Whether you’re sensitive to caffeine or sensitive to the research on its drawbacks, you’ve probably come across nootropics, which offer the same pro-focus effects of caffeine but (1) without the negatives and (2) with several other brain-boosting benefits.
Nootropics are pretty cool. Also known as cognitive enhancers, natural nootropics are plant-derived compounds known to enhance processes like memory, learning, attention, and cognition. And where caffeine achieves feelings of focus by triggering a stress response, nootropics do it while reducing stress. So, what’s really the downside?
That was rhetorical; we don’t think there are any.
The health supplement market becomes instantly crowded every time something with such great potential as nootropics comes about. Energy and focus without any nasty symptoms, weird chemicals or sugar bombs? Yes, please!
But there are too many choices for everything nowadays. How do you know something’s quality or efficacy in a sea of pills, powders and drinks? Let’s cut out the noise, jump off the blind bandwagon, and look at some key players in this emerging part of the supplement market.
5 Caffeine-Free Energy Powders with Nootropic Stacks
Here are our favorite nootropic powders that will help you zone in when you need to:
1. More Than Energy by MTE®
MTE® is an advanced daily energy greens powder that stacks 13 adaptogens, nootropics and superfoods. Meant as a wellness companion, MTE® is formulated to benefit your mind and body. Benefits of incorporating this innovative nootropic energy drink into your daily routine include better focus and better energy, sure, but MTE® also promotes immunity, fights inflammation, supports sleep health, encourages stress resilience, and promotes a tranquil mood with a euphoric clarity.
The key nootropics in MTE®’s proprietary caffeine-free energy powder are:
GABA is the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter; it tells overexcited neurons to calm down. Low GABA levels are associated with chronic mood issues, and supplements are already used in psychiatry today. In addition, the clinical literature says GABA can:
- Improve physical performance
- Improve performance on difficult mental tasks
- Lower stress
- Improve the ability to plan and problem solve
Theacrine is a purine alkaloid found in the kucha tea plant. It acts similarly to caffeine, in that it improves alertness, focus and attention by supporting balanced signaling between brain chemicals involved in motivation, reward and pleasure. But it’s better than caffeine – hands down – because it is not accompanied by overstimulation, stress, jitters, or crash. Science backs theacrine’s ability to:
- Improve cognition
- Elevate mood
- Boost energy
- Increase endurance
L-theanine is an amino acid found in some plants and mushrooms. It’s one of the best nootropics to put in a focus drink, and it’s also one of the best nootropics to put in a stress-relief drink. This is because it increases alpha brain wave activity, which is associated with a feeling of relaxation and clarity not associated with tiredness. Clinical research says l-theanine:
- Boosts cognitive performance
- Boosts mood
- Reduces stress
- Fights emotional distress
Saffron is both a nootropic and a superfood. Used for 6+ millennia for everything from paint to paella to medicinal pastes, saffron’s bioactive properties are countless, because it’s packed with some of the most powerful health-boosting compounds we know of. Scientific studies support saffron’s ability to:
- Protect the brain from oxidative stress
- Elevate mood
- Improve memory and cognition
- Stop/reverse DNA/CNS damage
Green tea is the most well-known nootropic out there, so we won’t bore you with the details. Healthy-boosting compounds + tonnes of antioxidants = improved alertness, focus and energy levels.
2. AG1 by Athletic Greens®
AG1® is a greens powder meant to replace your multivitamin with something way better. It’s comprised of 75 high-quality, natural ingredients that support gut health, focus, energy, mood, sleep, stress, and more. While not really a nootropic energy powder, per se, the functional mushrooms in their formula are, in fact, nootropics. And just like MTE®’s complementary bioactive greens, these brain-boosting fungi are science-backed:
The reishi mushroom has been used for centuries in medicinal contexts, and it’s back and better than ever. Reishi has more than a few mechanisms by which it can help you focus in on the task at hand and feel good doing it:
- Stimulates receptors related to motivation and mood
- Increases GABAergic activity
- Protect brain cells from inflammation
- Combats oxidative stress on the brain
This fungus is not just delicious; it’s a health booster, too! Shiitake is packed with bioactive compounds that are specifically useful for cognition and focus:
- Hericenone: stimulate the production of BDNF, promoting the growth and survival of nerve cells
- Polysaccharides: exhibit neuroprotective effects by scavenging free radicals and reducing inflammation in the brain
- Lentinan: enhance memory and learning by stimulating the production of a key neurotransmitter for memory and cognition
- Gut-Brain Axis: positively influence the gut microbiome, indirectly impacting cognitive function through the gut-brain axis.
3. Supergreen Tonik by human tonik®
Supergreen Tonik® is a caffeine-free energy powder with a smart nootropic blend (pun intended). Comprised of 38 superfoods, adaptogens, nootropics, and minerals, these daily energy greens promote focus, immunity, energy, and overall health. Supergreen Tonik® harnesses the benefits of the pro-focus nootropic l-theanine we saw in MTE®’s healthy energy powder along with three others:
A traditional medicinal herb called Brahmi, this nootropic contains several key focus-boosting compounds that may offer cognitive benefits:
- Better memory consolidation and retrieval
- Reduced distractibility and enhanced concentration
- Reduced stress
- Increased speed and efficiency of information processing
A popular health supplement and integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this herb’s bioactivity is off the charts. Some of its brain-boosting benefits include:
- Improved memory consolidation and retrieval, particularly in individuals with age-related cognitive decline
- Increased blood flow to the brain, more oxygen and nutrients, leading to improved alertness and mental clarity
- Improved health and function of nerve cells and communication between brain cells
- Reduced distractibility and enhanced concentration, potentially improving learning and productivity
Part nootropic – part adaptogen, this ancient herb is fast becoming a staple in many energy drink alternatives because it has brain health benefits that act innately:
- Reduces stress, indirectly improving the ability to concentrate, learn and remember
- Increases blood flow to brain, which increases nutrient distribution for better cognitive function
- Protects brain cells from damage via anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory pathways
- Modulates neurotransmitters involved in mood, memory, learning, and cognition
4. Genius Pre by The Genius Brand®
Sure, it’s technically a pre-workout powder. But it’s not laced with caffeine or creatine, so Genius Pre®’s caffeine-free formula can be used the same way you’d use any of these other pro-focus powders. The nootropic blend will definitely improve your workout, since you’ll have increased focus, energy and motivation. And despite being a big name in the fitness industry, The Genius Brand®’s energy supplement powders don’t contain any weird chemicals.
Like the caffeine-free energy powder in our #3 spot, this product utilizes Rhodiola rosea. A couple other key nootropics in Genius Pre® include:
A cousin of the panax ginseng we all know and love, this little root is packed with its own set of potent bioactive compounds that do things like:
- Neuroprotection: protects brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation, contributing to improved cognitive function and prevent cognitive decline
- Enhanced Memory & Learning: encourages neural plasticity, which can improve memory consolidation and retrieval, potentially leading to better recall and learning
- Reduced Stress: San-qi ginseng possesses adaptogenic properties, which can indirectly improve cognitive function by reducing unease and stress.
- Improved Blood Flow to Brain: delivers more oxygen and nutrients essential for optimal cognitive function for improved mental clarity, focus and alertness
Also known as Chinese club moss, this little-known nootropic contains a potent alkaloid called huperzine A, which offers a bunch of brain-boosting benefits:
- Increases the levels of a neurotransmitter crucial for memory, learning, focus, attention, and overall cognitive function
- Protects brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation, which optimizes and protects brain cell function
- Stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter that promotes alertness, vigilance, and cognitive function for mental clarity and focus
- May promote brain plasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and change over time, which can facilitate learning and improve cognitive flexibility
5. Real Nootropic by BIG®
Unfortunately, this guy is gonna get the least attention in our article because it uses most of the same nootropics as all these other super-smart nootropic energy powders, namely, gingko, huperzia and bacopa. Also, its other main ingredient is a synthetic form of the nootropic citicoline, which is another reason this energy powder doesn’t sit farther up on the list. And then there’s the sucralose…
Anyway, let’s talk benefits of citicoline, which shows up in the form of citicoline sodium in this nootropic energy drink mix:
- Increases phosphatidylcholine levels in the brain cell membrane, which contributes to improved membrane fluidity and communication between brain cells
- Increases levels of neurochemicals directly involved in memory and learning
- Increases signaling between hormones directly involved in mood, focus and motivation
- Increases blood flow to brain, optimizing cognitive functions
The Benefits of Nootropic Energy Powders Over Capsules & Cans
If you’re looking at nootropics as a way to supplement your mood, focus, energy, replace coffee, or reduce your caffeine intake, you know powders aren’t the only way to get them. There are plenty of other products that are in capsules, tinctures, cans, shots. What’s the benefit of choosing a powder?
Powders are generally absorbed faster and more efficiently than capsules or tablets. This is because the powder form has a larger surface area for digestive enzymes to act on, allowing for faster breakdown and absorption of the nutrients.
Energy powder supplements offer greater dosage flexibility compared to pre-measured capsules or tablets. This allows you to customize your dosage based on your individual needs and preferences.
Combining with Other Substances
Powders can be easily mixed with water, juice, smoothies, or other powders (i.e. MTE & AG1). This allows you to combine them with other supplements, medications, or foods to enhance their effectiveness or improve taste. This can be more convenient for people who stack supplements or have difficulty swallowing pills.
Nootropic powders can be absorbed faster than other forms, leading to potentially quicker effects. This can be beneficial for pre-workout supplements, energy boosters, or other supplements intended for immediate action.
Powders often come in unprocessed or minimally processed forms, potentially retaining more of the natural nutrients and beneficial compounds compared to some capsules or tablets.
In short, powder forms of nootropic supplements take the middle man out of the consumption process, making the key ingredients more bioavailable, easier to absorb, and quicker to reap the benefits.
For more suggestions on energy drinks that use adaptogens and nootropics instead of caffeine and sugar, check out our article on the best energy drink alternatives. Then head on over to our shop and start your journey to feeling awesome, like, all the time with MTE.