December 28, 2015 Articles, Smart Drugs No Comments

Does the New Year have you creating resolution lists designed to propel you to better health, wealth and well-being?  If so, you’re far from alone.  If you’re the average American, then according to Nielsen, “staying fit and healthy” topped your list last year — followed closely by “lose weight.”

2015 Nielsen resolutions.png

And — surprise, surprise! — these were the same goals held by most Americans in 2014, as well.

It turns out there’s a reason for the lack of year-to-year progress.  Most people, despite their stated goals, don’t follow any dietary health or weight loss program.  The disconnect between goals and actions explains a lot, doesn’t it?

The other big 2015 goals fell under the general umbrella of “becoming more productive” — which would presumably then allow goal-achievers to set their sights on more fun goals like enjoying life, spending time with family, hobbies, etc.

Achieve Your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

Want to avoid this frustrating trend of “Resolution Recycling”?  Clear the slate — at least your personal slate — so that a “new and noteworthy” goal can top your list for 2017?

Suggestions for turning resolutions into reality range from setting small, achievable goals, to telling others your intentions so you will be held publically accountable.  All great advice.

But how about something even more concrete to help you conquer those goals related to achieving health, fitness and productivity?

Enter Nootropics:  Something “noo” to help you reach your goals!

What is a nootropic?  The word derives from the Greek word noos, which translates roughly to “mind.”  Nootropic is a general term for a class of chemicals — some naturally-occurring, some man-made — that offer cognitive benefits to the human brain.

To  qualify as a nootropic a compound must be only beneficial, non-toxic and follow the hippocratic decree to “do no harm.”

Unlike some media representations (remember the Limitless movie?), nootropics will not give you superpowers… But they can enhance your mental strength and staying power — making you more alert and focused without the side effects associated with better-known stimulant chemicals, like the ever-popular standby, caffeine.

(While definitely a “cognitive enhancer,” caffeine doesn’t qualify as a nootropic because of its negative side effects — the potential for tolerance build up and the post caffeine “crash.”)

Nootropics are best known for improving mental clarity and focus, improving short-term and long-term memory and boosting mood.

Recent research has shown that some nootropics may also provide physical benefits as a nice bonus to their cognition enhancing qualities.  These “smart drugs” also facilitate the body’s metabolic processes related to the production of new tissues and the release of energy from food and fat stores.

Here’s how the physical-cognitive double-whammy works:  Increased blood flow and glucose traveling to the brain are boosts to cognition — but they also promote the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s intracellular fuel.  More fuel means more energy. Studies indicate that this energy boost can result in increased physical activity and performance and and thus, weight loss.

Try these four nootropics, each of which can give a double-bang for your neurological buck, and work through that list of 2016 Resolutions.

Alpha GPC:

  • Alpha GPC is a choline-containing supplement that in higher doses than achieved through natural food sources (like eating eggs and liver) has been linked to increased fat oxidation and muscle gains.
  • Research indicates that most people do not get adequate levels of choline in their diet.
  • Choline aids the transport of dietary fats throughout the body to your cells where they can be burned for energy.  Alpha GPC is a more bioavailable form of the substance, making it easier for you to reach your healthy New Year’s goal.

L-Carnitine:

Mucuna Pruriens:

  • A plant based, natural source of L-Dopa — a precursor to dopamine, that lovely neurotransmitter in our brains that motivates us to “do” (and enjoy doing) life.
  • Dopamine, typically recognized for increasing mental alertness, also possesses antioxidant properties and increases levels of human growth hormone, crucial to protein synthesis and the development of muscle growth.
  • Mucuna Pruriens can increase your levels of dopamine, improve your mood, give you energy to exercise, regulate blood sugar, and lose weight.  Plus it can provide an extra fringe benefit — an increased libido!

Rhodiola Rosea  see Episode #57

  • An adaptogenic herb that acts upon serotonin receptors in the brain.  Most known for its stress reducing and mood enhancing  qualities.
  • Studies show it reduces exercise related fatigue, improves post workout recovery and promotes fatty acid utilization, so you can use those fat stores for energy.  It’s also  been shown to reduce hunger and/or binge and junk eating.
  • It can increase your energy, speed up your exercise related recovery, help you burn fat, all the while making you feel more happy and alert.

Panacea Alert!

Taking nootropics will not magically transform you into a chess champion or an Olympic athlete.  Nothing can compensate for poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep deficits.

And while some nootropics have fast-acting (“acute”) effects, many of their best results — like long-term neuroprotection — are not typically immediate, but build gradually.

Achieve Your 2016 Health and Fitness Goal

Move your body regularly, get adequate rest, eat food that your great grandmother would recognize and try one (or all!) of these supplements.

You will be well on your way to reaching your 2016 goal to “Stay Fit and Healthy” (which we all know is really code for “Look Good Naked”).

Written by Michelle Silbernagel
Michelle, a deep rabbit hole diver, is a quintessential seeker of knowledge and an avid content consumer. She is devoted to optimizing health, particularly brain health, and believes that everything is connected – from the thoughts we think to the food we eat and the moves we make. At Smart Drug Smarts she switch-hits on everything from industry research to article writing to ideological cheerleading in the wider media world. Personal Motto: Life is an n=1 experiment.
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