Many people think that nootropics are only used for enhancing cognitive performance but in fact, there are some ingredients that cross the threshold of being effective for both cognitive and physical performance.
Tailoring your nootropic stack for exercise will give you much more of a boost in your training than you will get from the low grade formulas and ingredients you find in the majority of ‘pre-workout’ supplements on the market today.
However, you might notice ingredients that you recognize from your nootropic stacks appearing in some physique enhancing supplements as well.
Cordyceps mushrooms are famed for their ability to enhance athletic performance by increasing hemoglobin levels and VO2 max, resulting in a greater ability to sustain an aerobic state for longer.
Noopept, for example, is a great nootropic for cognitive and physical performance. It stimulates the dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain – firing you up for work and exercise.
Finally, Macuna Pruriens is another that has benefits for physical exercise. Macuna Pruriens is composed of the precursor to dopamine (L-dopa) and stimulates natural growth hormones. Thus, it has the ability to elevate your mood for work and exercise whilst contributing to building lean muscle mass.
In this post, I am going to take a closer look at how each of these nootropics works and how they directly impact athletic performance.
First up is…
Cordyceps mushrooms first hit the headlines in the 1990s when the Chinese athletics coach attributed the success of the women’s running team (who had broken 3 world records in 1993) to the cordyceps ability to improve athletic performance.
The coach swore by its abilities and made the Cordyceps mushroom famous and widely used among the athletic community.
Unfortunately, years later he was arrested against allegations of doping which challenged the legitimacy of his claims about the Cordyceps mushroom.
However, by this point, others had already noticed the fungi’s ability to enhance performance and the Cordyceps athletic legacy lives on to this day.
Where does it come from?
Cordyceps is a fungus that lives on some caterpillars high up in the mountain regions of China.
Since science’s recognition of the fungus as a nootropic performance enhancer – labs all over the globe grow the fungus for human consumption.
How does it work?
Much of cordyceps’ ability to improve athletic performance is focused around its ability to boost ATP production and oxygen utilization, as well as stabilizing blood sugar.
Adenosine triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP is located in the membranes of cellular structures.
During cellular respiration, oxygen is converted into carbon dioxide while trapping the energy released from this process within the ATP.
Cordyceps and athletic performance
There has been some evidence that cordyceps increase athletic performance by increasing hemoglobin levels and aerobic capacity.
This means that it can be extremely beneficial for endurance athletes or anyone looking to improve their stamina for a variety of sports and physical activities.
One study found that a 1000mg daily dose of cordyceps over 12 weeks increased the ventilatory threshold by 8.5%.
The ventilatory threshold is the point during exercise at which ventilation starts to increase faster than VO2. It is at this point lactic acid starts to build and the aerobic system switches to anaerobic and the body becomes fatigued much quicker.
Being able to stay in the aerobic zone for longer is very valuable for endurance athletes as they can run faster for longer without fatigue.
The darker side of Cordyceps…
The cordyceps mushroom also has the ability to infect a host insect and use the body as a compost bag.
Only to later burst out of the host’s head in a way that is reminiscent of the Alien films.
it’s scary stuff… I dare you to have a look at the image below…
As it stands Noopept is not currently banned on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) list of prohibited substances for athletic performance.
But it wouldn’t surprise me if we see it landing on that list sooner or later thanks to the Russian doping scandal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
During the games, Russian athletes were caught using Meldonium, an athletic enhancer that improves blood flow to muscles.
Meldonium, like Noopept, is sold as ‘medicine’ in Russia and now the WADA radar is searching, they might be inclined to look at what other ‘medicines’ Russia is selling that aid athletic performance.
Noopept is very close to the molecular structure of Racetam which is currently a banned substance on WADA’s list.
So, if there are any professional athletes reading this currently taking Noopept to enhance performance… enjoy it while it lasts!
Where does it come from?
Yep… you guessed it, Russia.
Noopept was developed to be a more bioavailable version of piracetam.
Piracetam was actually the original Nootropic and had such unique properties that scientists created a new class of compounds called Nootropics.
However, despite being the original it certainly wasn’t the best as it required high doses and had a varied efficacy across different sample groups.
Russian scientists began working on this problem and came up with Noopept which works at a dose 100 times lower than piracetam.
They took the core molecule of piracetam, proline, and combined it with the structure of a neuropeptide.
A neuropeptide is a small protein-like molecule used by neurons to communicate with each other and can influence how messages are passed through the brain and body.
How does it work?
Noopept works by metabolizing into a naturally occurring neuropeptide known as cycloprolylglycine or CPG, which has been shown to have a positive effect on the early stages of forming memory.
Noopept also speeds up how quickly the brain forms and receives memories by increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF also promotes the growth of brain cells.
Noopept and Athletic Performance
Although the main benefits of Noopept seem to be for cognitive functions, it’s important to remember anything physical always starts in the brain.
Noopept has the ability to speed up the brains processing speed which improves perception and reflexes. This would be perfect for sports like Basketball, tennis, and squash where athletes need to react very fast.
It may do this by increasing the activity between alpha brain waves that some studies have shown are associated with cognitive functions such as alertness and attention.
Noopept is also renowned for its mood and motivation boosting qualities.
Mood and motivation are vital foundations for any athlete to train hard every time they hit the gym, the track or the court.
Macuna Pruriens if linked with athletic performance because of its ability to boost testosterone and human growth hormone, which are essential for building muscle.
There have been a number of celebrities exposed for taking human growth hormone supplements.
Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson, 50 Cent and Mark Wahlberg among many others have admitted to using human growth hormone (HGH) supplements to hack their biology and put on muscle fast… and lots of it.
It’s been a valued secret of Hollywood for a long time now and a lucrative one…
Some celebs pay up to $3000 a month to keep gaining the benefits that come from increased human growth hormone.
But there is a cheaper way to cheat your biology and see the benefits that HGH can have on your body – that’s where Macuna Pruriens come in.
Where does it come from?
Macuna Pruriens has long been regarded as a ‘magic bean’ within the Nootropic’s community.
The supplement originates from a tropical legume from Africa and is nicknamed ‘velvet bean’ because of the color and texture of the plant.
It’s long been used in ayurvedic medicine in Africa, Asia and elsewhere on the globe because of the list of health benefits that come with ingesting this ancient plant.
It is such a potent medicine that ancient doctors prescribed the seeds of the plants to warriors to protect against snake bites.
Two seeds when swallowed were enough to protect the warrior for a whole year against snake bites…
I’m not sure I would go testing this theory, but it does show how respected Macuna Pruriens was to ancient medics and its history as a food of the warriors.
How does it work?
Macuna Pruriens is a rich source of the compound L-DOPA which is one of the essential amino acids that is converted into dopamine.
Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that is involved in a variety of human brain activities including increased appetite and regulating blood flow.
Dopamine is also closely linked to the production of human growth hormone (HGH).
It is linked because dopamine stimulates the pituitary gland, which is the part of the brain responsible for the secretion of hormones such as HGH.
Macuna Pruriens and athletic performance
Macuna Prurien’s ability to increase HGH production is what makes it such a great supplement for athletic performance.
Once in the bloodstream, it aids cell growth, cell regeneration and maintains muscle tissue health.
This is why HGH is responsible for massive gains in lean muscle, increased testosterone levels and explosive strength.
Those three things are so important to lots of athletic endeavors, from bodybuilding to sprinting, football to basketball, and from ice hockey to horse riding.
Most, if not all people will perform better in their chosen sport if they have stronger muscles, explosive strength and increased aggression and competitiveness.
Nootropics and athletic performance – final thoughts…
Nootropics will always be famous for enhancing cognitive performance rather than physical performance.
This is how they were born, and they do a mighty fine job at supporting the neurotransmitters of people that take them.
However, I predict a future where nootropics will be fundamental for anyone taking athletic performance seriously.
Nootropics have the ability to transform the elements of physical performance that require focus, concentration, and learning.
They even have the ability to adapt your brain and make it secrete more performance-enhancing hormones.
Professional athletes across all sports will likely be made to take nootropic supplements to ensure they don’t fall too far behind the other teams already taking them!
To find out more about the ingredients in our best selling Nootropic supplement NITROvit, head over to our laboratory page.
See below for some of the sources I used while writing this post: