Considering buying this brain boosting supplement? Don’t do anything until you have read our Alpha Brain review from writer and supplement fan Alex Whybrow.
Written by Alex Whybrow
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If you have more than a passing interest in brain-boosting supplements and nootropics then it is very likely that you will already be aware of Onnit.
Founded in 2011 by Aubrey Marcus, with controversial podcaster Joe Rogan, Onnit now has a range of over 250 products that covers everything from fitness equipment and apparel to dietary supplements. The mission of Onnit is to help you reach your potential and, arguably, their most famous product in that regard is Alpha Brain.
Since its release back when the company launched, over 1 million bottles of Alpha Brain have been sold, making it one of the most popular supplements in the world.
So what exactly is Alpha Brain? It is a nootropic supplement that is designed to aid cognition and help to develop memory – with the end goal of better focus and mental speed. To achieve this, it contains only natural ingredients which promote neurotransmitter production and alpha wave production.
It is free of caffeine, dairy, gluten, and nuts while also supporting a keto diet. This means that it is aimed at almost any adult, it can work alongside almost any dietary requirements. As with any nootropic, though, it is not for use if you are pregnant or nursing.
Onnit describes Alpha Brain as “The ultimate way to get in the zone” – but what are the benefits of taking it, what is it made from, how should it be taken and crucially, does it work? We’ll be answering these and other questions in the article below.
Alpha Brain Benefits
As we alluded to in our introduction, Alpha Brain, as the name suggests, is designed to aid our cognitive functions. The claim that taking these supplements will help you feel “in the zone”, gives us some idea of which benefits we can expect to receive when we take Alpha Brain, but are the more specific benefits? Let’s take a look:
Increase memory: This is a great benefit to anyone that struggles to remember names and places, but its potential is even greater than that – studying and work performance can be improved immeasurably by better capacity for memory. Think how much more you could get done if you weren’t stopping to look up or check various things as you work.
Improved focus: We’ve all been there – a mountain of work to plough through, but something is just preventing us from knuckling down and getting it done. How do you stop staring out of the window, or down at your phone? It all comes down to focus.
Quicker reactions: Ideal for gamers, but who wouldn’t want quicker reactions? The ability to react, physically and mentally, to things that happen around you is invaluable.
Think clearly under pressure: Whatever job you do, you are probably going to have moments of stress and pressure. Being able to react to them in a positive, and carefully thought out way, will separate you from a huge percentage of the population.
These are the characteristics that Onnit means when they say “in the zone”. They are undoubtedly traits that we could all like in our day to day lives. Let’s see how they intend to give them to us.
They do say it will be several weeks before you start to experience the full effect of Alpha Brain.
Alpha Brain Alternative
Although we think Alpha Brain is a great nootropic, it doesn’t come close to our no.1 rated Nootropic which is NooCube.
With a more balanced natural formula and ingredients that are scientifically backed, NooCube is more cost effective and has an improved efficacy over Alpha Brain in our testing.
Alpha Brain Ingredients
Before we get into the specifics of Alpha Brain, it is important to note that all of Onnit’s products are manufactured at their headquarters in Austin, Texas, before being tested by third-party laboratories for banned substances and contaminants.
Alpha Brain is made from 100% natural ingredients, dairy, gluten and stimulant-free. It is certainly ideal for someone that is wary of or cannot take additional stimulants. The fact that all ingredients are natural is a great selling point for the Alpha Blend.
The full ingredient list can be split into four categories – three blends and Cat’s Claw extract. Let’s take them one by one:
Onnit Flow Blend (650mg)
L-Tyrosine: This is an amino acid that is often used for this kind of brain focused supplement. While its full effect can vary on each individual, it is thought that L-Tyrosine can encourage the production of neurotransmitters, which then help the brain during short periods of stress. It is also thought to alter the release of dopamine, which helps to promote a more positive mood.
L-Theanine: Another amino acid, L-Theanine is commonly used to help reduce anxiety. This obviously helps in times of stress.
Oat Straw (Extract): This is extracted from the Sativa plant (from the stems and leaves) and some studies have suggested that it improves brain function by reducing stress, anxiety and depression, as well as potentially increasing testosterone.
Phosphatidylserine: Sometimes used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD, Phosphatidylserine is seen to help improve memory and attention. It is thought to be particularly effective if taken just before exercise.
Cat’s Claw Extract (350mg)
Cat’s Claw is a woody vine, usually found in the rainforests of South and Central America. It has been used to help treat a large number of ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and even some cancers. Unfortunately, there have been very few clinical trials to test the effectiveness of Cat’s Claw, so we are not sure about its impact, but we know it to be safe. There is a growing bank of anecdotal evidence to support the inclusion of Cat’s Claw as a nootropic though.
Onnit Focus Blend (240mg)
Alpha-GPC: This is a naturally occurring compound that is found in our brains. It is another ingredient that focuses on learning and memory, and another one that has been used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. There is ongoing research to determine exactly how effective it is, particularly in healthy individuals.
Bacopa (Extract): Bacopa, sometimes known as Waterhyssop, is a herb, usually growing in wetland areas in hot countries all over the world. As another brain booster, it is thought to be responsible for improving memory, reducing anxiety, and treating epilepsy. This has been backed by clinical trials.
Toothed Clubmoss: Also known as firmoss or huperzia serrata, toothed clubmoss is native to eastern Asia and is another natural treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is also thought to protect brain cells from certain poisons.
Onnit Fuel Blend (60mg)
L-Leucine: A plant metabolite, L-Leucine is an essential amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins – the result of this is that it helps to heal skin and bones, while also promoting muscle growth and lean body mass. It is also thought to help control blood sugar levels.
Pterostilbene: This is a chemical that is thought to have antioxidant qualities and is also anti-carcinogenic. As a result, it is thought to be able to protect your brain, while at the same time improving brain performance.
Vitamin B6: This is a water-soluble vitamin that is found naturally in lots of foods such as eggs, cereal, chicken and potatoes. It is thought to be important for regular brain development, as well as keeping your immune system healthy.
It is important to note that the actual benefits for all of these ingredients will almost certainly vary from person to person, and while Onnit has done plenty of research into their effects, on the whole the research is quite limited for the majority of these ingredients. There is some suggestion that the ingredients that are used to combat Alzheimer’s disease, for example, work best on deteriorating brains, rather than healthy ones.
You will often find that this is the case for nootropics, as it is a relatively new market but the growing body of evidence to support the use of nootropics amongst healthy adults is promising.
Taking Alpha Brain Supplements
The recommended use for Alpha Brain states: “Adults, as a dietary supplement, take two capsules daily, preferably with a light meal.” It also suggests that they should be stored in a cool, dry place to keep them in the best possible condition.
This is the case with most forms of supplements.
Why should you take Nootropics with a meal?
This is a question we often get asked, so we thought it would be a good idea to explain why this is important.
First of all, one quite simple reason is that some people can feel slightly nauseous if they take nootropics, or any supplement, on an empty stomach. While this doesn’t apply to Alpha Brain, many will contain caffeine, which has a more intense impact on a body when it is taken on an empty stomach.
Most nootropics are designed to have a slow-release for a long-term impact on the body – and when we take them on an empty stomach, the balance is off. We get an intense initial ‘hit’, which then wears off quickly.
Each supplement will have been designed and tested with this in mind, of course, so it is always advisable to follow the instructions from the producer. In the case of Alpha Brain, a ‘light meal’ seems to be ideal to walk that balance between getting the ingredients into our bloodstream, while maintaining a consistent effect over a longer period of time.
Always check how they are best taken before starting a new nootropic supplement, and consult a physician if you are unsure of anything.
Using Alpha Brain
The benefits of Alpha Brain, as promised by Onnit, appeal to me greatly. As a writer, father and husband, the ability to think more clearly under stress and to have improved focus on a day to day level are qualities that could have a major impact on my life. I won’t be alone in this of course, who wouldn’t want this for themselves?
I was quite excited, therefore to be given this assignment to try out Alpha Brain and report on my findings. I hoped that it could be one of those win-win scenarios in which I made huge improvements to my life while working and helping other people to do the same. Here is how I got on:
I decided to start with just one serving of Alpha Brain a day, which I took with a light breakfast every morning, following the suggestion from Onnit.
To be honest, for the first week or so I didn’t really notice very much difference in how I felt or how I worked. I think it is quite natural, although probably fueled by too many cartoons from my youth, to expect an immediate transition from regular Joe to superhero upon taking the first serving, but that did not happen for me. I was a little disappointed, to be honest.
But then I started to notice something happening…
After 7-10 days of taking Alpha Brain, I found myself getting work done much more quickly. Traditionally, I have been an expert procrastinator – only really knuckling down to my work when there was a deadline around the corner.
Suddenly though, I was smashing through my work sometimes days earlier than it needed to be done.
This was unheard of in my writing career. I was starting a piece of work and getting through it all, sometimes without even taking a break.
Now, I have always been capable of working like that, and I would have days like this very often if I knew I had a lot of work to do, so it is not as if Alpha Brain cast me under a magic spell – this level of work was always within me.
However, I was noticing that it was happening more often since I had started taking Alpha Brain.
As a consequence of getting more work done, or maybe as another side effect, I was happier, and less stressed, when I was with my family. I could divert more of my attention to them, and really be in the moment – giving them my full attention.
I didn’t notice any negative side effects from taking Alpha Brain. Sometimes in the past, particularly with caffeine-based supplements, I have experienced headaches, but there was nothing noticeable with Alpha Brain.
I should point out that I have spoken to people that have experienced some side effects from Alpha Brain, including problems getting to sleep and nausea, but I was fortunate enough not to feel these at all.
In terms of the physical act of taking the capsules – they were fine. Nothing there to concern you – just like taking any supplement or medication. I believe the same formula is available in the form of a shot (tropical and peach flavors) so if you don’t enjoy the feeling of taking capsules, maybe that would be the best option for you.
Pros and Cons
Before I get into the benefits and drawbacks of Alpha Brain, I should point out that these are not just based on my own personal experience that I have detailed above. In order to provide you with a bigger picture of how Alpha Brain may impact you, we have taken into account the experience of other people.
Pros of Alpha Brain
Improved focus – whether it is a complicated work project, gaming or just spending time with your family, Alpha Brain certainly helps you “get into the zone”. Many have found that they experience an intense focus, during which they have no real concept of time so immersed are they in their task at hand.
Less stress – Many also report that they can cope with moments of stress with more clarity of thought, which means these moments pass quickly, and without negative impacts on their days.
Improved mood – The world feels that little bit lighter. Perhaps this is a by-product of getting more done and feeling less stressed, but many people have reported feeling much more at peace and happier once they started taking Alpha Brain.
Cons of Alpha Brain
Potential side effects – this is the case with any nootropic or supplement, but there are some uncomfortable side effects that some people have experienced when they have taken Alpha Brain. Sleep deprivation, headaches and nausea are not too serious, but they are certainly enough to put you off taking this nootropic if you start experiencing them.
Expensive: Alpha Brain is one of the more expensive products of this kind on the market. While they often have offers on their website, particularly when it comes to buying in bulk, you should make sure you know that you can afford this in the long run before you start taking it.
Will I experience a ‘crash’ when the effect of Alpha Brain wears off?
No. As Alpha Brain does not contain any caffeine or any other form of stimulant, you shouldn’t feel any kind of crash or drop in mood once it passes through your body.
How old do you need to be to take Alpha Brain?
Alpha Brain, like all nootropics and supplements, is not suitable for children, so you must be at least 18 years old to start taking.
Does Alpha Brain work?
A very important question, and unfortunately one without a conclusive answer. By their nature, nootropics have a different impact on different people, so how much or whether you will feel the benefits of Alpha Brain will only be discovered once you start taking it. There has been a placebo trial to test its efficacy, and the results were positive, but there is not enough evidence for it to be decided that it is universally effective.
The best thing to do is consult your physician, and if they agree it is okay, to start a trial of Alpha Brain.
Is Alpha Brain safe?
Yes. All of the ingredients are natural, and Alpha Brain has been tested by a third party to back up its safety. Of course, some people may experience some side effects, as discussed above, but nothing that should continue after you stop taking Alpha Brain.
As with all nootropics, more testing and research are required in order to categorically prove the effectiveness of Alpha Brain. Until that is done, all we can do is describe our own experiences, while combining them with those of other people.
The good news is, that when we do that, we get positive results for Alpha Brain. The increased focus and concentration were genuinely noticeable and made a significant improvement to our working day. Our mood improved, and we felt a lot less stress.
On top of that, as all of the ingredients are natural and have undergone some third party testing, we were reassured of the safety of Alpha Brain, and that we weren’t going to experience any long-term side effects – even if some minor side effects have been reported.
While this is one of the more expensive nootropic supplements available on the market, we found it to be one of the best. While the impact will undoubtedly vary from person to person, we had a very positive experience with Alpha Brain, and consider it to be one of the best products of its kind on the market.
This article was written by: Alex Whybrow – Full Time Writer, Coffee Connoisseur & Nootropic Fan
Alex spends a lot of his time writing. He is a creative soul who loves to express himself through his written word. When focus or concentration becomes an issue he turns to nootropics. Aside from the world of nootropic supplementation and writing, Alex is a huge fan of coffee and can regularly be found consuming it and writing about it.