Nootropics represent a growing portion of the supplements market. It’s easy to see why. So called ‘smart drugs’, nootropics promise to optimize cognitive function, brain health, and energy levels, whilst also ring-fencing long term cognitive wellbeing.
Most nootropics come as capsules. Simply crack open a bottle, throw a couple of capsules back with your breakfast, and get on with things – it couldn’t be easier.
However, there is very much a place for a different kind of nootropic supplement – the nootropic drink. The best nootropic drinks are a very good, very healthy alternative to the kinds of synthetic, unhealthy energy drinks that overload you with caffeine, taurine, and e-numbers.
Keep a decent nootropic drink in your bag for that mid-afternoon energy dip. Drink it instead of reaching for a strong coffee or can of synthetic energy. Feel your brain boosting with longer lasting energy than caffeine might offer, free from the spike and crash associated with it. Feel your cognitive health being tuned up whilst your clarity and focus return to you, no matter what you’ve had on that day.
But what makes a good nootropic drink? Which one should you go for?
I’ve had a look. It turns out there are some good ones out there. There are a handful of spectacular ones.
Our Top Nootropic Drinks
There are a number of products out there claiming to be nootropic drinks, and whilst some are brilliant, somewhat are not so great. I’ve selected 5 of the best nootropic drinks on the market and bring you my verdict on them after testing each and every one of them.
GO BIG Nootropic Drink
Let’s kick things off with GO BIG, a fun little energy drink whose founders describe it as being ‘like an energy shot and a wellness shot had a better-looking baby’… I can see where they are coming from. It does seem like a good reconciliation between the two, giving you plenty of health boosting micronutrients whilst also raising your energy levels.
One of these founders, Vivi, was lucky enough to grow up in Brazil watching people taking guarana. Guarana, a seed found in the Brazilian Amazon, is one of the best nootropic supplements out there. It’s a bit like coffee, though it goes a bit further, and gives you a bit more.
GO BIG is designed to give you more than just an energy boost. It is meant to make those who take it daily feel far better all around. With this in mind, after exhaustive trials and recipe rewrites, the creators mixed the potent, smooth energy and nootropic benefits to be gained from guarana with super fruits and botanicals, with a little apple cider vinegar thrown in for good measure.
Thus, a fantastic energy and wellness shot was born.
The guarana alone gives you a great many benefits. These include the smooth, slow, steady energy boost mentioned above. It has none of the peak and crash energy boost associated with coffee, keeping you alert for longer. This pairs well with improved cognitive function, proving itself a valuable nootropic.
Guarana has been shown to improve alertness and memory whilst giving your mood a lift.
Guarana is also great for enhancing performance, giving you more stamina when you’re exercising and diminishing post-training fatigue.
GO BIG’s recipe is incredibly rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins. Guarana delivers more catechins that green tea, and ten times the amount offered by cocoa. Add this to the superfruits and botanicals and you have a bit of an antioxidant haven.
Antioxidants are vital in maintaining long term health. They fight oxidative stress, protecting against damage from free radicals. Amongst other things, free radical damage plays a central role in the aging process and underpins the creation of cancer cells.
GO BIG also has a range of benefits attached to it, explained with anecdotal evidence. It can help to fight against depression and anxiety, and deliver neuro-protection, all of which makes sense, given the nootropic, energy boosting, antioxidant rich nature of guarana. It might also support healthy cardiovascular function, boost your libido, and aid in weight loss.
It’s a guarana supplement made into a nice drink, with a few added extras. What’s not to like?
Then there is Recess, one of the best nootropic drinks on the market (and lovely for us nineties kids remembering afternoon cartoons fondly!) It is an incredibly easy product to live with, meaning you can take it daily with no bother at all. It also gives you a good kick of adaptogens and hemp whilst making use of sparkling water for a little fun.
It’s a great product.
The flavorings are also fantastic. You get a range of delicious tastes, with blackberry chai, black cherry, coconut lime, and peach ginger on offer (I’d recommend the peach ginger to anyone, any time – it’s glorious).
However, it isn’t all about drinkability, of course (if it was, this would probably be the only entry on the list, it’s that nice!) We also need to know that we are getting some strong nootropic effects from any given product.
Happily, every can of Recess gives you a solid helping of some of the best natural nootropic ingredients going. It comes in two forms – Recess Mood and Recess Calm – and both give you the benefits anybody will want from a good nootropic supplement.
Ingredients include adaptogens like ginseng (one of my favorite supplements, period), passion flower, and lemon balm. These serve a variety of purposes, as adaptogens, but should all work together to improve cognitive health and function. You also get a load of CBD and other useful cannabinoids from hemp extracts, meaning plenty of long lasting stress relief and calm energy.
Finally, Recess includes l-theanine. L-theanine and l-tyrosine are amongst the best of the best when it comes to writing up a list of nootropic usual suspects. To see at least one included in a nootropic supplement is always reassuring.
I hate anything patented, anything using a proprietary blend, anything, in short, hidden. Transparency is vital in judging a supplement or food. For this reason, I love Recess. Not only are they honest and open about their formulas, they actively encourage you to dig around. They offer visitors access to all lab results surrounding the ingredients they use.
This is amazing.
If you want something that really will boost your cognition and brain health, that is also a delicious, refreshing drink sure to give you a bit of an energy boost, without delivering much sugar or many calories, Recess is a must-try. It’s not the cheapest by any stretch of the imagination, but I always encourage people to spend on quality where they can.
Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink
Our next offering is one of the best drinks on this list for a quick energy pick-me-up – allow me to present the Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink. It pretty much immediately clears brain fog, improves blood flow to the brain, and lends you more cognitive energy when you drink it. It’s sort of like coffee squared, without the jitters, and without being ruinous to your health.
It’s a shot, making it super easy to carry around with you and use whenever it is needed.
It is aimed at replacing less healthy energy shots such as 5-Hour Energy and the like. Each shot is full with a host of common, high quality nootropic ingredients from which all of the Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink’s benefits spring. In fact, there are nine active ingredients, all told. These include two NAD boosters, three adaptogens, and one of my favorite nootropics, Alpha GPC.
It’s hard to find a better recipe than this with regards to quickly boosting your cognitive performance.
The Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink is made by Neurohacker. If you’re familiar with the world of nootropics, you’ll know how impressive this is. If not, suffice it to say that Neurohacker are big players. They are amongst the top, most trusted, highest quality nootropic manufacturers on today’s market.
Do beware the caffeine content, however. There is quite a lot in each dose of Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink. When I say shot, think espresso shot with some added extras. I personally like this. I like caffeine, I respond well to it, and it helps me to focus and work. However, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or if you like to drink lots of coffee in addition to your nootropics, it may better to look elsewhere.
Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink is one of the few items on this list that uses synthetic ingredients. This isn’t an issue in itself, and definitely doesn’t undermine its efficacy. It’s just something you should know going in.
Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink is also a little pricey for what it is. I don’t think it’s overpriced. It’s a fantastic product made by a top-tier company, so it’s only right that it sets you back a pretty penny. However, less healthy, more ubiquitous products like 5-Hour Energy or even Red Bull will prove far more cost-effective – they will just ruin your health in the process, whilst Qualia Nootropic Energy Drink will help to improve it!
Brain Boost On The Go
Next up we have a fairly self-explanatory supplement – guess what Brain Boost On The Go by Brain MD, Dr. Daniel Amen’s company, can do for you?
It’s not a trick question. It is a drink that can literally give your brain a boost while you’re on the go, out and about, at work, or wherever.
Brain Boost On The Go is a fully natural product created by Dr. Daniel Amen’s lab. Dr Amen is one of the US’s top psychiatrists and cognitive health experts. His company, Brain MD, claims to have helped millions of people to improve their cognitive health and optimize their cognitive function.
Whether or not this is true (and it seems a little inflated), they have an absolute peach of a product, here.
It isn’t the most profound or potent nootropic supplement on the market. Its ingredients list is kind of on the lighter side with regards its nootropic complement, with pretty much everything on this list overtaking it – perhaps even everything, though it can be a little hard to judge. However, it doesn’t stop at nootropics. There is plenty more included designed to support cognitive and mental health and wellbeing.
This includes a good dose of the nutrient folate, for example, which has been shown to lift mood and alleviate depression, as well as plenty of minerals and B vitamins shown to work similarly.
It also has 100mg of L-Theanine, which as I have already mentioned is a great addition to any nootropic.
If you want a decent nootropic drink, that is easy to use on the go, is caffeine and sugar free – then Brain Boost is a great option. If you want something a little more potent then you may want to choose one of our other options.
SpaceGoods Rainbow Dust
Our final entry, the wonderfully named Rainbow Dust by Space Goods, relies on another couple of the best nootropic ingredients going for its efficacy. It gives you a generous helping of lion’s mane mushroom and ashwagandha.
Lion’s mane is thought to ward off the effects of cognitive aging and decline, and may even help to fight dementia. It can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving your mood and decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It also gives potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting effects, and has been linked with a reduced risk from a range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Aside from its effects on your mood, it works as a potent nootropic by stimulating nerve growth, improving your memory, and boosting clarity and focus.
It’s a little big magic.
Ashwagandha plays into all of this nicely, supporting lion’s mane mushroom quite ably.
It is an ingredient used in several forms of traditional and alternative medicine. Advocates praise it for its abilities to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, calming the brain. Adaptogens ward the body against the effects of both mental and physical stress, and ashwagandha is a peerless adaptogen. It can fight stress on several fronts – it has been shown to be beneficial in treating several stress-related conditions.
It also lowers blood pressure and reduces swelling and inflammation.
There are a few more botanicals included in Rainbow Dust that make it an incredibly promising supplement. These include cordyceps mushroom, which has been shown to improve blood flow, stamina, and energy levels, and chaga mushroom, a powerful antioxidant and immune boosting ingredients. You get maca root and coffee extract for even more energy and stamina (and a bit of a libido kick) alongside a good vitamin B complex for optimal brain health and function.
All in all, it’s a great ingredient made by a company known for their excellent customer service and care. It’s a real contender – I like it an awful lot.
Nootropic Drinks Vs. Capsules
But why would you go for a nootropic drink rather than nootropic capsules?
Well, personally I wouldn’t… or, at least, I wouldn’t rely on them solely. I would always keep a stash of nootropic capsules at the ready. Typically, I go for NooCube or Mind Lab Pro, two of my favorite supplements, nootropic or not. Take these as the packaging suggests, generally in the morning or at the start of a busy stretch of hard cognitive work.
NooCube – A More Potent Nootropic
Nootropic drinks are great and they certainly have their place – especially for when you are on the go or don’t want to be seen taking capsules.
However, NooCube capsules are easy to take, have a much higher nootropic impact and are much more affordable for every day use.
Capsules are also often far more portable. Rather than having a bottle of drink or a sachet of powder that you need to mix up, you have a couple of pills. Therefore, if you know you’ll need a top up, you can slip them into your bag or briefcase and use them as needed.
Capsules also often mix together a lot more nicely. Drinks and powders are not always very pleasant. You can’t really mix them up without ending up with a ghastly sludge, often with far too great a volume to drink in one. However, if you go with capsules, you can simply get a handful of all your different supplements and throw them back with a big gulp and a glass of water. They are tasteless and easy.
You’ll also generally find that capsules feature a delayed release. They don’t dump everything into your system all at once. Rather, they have to dissolve, then the contents are released, then your body can absorb them over time. This can be very useful if you’re wanting the effects to unspool slowly and last all day.
However, this isn’t always useful, and this is where drinks and powders can come into play. They are far more readily available, often more bioavailable. This is the point of a nootropic drink – it will give you an instant hit, instant relief. Down it and carry on with your day, with your brain immediately feeling the benefits.
Nootropic drinks are built for quick absorption and immediate results.
They are also often a lot more palatable. Though many of us prefer capsules, some people can’t stand them. They can be hard to swallow. They can be daunting. A nice tasting drink like Recess is far easier to work with.
Concentration is also a thing. Why do you not get whey protein capsules? Simply – you can’t get a usable amount of whey protein into something so small. It would be handy if you could, but you can’t. There is simply too much volume to be contained in a little gelatin bullet.
If you go for capsules, you will get a limited amount of product. Typically, you will need to take three or four of any given supplement to make it up to a useable, useful dosage. You don’t get this issue with drinks and powders. You can get everything you need into one bottle, gulp it down, and carry on.
There absolutely are benefits to using capsules. In general, I favor them. However, they are far from the only game in town. Drinks have their place, they have their uses, and they can be much better. What would you rather on a hot day – a couple of squishy little pills or a nice, refreshing bottle of peach ginger or coconut lime?
I’ll take the drink, thanks.
I usually like to go on about how there is something in every list for everyone. This is generally true, as plenty of lists of products that look superficially similar can be made up of very different items.
That’s not so much the case here. Everything does broadly the same as everything else. You will get a drink, sometimes lovely tasting, that will give you a bit of a lift whilst supporting optimal cognitive function.
There are variations, of course. Some are caffeinated, others aren’t. They all rely on different ingredients to elicit their results. Some focus more heavily on micronutrients for long term health whilst others focus on ‘in the moment’ energy blasts.
Nevertheless, they are all still broadly similar. Differentiating them is therefore more an issue of quality and value for money than function.
For this reason, I can only pick Recess. Though it is pricey, it represents fantastic value for money. The ingredients list is formidable. The adaptogens included are first rate. The fact that it includes l-theanine makes it a very serious contender.
Plus, it tastes lovely. And in a list that is about drinks where capsules would do, flavoring is important. Recess is the only item on this list that I would drink for pleasure, regardless of the effects it brings.
You can’t get much better than that.
This article was written by: James Dixon – SOMA Analytics PT, Nutritionalist & Published Author
James Dixon is one of the key players in the SOMA Analytics’ team. He is a personal trainer and is educated to Masters level. He is a published author and is a keen advocate of high quality nootropic supplements. James enjoys helping others to reach their peak both physically and mentally and believes that expressing his knowledge through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the wellbeing of others on a larger scale.