- Meet my friend Matt Gallant.
Matt is the CEO of a company called “BiOptimizers” and has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology. He’s been a strength and conditioning coach for multiple professional athletes, a self-defense instructor, and has over 10 years of experience formulating supplements. He also describes himself as a “Mad Marketing Scientist, Serial Entrepreneur, Life Optimizer, and Devoted Spirituality Student.”
- How I’ve Been Able To Gorge On Delicious Gluten-Filled Foods Without Feeling Like I Swallowed A Pair Of Motor-Powered Scissors Tearing Up My Intestines.
- The Biggest Common Keto Mistakes (& How to Fix Every Metabolic Problem With A Low-Carb Diet In Just 7 Seconds).
Matt recently messaged me and said, “Dude, I’ve got the ultimate in brain-enhancing nootropic stacks. Can I send you a box?”
Of course, I said yes, and now all I can say is wow. The box and capsules are like nothing I've ever seen before—a sort of futuristic, Avengers-like design—and the effects blew my mind (pun intended).
So I asked Matt if he could help share some of his expertise on maximizing the effects of nootropics and getting the most out of your brain.
In this two-part article series, Matt—who is one of the world's leading experts in the formulation of unique supplements for over 16 years—and his business partner, Mr. Noots (who is an absolute genius at chemistry, extractions, and brain optimization) share their best nootropic tips, tricks, and strategies.
Hold on to your seat because these two articles are loaded with practical tips you can use immediately to maximize your own brainpower. And if you can't wait to get your hands on the brand-new Nootopia nootropic box, you can get 10% off your own box with code BEN10.
By the way, if you dig this information, you should also listen to my podcast with Lucas Aoun and check out his recent online masterclass on nootropics (use code BEN10 to save 10%). If you were to listen to that podcast, take Lucas's masterclass, and read this two-part article series you're reading right now, I guarantee you'll know more than 99.99% of the population about how to use nootropics to enhance cognition, word recall, focus, clarity, sleep, and a whole lot more!
Hi. I'm Matt Gallant.
I love the journey of pushing myself to a new operating level.
I’m just a super-driven human who is determined to create maximum value for the world. I am currently the CEO of an 8-figure company and doing what it takes to push it to a billion dollars in revenue. My brain is the “make or break” factor. That’s why…
…I’ve spent more than $150,000 on my brain.
In the picture to the right, I’m at a center where I spent more than $10,000 for a few days of brain training with elite scientists.
Between hefty neurofeedback trainings, thousands spent on supplements, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) training, and many more, it added up. But it’s also led me down an incredibly meaningful journey of breakthrough discoveries about the brain.
At age 12, I discovered alcohol. You might say I was an instant alcoholic. I never drank socially. I would get absolutely hammered until I was crawling on the floor and blacking out. As soon as liquor touched my lips, I was out of control.
At 16, I discovered drugs, which felt like a sort of upgrade for me, in the sense that I wasn’t as crazy as I was with booze. That's also when I started my entrepreneurial journey.
My first business was selling guitar lessons. Then at 19, I got serious and became a franchisee of College Pro Painters. Since that time, I’ve built 13 profitable companies including BiOptimizers. My success and struggles have been directly correlated to the function–or lack of function–in my brain. You could say I was on fire in my early 20s. I built two successful personal training businesses and sold them. I launched four profitable companies on the internet. I felt like I had the world by the tail. But my drug addiction was growing stronger, and I was starting to lose my ability to function.
Then, when I was 28, I got divorced, and all hell broke loose. I fell deep into total drug addiction and alcoholism for the next five years, “partying” six days a week (I needed one day of rest, LOL). During this time, I destroyed most of my businesses and relationships. I couldn’t function. My income dropped by 75%. My mother was ready to cut ties with me. It got bad. Really bad.
Then, after a crazy weekend involving a laundry list of drugs, I hit bottom. I was in a spiritual and emotional hell. I’d had enough.
I got clean and sober at 32 years old. But my brain still wasn’t sharp. My memory took a massive hit. I couldn't remember where I had left my keys. I was forgetting people’s names, even those people that I knew well. For the first time in my life, I struggled for success. This rough time lasted for six long years, despite staying away from drugs and alcohol.
But then I discovered the world of nootropics, and everything began to change.
I first tried nootropics that enhance focus, because as an entrepreneur, you often have to work for many hours to get stuff done. With nootropics, I was able to have 12 straight hours of intense focus without blowing out my adrenals and damaging my health. Nootropics were the answer to my biggest brain fears and problems. More importantly, nootropics took my success to levels I had never experienced before.
This is why I now take nootropics every day.
Because being sick and suboptimal sucks. And being your best and cycling into superhuman territory is a gift that—once experienced—will change your life forever.
And, at the cost of a Starbucks or two a day, it's one of the most cost-effective, lifetime-lasting existence enhancements I could ever hope for.
12 Potent Nootropic Strategies To Maximize Your Brain’s Performance
So what's a nootropic anyways?
Ben devoted an entire chapter in his book Boundless to the subject of nootropics, because they're a subject of both significant confusion and curiosity.
As Ben clarified in that chapter, many people use the terms “smart drug” and “nootropic” interchangeably, but in fact, there are important distinctions between smart drugs, which are any substances that enhance cognitive function, and nootropics, which also powerfully enhance cognitive function but also must be neuroprotective, nontoxic, and are most often naturally-derived.
The term “nootropic” was coined in 1972 by a Romanian psychologist and chemist named Corneliu E. Giurgea. Dr. Giurgea defined a nootropic as a compound that meets the following criteria:
- Enhances learning and memory
- Enhances learned behaviors under conditions known to disrupt them
- Protects the brain from physical or chemical injury
- Enhances the tonic cortical and subcortical control mechanisms in the brain
- Exhibits few side effects and extremely low toxicity
- Lacks the pharmacology of typical psychotropic drugs (such as motor stimulation and sedation)
A Belgian pharmacologist named V. Skondia offered a medically-focused definition, positing that in order to be considered a nootropic, a substance must:
- Have no effects on blood pressure or heart rate
- Have no effects on EEG brain waves
- Pass through the blood-brain barrier
- Have minimal side effects
- Increase metabolism in the brain
- Have been proven in clinical studies to enhance brain function
When carefully combined into “stacks” (more on that below), nootropics can have a powerful, safe, positive effect on cognitive function, mitigating the effects of sensory overload, promoting feelings of well-being, enhancing creativity and restfulness, and much more.
It's important to understand that nootropic formulations are typically not your basic vitamins or supplements. They are very powerful physiological and neurological enhancers. Everyone's brain chemistry is unique. However, there are a few universal principles that apply to everyone that will boost the effectiveness significantly.
The practical nootropic usage strategies below will help you get the most out of your nootropic supplements and stacks.
1. More Is Not Better…Optimal Is More
One of the core principles of biological optimization is to find the ideal dose of each nutrient for peak performance. This means that optimum results aren't achieved by taking as much as possible. The goal is to get you to your ideal state, stay there, and avoid going beyond that.
You want to approach brain optimization like a symphony, with the full orchestra playing at the right volumes. You don’t want the cello or drums to “overpower” the rest of the orchestra. You don’t want to just hear “bass” in the mix.
In order for nootropics to deliver the most power and performance, it's important to find your sweet spot when it comes to nervous system stimulation.
When you take too much of a nootropic, you feel jitteriness, brain fog, a numbing of your senses, maybe a slight headache, and a dumbing down of your performance. But when you take too little, you won't activate the peak performance state you want. As you can see from the supplement arousal spectrum chart below, your “apex performance” is directly centered between parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system activation. (Later, I'll get into the nervous system and each of those nootropic supplements in detail.)
This means sipping instead of chugging a liquid or powder nootropic formula. Or starting with the lowest dosage for a capsule version. First, observe how your brain reacts to, say, a quarter of the dose. You will want to wait—typically 20-45 minutes—for the effect, then manage the dose as you learn how your mind responds to each nootropic you try. This way you can easily see what works for you and what doesn’t, with the goal being to answer the question: What activates your optimal personal zone?
After all, everyone is unique. Neurotransmitter dominance and deficiencies, hormones, and liver enzymes vary wildly from person to person. Your response to any nootropic or nootropic stack will change based on your unique genetics, lifestyle, age, food intake, and other factors.
It's also important to understand that anytime you have caffeine in your system—and I'm telling you this because more Americans than ever are drinking coffee, with the average coffee drinker consuming three cups daily—you need to be careful because nootropics potentiate caffeine greatly. What this means is that a single cup of coffee will often perform like 3-5 cups if you take it with a nootropic.
Because of your individual genetics, this response varies greatly. Some people are slow caffeine metabolizers and ½ a cup of coffee keeps them awake at night. Others can pound a double espresso and take a nap. (Check out this article and this podcast from Ben to learn everything you need to know about coffee, including effects on sleep, caffeine metabolism, and much more.)
This is why I suggest using decaf or half-caf/half-decaf coffee for your coffee when you start any nootropic formula. If you’re super caffeine sensitive, definitely start with decaf.
Using fats like butter, coconut oil, or ghee (use code BEN for 10% off) in your coffee can take your nootropic experience to new heights, and many find it takes the edge off the caffeine while enhancing the nootropic. The main point is: you must find your own sweet spot when it comes to caffeine consumption and where that is going to be different depending on your individual biochemistry and what kind of nootropic you are using.
One other word of warning related to the fact that more is not better when it comes to nootropics. Overdoing nootropics could lead to neurotransmitter depletion and imbalances at best and, at worst, a host of severe psychiatric reactions such as serotonin syndrome, psychosis, and paranoia, and/or physiological consequences such as cholinergic toxicity—a condition that can even result in death. So just don't slam any ol' nootropic willy nilly and assume it's all gain and no pain.
Finally, I do have some strategies and suggestions to pull your nervous system out of sympathetic mode if you take too much caffeine or too much of a nootropic, and I'll get into that later in this article.
2. Glucose As A Performance Enhancer
Nootropics “eat” glucose for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Think about it this way: your brain is primarily made of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, but the brain is primarily fueled by glucose. It can run on ketones—however, key areas of thinking and cognitive function are still heavily dependent upon glucose to function.
If you find yourself “nooted up” (that means, you've taken nootropics) but you're struggling to find the right words and phrases, it's likely because your high-performance, nootropic-enhanced brain is starving for glucose. But you don’t need a lot of carbohydrates to fix or optimize your functioning. All it takes is 10-20 grams, which is what you might find in a handful of grapes, a glucose shot, honey-laced tea, or a long-burn carbohydrate like steel-cut oats dusted with cinnamon.
When you’re in a high-performance event—such as an all-day meeting, a big pitch, playing a championship chess match, or hardcore brain training—you should bump up your glucose a bit more. The key with glucose is to stream it in by sipping a beverage, taking your time to ingest the foods such as those listed above, or by eating slower-digesting, complex carbs. Minimally processed grains such as farro, steel-cut oats (tip: dust them with cinnamon), and quinoa take longer to digest and cause a more gradual rise in blood sugar than the carbs in say, a slice of Wonder Bread. There is also a variety of fruits (such as plum and grapefruit), vegetables (such as carrots and sweet potatoes), and legumes (such as kidney beans and red lentils) that release carbohydrates at a slower rate.
3. Minimize Or Avoid Weed, Alcohol, and Medications
Nootropic stacks are “blunted” by bong hits (THC specifically), excess levels of alcohol, and many medications. If you’re committed to getting high and drunk, then I suggest waiting until nighttime and using nootropic formulations designed less for “brain powering on” and instead, for recovery—specifically, to help you repair and be ready for the next day. For example, one component of the Nootopia customized nootropic supplements package I designed is a tiny morning and evening capsule called Mental Reboot, which is specifically formulated to help remove the detritus that accumulates in the brain from those drugs and meds. In this case, you can take the night-time oral capsule and daytime sublingual, and you'll eliminate most, if not all, of those toxic residues.
4. Avoid Protein
Avoid protein? Woah! Blasphemy! Yes, protein is the seed of life, but it blunts nootropic absorption. Protein can compete with the more fragile nature of nootropics. Therefore, taking your nootropic stacks “away from” protein is the way to best experience the benefits of nootropics. Don’t worry, you don’t need to avoid protein throughout the day. I suggest taking your nootropics 60 minutes before or 45+ minutes after a high-protein meal to help you maximize your nootropic absorption.
5. Stack Your Fats
Many nootropics are fat-soluble. They look for a source of fat to bond to, which helps the nootropic cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
Stacking all your fats with fat-soluble supplements creates a major breakthrough in nutrient absorption. For example, research has shown you can boost CBD absorption in the bloodstream by 800% when taken with a high-fat meal. You can get similar absorption gains with many other key fat-soluble nutrients. I have recently increased my vitamin D levels up to 148 ng/ml (top of the range is 100) using this approach while taking half of the vitamin D I was previously consuming.
I suggest taking all your fats + fat-soluble nootropics + fat-soluble supplements in one shot. This includes:
- Any of the Nootopia supplements capsules: Brain Flow, Upbeat, Focused Savagery, and Apex (use code BEN to save 10%)
- Fish oil or krill oil
- Algae oil
- Buttered coffee: MCT/grass-fed butter (see below for the recipe)
- Vitamins: A, D, K, and E (from liver capsules or a multivitamin like Thorne)
- CBD/CBG/CBN cannabinoids
- Other high-quality fats like olive oil, macadamia nut oil, or avocado oil
You will experience a powerful synergistic effect when you take the entire “fat stack” together. It will improve the uptake of your nootropics and moderate the uptake into the brain, which improves long-term performance. So instead of a quick spike in performance, you get a long-term, controlled performance improvement.
6. Optimize Your Vitamins And Minerals
Many folks are vitamin and mineral deficient. They're running on fumes and taking nootropics as a way to recover their performance deficit.
That's not the right way to use nootropics. I ensure the nootropic stacks I personally design include a complete B-vitamin matrix, but if you're using random nootropics or smart drugs willy-nilly, you may be depleted in B vitamins. By ensuring your nutrient levels are optimized, you will experience better brain performance.
Instead of starting from a minus five (-5) performance level, you're starting from a plus two (+2) or a plus five (+5) if your nutrient levels are sufficient. That makes a huge difference in your brain performance improvement scale. Add the right stack on top of an already optimized body, and you'll be activating a plus ten (+10) or better. The key is to have an already optimized body—it’s the difference between average and superhuman performance. Great sleep the night before, having low inflammation in your body, and being well-nutrified are the three most important factors for an optimized day.
Adding components from my Nootopia nootropics package such as Primergen-V and Primergen-M to your daily stack can make a big difference, and adding magnesium sources such as glycinate, which are best for the brain (use code BEN10 to save 10%), makes a massive difference in balancing your nervous system.
7. Sleep is the World's Greatest Performance Enhancer
If you're running on a sleep deficit—like most people—your neurochemistry will be off, as most natural neurochemicals are produced during sleep. The consequences of poor sleep and its negative effects on brain performance are well-documented.
This also means that without adequate sleep your brain isn’t as “clean” as it needs to be for optimum performance. Your nootropics have to fight beta-amyloid proteins and similar detritus in order to perform their magic. However, with enough high-quality sleep, your nootropic performance enhancers will work to their fullest extent.
In other words, don't use nootropics as an excuse to sleep significantly less, although, to be honest, you will likely function on 30-90 minutes less sleep when using nootropics, which actually adds up to quite a few hours of extra productivity time over the course of a year.
8. Drink Water Like You’re Heading Into The Deep High Desert
When you take nootropic blends, your need for water and electrolytes increases. Some people need double to triple the amount of water they normally would drink to keep the body hydrated, and also add electrolytes or other good salts to that water. Water and brain performance are highly interlinked. Even a 1% drop in dehydration will lead to a drop in brain performance.
So when pushing your brain hard and deep, or when using nootropics, your body needs more water. I have actually had intense mental workdays without formal exercise workouts where I drank up to 8 liters of water.
Adding ¼ to ½ tsp of high-quality salts—I recommend Himalayan or sea salt—is one inexpensive way to get more minerals into your body. The sodium will help you absorb the water more. (For much more about salt, check out this article from Ben.)
For people on ketogenic diets, I recommend adding ½ tsp of cream of tartar with the salt in 2 liters of water once a day to get the necessary amounts of potassium. I also recommend using 3 droppers a day of Primergen-M to get the necessary amounts of trace minerals. Ultimately, be sure to be pounding water throughout the day.
9. Add A Music Stack
Music is an activator of neurochemistry. You may have never thought of music in this way, but it’s true. You most likely have certain songs or genres of music that make you feel certain emotions and states.
Want to get hyper-aggressive? Put on some Metallica and Tool and you’re on your way. Want to feel like you’re on an epic adventure? Put on some soundtrack music. Feel melancholic and want to process those emotions? Put on some sad ballads. Want to feel euphoric? Put on EDM and start dancing (see tip #10 below).
Many nootropic blends will synergize with music and amplify those states. This is a powerful tool in what I call your “State Creation Toolbox.”
10. Movement Is Life
I have noticed that people often become sedentary when they start taking supplements, expecting the supplement to do their heavy lifting—but that's not how it works.
With nootropics, first, you're in a race to get the active ingredients (the nootropic stacks) into the bloodstream and then through the blood-brain barrier. It takes blood flow to make that happen, and passivity is the enemy of blood flow. Sitting sucks for optimizing brain performance.
The ideal would be 5-15 minutes of moderate cardio activity: biking, walking, yoga, swimming, etc. The purpose of the exercise isn't to get a “workout”; it's to move the blood and help activate the nootropics. Movement is key!
The most important thing is to make it a habit. Put an alarm or notification on your phone to move. Micro bouts of movements are all that’s needed. Here are a few simple power moves you can do almost anywhere:
- A walk around the block
- 1 set of 10 air squats (bodyweight squats)
- 1 set of push-ups
- A few yoga poses
Whatever you can do to accelerate blood flow will dramatically aid the performance of your nootropic stacks.
In fact, why don’t you stand up right now and do 5 air squats?
Did you do them yet? C’mon…it’s all about action. Life is movement. Go!
11. Push Your Brain: Hard, Fast, & Deep
To truly experience the power of nootropics, you must activate your mind and push it. Nootropics don’t do the work for you. They’re kind of like steroids (minus the side effects)—even someone who’s on steroids needs to go to the gym to get the benefits.
Here are a few great opportunities to activate your mind and take it to new heights with nootropics:
- Long workdays
- Strategic planning meetings
- Creative work (songwriting, writing, copywriting, art, etc.)
- Hyper-competitive video gaming
- Presentations (sales, interviews, teaching, etc.)
- Intense brain training
12. Create The Perfect Day Before It Starts
When your day starts, we suggest starting with prayer and meditation. Take this quiet time to craft the perfect day in your mind. Here are some questions you can ask to help create it:
- What’s in your schedule?
- Which state is ideal for your activities?
- What do you want your day to feel like?
First of all, those questions will help you shift into the state you envision. Second, the answer to those questions will help you choose the ideal nootropic stacks based on what state you want to activate.
Opening New Performance Portals With Nootropic Stacks
Now that you have strategies for optimizing your brain with nootropics, I want to take it a step further and talk about refining your “states” as well as creating new ones. There’s a powerful breakthrough strategy to get you into your peak performance zone using nootropics—and I'm going to share that strategy with you now.
If your body/brain gets “over-revved” or “overclocked,” your performance will decline. The goal is not to get amped to your uppermost limit. Short bouts of maximum stimulation may be helpful for workouts and other hyperintense activities; however, remaining in that state isn’t sustainable and leads to burnout.
Here’s the breakthrough strategy that is the secret to getting to a new level of peak performance: stack supplements that shift your nervous system down when you take strong or potent nootropic blends like those I'll talk about later in this article. In other words, you want to stack sympathetic activators with parasympathetic calmers. This leads to absolutely amazing states where your brain is at its apex, but you also feel calm, connected, and resourced.
Many nootropic stacks and blends are brain accelerators. But just like a car, it’s important to have brakes' to slow things down when you’re going too fast.
Here are a few of my top suggestions for nervous system calmers (a.k.a. brain brakes):
- Magnesium: 200-400 mg
A low dose of magnesium taken with your nootropic stacks will provide a calming effect, especially if you’re sensitive to stimulants. Feeling kind of fried? I recommend taking magnesium every 2-4 hours until you feel calm. Magnesium Breakthrough is one product I like that can also help shift your nervous system into a parasympathetic state.
- L-Theanine: 100-400 mg
- CBD: 30-100 mg
CBD (cannabidiol) can also boost alpha brain waves. It increases serotonin and anandamide. It also stacks powerfully with many nootropic blends to create new states. See the coffee recipe below for more details. Based on a lot of testing, we believe that stacking CBD/CBG (cannabigerol)/CBN (cannabinol) with nootropics can lead to new breakthrough brain states. Why?
- The cannabinoid oils merge with other oils and help transport all oils and fat-soluble ingredients into the body and through the blood-brain barrier.
- CBD/CBG/CBN can boost serotonin and anandamide. These are powerful “frequencies” to add to any state. They improve EQ (emotional intelligence), connection with others, conscious contact with a higher power, and can lead to new ways of seeing the world.
- Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is another alpha brain wave booster. You can buy capsules of lavender oil or you can keep an oil diffuser in your office or home, which is a great tool when you need to put on the brain brakes.
Below is an example of a drink that you could consume with a nootropic formula that allows for ample acceleration and smart braking simultaneously. I love stacking this coffee recipe with my choice selection of nootropics in my Nootopia boxes, especially for maximizing verbal fluency and social drive. I like using half-decaf/half-caffeine. If you’re a fast caffeine metabolizer, then you can go full caffeine. If you’re hypersensitive to caffeine, use only decaf coffee.
Matty G's Performance Zone Coffee
- 2 cups of organic coffee (if you don’t like caffeine, use decaf or half-caf/half-decaf)
- 1 tbsp of grass-fed butter
- 1 tbsp of MCT oil
- 1 dropper of Primergen-V (use code BEN to save 10%)
- 1 dropper of Primergen-M (use code BEN to save 10%)
- 30-60 mg of CBD/CBG (I like Charlotte’s Web—use a full spectrum to get the optimal effect)
- Healthy sweetener of your choice (I like Omica’s)
- 1 tbsp of organic raw cacao powder (much stronger nootropic effect from the raw cacao)
Instructions: Make your coffee of choice, then combine it with all the other ingredients in a blender for 2 minutes (for maximum emulsification and molecular bonding). Sip over a 2-4 hour period.
Managing The High-Performance Lifestyle
Next, I'm going to cover:
- How to handle “redlining” your brain and body
- How to manage stress and keep your nervous system optimized
- How to shift down your brain when you’re overly aroused
There's a fine line between high performance and burnout. If you're committed to a purpose and mission, you may feel that you need to be superhuman to manifest those visions. The risk is that the quality of your health and life can go downhill if you don’t learn to manage stress and your nervous system.
For example, my friend Wade Lightheart, also a former podcast guest of Ben's, experienced a very deep level of burnout a couple of years ago. Here's the story in his own words:
“I was in Bali, which has almost a 12-hour difference in terms of time from most of my team. I decided to start a new company. I had BiOptimizers, a company rapidly growing.
I was doing mornings with one business partner, very early in the day, and staying up until 3:00 am or 4:00 am. I'd sleep three hours, wake up, work on one business, go for a massage in the afternoon, come back, go to work again, sleep for an hour and a half, wake up, and then work in the evenings.
After a couple of months of that, I really started paying the price. Energy and mental performance were dropping. To compensate, I increased my caffeine intake. I used my nootropics to help my brain focus.
It felt like my brain was laser because of the adrenaline from the caffeine and nootropics. However, this energy was coming from pushing my adrenal glands to the max and it wasn’t sustainable. It's like paying your mortgage off with your credit card. I was robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Then the unexpected happened. There were a bunch of crises that came up. I had a problem in my growing business which grew into a serious challenge with my partner, and that's the event that took me out.
That's when I ran out of gas and I was totally physiologically burned out. It didn't matter how much caffeine I was taking, it wasn't helping. My adrenal glands weren’t functioning. I was in an unresourceful psychological state and in a dark, negative, emotional place. I told Matt ‘I’m in a living hell’.”
Fortunately, Wade was able to recover using the principles and techniques in this article. The key lesson Wade learned was to cycle between intensity and recovery. If you can master that principle, you can become a high performer and maintain that state for most, if not all of your life. Without mindful cycling, you may have a spurt of high performance, but it will likely be followed by a steep decline, ending with a brutal burnout—and it can take years to recover from a big burnout.
Further, you may become traumatized psychologically by the pain of burnout and recoil from intensity for the rest of your lives, because you have a 2-gear system built into your body that can either fight-flight-freeze or heal. As a reminder, your nervous system is made of two parts:
- Sympathetic—also known as fight, flight, or freeze a.k.a. the survival system
- Parasympathetic—also known as the healing system
The sympathetic nervous system evolved to save us from dangerous or stressful situations. A flood of survival hormones cranks the body's alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles. Breathing speeds up to deliver more oxygen to the brain, and an infusion of glucose is shot into the bloodstream for a quick energy boost.
This system has evolved to mobilize you or help you defend yourself against threats. Let's go back to the caveman days. Say there's a saber tooth tiger chasing you. Hopefully, fight or flight (your sympathetic nervous system) kicks in, or, let's face it, you'll die. To survive you would have to run really fast or successfully fight the tiger off. If it wasn't for the sympathetic nervous system, there would be no humans left on earth.
One of the most important points for you to understand is that anything you believe or feel is a threat will activate the sympathetic nervous system. This means that if you lose your job and you have economic insecurity, you will feel fear and activate the survival system. It may be that you just launched a marketing campaign that failed, and you feel concerned. Or perhaps your romantic partner just insulted you and now you're scared of being alone.
What happens when you wake up? Do you check your phone, drink a cup of coffee, have a stressful commute to work?
Those are all actions and events that trigger your sympathetic nervous system on different levels. If you're like the average person, you're caught in a sympathetic loop throughout the day.
The only time you may be in parasympathetic mode is when you fall asleep, and for many people, it’s low-quality sleep. The pattern is repeated day after day, creating a vicious cycle.
Meanwhile, the parasympathetic system is what puts your body in a healing state for it to recover, rest, and rejuvenate.
Before the advance in the industrial ages and technologies, far more time was spent in parasympathetic mode. When the sun went down, you went to bed. Your brain's dopamine system wasn't hijacked by apps, porn, games, movies, and shows. There was far less stimulation than there is today. Your brain wasn't being fooled by blue light coming from all of your devices.
The danger is when your body becomes dominated by one of these systems. The most common problem is that people become trapped in a fight-flight-or-freeze lifestyle. Entrepreneurs and motivated career-driven people easily fall into this trap. They travel the world, manage multiple products, start new businesses, lead dozens or even hundreds of thousands of people. They constantly learn new skills and systems. Sleep is cut down to make more time for work. Diet is compromised by restaurant meals and other low-quality food options. Complex problems arise constantly and high-stress situations and problems come daily.
The solution, as mentioned earlier in this article, is to ramp up and down throughout the day, week, and year. If you incorporate enough parasympathetic activities, you’ll feel balanced, energized, and rejuvenated. This will allow you to get the most out of your day and your nootropic blends.
If you’re stuck in sympathetic (stress) mode most of the time, burnout and a crash in performance are inevitable.
The more intense your life becomes, the more you need to consciously work in parasympathetic activities. This means incorporating certain habits and rituals that move you into healing mode.
The Nervous System Optimization Cheat Sheet below will help you manage and balance your nervous system—a critical component of being biologically optimized and preventing burnout. The first row refers to supplements from Nootopia, Matt and Wade's enterprise, and we will get into those in detail in Part 2 of this article series.
Nootropics are always a wildly popular topic and for good reason…
…I mean, who doesn't want to operate at superhuman brain levels?
If you're thinking of taking a step into the world of nootropics—or if you've tried to in the past with less-than-optimal results (bad LSD trip, anyone?)—it's critically important that you have a solid understanding of how to responsibly and effectively utilize nootropics to serve their intended purpose of optimizing performance.
There are a number of actions you should take if you want to get the most out of nootropics. The following strategies are recommended because, when applied, they will allow the nootropics to have the maximum impact—and most of these tips are things you should really be doing anyway:
- Find your ideal dose
- Take in glucose slowly
- Minimize or avoid weed, alcohol, and medications
- Space protein consumption away from your nootropic use
- Stack your fats
- Ensure that your nutrient levels are optimized
- Get enough sleep
- Drink plenty of water and add electrolytes and/or salts
- Listen to meaningful music
- Do short cardio workouts
- Work your brain with mentally challenging tasks
- Start your day with prayer, meditation, and reflection
Perhaps the most important advice you can take regarding nootropics involves balance. While there can admittedly be a certain appeal to powering through a 16-hour workday or working out at maximum capacity, there's a real risk of burnout and resultant (significant) physical, mental, and emotional harm if you overdo it.
The solution is nootropic stacks that mitigate the sympathetic activators with parasympathetic healers such as magnesium, L-Theanine, CBD, and lavender oil—intelligently combining nootropics to reach that ideal state of calm, clear, focused energy.
In the second part of this two-article series, Matt and Wade are going to get into specific formulas and nootropic stacks that you can consider on your quest to optimize your own brain's functioning. In the meantime, you can click here if you want to try out Matt and Wade's incredibly unique nootropic formulations called “Nootopia” that strike the ideal balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic (and they're offering you a savings of 10% with code BEN). You just click here to check out the Nootopia nootropics page, take a special nootropics quiz that determines what your brain actually needs, and you're off to the races.
Have you experimented with nootropics in the past? If so, what were the results? If you haven't, are you interested? Are you apprehensive? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback below. Matt, Wade, or I will respond!