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You work hard. You know it and we know it, or else you wouldn’t be here. When you work hard, a few things happen: When your brain tries to focus, synapses fire at faster rates. As you go from task to task while battling distractions and wanting to zone out and play games on your phone, you also suffer from something called decision fatigue. According to the American Medical Association, “By the time the average person goes to bed, they’ve made over 35,000 decisions, and all of those decisions take time and energy, and certainly can deplete us.” As an entrepreneur, we can assume you’ve probably made 35,000 decisions by lunch alone.
So, what’s the go-to? Coffee, of course. Coffee kept Special Agent Dale Cooper happy on Twin Peaks. Coffee makes Dave Grohl happy daily. Coffee is full of healthy antioxidants too, according to the National Institute of Health.
Coffee also led, in part, to Dale Cooper’s imprisonment in the Red Room. Coffee landed Dave Grohl in the hospital. And, in general, coffee can cause an upset stomach, anxiety, irritability, muscle tremors, and more, per the Mayo Clinic.
So, what’s the alternative?
What are Nootropics, Adaptogens, and Matcha?
While most of us are chasing that sweet-bitter coffee house smell in our homes, others have turned to alternative sources of focus and caffeine. Mushroom powders, teas, nootropic gums, mints, and pills that won’t make you feel jittery later on. Plus, unlike caffeine pills, these alternatives are made or extracted from mushrooms, naturally occurring chemicals from the brain and body, or synthesized versions of brain-boosting chemicals and amino acids that won’t leave you feeling drained, exhausted, or even addicted later on.
Nootropics (aka “smart drugs” as they are known colloquially) tend to be a combination of amino acids, brain chemicals, and caffeine extracts purpose-made to promote focus and to get entrepreneurs like yourself to what’s called a “flow state” (think runner’s high, but for sitting in front of a computer).
Most commonly found in mushrooms- adaptogen, and adaptogen teas take these magic little vegetables (such as Chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps, and more) from the forest, ground them (or use extract, a perfectly viable option) and allow you to turn them into a sort of coffee or tea. You can also feel free to add them to your post-workout smoothie, weave them into a sauce to go with your mushroom pasta for dinner, or whatever else you can think of. While not as chemically based as nootropics, adaptogens do allow for more flexibility and a truly all-natural approach to focus and stimulation for those who don’t want extra brain chemicals or amino acids in a pill or powder form.
Matcha contains L-theanine, a naturally occurring chemical found in matcha leaves. It has been shown to inhibit rising blood pressure and help decrease stress and anxiety. Matcha powder also has about 130x the antioxidants of regular green tea.
The 5 Best Adaptogen and Nootropics for Focus and Energy
1. Alpha Brain Black Label
Alpha Brain takes a lab-based approach to focus and energy. This nootropic combines key ingredients like Cognizin Citicoline (a naturally-occurring brain chemical), Huperzia Serrata, which helps stop the breakdown of neurotransmitters and a small dose of caffeine combined with L-theanine (designed to give you energy without the jitters) and more. Designed to bio-optimize our brains and bodies for peak focus, this straightforward nootropic from Onnit is a hit amongst elite athletes and, very specifically, comedian Pete Holmes.
2. Magic Mind Productivity Shot
Not a fan of pills or gums and want something you can throw back quickly? You’re in luck because Magic Mind is a nootropic productivity shot. Throw one back per day and experience the focus and productivity benefits as they roll on through. And remember that matcha we mentioned before? While other products on this list have L-theanine, Magic Mind has actual matcha powder, which means antioxidants galore. Magic Mind combines mushrooms, with spices like turmeric, agave for sweetness, and vitamins for a perfect middle ground between pure nootropic and pure adaptogenic drink.
The main purpose of adaptogenic mushrooms is to alleviate stress and that sense of ease is key to focusing and maintaining the naturally-occurring energy you already have (whereas coffee might extend it almost immediately). MUD\WTR is simple and effective. They’ve taken the following 8 adaptogenic mushrooms, ground them into a powder, and allowed you to make a delicious mushroom latte, add to your smoothie, and more. These mushrooms are Reishi (“the king of mushrooms” as they’re known), Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Shiitake, Maitake, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, and King Trumpet.
Resting somewhere between nootropic and adaptogen are these citrus peel-based melts that you simply put on your tongue and let dissolve. Citrus peels not only have skin-care benefits (hence why so much citrus is tied to spas, face masks, and more) but they have been shown to possess, according to Science Direct, “antioxidant, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.” This Feals caffeine-free alternative not only works on its own, but you can have as many as you like and in conjunction with anything else on this list.
5. Neuro Gum and Mints
More of a candy person? That’s great because Neuro has put all of the benefits of nootropics into gums and mints that leave you feeling energized with a sense of ease, as well as with good breath. Though obviously in smaller doses than Alpha Brain, Neuro does allow you to enjoy the flavor and benefits by taking 2-3 throughout the day.
Bonus: Beam Dream Powder
Do you know what entrepreneurs need in addition to the energy that won’t leave them feeling bad? Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. That’s where Beam comes in handy. Beam Dream powder combines melatonin and their proprietary Nano Hemp Powder to give you a lovely and easy night’s sleep. That way you can wake up refreshed and ready for your MUD\WTR, Alpha Brain, Feals, and Magic Mind-filled day (along with Neuro for that nice fresh breath).