The Best Nootropic Ingredients To Help You Crush Life & Your Motivation
Slacking on your workouts?
Piddling away the hours at work?
Lacking the drive to actually get off of the couch and do something?
We’ve all been there before. Whether it’s burnout, boredom, or brazen laziness, we’ve all experienced the sensation of being completely and utterly devoid of motivation.
Motivation is the key that unlocks peak performance, both mentally and physically, but why do some many of us struggle with motivation. It’s almost as if the little voice in our head that says, “GET MOVING” took a long-term vacation.
The answer to your lack of motivation circles back to two main things — low dopamine levels and stress.
How Does Dopamine Affect Motivation?
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter affecting pleasure and reward. Without sufficient dopamine production, you lack the initiative to really do anything and have trouble finding the joy in things that used to bring you pleasure. Animal studies have even shown that when mice are lacking dopamine, they starve themselves, even though they have ample access to food![1,2]
[Ps. for more of a link between success rates & dopamine levels, check out my series on “Why Some People Are More Successful Than Others: The Dopamine Connection”]
Now, we’re not saying you’re going to have trouble getting food down, but we’re pretty sure you’ve struggled with having motivation to workout, work, or study, which brings us back to solving the dopamine dilemma.
In an effort to address this dopamine debacle, people will frequently turn to prescription medications and stimulants to solve their lack of motivation, but those are short term fixes. They only deliver short term benefits, but don’t solve the issue of chronic lack of motivation. Even worse, constantly using stimulants (especially caffeine) leads to rapid tolerance build up, meaning you need to constantly increase your consumption of them in order to get the same effects.
Fortunately, there’s a way to increase motivation naturally, and it doesn’t involve a host of stimulants or prescription medications. That’s where nootropics come in.
Nootropics for motivation enhance and protect dopamine levels to increase your internal drive and motivation. Ahead, we’ve got a list of the top five nootropics for motivation, which may be just the fix you need to your motivational woes.
But first, we need to address something…
Modafinil — the “Best” Nootropic for Motivation
A lot of nootropics experts will tell you that the best nootropic for boosting dopamine is modafinil (provigil). While we won’t dispute the potency of modafinil, there’s a glaring problem with recommending it to the average consumer…
It’s a prescription drug!
So, unless you spend hundreds of dollars on doctor visits and prescriptions, we’re going to scratch modafinil off our list. The good news is, there’s plenty of readily accessible, over the counter nootropics you can use to enhance dopamine levels naturally.
Best Nootropics for Motivation
Tyrosine is a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid readily found in a number of common foods. It’s also a prominent ingredient in many sports supplements, including pre workouts and fat burners.
The reason tyrosine is #1 on our list, is that it serves as the precursor for dopamine production in the body. Now, typically the body can make all the tyrosine it needs from the other foods you eat, but during times of illness, stress, or exhaustion, your body might not be able to synthesize sufficient tyrosine, which directly impacts dopamine production and subsequently motivation.
Supplementing with L-Tyrosine, or its cousin N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, can increase dopamine levels in the body, lowering stress, reducing mental fatigue, and improve creativity and motivation.[3,4,5]
B-vitamins play an essential role in energy production, but they also affect neurotransmitter production too, especially dopamine. However, b-vitamins don’t readily cross the blood-brain barrier in their natural form, so while they might be improving your natural energy levels, they might not be doing much for your mental energy.
That’s where sulbutiamine comes in.
Sulbutiamine is an enhanced form of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) shown to be incredibly bioavailable and cross the blood-brain barrier. After crossing the blood-brain barrier, sulbutiamine gets to work on the cholinergic, glutamatergic, and dopamine receptors of the brain that influence mood, memory, concentration, and motivation. More specifically, sulbutiamine increases motivation by enhancing the dopamine D1 receptor density.
Frequently used for its incredibly long-lasting energy and focus, TeaCrine is a newer ingredient on the scene that’s become a favorite of nootropics users wanting the mental energy and focus of caffeine without the jitters, anxiety, or crash that’s commonly experienced with the well-known stimulant.
TeaCrine is purine alkaloid naturally occurring in kucha tea and robusta coffee beans shown in several trials to increase dopamine levels, decrease adenosine (similar to how caffeine works), and regulate other neurotransmitters.[8,9] It can also decrease reactive oxidative species in the body, making TeaCrine a valuable antioxidant.
Best of all, TeaCrine delivers the increased energy, alertness, and motivation without impacting your cardiovascular system (unlike caffeine). That means you get the mental stimulation without the increase in heart rate or blood pressure, as commonly experienced with caffeine. Plus, TeaCrine also doesn’t come with tolerance build up, the same of which can’t be said about caffeine.
While iodine might not be in any list of brain-boosting nootropics you come up with, this essential mineral actually plays a critical role in dopamine production and motivation.
The reason we’ve included iodine on this list is that this element element combines with tyrosine to create thyroid hormones T3 and T4. In case you didn’t know, thyroid hormones impact every cell in your body, including the ones in your brain.
In the brain, T4 is converted to T3 via selenium, with affects certain genes that regulate metabolism within your cells. It also activates important neurotransmitters like dopamine, and its downstream neurotransmitters (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine).
The reason we’re including iodine on this list is that a large majority of the population is deficient in iodine, in fact the World Health Organization estimates that over 70% of the population is lacking in this essential trace mineral. Deficiencies in iodine lead to poor thyroid function, and with that you can experience poor cognition, difficulty with recall and learning, and lack of motivation.
Rather than purchase an iodine supplement, a more economical way to get your iodine is by purchasing and using iodized salt. This is especially important for those of you that don’t eat much seaweed, which is naturally rich in the trace mineral.
Our final nootropic for motivation doesn’t have anything to do directly with dopamine, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important for increasing motivation.
Remember at the beginning how we talked about the two things impacting motivation were low dopamine and elevated stress levels?
That’s where Rhodiola Rosea comes into the picture.
Used for centuries as a natural stress-reliever, rhodiola rosea is an incredibly powerful plant that combats mental fatigue, improves memory, and reduces cortisol (i.e. stress). Rhodiola Rosea fortifies your central nervous system to resist fatigue induced by all manner of stress that stifles your creativity, mental clarity, and motivation.
Studies back this up too, as research notes supplementing with rhodiola experienced improvements in mood, motivation, energy, and memory.[12,13] Some research even indicates it may even saves injured neurons and promote growth and development of brain cells.
Interestingly enough, rhodiola also might improve dopamine levels in the body indirectly due the plant’s actions as a MAOI-A and B inhibitor, which could lead to an increase in dopamine.
Suffice it to say that rhodiola is one potent plant, and if you’re struggling with motivation, drive, and desire, it should be one of the first places you turn for help.
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Strength and Honor,
This Newsletter is brought to you by AZOTH, a productivity-driven nootropic supplement company dedicated to enhancing human productivity, optimizing peak mental performance, and pushing the boundaries of human potential. Find out more here.
- Berridge KC, Robinson TE. What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward learning, or incentive salience? Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1998 Dec;28(3):309–69. Review. PubMed PMID: 9858756.
- Palmiter, R. D. (2008), Dopamine Signaling in the Dorsal Striatum Is Essential for Motivated Behaviors. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1129: 35–46. doi: 10.1196/annals.1417.003
- Young SN. L-Tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress? Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. 2007;32(3):224.
- Deijen, J. B., Wientjes, C. J. E., Vullinghs, H. F. M., Cloin, P. A., & Langefeld, J. J. (1999). Tyrosine improves cognitive performance and reduces blood pressure in cadets after one week of a combat training course. Brain Research Bulletin, 48(2), 203–209. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/S0361-9230(98)00163-4
- Thomas JR et al. Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Nov; 64(3): 495–500.
- Trovero, F., Gobbi, M., Weil-Fuggaza, J., Besson, M. J., Brochet, D., & Pirot, S. (2000). Evidence for a modulatory effect of sulbutiamine on glutamatergic and dopaminergic cortical transmissions in the rat brain. Neuroscience Letters, 292(1), 49–53.
- Micheau, J., Durkin, T. P., Destrade, C., Rolland, Y., & Jaffard, R. (1985). Chronic administration of sulbutiamine improves long term memory formation in mice: possible cholinergic mediation. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 23(2), 195–198.
- Taylor L, Mumford P, Roberts M, et al. Safety of TeaCrine®, a non-habituating, naturally-occurring purine alkaloid over eight weeks of continuous use. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2016;13:2. doi:10.1186/s12970–016–0113–3.
- Ziegenfuss, T. N., Habowski, S. M., Sandrock, J. E., Kedia, A. W., Kerksick, C. M., & Lopez, H. L. (2016). A Two-Part Approach to Examine the Effects of Theacrine (TeaCrine(R)) Supplementation on Oxygen Consumption, Hemodynamic Responses, and Subjective Measures of Cognitive and Psychometric Parameters. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/19390211.2016.1178678
- Peterson A.L., Gilman T.L., Banks M.L., Sprague J.E. “Hypothyroidism alters striatal dopamine release mediated by 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy).” Synapse. 2006 Apr;59(5):317–9.
- Tiwari, B. D., Godbole, M. M., Chattopadhyay, N., Mandal, A., & Mithal, A. (1996). Learning disabilities and poor motivation to achieve due to prolonged iodine deficiency. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 63(5), 782–786. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/63.5.782
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- Spasov AA et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during and examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr; 7(2): 85–9
- van Diermen, D., Marston, A., Bravo, J., Reist, M., Carrupt, P.-A., & Hostettmann, K. (2009). Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 122(2), 397–401. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2009.01.007