Summary: Best Nootropic Bars of 2024
Howdy, nootropic geeks, and thank you for reading my Best Nootropic Bars of 2024 list. With nootropics reaching more and more mainstream interest over the past years, we’ve recently seen a rise in nootropic brain bars, which typically split into two categories: (1) energy bar, (2) protein bar. While most brain bars I’d qualify as “good,” at least when compared to your typical snack fare (candy bars, CLIF bars, etc.), some brain bars are vastly superior to others.
For sake of brevity, I decided not to cover every single brain bar, but rather only the top five that matter imo. In order from best to worst:
What Is a Nootropic Bar?
Exactly as it sounds, a nootropic bar is a snack bar designed to support your brain health and fuel brainpower, ideally through clean, healthy, natural nutrients — although there are some bars that do resort to synthetic means of cognitive enhancement (see below: TruBrain). The nootropic brain bar is a rising subcategory in the “healthy snack” trend that has taken over many grocery/convenience store aisles across the world.
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Generally, nootropic bars split into two categories:
- Energy Bars: these place more emphasis on healthy “complex” carbs, brain-nourishing MCTs, and sometimes even caffeine (and other nootropic stimulants)
- Protein Bars: protein, protein, protein — with a few nootropics thrown in alongside some carbs, etc.
Obviously, there’s overlap between the two categories, with many bars supplying both protein (I’d say 10g or more protein qualifies a bar as a “protein bar”) and energizing ingredients. However, I have a personal preference for energy-focused bars when it comes to nootropic brain bars, as there isn’t much of an acute cognitive benefit to protein — even if protein bars are typically healthier than your standard snack products.
Which is Better Brain Food: Carbs or Protein?
Kind of a silly question: neither carbs nor protein are “better,” seeing as they’re both necessary. Carbohydrates, protein, fat — these are your three macros that, despite what fad diets keep trying to sell you, you definitely need. Certainly, cutting out carbs and fats can help you better achieve your weight and fitness goals… if you are consuming too many carbs and fats.
But should you do away with them entirely? No way.
What Is a Nootropic Bar?
I tried keto for awhile and found the keto diet successful at lowering my body fat. It was a mission accomplished. This was partly aided by upping my protein intake to meet my caloric needs while also staying somewhat anabolic in terms of my bodybuilding goals, insomuch that you can stay anabolic while cutting fat (i.e., “losing weight). Whatever, I don’t want to get into that, but as soon as I achieved my weight goals, guess what: I reintroduced carbs back into my diet.
And it felt sooo good.
In fact, they helped me push my workouts even further and they definitely helped keep my thinking sharp and fresh throughout the day. This is why I’m a big advocate for finding a daily source of healthy, complex carbs for your brain boosts. Let’s face it, protein is easy to come across these days, so much so that I think our snack foods have oversteered in the direction of protein (with many of these protein bars coming full of processed crap).
Sure, a healthy protein bar is worth its weight in gold. However, if you want a truly healthy brain bar that actually boosts brainpower, I’d recommend narrowing your focus on carbohydrates. Look for bars with complex carbs, ideally sourced from oats (such as the Norwegian black oats found in Nu:tropic). These will go a long way in fueling both your brain and body with fast-acting energy — an absolute necessity if you’re gym rat fitness freak.
What Is The Best Nootropic Bar?
With nootropic supplements, you can stack a variety of formulas for a range of comprehensive to specialized effects. However, with nootropic bars, you really only need to stock up on one good brand, and you’ll be good to go. Ideally, a brand with a variety of good flavors.
With that in mind, here are the best nootropic bars, starting with my favorite:
1) Nu:tropic Bars
Nu:tropic is the best nootropic bar for delivering nootropics through nutrition, as a nootropic bar should do, as opposed to what inferior brain health bars do which is tack on (typically underdosed) nootropic compounds that would be better reserved for a standalone nootropic supplement.
The three key nootropic nutrients in Nu:tropic are:
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): an omega-3 fatty acid that comprises 20% of the brain’s total fatty acid composition; upping your DHA intake is a great idea, as DHA levels correlate with synaptic plasticity, neuroinflammation, brain cell membrane integrity, and neuron organization.
- Phosphatidylserine: a key phospholipid building block for brain cell membranes, PS may significantly enhance cognitive function while providing support for overall brain structure and health. More on Phosphatidylserine.
- Choline: similar to DHA and PS, choline is a sort of brain health building block, a nutritional precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter most associated with high-order cognitive processes, and phosphatidylcholine, a building block for cell membranes. More on Choline.
DHA, PS, and choline—this is a powerhouse combo for cognition and overall brain health. With their overlapping roles in brain cell formation and integrity, these nootropic nutrients work well together at supporting daily brain health and performance.
Also, as a snack bar, Nu:tropic also offers a great source of clean carbohydrate energy (Norwegian Black Oats) and prebiotic fibers (Chicory Root) that simultaneously fuel brainpower and satiate appetite, allowing for greater on-the-spot focus and energy.
The DHA, phosphatidylserine, and NutriGenesis® choline is a powerhouse trio for boosting brain health and power. In my opinion, these are exactly the types of “brain health” ingredients you should look for in a nootropic bar. The idea being to pursue brain health through nutrients more so than the typical nootropics one would expect from a complete nootropic supplement, given that a health bar derives its power from nutrition.
I’d rather see the nootropic benefits occur from the nutrition itself within a health bar, not tacked on through gimmicky underdosed nootropic compounds that likely don’t do much of anything beyond elevating the bar’s price beyond its value. Nu:tropic is the best case of “nootropic through nutrition” I’ve seen yet, exemplified by its choice of cognitive enhancing DHA, PS, and premium NutriGenesis® choline nutrients.
Every flavor of Nu:tropic is great. Fortunately, you can try out each of Nu:tropic’s four flavors with their taster pack that’s posted up on the Performance Lab website at the following link: Nu:tropic Taster Pack
Altogether, Nu:tropic’s four flavors are Raisin + Almond, Salted Caramel, Apple + Cinnamon, and (last but not least) Maple + Pecan. And they really do taste like these flavors. With the salted caramel bar in particular, it’s almost surprising how caramelly it tastes, while also still tasting like an oat bar. I find that I tend to run out of each flavor at the same pace, which speaks to how evenly great they all are.
Best flavor? Maple + Pecan
2) TruBrain Bars
TruBrain is a big name in the nootropic game, a brand perhaps better known for their nootropic drinks. To be honest, I find the whole Silicon Valley entrepreneur vibe of this brand to be very obnoxious and unattractive, but their nootropics are legit — not least of all because they’re bold enough to throw in more powerful synthetic cognitive enhancers, such as Noopept.
The TruBrain bars are no exception: these nootropic bars are legit and, yes, even include Noopept.
As well as caffeine, which, well, either you love or you don’t. (Let’s be real, you do love caffeine — everyone does — but not everyone, myself included, loves caffeine in their snack bars.) Personally, I get enough caffeine through my morning coffee(s), so the caffeine content here was a drawback. Likewise, I also have a separate source of phenylpiracetam, which I like better than Noopept, so the Noopept here wasn’t huge for me. All the same, the total package here is impressive and unmatched in the nootropic game.
If you’re not a big coffee drinker but still enjoy a little caffeine to add a little pep to your step throughout the day, TruBrain is an excellent (albeit pricey) option.
Noopept. Easily the most unique feature of TruBrain is this bar’s use of Noopept, alongside caffeine which is also fairly unique as far as nootropic bars go — even though caffeinated snacks, let alone caffeinated anything, aren’t exactly hard to come by. As one of the more potent and faster-acting compounds within the racetam family (my second favorite to phenylpiracetam), Noopept actually delivers the mental clarity one hopes for and typically fails to receive with vanilla piracetam.
The Triple Cacao tastes great, and I really like the dense texture of these bars. You can tell that these bars are packed with nutrients and brain boosters by their density, and the chocolate flavor is something you start to look forward to as your TruBrain bars become a daily habit. All in all, a good chocolate flavored bar.
Best flavor? N/A (there’s only one!)
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3) MOSH Bars
They’re calling it “protein for your brain,” and by “they” I mean MOSH, the protein brain bar brand launched by Maria Shriver and Patrick Schwarzenegger. MOSH is similar to Nu:tropic in its use of clean carbohydrates and nutrients; however, this brand doesn’t deliver “nootropics through nutrition” so much as it adds nootropic ingredients to its formula.
Granted, these are natural botanical nootropics, but they’re not the types of botanicals you’d typically snack on. They’re great all the same:
- Lion’s Mane: perhaps the best nootropic mushroom, given its unique NGF-boosting properties. More on Lion’s Mane.
- Ashwagandha: an excellent adaptogen believed to promote strength and virility while also acutely easing anxiety and promoting relaxation. More on Ashwagandha.
MOSH also supplies brain healthy omega-3s, vitamins B12 & D3, as well as collagen for a healthier complexion and possibly even brain repair.
However, as great as these ingredients are, they highlight a problem with “adding” nootropics to a nootropic bar rather than delivering “nootropics through nutrition”: the dosages of the two main nootropic ingredients are questionable. You’ll likely have to take two (or more) bars daily to unlock MOSH’s nootropic benefits, which is annoying.
All the same, not a bad nootropic bar, especially if you’re specifically looking for a protein brain bar.
While many supplements, snacks, drink mix products, etc. are catching onto the benefits of Lion’s Mane, which seems to be everywhere now, it is still a fairly unique ingredient in the nootropic brain bar category. Ditto for ashwagandha, which is one of my all time favorite herbal nootropics for stress.
MOSH has an impressive range of flavors: Cookie Dough Crunch, Lemon White Chocolate Crunch, Cookies & Cream, PB Chocolate Crunch, Blueberry Almond Crunch, and Dark Chocolate Crunch. To be clear, it’s more of a chew than a crunch, but overall these are decent flavors. At the time of my review of this bar, I was on a blueberry kick, so I was particularly fond of Blueberry Almond Crunch… but is it better than cookie dough or cookies & cream? No, come on.
Best flavor? Cookie Dough Crunch
IQBAR has become one of the more popular nootropic brain bars for its wide availability in grocery stores, as well as its clean, hip, identifiable branding. The overall packaging design, look, and layout, as well as the name itself (IQBAR), seem tailored to the Lululemon crowd — yoga and cyclist enthusiasts who want a low-cal, high-protein snack that tastes great but won’t make you fat (lol).
Truthfully, IQBAR is a decent brain bar option for all those reasons. Really, it’s quite similar to MOSH, even in its use of Lion’s Mane. Altogether, the nootropics found in this bar include:
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
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Similar to MOSH, the actual quantities of its nootropic ingredients are questionable. See, for example, the low placement of Lion’s Mane on the bar’s nutrition label: it’s lower even than “Sea Salt,” so you can safely guess that the Lion’s Mane content here isn’t great.
However, the low carb content here is sure to be a draw for those looking to minimize their carbohydrate intake. Look, I’ve stated plenty of times on this site my case for carbs (they’re good, you need them), but there are situations where you would want to limit your carbs and instead focus on your protein intake. It is great, too, that IQBAR offers MCTs for non-carb brain energy… although, again, the MCT dosage is questionable.
Ultimately, IQBAR is a decent on-the-fly brain bar when you’re at the store and want something better than a CLIF Bar.
We can say that the MCTs are a unique feature here… although the next bar (Mindright) also has some MCTs. Really, IQBAR just isn’t the most unique brain bar, with exception to its availability. With the better brain bars, you typically have to buy them online, whereas IQBAR you can pick up at the store. Which obviously has its perks. Also, the low carb content here should be reassuring to the keto crowd.
IQBAR tastes great. This is certainly a yum snack bar that will satisfy your cravings while also leaving you feeling good for having chose a healthier snack option over whatever other garbage is lining the shelves at the store. Not the most unique in terms of taste, but IQBAR does taste good.
Best flavor? Peanut Butter Chip
5) Mindright Bars
Sorry, Mindright, but I’m kind of losing steam here. After having already profiled the best brain bars, it’s difficult to sustain enthusiasm for the worst of this best brain bar list. But let me be clear: Mindright is a good bar.
At least, in general snack options, Mindright is a good bar.
Compared to other nootropic bars, it’s fairly meh, both in terms of effect and flavor. Nonetheless, it does boast having a few good quality ingredients:
- MCT Oil Powder (MCT Smart®)
- Magnesium (Aquamin™)
- Whole Fruit Coffee Extract (CognatiQ®)
Of these, the main nootropic selling point for Mindright is the 100mg of CognatiQ, a coffee fruit extract that supplies brain healthy neuroprotective antioxidant polyphenols believed to support healthy BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels. The other two, while great ingredients, aren’t exactly the most enthralling to see in a nootropic brain bar.
I’d rather just get my MCTs through a standalone MCT oil supplement.
Ditto for magnesium, which is a great mineral to supplement for stabilizing your mood levels and improving your sleep quality… but, really, you’d do better to just get a standalone magnesium supplement.
Notice those ® and ™ symbols on Mindright’s ingredients. While this isn’t my favorite brain bar, Mindright certainly excels in the quality department where its main three ingredients are concerned. Annoyingly, Mindright also hides these ingredients within a proprietary blend, but at least we do know that there is 100mg CognatiQ, which gives some sense of Mindright’s overall dosages.
Like IQBAR, Mindright tastes like a good snack bar, though none of its flavors are outright exceptional. In fact, this bar ranks the lowest in terms of taste on this list (even though, again, it’s really not that bad).
Best flavor? Peanut Butter Cup
What Is The Best Nootropic Bar of 2024?
The best nootropic bar of 2024 is Nu:tropic. Easily.
While there are certain unique advantages to the other nootropic bars (e.g., TruBrain’s Noopept, the other bars’ protein content), Nu:tropic is simply the best outright nootropic bar for both brain health and on-the-go energy fuel. Nu:tropic is particularly great as a pre-workout energy bar, as well as a snack bar to take later in the day to sustain your brainpower and cognitive endurance throughout the workday.
Not to mention that Nu:tropic stacks well with all my favorite nootropic supplements too.
Feels great, tastes great — really, Nu:tropic is just exactly what you want and need for effective, convenient brain food; nothing more, nothing less. Hard brain bar to beat, which is why it’s at the top of my Best Nootropic Bar of 2024 list.