How Can Nootropics Help you Build Muscle

The idea that a nootropic ingredient can help you to not only lose weight (see: How Can Nootropics Help You Lose Fat), but can also increase your progress in the muscle department, may seem preposterous.

Nootropic products are mostly marketed for their ability to improve your working and academic productivity. While this will likely remain the largest customer base, there is a lot to be said for their impact on your physical goals.

fit girl

Mind and Body

The scientific community has long understood the correlation between your mindset and your performance in the gym or during any athletic endeavour, as has the sports and bodybuilding supplement industry.

Look at the average pre-workout drink and it will likely contain something which has a cognitive effect.

In fact, that ‘cognitive function’ plug has been the bridging term the sports nutrition companies have used over the last decade.

mind and bodyCognitive function boosters – as a category – could include everything from caffeine to CDP-choline.

Despite these two being very different in terms of behaviour in the body and benefits to the user, not to mention the fact that one is a nootropic and the other isn’t, they are nonetheless swept into the same general subset of compounds.

A person’s mood, focus, motivation, drive, stress level and so on are very important to their physical potential.

Given that your physical effort is the stimulus for muscle growth, and your state of mind can greatly effect your intensity, it stands to reason that nootropics and cognitive enhancers can accelerate the muscle gains from exercise.

How Do They Do This?

They are not like protein, which literally adds muscle mass.

Some allow you to dig deeper mentally, which allows you to dig deeper physically, which elicits greater overcompensation from your muscles during recovery.

Some reduce your stress levels so you can focus on each repetition in the gym instead of worrying about the job, kids, mortgage, pension, health and life in general.

Others boost your drive and motivation.

Many of them increase levels of important neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. These have a very interesting role to play, which is why the next little section is all about them

Acetylcholine

neuronsA principal neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is found in the central nervous system and the neuromuscular junction, amongst other places.

Nothing quite epitomizes the concept of the mind-muscle connection as the neuromuscular junction.

Acetylcholine is largely responsible for the force of your muscle contractions, e.g the force you can apply when lifting a heavy barbell in the gym.

Heightened acetylcholine activity has been connected with greater muscle power.

It is also associated with improved cognitive function in general.

For these reasons, ‘cholinergic’ ingredients usually form the base of modern nootropic supplements.

Conclusion

Nootropics and cognitive boosters have an impact on your physical output levels, and thus your muscle growth response.

Varying benefits from different types of ingredient contribute to this effect.

body and mindThose which improve your mood and reduce stress will help in an indirect way, by clearing your mind of worries and mental fatigue, letting you focus on your exercise session.

Those which elevate neurotransmitters have a much more direct impact on your strength and performance.

However you look at it, your mind and body are inexorably intertwined and effect each other in countless ways.

Optimizing both as best you can will have a positive impact not only to your health but your physical and mental aspirations as well.

Recommendation

We recommend you also read the article: How Can Nootropics Help You Lose Fat?

In different ways, these ingredients and supplements may help you reduce your fat percentage and further assist you in carving the physique you really want.

Scientific Sources

  1. NCBI
  2. McGill Uni

How Can Nootropics Help You Lose Fat?

Dumbell rowWhen we make the commitment to lose weight, the most successful way to succeed is simply to eat less calories than you burn during any given day.

There are subtleties to a calorie controlled diet, however, especially if you are an active person who exercises a lot. The nutritional requirements and macro balances can be different to someone who is merely trying to drop a few pounds through calorie count alone.

Furthermore, general health is of paramount importance because a person can lose weight but still eat garbage; calorie counting is just math to some people, after all.

So really, losing fat is quite simple, yet not without its complexity at the same time.

brain powerOne thing remains a constant, however: your mindset. If it buckles, then so will your dreams of that ideal physique.

In fact, whether you are trying to build muscle, burn fat, or just stick to something that requires a level of effort greater than your usual rhythm, your will to succeed is critical.

Motivation, will power, focus, drive…call it whatever you want, but it’s the ticket to a win. Being stress-free – happy even – will help. Oh, and then there’s feeling full of beans at work and in your spare time, even though you are monitoring calories and working out regularly.

For these reasons, nootropic ingredients are finding themselves in many supplements, be they fat burners, appetite suppressants, pre-workouts or muscle builders.

We’ll deal with nootropics and muscle building in another post, and concentrate on losing fat here. Find out how and why nootropic ingredients – cogntive enhancers – have become a staple part of the sports nutrition and wider health product industry.

What Is A Nootropic Ingredient?

Ask the person who originally coined the term ‘nootropic’ and he – Corneliu Giurgea – would outline very specific parameters by which a substance could be defined as such. They would look something like the following:

  • it should enhance learning and memory
  • it should help protect the brain’s memories and learned behaviour from disruptive conditions (e.g. low oxygen levels, shock)
  • it should protect the brain from physical and chemical damage (e.g. drugs that negatively impact the CNS)
  • it should have low side effect profile and low toxicity
  • it should enhance the restorative and behavioural control mechanisms

supplement capsulesSince Giurgea synthesized Piracetam in the mid 1960s, there has been a large increase in the different types of nootropic ingredient available, with respect to the mechanism of action on the body and how exactly it is beneficial to the user.

And while the original definition remains for what is a ‘true’ nootropic, the word has evolved to become an umbrella term for many forms of compound – whether synthesized or naturally sourced – which invariably improve cognitive function in some way.

Dedicated nootropic products will usually contain some variation of a blend of ‘true’ nootropic ingredients alongside others; perhaps short-term psychostimulants, like basic caffeine anhydrous.

How Can Nootropic Ingredients Help Someone Lose Weight/Fat?

muscle sit upsThe answer is as easy as it is complex. It all depends on how deep you want to go.

The short of it is, anything you do is controlled by your brain. The healthier your brain, the better it will be at doing its part.

On a subconscious level, your brain commands your various organs and limbs to keep you alive and keep you moving. At a higher level, your mood and motivation, desires and insecurities come into play.

cutting peppersThis is where your state of mind can really count. Do you have the will power to ignore those cravings for that piece of cake? Do you have the motivation to get up early and go to the gym? Are you feeling in a good enough mood to not find comfort in a cheeseburger and fries?

It sounds a bit fluffy around the edges, but it actually does come down to these decisions, and the forks in the road that you are presented with ultimately determine your success or failure in any specific emotion-driven task.

Nootropic compounds, in different ways, can enhance key functions – and even the physical structure – of your brain, to upgrade your ability to choose the path you originally set out to take. The little decisions add up.

How Do They Work In The Body?

vasodilated brainAs mentioned, there are several mechanisms that nootropic ingredients utilize to provide their benefits:

Cerebral Vasodilation: this is the widening of the blood vessels in the brain to accommodate more blood, thus increasing the supply of oxygen carrying red blood cells. The same action allows the other ingredients in a blend to reach their target quicker.

Example: Vinpocetine

Neutransmitter Boosters: these ingredients increase levels of important neuro-transmitters, such as acetylcholine, in the brain. Others augment the balance of dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline and serotonin to the user’s advantage.

Cholinergics – which increase acetylcholine – are usually the base of a good nootropic supplement.

Example: Alpha GPC, CDP Choline

Stress Reducers/Mood Boosters: there’s a few ways to reduce stress levels: increase Alpha Waves, alter the levels of CNS (central nervous system) hormones, sweep up excess cortisol, increase blood flow etc.

It’s a vague area because the pathways that affect mood are high in number. Nearly everything that improves cognitive function also improves mood and reduces stress levels to some degree. There are however some specific agents that appear to have more of an effect that others.

Example: L-Theanine, Rhodiola Rosea, HTP (hydroxytryptophan)

Working Memory Enhancers: again, generally improving brain function will in turn boost working memory and productivity. As with stress reducers there are some that stand out.

Example: Bacopa Monnieri

nootropic neuronNerve Growth Stimulators: it hasn’t been long since it was discovered that adult neurogenesis was even possible. The ‘birth of neurons’ – a neuron being a cell which transmits information via synapses by electrical and chemical signalling – increases the size of our neural networks and therefore the capacity of our motor, sense and other functions.

Some ingredients appear to stimulate neurogenesis.

Example: Lion’s Mane mushroom

Stimulants: it’s a hazy grey area but some stimulants, coupled with other ingredients which bring the best out of them (e.g. L-Theanine’s augmenting effect on caffeine), can be a great addition to a nootropic product. They are almost mandatory in fat-burning/pre-workout lore, but they are not technically nootropic.

Due to the fact that they are synergistic with so many other ingredients, and appear to have a few benefits to the user, they are considered an asset here. You just shouldn’t overdo them, but that’s true for everything, ever!

Example: Caffeine anhydrous, coleus forskohlii

Of course, the functional boundaries of these ingredients blur into one another, and in some cases, completely overlap. There are even cases where the fat-burning/muscle building ingredient, has a nootropic effect when it reaches the brain.

Coleus forskohlii is a good way to illustrate this. In the body it elevates cyclic adenosine monophosphate to burn more fat. This same process in the brain improves its output. In the testicles of men (sorry we went there so suddenly), the same process increases testosterone production!!

Conclusion and Recommendation

MuscletronicYour mind plays the pivotal role in any task you partake in, but it is even more critical when mental toughness, motivation, focus and mood are the traits that will bring the results.

Mind over matter…it’s all in your head…positive mental attitude…you’ve heard it all before. Cliché or not, they have a basis of truth.

The product we are currently recommending is Muscletronic iGPC. It combines muscle building, fat burning and nootropic elements to give you the most powerful, rounded and synergistic formula we have used for a long long time, perhaps of all time!

If you are looking for the ultimate product to bring you the best results, you cannot do any better than Muscletronic.

Click here to read our review of Muscletronic

Burning Fat – Adapt Your Philosophy for Success

dieting waistlineMost of the time, if a fat burner doesn’t work, it’s not the product’s fault, but the user’s. Stay with me here, I’m not trying to alienate everyone who has ever bashed a thermogenic product.

On the face of it, it can seem like the easiest option to just blame the fat burner, say it’s useless…’this did nothing for me’…that sort of thing, but it’s really easy for people to discard something with a one-liner and absolve themselves of any responsibility for it not working.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some fat burners out there that should bypass the whole consumption stage and go straight from shelf to garbage can. I’m not talking about those though, that’s what in-depth reviews are for; to oust the terrible ones and leave the rest.

Click here for New Year Strength and Fitness Tips

Say, however, that you look at a decent product from a well respected manufacturer and you read a bunch of average comment-style reviews (instead of the awesome break-down reviews on this site, he says, teeth glinting in sincerity). A lot of those comments are going to be from people who had unreasonably high expectations of some pills, yet minimal execution of their own role to play in the fat loss cycle.

supplement capsulesThe biggest problem is that many aspiring dieters wanting to lose weight or burn fat are looking to these products as some kind of short-cut; perhaps the pill will do the work and they can carry on treating themselves to ice cream. If only! That alternate reality sounds awesome, let’s go there!

While it’s true that if the pills are taken on top of a completely balanced calorie-in vs calorie-out diet – i.e. zero gain or loss – a fat burner should assist fat loss, that is hard work in itself. The lion’s share of that work must come from the user.

Exercise will help, and it will have more benefits the longer you persevere with it. However, just isolating weight loss, the vast majority of it is down to diet.

Here’s a few key points with respect to dieting that can seem like negative hurdles, or big bad ogres, but once you face them head on, they get easier.

Calorie Restriction Sounds Like Punishment

woman with rolling pinRestriction is a filthy word, and one you never want to hear in conjunction with food. Everything about it sounds like a challenge, ranging from depressing to painful.

Calorie control is a better phrase, but it still conjures images of counting points, or reading the back of packages in the supermarket, making a half hour shopping run into a day long outing.

What about balance? Lovely word. We say ‘balanced lifestyle’ all the time and it sounds like the life we want to lead. It is the life we want, because it’s the one that is the most sustainable. There’s another good word, sustainable.

So with ‘sustainable balance’ in mind, lets think of that every time we read (or someone says) calorie restriction, because, really, that’s what it’s all about. Finding the right balance of food intake, against what you burn off by just existing, and what you use up exercising.

And on top of that, you want it to be sustainable, you need something you can keep up, a plan that lasts. No crash dieting or massive detoxes that just make you want to gorge on lard the minute it’s technically ‘finished’.

The weight loss that stays lost is achieved through the slow and steady approach. And for success, a little planning goes a long way.

I Haven’t Got Time To Plan Meals

life logOkay, if you have a job/kids/busy life then you know that planning, in fact, saves time. Dieting is no different.

I’m not suggesting you go all colour-coded-wall-chart crazy, but ten minutes spent on the laptop just outlining the next two weeks of breakfast, lunch and dinner means that when you come to make it all, it’s not a random act of spontaneity.

What does planning entail?

Breakfasts, easy. Alternate between a few healthy, wholesome, energizing options. Oatmeal one day, eggs another, muesli, cottage cheese with fruit and toast, smoothies etc.

How about lunches: bean salad for a few days that you make at the start of the week. You add to that a half bagel with different toppings each day. Or add some chicken to the salad. The point is that there’s a base meal that you can dig out of a large tub in the fridge. And something like a bean salad, if you’re against the clock, can take mere minutes. Done

fish mealDinners: have a root to each one. Maybe go with the vegetables and work around it. Stuffed peppers one night, vegetable burritos another. Don’t think too much.

Once you’ve outlined healthy ingredients to use and basic recipes, portion management is where the real difference is made and that’s something you work out on the night.

Did you run 5km today or just hang around on the couch watching re-runs of crud on tv? Or something else? Gauge what your hunger level is and then figure out whether you can afford a bit of a larger portion based on your energy output. Sometimes snacking on junk is boredom related. Don’t feed that monster.

I Don’t Want to feel Hungry Constantly

Hungry dietingIf that’s what’s happening; like you’re sloping round the kitchen like a bear that’s just woken up from hibernation, then something is amiss.

Nutrition is what drives and satiates hunger. Volume is one aspect but really it’s quality over quantity. There are two important points to make though:

  • When you are changing lifestyle from eating a lot of ‘bad’ stuff to dieting, some feelings of hunger are inevitable. You will adapt to this but it may take a little while for it to happen.

The length of time will vary between individuals but the important thing to remember is to realize it’s not forever and not to cave in.

  • Feeling full is not always the same as being satisfied. Here’s an example: say you eat a piece of cake, with the sponge and filling and so on.

oatmeal breakfastYou may feel full straight after but the piece of cake has done about as much for you nutritionally as a baseball bat to the guts. And you will be hungry again in no time, which is your brain and body searching for something real to eat.

Nutrient density is critical to a sustainable and balanced diet. Eventually, you will feel satisfied from a green smoothie, and you will also crave it.

I mentioned in the previous point that the desire to snack can be related to boredom. The best thing to do…is something. If you draw, then draw. If you are a gamer, then do it. Work-out if you haven’t already. A twenty minute run, anything. If its genuine hunger then it will stick around and you can deal with it.

Getting into a rhythm is important for this, after a while you will know when you are ‘supposed’ to be hungry and when it might be useless cravings.

When you are truthfully famished, then you are too late. The best thing for your weight and you blood sugar is to keep ahead of hunger. Easier said than done but it’s worth mentioning.

I Don’t Have the Discipline to Stick At It

life logDiscipline is another word which gets used in the context of diet. You work, study, look after the kids, look after the house, work out, and do a million other things you need discipline to achieve. You know discipline, that’s not the problem.

The issue is being able to hold back on a need as basic as eating.

Ideas become reality through execution, and that involves an understanding of what you are dealing – and fighting – with on a deeper level. For example, did you know that the flora of your stomach and intestines are largely responsible for the foods that you crave?

These micro-organisms adapt to what you eat, so when you give them enough of something, it starts to be what your stomach’s bio-chemsitry is centred around.

Eat enough cheeseburgers and you’ll begin to crave them more and more. Eat lots of bean salads, and guess what!

Sticking with something, and doing it again and again does have real results, so much so that you won’t just start benefitting from the healthy food you eat, but you’ll start enjoying it, and even craving it!

Here’s a reference article from the University of California San Fransisco: Do Gut Bacteria Rule Our Minds?

Back to Fat Burners and Supplements

PhentermineThere’s a way to make dieting seem a lot more complex than it needs to be, there’s also a way to pretend it can be faster, through gimmicks and fads.

Then there’s reality.

Fat burners are a tool, just like a meal schedule is a tool and even your own willpower. See them all as part of a whole and you will do a lot better than relying on a product to do everything for you.

Good luck, not that you need it. You just need to keep going. Remember, balanced and sustainable.

Also, if you want, read this article on New Year Strength and Fitness Tips