One of the questions that comes up often in 2023 on Nootropics Expert® is how to increase or restore energy and motivation.
I think the question comes up because one of the easiest and first things we humans do for an energy boost is grab a cup of coffee or energy drink.
And this doesn’t feel right for most athletes or biohackers.
The thing is the caffeine in coffee or an energy drink that we associate with an energy boost is not truly a boost in energy at all. It’s simply a decrease in sleepiness.
Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. Adenosine naturally increases during the day as a byproduct of energy production in mitochondria by adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
As adenosine builds up in your system, your body and brain receive signals to start shutting down for the day. Caffeine simply delays this signal.
So to get a real energy boost we need to do more than delay sleep in 2023. We need a stack of nootropic supplements that will increase energy.
Table of Contents
Criteria for Building an Energy Supplement
For the strongest energy supplement, we need a nootropic stack that will:
- Increase ATP energy production in mitochondria
- Avoid the use of stimulants for energy
- Provide clean energy with no crash
- Optimize the use of nutrients from food for natural cellular energy
- Be natural and legal, safe to use every day
- Use verifiable and pure compounds
The following are some supplement suggestions you can use to boost energy. And make 2023 your most productive year ever.
Notice that caffeine is NOT on this list of energy supplements.
Energy Supplement Ingredients
Athlete and dieters love L-Carnitine because of its fat-metabolizing benefits. The thing is, the carnitine version of this amino acid is difficult for your body to absorb. Studies show only 18% reaches your bloodstream.
But when you add an acetyl group to make Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), studies show using it daily for 50 days will boost blood carnitine levels by 43%.[i]
ALCAR is a required cofactor for cell energy production and is especially critical for muscle energy metabolism and function. Long-chain fatty acids cannot cross mitochondrial membranes without the help of Acetyl-L-Carnitine.
ALCAR helps transport fatty acids into mitochondria where they’re needed for energy metabolism. Fueling your cells “power plants” boosts physical and mental energy.
As ALCAR shuttles fatty acids into mitochondria, it helps create the fuel that is burned for energy. And then as ALCAR shuttles fatty acids out of mitochondria, it flushes out toxic byproducts.
ALCAR also donates an acetyl group to form Acetyl CoA. Required for the synthesis of acetylcholine which boosts alertness, focus, memory, and fluid thought.
Researchers in Italy found that Acetyl-L-Carnitine stimulates the growth of new neurites. Which increases signaling between cells throughout the central nervous system.[ii]
A double-blind, randomized controlled trial with ALCAR and 1,204 people showed a significant effect on attention, mental performance, memory and higher mental functions.[iii]
And ALCAR has been shown to reduce fatigue in patients dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome.[iv]
CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin-like coenzyme required for energy flow and transfer in each of your cells.
The majority of CoQ10 is found within mitochondria within each cell. It is part of the electron transport chain and participates in cellular respiration which generates energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
When oxidized CoQ10 (ubiquinone) accepts an electron from another molecule in the chain, it becomes Ubiquinol. And when Ubiquinol donates an electron it becomes ubiquinone. This state of equilibrium is necessary and how your body benefits from CoQ10.
When in Ubiquinol-form, CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant and scavenges free radicals within mitochondria. Protecting mitochondria and your cells from oxidative damage.
Normal aging, environmental stressors, and statin drugs all deplete levels of CoQ10.
So if you are dealing with brain fog, slow thinking, poor memory, depression, or migraines it could be because of mitochondrial dysfunction due to low CoQ10.
Supplementing with CoQ10 has been shown to reduce declines in mitochondrial function. And increase cAMP levels, activate KREB and AMPK. All functions negatively affected by aging.[v]
And CoQ10 boosts mitochondria genesis. Helping to make even more new mitochondria for more energy production.[vi]
But keep in mind that for use as an energy supplement, regular CoQ10 has poor bioavailability. Because it naturally comes in crystal-form with molecules too large to pass across cellular membranes. And it’s fat-soluble which complicates its transport through your digestive system.
To compensate for the poor absorption of CoQ10, manufacturers have tried breaking up or melting CoQ10 crystals, using surfactants like oil to keep it dissolved, and adding other ingredients which cause side effects in some people.
The best option is a Coenzyme Q10 supplement made by BioActive LLC called MicroActive® CoQ10. It’s made by combining each CoQ10 molecule with beta-cyclodextrin, a natural compound made from potato starch that increases the solubility of CoQ10.
The patented form of MicroActive® CoQ10 has been shown in clinical trials to be much more bioavailable than other forms of Coenzyme Q10. And doubles CoQ10 blood levels in everyone tested after just 3 weeks of supplementing this nootropic.[vii]
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) is an enzyme cofactor active in every one of your body’s cells including your brain. And has the unique ability to stimulate the creation of new mitochondria.[viii]
Mitochondria’s role is to convert the food we eat into energy that powers cells to perform at peak function.
Your brain has more mitochondria per cell than any other area of your body. More mitochondria means more energy. Resulting in quicker thinking, better memory, elevated alertness, and less mental fatigue.
PQQ also helps boost the growth of new mitochondria by increasing the production of nerve growth factor (NGF). Which also assists in brain cell repair, maintenance, and regeneration.
And PQQ is an extremely powerful antioxidant. For example, PQQ can carry out 20,000 catalytic conversions, compared to only 4 for Vitamin C.[ix]
PQQ works in synergy with CoQ10 for dramatic improvements in mental and physical energy.
Look for BioPQQ® which is a patented from of PQQ. And the most bioavailable, nature-identical, and evidence-backed form of PQQ available today.
R-Lipoic Acid is the form of lipoic acid naturally occurring in your body. And is a cofactor for mitochondrial enzymes involved in carbohydrate energy production.
R-Lipoic Acid increases acetylcholine production by activation of choline acetyltransferase, and increases in glucose uptake. This process supplies more Acetyl-CoA for the production of acetylcholine.[x]
R-Lipoic Acid is both water- and fat-soluble allowing it to work inside and outside of cells.
R-Lipoic Acid also regenerates other antioxidants which are depleted by the ongoing fight with free radicals in your cells. It allows you to use the antioxidants Vitamin C & E, glutathione and CoQ10 already in your body over and over again.
In fact, R-Lipoic Acid is so efficient at what it does, it boosts the energy in your cells while reducing inflammation and getting rid of heavy metals.
R-Lipoic Acid is used throughout your body. It helps increase insulin sensitivity which reduces the threat of diabetes.
And it reduces the chances of metabolic syndrome which is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight gain.
I recommend the patented, sodium salt form of R-Lipoic Acid called Bio-Enhanced® Na-RALA. It is a purer form of alpha lipoic acid and has been shown to have a higher absorption rate compared to other forms of ALA.
Best Energy Supplement Stack for 2023
I used to get each one of these energy-boosting nootropics separately. Because I found it took all four supplements reviewed on this page for a consistent, daily, boost in energy.
And then came Performance Lab® and their new line of supplements in 2018.
Performance Lab® Energy contains all these ingredients in two vegan-friendly NutriCaps® capsules. And they include BioPerine® to help boost absorption even more.
After four years of personally using this stack I can vouch for its authenticity. This stack helps increase energy levels, and when used daily, I can work all day long without getting fatigued.
And even better – no crash later in the day like you get from using stimulant-based energy drinks.
If you need more energy to accomplish what you want to in 2023, try the nootropic supplements reviewed in this post.
And if you want to save some money then get them in a unique, pre-formulated energy stack called Performance Lab® Energy.
[i] Rebouche C.J. “Kinetics, pharmacokinetics, and regulation of L-carnitine and acetyl-L-carnitine metabolism.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2004 Nov;1033:30-41. (source)
[ii] Taglialatela G., Navarra D., Olivi A., Ramacci M.T., Werrbach-Perez K., Perez-Polo J.R., Angelucci L. “Neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells stimulated by acetyl-L-carnitine arginine amide.” Neurochemical Research 1995 Jan;20(1):1-9. (source)
[iii] Montgomery S.A., Thal L.J., Amrein R. “Meta-analysis of double blind randomized controlled clinical trials of acetyl-L-carnitine versus placebo in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease” International Clinical Psychopharmacology 2003 Mar;18(2):61-71. (source)
[iv] Tomassini V., Pozzilli C., Onesti E., Pasqualetti P., Marinelli F., Pisani A., Fieschi C. “Comparison of the effects of acetyl L-carnitine and amantadine for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: results of a pilot, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial.” Journal of Neurological Science 2004 Mar 15;218(1-2):103-8. (source)
[v] Tian G., et. Al. “Ubiquinol-10 Supplementation Activates Mitochondria Functions to Decelerate Senescence in Senescence-Accelerated Mice” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 2014 Jun 1; 20(16): 2606–2620. (source)
[vi] Noh Y.H., et. Al. “Inhibition of oxidative stress by coenzyme Q10 increases mitochondrial mass and improves bioenergetic function in optic nerve head astrocytes” Cell Death & Disease 2013 Oct; 4(10): e820. (source)
[vii] Madhavi D., Kagan D. “A Study on the Bioavailability of a Novel Sustained Release Coenzyme Q10-β-Cyclodextrin Complex” Integrative Medicine Vol. 9, No. 1 • Feb/Mar 2010 (source)
[viii] Kuo Y.T., Shih P.H., Kao S.H., Yeh G.C., Lee H.M. “Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Resists Denervation-Induced Skeletal Muscle Atrophy by Activating PGC-1α and Integrating Mitochondrial Electron Transport Chain Complexes.” PLoS One. 2015 Dec 8;10(12):e0143600. (source)
[ix] Paz M.A., Martin P., Flückiger R., Mah J., Gallop P.M. “The catalysis of redox cycling by pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), PQQ derivatives, and isomers and the specificity of inhibitors”. Anals of Biochemistry. 1996 Jul 1; 238(2):145-9. 1 (source)
[x] Ahmed H.H. “Modulatory effects of vitamin E, acetyl-L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid on new potential biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in rat model.” Experimental Toxicologic Pathology 2012 Sep;64(6):549-56. (source)
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My functional medicine doctor told me to stop taking Acetyl-L-Carnitine because there are new studies that it damages the heart. Thoughts?
David Tomen says
Andrea, show me peer-reviewed clinical data backing that statement up please. If you do not have it and your doctor cannot provide it I respectfully suggest your doctor has no idea what he is talking about.
Is D-Ribose also as effective as ingridients from PL lab energy formula?
I would like to increase my mitochondria performance even more 🙂
Thank you so much!
David Tomen says
Gordon, I’m not going to dive into the neuroscience but D-Ribose would complement the use of Performance Lab Energy. Not replace it.
None of these are helping me, plus a boat load of others such as aniracetam, robiola, and others mentioned on this site, that are not to obscure to be able to find and buy. Very, very, sporadically, oxiracetam, oxaloacetate, centrophenoxine and theacrine help a little. I have ADHD debilitating fatigue and I’m wondering if that’s why the life ruining fatigue so impossible to treat?
David Tomen says
Darcy, “debilitating fatigue” sounds a lot like poor thyroid function. Have you had a full thyroid panel done recently? Including Free T4 and Free T3?
David, how do you rate creatine, folate and B12 in for energy boosting – would you say these are far more effective?
David Tomen says
Ritch, Vitamin B9 (folate) and B12 are both cofactors in the synthesis of dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin. And folate also donates a methyl group to homocysteine to make SAMe.
The methyl donor SAMe is involved in the formation of phospholipids, glutathione, myelin, coenzyme Q10, carnitine and creatine in your brain. That is how they are indirectly involved in energy production in cells and your body.
Creatine comes in a re-charges ATP after it’s used as an energy molecule so it can be used again. And again, etc. So it’s required in the energy production process.
The nootropics in the stack I’m describing in this post are also involved in energy production directly in one way or another. You can read the review for each one to see the exact mechanism of action. This is a very effective energy stack when used daily and long-term.
The ideal energy stack would be Performance Lab Energy, creatine, and a high quality B-Complex supplement (containing methylfolate and methylcobalamin). That would be the most effective.
David, Ive been taking Performance Labs energy for awhile now. They ran out so I had to go a month without it, but when I got my new ones in I noticed that the supplements looked completely different. They used to be a bright orange type color, now they look tan like the multivitamins and have nearly no smell. The ones I had been getting had a distinct smell. Haven’t taken these new ones yet, plan to take them tomorrow so I won’t know till they are potent or not. I would take two of the energy supplements first thing in the morning and man they were a boost that lasted the whole day for me
David Tomen says
Erik, I forwarded your question to the head of Opti Nutra and will let you know what he says when he responds. I haven’t seen or tried the latest batch either. I know they did NOT change the formula. So not sure what accounts for the other changes you mentioned. Please let me know how this batch works for you when you do try them.
Since past couple of months, I was following you on YouTube and saw many of the videos.
I have a doubt which i think you are the only one who can understand it and give suggestion.
I’m an engineer and have to think all day, sitting in front of pc.
I generally have no motivation and i feel lack of energy(similar to feeling after exam, mentally exhausted) . Most of the time i feel no mental energy and strength.
Last year, I use to take krill oil and feel normal and mind doesn’t feel saturated anymore and i become more productive.
I stop taking Krill oil because of their endangerment of these species and shifted to algae oil now.
Therefore, I started taking Cdp choline 250mg capsule per day. I can feel it for first ten days and after that i stop responding to it. Then i tried uridine monophosphate 150mg, i don’t feel anything with that too. Then i tried Acetyl l carnitine 500mg, wow it feels so good that i can feel my mind floating and i can feel my complete brain. But after few consumption, i don’t feel acetyl l carnitine also.
I tried taking b complex and aminoacids nothing helps.
Since two weeks I’m trying Ubiquinol 100mg+ Pqq 10mg +shilajit 100mg but i dont feel any mental energy.
Then i tried mct oil, instead of olive oil, i can feel mct oil, the brain energy i get from it. I am afraid that i may soon devlop tolerance.
The problem is, even taking break from nootropics for a week, i don’t feel anything.
What do you suggest. I’m 28 years old and need lot of mental energy for work. Even I’m not responding now a days to energy drink also.
David Tomen says
Shivansh, there is no “one-pill” solution with the symptoms you are describing . It will take several supplements taken consistently every single day following dosage recommendations for at least 2 or 3 weeks. It is unlikely that you’ll ‘feel anything’ before then because from the sounds of it your body and brain are depleted and need re-building.
The work you describe is not that much different than the guys playing eSports professionally. Because it is physically and mentally draining unless you do something about it. Please see this post for how to fix it: https://nootropicsexpert.com/best-nootropics-for-esports-gaming/
Hi David, your work has change my life to levels that I couldn’t imagine, also my families, parents brothers and relatives. God bless you.
Can you please tell me what time do you get them and if your ever fill like taking it twice a day?
David Tomen says
Renos, if you are referring to energy supplements then I do use them 3-times per day. Most people only use them twice per day. But I follow a special protocol for Adult ADD and require the 3rd dose later in the afternoon.
Laury SUZIN says
Thank you for your very complete blog! I have learned so much thanks to all your videos and articles.
I want to optimize my energy level after 5pm / 6pm because I want to be productive at night to work on my side business, unfortunately, my energy level is very low when I come back home since I work hard during the day.
Do you think I should focus only on ATP production and hacking my motivation (phenylpiracetam etc. ) or some stimulants are not as harmful as caffeine, for example, theacrine, what do you think about this caffeine analog?
Thanks for your help!
Kudos from Paris France!
David Tomen says
Laury, you should find that using the nootropic supplements reviewed in this post that your energy levels will improve. And you’ll not feel so fatigued later in the day. But it may take of few weeks of daily supplementation before you get to that point.
This is a long-term solution for boosting energy levels. It’s not the kind of feeling you get from a cup of coffee. And it shouldn’t negatively affect sleep either as long as you follow dosage recommendations.
Using anything that acts as a true stimulant including Phenylpiracetam or Theacrine later in the day will likely cause insomnia.
Lloyd Derbyshire says
You make no mention of MitoQ which has been specifically designed to permeate mitochondrial membranes. The product has been around for a long time and has massively improved my daily energy levels so I certainly feel that it’s effective . . . for me at least. Any comments on MitoQ. BTW your advice is much appreciated and I have just ordered 3 bottles of Energy as recommendef.
David Tomen says
Lloyd, as I mentioned in this and other things I’ve written about CoQ10, all kinds of things have been tried to increase the bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10. MitoQ is another attempt and they did it by adding an ion to change the charge of this molecule. Some of these ideas work and some don’t. It’s good to know that this one worked for you.
I didn’t mention this particular one in my CoQ10 review simply because there are so many different versions. Labs have been working on this issue for a long time. I only mentioned MicroActive CoQ10® because it’s used in Performance Lab Energy and it works well for many people. And it has the science to back it up.
Lloyd Derbyshire says
Thank you David. I’m looking forward to receiving my first consignment of Performance Lab Energy. I’ve been using 20mg PQQ combined with large doses of CoQ10 for several years in conjunction with the MitoQ but it makes more sense to get the stack plus Pepperdine all in one capsule.