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Humans have used plants as natural medicines for as long as we’ve had these big brains of ours.
Herbal adaptogens and nootropics aren’t new to us, but their significance hasn’t dwindled with time. People are turning more and more to adaptogens and nootropics for weight loss and other health concerns.
With rising health care costs and a focus on more natural ways of living, it’s no wonder that people are taking their health into their own hands.
Nootropics for weight loss can be part of our efforts to combat obesity and its related illnesses.
Scientific research has made this information more accessible to the everyday consumer looking for an edge.
Nootropics are also called smart drugs and are notable compounds or supplements that boost cognitive performance.
They work by increasing mental capacities such as memory, attention, motivation, creativity, and focus. Nootropics for weight loss improve symptoms of anxiety, sleep, depression, and mood.
Adaptogens are plants that help your body adapt or adjust to stress.
They help you to resist and withstand stressors that are physical, biological, mental, or environmental. These plants provide a buffering effect against stress.
You can probably tell that nootropics and adaptogens overlap.
Adaptogens are specific plants that provide protective effects against stress. Nootropics are broader and include compounds and drugs that enhance cognitive performance.
Here are some ways that you can use adaptogens and nootropics for weight loss:
- Motivation & mood
- Hormonal balance
For this article, I had help from Erik, a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner, who writes at HolisticNootopics.com.
Read more: The 25 Healthiest Foods for Weight Loss
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Nootropics for Weight Loss
Nootropics for weight loss target the indirect causes of weight imbalance. Weight loss is a complex issue and isn’t ever so simple as just popping a pill and watching the scale go down.
We can use nootropics to tackle the problems that keep us from being successful with weight loss or even just as a boost to an already solid plan.
Nootropics for Energy
A lack of energy is one of the main reasons why people don’t exercise.
But this issue is a double-edged sword — a lack of exercise is a significant cause of disease. Over 35 chronic diseases can be prevented with physical activity.
Nootropics for energy can give you that boost you need to begin exercising. Once you’ve started exercising, even at low intensities, you can expect to feel much more energized.
Research shows that exercise boosts your energy levels by 20 percent and decreases fatigue by 65 percent! It’s that initial boost of energy that nootropics can provide that will help give you the kick in the pants to get going.
Here’s a list of nootropics for energy:
- CDP Choline (Citicoline) — aids in muscle fatigue and mental fatigue, so you feel strong and ready to go.
- Rhodiola Rosea — boosts energy and symptoms of stress. The Rhodiola Rosea dosage for energy ranges in dose from 50 mg to 660 mg per capsule, to a maximum of 1500 mg/day, suggesting a large margin of safety. Studies reporting a positive effect of R. Rosea on physical performance reported doses of 200 mg/day-680 mg/day and those reporting a positive impact on mental fatigue reported doses between 100–576 mg/day.
- Caffeine — clearly a popular choice for boosting energy! Works well for pre-workout but can have side effects on your digestive system and sleep. Read more about how to make you own Pre-Workout supplements.
- Acetyl-l-carnitine — an amino acid that improves energy and lasts for 12 hours. Fantastic for improving physical energy as well as mental with neuroprotectant properties. It also provides benefits to the cardiovascular system
- Curcumin — works best when taken with piperine (pepper extract) and lasts for 24 hours
- L Tyrosine — great for fatigue and stress and mood enhancement
- Modafinil — Good alternative to Adderall that gives lots of energy and focus without the side effects of Adderall.
Nootropics for Sleep
Sleep is another aspect of weight balance that goes both ways: physical activity leads to better sleep, and better sleep leads to having the energy to workout in the first place.
Sometimes sleep does not come easy. I’ve been there. Insomnia is no fun at all. There’s a wide variety of reasons why you may be lacking in sleep quality, and it’s essential to get to the root of the issue.
Using nootropics for sleep is a fantastic idea because it takes minimal effort and is something you can have in your back pocket when other methods don’t seem to be working, and you don’t have the energy to exercise.
Some good nootropics for sleep are:
- Phosphatidylserine — helps control cortisol levels to improve restful sleep
- Reishi Mushroom — eases the mind and relieves insomnia
- Magnesium — increases melatonin, the sleep hormone and decreases cortisol. Also shown to prevent daytime sleepiness in women
- Phenibut — improves tension and sleep and is considered similar to a tranquilizer. (Read more about the nootropic phenibut)
Read more: How To Get Better Sleep with Exercise
Nootropics for Motivation and Mood
Finding the motivation to workout and stick to your weight loss goals is a significant struggle for many people.
Sometimes it seems like you’ve found your motivation, but something happens, life gets in the way, and as sure as you’ve started your routine and believe you’ll never go back to your less healthy habits, you end up off the wagon again.
This is part of the human condition, and knowing that you aren’t alone and that you don’t have to be perfect to make progress are essential lessons to remember.
Nootropics for motivation can aid with weight loss by helping you overcome that mental block you feel when you can’t get yourself to comply.
Some nootropics for motivation and mood:
- L tyrosine — great for boosting motivation by aiding proper catecholamine levels in healthy individuals
- Piracetam — helps increase mood and motivation and reduces mental fatigue. It should be cycled and is not risk-free.
- Modafinil — just like it provides energy, modafinil also helps with motivation by boosting mood and mental performance
- Acetyl-l-carnitine — improves focus and mental strength, so you feel more motivated. Upregulates noradrenaline and serotonin, neuroprotective and antioxidant properties
- Sulbutiamine — Sulbutiamine is a lab-made form of thiamine (vitamin B1) that effective for treating B1 deficiency and chronic fatigue syndrome. It helps to boost mood and motivation by enhancing levels of dopamine and glutamate
Read more: How to Get Motivated to Finally Conquer Your Fitness Goals
Nootropics for Focus
If your problem with sticking to your goals is a lack of focus, nootropics could help; it is their specialty after all. Also useful for maintaining focus during your workouts so you can attain the all-important mind-muscle connection and be more efficient at the gym.
Using nootropics for weight loss includes improving focus. Try these:
- Coffee — improves concentration and alertness, and not just because of the caffeine, whether due to placebo effect or a synergistic effect with the chemical compounds in coffee, it can help improve focus whether decaf or not. More than three cups can have the opposite effect though, so balance is necessary
- Lion’s mane mushroom — works well for focus and useful for neurogenesis, eliminating brain fog, and helps improve mood (read more about lion’s main mushroom for weight loss)
- Adrafinil — great for focus, attention, concentration. Similar molecularly to modafinil (the limitless drug)
- Modafinil — an excellent alternative to Adderall that gives plenty of energy and focus without the side effects of Adderall
- CDP Choline — shown to heighten focus, increase mental energy, improve reaction time, and provide better clarity of thought
Nootropics for Exercise
All of these nootropics for weight loss mentioned above can help with various aspects of exercise. Being motivated, having energy, and maintaining focus are all important for a good exercise session.
Remember that exercise itself helps to boost all of these things — focus, mood, motivation, energy, and more.
(Find out how to make your own pre-workout supplements!)
However, there are some nootropics for exercise that help you level up your workouts by speeding reaction time, helping with energy metabolism, and protecting your heart.
Here are some nootropics for exercise:
- Coffee — helps to improve how much power output you can create as well as speed, for longer time periods
- Modafinil — powerful stimulant and wakefulness-promoting drug that has been shown to improve reaction time
- Alpha GPC — shown to promote physical health and muscular strength and power. It may help stimulate the production of human growth hormone and can improve lean muscle mass as well as aid in workout recovery time. Source of choline
- L-tyrosine — crucial for metabolism, helps buffer fatigue from strenuous exercise
- Phosphatidylserine — helps increase the amount of time that you can perform strenuous exercise before exhaustion. This may be because phosphatidylserine stabilizes choline levels in the body, preventing fatigue caused choline depletion
Adaptogens for Weight Loss
Adaptogens for Weight Loss (+ hormonal balance)
- Relora — shown in published clinical studies to support normal cortisol levels, mood, and weight management. It was shown to lower fatigue and increase vigor in athletic performance. Relora is a blend of two plants: Magnolia Officinalis and Phellodendron amurense.
- Holy Basil (Tulsi) — shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure, and lipid levels. Considered anti-diabetic.
- Ashwagandha —helps reduce food cravings and over eating. Studies have shown weight loss resulting from supplementation with ashwagandha.
- Ginseng — ginseng helps improve physical stamina and has been directly shown to cause weight loss by increasing energy expenditure (calorie burn) and decrease energy intake (consuming calories)
- Maca — increases energy and stamina, strength and vitality. Especially useful for balancing hormones, particularly over 30 and as we age. Very popular.
- Rhodiola Rosea — a powerful adaptogen that helps relieve stress, restores energy and helps you be able to exercise for longer, burning more calories. It helps lower calorie intake and had a 30% decrease in visceral fat weight compared with the other treatments when combined with bitter orange (Citrus Aurantium) in studies.
- Schisandra — helps to reduce hunger and is considered an anti-obesity supplement https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6412213/due to its ability to prevent/reduce fat accumulation.
- Moringa — a natural energy booster including 90 nutrients, 40 antioxidants, 17 times to calcium of milk, 4 times the potassium of bananas, 20 times the iron of spinach and 8 times the protein of yogurt. It may help with inflammation, and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Read more: Are You Too Stressed to Lose Weight?
Adaptogens for Stress
Stress causes your stress hormones such as cortisol to rise out of normal and healthy ranges. Chronic elevation of these hormones leads to more abdominal fat stores and metabolic syndrome. Chronic stress can also affect how we eat.
Bad moods make us eat more poorly, in larger amounts. Stress actually makes us crave the worst kinds of food for weight — sweet and fried foods, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
We are also much less likely to want to exercise or move at all when we are under a lot of stress for long periods. As you can probably figure out, eating worse and moving less is not a great combination for maintaining a healthy weight.
Adaptogens for weight loss can mean adaptogens that lower stress levels, improve eating and movement habits, and help reduce cortisol-caused belly fat.
Some adaptogens for stress are:
Relora — can address the elevated cortisol and depressed DHEA levels often associated with chronic stress by helping to return these levels to normal.
It helps to control stress-related symptoms, including irritability, muscle tension, and restlessness, as well as stress-related overeating.
Ashwagandha — shown to directly affect weight loss, especially due to chronic stress. In a study, 52 subjects under chronic stress received either Ashwagandha (300 mg) or placebo twice daily.
The subjects lost weight and improved their BMI. This suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be used for bodyweight management in adults under chronic stress.
Valerian — shown to reduce both psychological and physical stress by aiding certain neurotransmitters. It can also help greatly with sleep and anxiety.
Passionflower — provides relief for stress, anxiety, and insomnia
There are many adaptogens for stress. Other options are California poppy, lemon balm, and skullcap.
Read more: How to Stop Stress Eating, Bingeing, and Restricting
Adaptogens for Digestion
An essential part of getting proper nutrition is actually being able to break down and absorb nutrients properly. Herbs have been used for this purpose for millenia.
Here are some adaptogens for digestion:
- Fennel — for bloating and gas
- Licorice — for inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract
- Chamomile — calming, soothing
- Lemon balm — relieves digestive complaints like bloating and gas, is antispasmodic
- Peppermint — gas, cramps, indigestion
- Catnip — calms and soothes nerve related digestive problems
- Aniseed — helps keep you regular, stimulating
Read more: 13 Healthy Eating Habits to Improve Your Health Now
Nootropics + Adaptogen Stacks for Weight Loss
Erik helped me come up with the following nootropics for weight loss stacks:
Nootropics for weight loss: exercise stack (pre-workout, energy)
– Rhodiola Rosea, Citicoline, B-vitamin complex, creatine
Nootropics for weight loss: sleep stack:
Phosphatidylserine, Reishi Mushroom, and adaptogenic blend with ashwagandha/Rhodiola, etc, Magnesium
Nootropics for appetite suppressant and cravings:
B-vitamin complex with methylcobalamin (B12), B6 (as P5P), chromium + GABA and magnesium glycinate
Read more: The Amazing Health Benefits of Chlorophyll
Excuse my ignorance, but I’ve never even heard of an adaptogen! Very informative post! Thank you for sharing.
What do you recommend for caffeine? I do not consume caffeine too often and do not care for coffee. Every once and a while I need a pick me up… which leads me to a Coke. Any other healthier recommendations? TIA
Adaptogens have become very popular, so welcome to the fold 🙂 Several sources are much better for you than coffee for caffeine but are still natural. Green tea, Yerba Mate, which contains less caffeine than coffee, but more than tea, guarana berries, and Gotu Kola. If caffeine makes you jittery, try combining it with theanine which buffers the jittery effect and causes a smooth, clean energy surge. I hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by 🙂