginner-friendly choice to build a stack around. Here’s what a beginner’s aniracetam stack could look like.
An Intermediate Nootropic Stack
In your busy, daily life, I would bet you do not do the same thing all day long, every single day of the week. Most likely you set aside time to study, go to class, exercise, go to work possibly, and every now and then maybe find time to sleep.
All these different activities have different mental requirements and engagements, some of them are well suited to an increase in brain power from nootropics and other don’t really require a boost. Sometimes you need to really get in the zone before your final exam for a class, or you are way too hyper from caffeine or something and need to get to sleep so you don’t ruin your sleep cycle for the important lectures you have the next day.
Maybe you just need an extra push for your morning or evening studies.
Or perhaps need an extra night of sleep after partying and studying for 3 days straight.
It wouldn’t make sense to take something to give you that extra boost all the time. Not only would you be overdoing it but you wouldn’t have the same strength of effects because the nootropics you would use for a task-specific mini-stack are usually very fast acting and not suitable for long-term use for one reason or another.
Usually, a good candidate for a mini-stack nootropic is that it has one of these qualities: Fast acting and potent. Not something that takes weeks to build up before experiencing its effects.
- Not something you could take all the time. For instance, Huperzine A can cause acetylcholine tolerance if you take it for an extended amount of time, which would decrease the effects of your overall stack.
- Strongly attributed to a certain effect. This could be a strong focus booster or something to help you sleep.
- Synergistic. Usually something with a different mechanism of action than your main nootropic stack makes a great specialized stack ingredient because it will increase the effects of everything.
Here is an example of how an experienced nootropic stack regimen may look. As you can see it has daily components for morning and afternoon as well as specific mini-stacks for special occasions.
Remember, you should only try a stack this complicated once you’ve started getting very comfortable with more basic nootropic supplementation.
But there you go. This is an example of the basic evolution of a beginner’s nootropic stack to something more complex. There are 1000’s of different variations of this you could do, this is just an example of how you can get more creative with your stack and progress from a novice to a more advanced user.
Braintropic’s Advice: Be Flexible
Everyone’s brain chemistry is different.
Because of this, what works for one might not work for another. Therefore don’t be afraid to change up your stack. If something isn’t working, change something up. You might need to change your dosage, the number of times you take your supplements per day, or even add or remove a supplement into the mix. Of course, don’t make changes every day; you’ll never know what change you made is the one that is making the difference in your nootropic stack.
If you feel like you need to amp up your stack a bit, I would recommend you try one of three options. These are more advanced options, so be sure to try out some of the prior advice before making these changes, as the average beginner might not know enough to take these effectively. You can:
- Swap out piracetam for different racetam, such as aniracetam, oxiracetam, or pramiracetam.
- Change your choline source. Try CDP Choline or Centrophoxenine for slightly different benefits and effects.
- Add another nootropic supplement to the mix. A Nerve Growth Factor promoting supplement such as Lion’s Mane Mushroom would be a good choice for its long term benefits.
More Stack Ideas
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to stack nootropics, we’ve got some more for you.
For example, one of our all-time reader-favorite stacks that increases motivation, memory, and creates Adderall-like focus that we call The Best Nootropic Stack. A second stack that you can try will increase the vividity of your mind and dreams to unfounded levels and has been described as giving one “near photographic memory” is our Photographic Memory Stack.
While custom stacks are considered the best way to experience the full potential of nootropics, if you’d rather not experiment with combining different nootropics on your own, you can opt for a complete preformulated “ready to go” nootropic supplement such as the highly recommended Mind Lab Pro by Opti-Nutra. Read our Mind Lab Pro review for a detailed overview.
If you are interested in making your own nootropic stack, or looking for new ideas, we regularly will add new ones, so stay tuned for more.
The key is to do your research and see what works best for you.