When most people talk about nootropics, what they have in mind are nootropic stacks.
Nootropic is a single compound (single ingredient) which usually provides one main effect or benefit.
So, what is a nootropic stack?
A nootropic stack is a mix of nootropics that work synergetically, and provide multiple effects.
Luckily, many nootropics complement each other, so as soon as you stack them together, you can get a very effective nootropic supplement.
That’s why combining many enhancing substances into a nootropic stack is so popular.
Now, there are always two ways to go about nootropic stacks – you can either make them at home (DIY nootropic stack), or you buy a premade nootropic stack.
We’ll talk about the benefits, differences, and my final recommendation.
Nootropic Stack Guide
I’ll try to explain everything you need to know about nootropic stacks, but let’s start with the basics.
There are two basic ways how to build (or eventually buy) a nootropic stack:
- You combine multiple nootropics (or you buy a premade nootropic stack)
For example, you mix Bacopa Monnieri, Lion’s Mane mushroom, and Alpha GPC
- You combine different nootropic supplements or stacks into a bigger stack
You buy a nootropic stack for cognitive performance, energy, and sleep
Combining single nootropics into a nootropic stack is the absolute best way to go about improving your cognitive performance.
There is no doubt many different combined nootropics provide many benefits (but also potential side effects).
But what’s even more impressive is combining different nootropic stacks (for example, a morning nootropic stack for improving cognitive performance with an evening stack for enhancing your sleep).
That’s your road to ultimate performance, productivity, and health.
And that’s where all the magic happens.
Homemade Nootropic Stack
Among all people that supplement nootropics, I estimate that about 1% make their homemade nootropic stacks.
How does that look?
Well, they find the best nootropics they want to combine, order them in bulk (usually in powder form), and either mix them or start taking them daily.
There are two main benefits of DIY nootropic stacks:
- They are customizable
- They are cheaper
Firstly, you can combine all the ingredients that you want in the desired dosages without needing any permission.
Secondly, doing that is usually cheaper (if you don’t evaluate the time that you spend on researching, ordering, mixing stacks, etc.).
However, there are many disadvantages in making homemade nootropic stacks.
- They are much riskier compared to premade nootropic stacks
- They take lots of your time
- They are underresearched (nootropic companies invest millions of dollars into nootropic research)
- They are more complex
I believe it’s evident that the main disadvantage of making homemade stacks is the risk of doing something wrong.
First of all, you can make a mistake by ordering low-quality nootropics, you can make a mistake with weighting or mixing them, you can use the wrong dosage of ingredients, you can store the nootropics in the wrong environment, and the list goes on and on.
Then think about the time you need to invest research, then to do the homemade production, etc.
Also, I know for a fact that the most recognized nootropic developers invest lots of money into research and testing every year. No matter what, you’ll always fall short here.
And last but not least, such homemade nootropic stacks can quickly become very complicated. If something goes wrong (and it easily can), it’s tough to figure out what caused the issues.
Now, I’ve been making my nootropic stacks for quite some time, and I’ve also been taking premade stacks.
So, should you build your nootropic stack?
While it’s fun to make your own nootropics, it’s just too time-consuming. And way too risky.
So as you can imagine, I’m a bigger fan of premade stacks. While 99% of people anyway avoid homemade stacks, I believe the majority of the rest 1% will soon do it too.
Premade Nootropic Stack
Premade nootropic stacks are, compared to homemade stacks, much safer, usually more advanced, definitely more researched, and come with instructions, and support.
There are many brands developing nootropic stacks, and I see an increasing trend here.
While there are just minority brands that I recommend (more about them below), they have developed such advanced nootropic stacks that it just doesn’t make much sense making your own.
We already mentioned the most common reasons why most people buy a premade nootropic stack, but what’s the main reason people should go for premade stacks?
Those brands that are developing stacks get tons of user feedback, and reviews. Based on them, they can quickly optimize their formulas (which some regularly do), and make an even better nootropic stack.
Such companies quickly gain so much-needed know-how that it’s practically impossible to beat them.
I’m not saying that all of them use the feedback for improving the product, but there are a few they do.
And that’s why they are the best.
What to Look for in a Pre-Made Supplement
Before buying, how do you know if a pre-made supplement is good or not? If the label says, “#1 Best Doctor Recommended Brain Health Stack Ever!!” do you just take it at its word??
I really hope not.
While you can’t be 100% certain of a formula’s results until you try it for yourself, there are a few observable criteria (five, to be exact) that may help guide you through your nootropic buying process. These criteria are:
1. Smart Ingredient Choices
Do the ingredients deliver the benefits advertised on the supplement’s packaging?
For example, if you’re looking at a sleep aid, do all of the ingredients contribute towards better sleep and relaxation? (Or is that 300mg caffeine on the Supplement Facts going to be a problem?) A supplement that advertises “Better Focus, Memory, and Energy,” it should cover these bases with its ingredient choices.
Research the ingredients. And be thorough: oftentimes supplements make big promises, yet deliver a simple, common caffeine pill, obscuring its caffeine content by listing it as something like “Guarana Extract.”
Nootropics backed by clinical research are solid choices, and you can easily find that research by searching the name of the nootropic with “ncbi” included in the search.
2. Sufficient Dosages
Are the dosages high enough to work? Are they too high?
More often than not, supplements tend to go on the lower end when it comes to dosages – with exception to caffeine, in which case they often give us too much to give the impression that the formula’s actually working.
For there to be sufficient dosages across the board, a supplement needs to pack only a modest amount of ingredients with a high enough serving size (e.g., capsules per serving).
With exception to multivitamins, formulas with 40+ ingredients tend to have weak dosages.
3. Bio-Available Ingredient Forms
Choline bitartrate is a common ingredient that fails to do much of anything for brain health. This is because it’s unable to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
Citicoline is a more bio-available source of choline, given its ability to cross the BBB.
Likewise, standardized herbal extracts generally offer a higher potency than plain powder herbal ingredients.
4. No Proprietary Blends
If you can’t see the dosages, how can you know if they’re sufficient or not. Uh, duh, you can’t.
This is the problem with proprietary blends, which hide a formula’s individual ingredient dosages beneath a catch-all dosage.
The supposed intent here is to hide a formula’s “proprietary secrets” by concealing its ingredient dosages.
This is pretty much BS, for the most part. Supplement companies that offer great dosage levels tend to proudly reveal those numbers, not hide them.
Try to avoid proprietary blends.
5. No Additives or Fillers
After surveying the Supplement Facts, look next to the “Other Ingredients” and take count of how many additives are found here.
In general, if the number’s high, you’re likely dealing with junk. FD&C colorants, magnesium stearate, fillers – these aren’t necessarily.
And some additives can be detrimental to your health.
Plus, vegans may inadvertently consume animal byproduct by eating gelatinous capsules.
Look for supplements with simple, clean, and, ideally, green capsules with a minimum amount of additives.
Nootropic Stack Recommendations
No matter if you decide to buy a premade stack, or if you want to make your natural nootropic stack, there are a couple of recommendations I have for you.
Caffeine + L-Theanine
Most amazing stacks contain this powerful combo. While some people argue caffeine is not a “real” nootropic, I tend to disagree.
Anyhow, caffeine combined with L-Theanine will provide a steady energy boost, focus, attention, and will ensure that you won’t feel any typical jitter that comes after drinking coffee.
BEST FOR: Energy & Focus
Rhodiola Rosea + Citicoline
If you want to boost your energy without stimulants, Rhodiola Rosea combined with Citicoline is a great combo.
Rhodiola is a very effective anti-stress agent that can decrease the harmful effects of our stress hormone cortisol.
On the other hand, supplementing citicoline can increase our brain ATP. 
Combined, you get a long-lasting energy source without taking stimulants.
BEST FOR: Energy
Lion’s Mane Mushroom + Pine Bark Extract
Lion’s Mane mushroom is known for its ability to boost the brain’s production of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). NGF primary responsibility is the growth of neurons and protecting them.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a powerful antioxidant which contains polyphenols. They are known for their anti-aging benefits.
In particular, they help with neuroregeneration and cerebral circulation.
So, when you combine both nootropics, you get a potent nootropic stack.
BEST FOR: Neuroregeneration + anti-aging
B Vitamin (Complex) + ALCAR
Another popular combination is N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, which is a precursor to dopamine, combined with B Vitamins.
B Vitamins play an essential role in the conversion of L-Tyrosine to dopamine, that’s why it’s recommended supplementing them with L-Tyrosine.
BEST FOR: Motivation
So, those are the examples of a beginner nootropic stack that should serve as the baseline.
But to get an ultimate nootropic stack, I’ve created an exclusive list of best nootropic stacks.
Do you want to check them out?