I don’t know about you, but the past decade has been increasingly exhausting. I started the 2010’s a fresh, bright-eyed high school graduate, with thousands of free dollars to spend (that I’d have to pay back later, because, apparently, that’s how college student loans work), and I’m ending the 2010’s much less fresh, saggy-eyed, and massively in debt.
Okay, I’m being a bit modest there: I might be older and wiser and way more cynical and jaded and distrusting of the world, but I’m still fresh as a daisy — that’s called self-care, baby.
All the same, with the exponential spread of digital information delivering all daily world events across the entire world, shoving traumatic news story after traumatic news story down our throats every single day, no doubt we’re all feeling a little strained and on edge — or at least more so than the nostalgic yonder years.
So, with that in mind, here are the Best Energy Supplements to Buy in 2021.
New Energy Booster Trends of 2021
It seems that old is the new new. In fact, old has been the new new for quite awhile now, so… you know what, best not to think about it. But what I mean by all that is that today’s new health trends involve imitating the behaviors and conditions of primal man. Similar to intermittent fasting (which imitates primal man’s on-and-off eating schedule) and segmented sleeping (which imitates primal man’s chunky sleeping schedule) and cold showers (which imitates primal man’s, ehm, frequent exposure to cold temperatures), the new energy booster trends of 2021 look to improve our energy levels on primal man’s terms.
How does that work? A few ways:
Mitochondrial Energy Production
As opposed to stimulants, which flush the brain and body with unnaturally high levels of neurochemical excitation, natural energy boosters promote mitochochondrial energy production — i.e., natural synthesis of ATP, the body’s basic unit of energy. Stimulants stimulate energy and focus at the cost of long-term cognitive health and performance, sort of like withdrawing all your cash now and winding up broke tomorrow, whereas mitochondrial energy boosters enhance cellular energy levels in promotion of long-term health and performance.
Remember that mitochondria are the cellular organelles responsible for converting food fuel, such as glucose and fatty acids, into ATP energy, which the body uses to do …well, damn near everything that body does — from moving muscles to repairing damaged tissues. By supplying the brain and body excitatory compounds that mimic dopamine, norepinephrine, etc., stimulants, such as Adderall, crank up the body’s energy expenditure without actually assisting with the mitochondria’s natural energy production processes. In actuality, they overwhelm and damage your mitochondria, resulting in a post-energy crash and burn that leaves you feeling ultimately more tired and groggy and fatigued, creating the illusion that you need more stimulation to maintain baseline focus and energy. (This explains the addictive qualities of stimulants.)
Nootropics, namely antioxidant nootropics, and other compounds that assist with mitochondrial energy production actually protect and promote the energy-producing functions of mitochondria, resulting in a net increase in cellular energy that accumulates over time for long-term feel-good energy, rather than the unnatural, unhealthy quick jolts brought by stimulants. More on Nootropics for Energy.
Primal man did not stress over bills, he stressed over lions and tigers and bears and bacterial infections. Meaning that when stress occurred, triggering the “Fight or Flight” response, primal man fought or flew. Under conditions of heightened stress, the body allocates energy for such heightened physical activity.
When we, instead, enter “Fight or Flight” mode via being stressed and anxious over bills, etc. and fail to do something active, such as exercise (or fighting lions), all that released energy gets unused and throws our body’s metabolism out of whack. The combination of stress and inactivity ironically makes our natural energy expenditure mechanisms way inefficient, potentially even resulting in poor body composition as the unused released energy all begins to accumulate in the gut, forming an unhealthy, unappealing type of fat called visceral fat.
Maintaining your stress levels through exercise, sleep, and (I’d argue) therapy — or, if not therapy, then some form of mindful meditation — may go a long way in restoring healthy energy and motivation levels. Also, in terms of supplementation, finding a healthy, natural stack of adaptogens, a class of herbs that help the body adapt to stress, may go a long way in curbing the deleterious side effects of a prolonged stress response. More on Nootropics for Stress.
Are caffeine pills still a thing?
Yes, they are, though many are raising their noses against these so-called “caffeine pills.” And, to be fair, there are plenty of good reasons for people, namely nootropic geek type of people, to raise their noses at caffeine pills:
- Reason #1: caffeine isn’t a real-deal nootropic.
- Reason #2: many supplement companies hide their ineffective nootropic formulas under massive doses of caffeine, exploiting the cheap, reliable, feel-good stimulation brought by caffeine to create the illusion of providing a formula that actually improves brain health and performance.
Having said that, caffeine is undoubtedly one of the more reliable cognitive enhancers available to us. And, yes, there is a smart “nootropic” way to supplement caffeine. However, my opinion is that caffeine should be a supplement to your nootropic supplement stack. Your primary daily cognitive performance supplements should be stim-free, and you should have a separate caffeine “stim” stack you can use optionally on an “as needed” basis.
Primal man didn’t have coffee. But remember: you’re not primal man. You’re more like some asexual half-human half-robot bionic android thing of the 21st century. So, don’t be too strict on yourself with the whole caffeine thing. Just use it smartly. Read my in-depth Caffeine Review here.
Best Energy Supplements to Buy in 2021
Here are the two Best Energy Supplements to Buy in 2021. One non-stim, one stim. Ideally, for both long- and short-term energy boosts, you can respectively take the first supplement daily and the second on an “as needed” basis, as I suggested in the “caffeine pill” section. Or, really, you can take them however the hell you want, but that’s my recommendation.
Here they be:
Performance Lab Energy
An energy supplement with no caffeine? Double-you-tee-aitch-m8! Except, yes, that’s right: Performance Lab Energy, the best energy supplement of 2021 is a caffeine-free, stim-free energy booster that eschews the stims and instead relies on a rich complex of antioxidant mitochondrial supporters for its energy boosts.
That’s a mouthful. Let’s unpack what I mean by “antioxidant mitochondrial supporters” by taking a look at each ingredient in this stack:
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine: somewhat of a staple among pre-made nootropic supplements, ALCAR is a well-researched antioxidant amino that seems to assist with energy production (and possibly fat loss) by shuttling fatty acids to mitochondria for ATP energy synthesis. That’s right: ALCAR encourages the body to use your stored fat as energy. How groovy is that? More on ALCAR.
- R-Lipoic Acid: referred to as the “universal antioxidant,” alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is exactly that: the universal antioxidant that helps combat oxidative stress, or free radicals, across the brain and body; although, Performance Lab uses the enhanced R-lipoic acid version of this antioxidant. For energy purposes, R-lipoic acid helps by enhancing insulin-stimulated glucose transport and metabolic breakdown for increased bioenergetic activity. More on R-Lipoic Acid.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): many health supplements — and, increasingly, sugar-free energy drinks — are turning to this vitamin-like compound for its well-researched effects on energy production and mitochondria biogenesis. By protecting mitochondria and increasing new formation of mitochondria, CoQ10 is a must-have for cellular energy boosts, especially when paired with the next ingredient.
- Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ): related to B-vitamins, PQQ is an enzymatic cofactor that complements CoQ10’s functions by upregulating genetic pathways involved in creating new mitochondria and reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress. Together, PQQ + CoQ10 work to protect and multiply mitochondrial energy production. More on PQQ.
And then, of course, there’s Black Pepper Extract, supplied as the über-popular BioPerine® branded extract. The über-popularity of this bad boy is completely understandable: in tiny doses, this potent black pepper extract, supplying a 95% concentration of pepper’s bio-active spice piperine, significantly enhances nutrient absorption, thereby improving the overall bioavailability of this formula.
Not to mention that piperine also possesses thermogenic advantages as well, increasing the energy expenditure aspects of this formula.
Simply put, if you want to get the core — the microscopic, cellular core — of energy boosting, without cheapening your efforts by resorting to stimulants, Performance Lab Energy has all your cellular energy needs. Taken daily, this energy booster may go a long way in enhancing your long-term, baseline energy level — no post-energy crash or jittery side effects.
First off, the absence of stims make this energy booster unique altogether. Granted, it’s not the only stim-free energy booster you can buy, but it’s like the only stim-free energy booster you can buy THAT WORKS.
This isn’t to say that stim-free is the only way to go (as you’ll see with the next supplement). But to promise energy without stims is to deliver an energy experience that, likely, many people are completely unfamiliar with. The feeling is one of constant, steady clarity throughout your days — both mental and physical clarity. And while you won’t feel this stack right away, you’ll certainly notice it when one morning you wake and realize, “Wow, I’m actually feeling ready for today!”
Potency & Quality
Across the board, Performance Lab Energy demonstrates exceptional quality with its potent, branded ingredients: Microencapsulated Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, MicroActive® Q10, BioPQQ®, and BioPerine® — this last item, in particular, advancing the potency and quality of this formula.
Extra Geek Points
Extra geek points go to Performance Lab Energy for this product’s cleanliness. In general, Performance Lab supplements are ahead of the curve when it comes to supplying clean, green-sourced ingredients with minimal to no additives (which are also clean and green anyways) — and Performance Lab Energy is no exception.
Due to the delicacy of antioxidants, it’s important not to diminish their potency with junky additives and destructive manufacturing processes. Performance Lab takes care to take care of its ingredients by supplying only the best-of-the-best ingredient forms in food-based capsules — no artificial colors, flavors, fillers, etc.
Read my Performance Lab Energy Review here.
Performance Lab Stim
Here’s an energy boosting stim stack I’m predicting to take off in 2021 and beyond: Performance Lab Stim, a quote-unquote “caffeine pill” that’s actually more nootropic brain support than just mere caffeinated cognition enhancement. Compared to other caffeine-powered stim supplements, Performance Lab Stim supplies a smartly modest dosage of caffeine with a mix of caffeine-recovery and caffeine-balance vitamins and aminos.
The result is a manageable caffeine rush that truly sharpens mental focus and ramps up cognitive energy without any consequent post-energy crash or brain fog. Let’s check out exactly how this stack works:
- B-Complex: B2, B6, B9, B12 — four key essential B vitamins that caffeine depletes through increased urinary output …otherwise known as peeing. These B vitamins are particularly important to bioenergetics and caffeine’s stimulatory action, due to their involvement in energy metabolism and mood-related neurochemical synthesis. More on B Vitamins.
- Natural Caffeine: a modest 50mg amount of coffee bean-sourced caffeine, the primary stim of this stim stack. While other supplements overload the caffeine content by 200mg+, Performance Lab’s modest amount allows you to take one, two, or three pills (or however many you need) to get your energy fix, instead of forcing you into an enormous amount per serving. This makes Performance Lab Stim particularly stackable with other stim-containing or stim-free supplements. More on Caffeine.
- L-Theanine: you simply can’t call yourself a nootropic geek, if you fail to stack your caffeine with L-theanine, the calming, anxiolytic amino sourced from green tea leaves. As a standalone nootropic, L-theanine is great for relaxing the mind and improving focus, without also sedating the mind. However, with caffeine, this amino promotes the best parts of caffeine (better focus and energy) while minimizing its worst parts (the cognitive impairing jitters and anxiety). More on L-Theanine.
- L-Tyrosine: similar to L-theanine, L-tyrosine is a smart complement to caffeine, thanks to this amino’s catecholamine replenishment benefits. Catecholamines, the neurotransmitters associated with alertness and motivation (e.g., dopamine, norepinephrine), fulfill caffeine’s stimulatory effects, yet their levels diminish for their efforts. L-tyrosine, a catecholamine precursor, helps mitigate caffeine’s post-energy crash, giving this formula a sort of catecholaminergic safety net.
With the B-complex and L-tyrosine, Performance Lab Stim helps counteract the negative chemical-depleting consequences of stimulant energy, while L-theanine acts as an immediate counterbalance to caffeine’s jittery side effects. Seems really simple, because, well, frankly, caffeine is a simple stimulant!
Unlike many other stim stacks, Performance Lab Stim provides a simple answer to a simple stimulant, delivering energy boosts that are smooth and reliable and devoid of all the usual stim-related hiccups.
A customizable amount of caffeine counterbalanced by a properly ratioed amount of B vitamins, L-theanine, and L-tyrosine. I imagine that many of the DIY nootropic users have a self-concocted stack that nearly matches Performance Lab Stim’s formula, with exception to the exceptional quality of Performance Lab Stim’s ingredients (see below). You really can’t do much better than this without overcomplicating or underdelivering on the promise of a caffeine rush unlike any other.
Except “rush” is somewhat poorly worded here. What makes this stim stack so unique is how it delivers an energy rush that’s manageable and maintained for significant periods of time — no sudden rush, no sudden drop-off.
Potency & Quality
All ingredients here are supplied in bio-enhanced forms, increasing to their potency and absorption rates: NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex, Natural Caffeine (from Coffea robusta seeds), Suntheanine® L-Theanine, and Ajipure® L-Tyrosine.
Extra Geek Points
Supplements that carry caffeine and hide their ingredient dosages beneath proprietary blends are supplements to avoid. Props go out to Performance Lab Stim for avoiding the proprietary blend BS and instead transparently showing us exactly how much of each ingredient we’re receiving, especially for the caffeine.
Speaking of “how much,” additional props goes out to Performance Lab Stim for properly formulating the L-theanine + caffeine combo at a 2:1 ratio. This is, in my experience, the best way to optimize L-theanine’s and caffeine’s respective brain benefits.
Read my Performance Lab Stim Review here.
Best Energy Supplements 2021: Stim + Stim-Free
Brainpower is everything. They* say, “Mind over matter,” (*corny, motivational fitness-types on Instagram, mainly) but the truth is that mind and matter are so intertwined that they’re practically the same thing. A mind that remembers to take care of the brain (i.e., the matter encasing the mind) is gifted return by the brain, which uses its well-nourished brainpower in service to the mind’s thinking power. It’s a symbiotic relationship, really.
So, consider Performance Lab Energy and Performance Lab Stim your mind’s thoughtful gifts to the brain. Whether you’re into stims or not, both supplement stacks truly qualify as healthy health supplements that promote mental performance in service to brain health in service to mental performance — ad infinitum!
To learn more about Performance Lab, head to performancelab.com
Read my Best Nootropic Supplements list here.