Nootropic stacks are hot!
Plato is one of such nootropic stacks that have emerged on the brain-enhancement supplement market in the last few years. Plato combines several ingredients that purport to improve your mental performance - 4 to be exact.
So, naturally, I've written a review on the Plato nootropic stack and compared it to other offerings on the market.
A magic pill?
Keep on reading to find out:
Overall: nice, but not spectacular. Read on for my full review.
The world is changing quicker than you can imagine. Success or failure in today's 2020 world depends more and more on whether your brain is working correctly and less and less on physical strength.
That trend confers huge advantages upon women who don't have the physical fortitude of men (although being superior in pain tolerance and ultra-endurance capacity!).
AI, robotics, and technological advancements that are integrated into society quicker than ever before simply demand that you have a brain that's agile and able to cope with quick changes.
As a result, cognitive capital is becoming more important than ever in today's world (1). Cognitive capital simply denotes different dimensions of intelligence.
Adding 100 pounds to your bench press will not improve your chances of success in the modern world -- except through improving your looks which do matter today. But adding 10% to your brain's processing speed is a positive game-changer that sets you up for achievement, a higher income, and more wealth.
Hence, nootropic stacks such as Plato can yield a very positive influence on today's society.
I've said this before and will say it again: I think in 10 years' time, nootropic stacks will be sold in vending machines in the same way you can get soda or cookies today.
Everyone loves an "unfair" advantage. And keeping your brain sharp day after day is always a good thing.
So in this blog post, I'll cover the following things:
If you want to skip the nerdy science talk then it's smart to immediately skip to my experience with taking Plato.
Plato uses the "less is more" approach and only combines 4 different ingredients. That approach stands in stark contrast to Qualia Mind, which contains 25+ ingredients, or Mind Lab Pro, which contains 10+.
Both approaches certainly work. Qualia Mind, for instance, takes more of a "shotgun" approach and has conferred massive benefits for Alex Fergus. Alex received massive benefits on his deep sleep - with 40% improvements in that area - and cognitive performance by using Qualia Mind.
(That 40% increase in deep sleep translates to a whopping 1 hour additional deep sleep for Alex, which is a total game-changer.)
So what benefits will Plato offer? Let's have a look at the ingredients first and do a recap of the science of these ingredients:
Bacopa Monnieri is a plant that's found all over the world, in the Americas, Europe, but also Asia.
In fact, Bacopa is one of the foundational plants in ancient Ayurvedic Medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Ancient cultures have thus been experimenting with this compound have praised its benefits.
Fortunately, modern science has also researched Bacopa Monnieri in reasonable detail and demonstrates benefits in many domains related to cognitive performance. Let's go over these domains one-by-one:
The only caveat is that most of the research about Bacopa is still in the early stages -- so the scientific judgment about this compound may still change in the future.
The dosage used in Plato of 300 milligrams of Bacopa Monnieri is great and reflects the dosage used in many studies.
Rhodiola Rosea, a second adaptogen. Rhodiola is one of my favorite compounds and nootropics simply because it lowers your overall stress levels if you're a type-A personality (like me!)
Many people in today's society are overstressed and under-relaxed, and hence, Rhodiola Rosea can be a great contributor in that case.
The upside is that Plato contains a standardized extract of "Rhodiola5Plus™" that contains a stable amount of active compounds such as "rosavins" and "salidroside". Suffice it to say that the latter two compounds are responsible for many of the benefits of Rhodiola.
Rhodiola is mostly sourced from Nothern Europe and Asia, and is also highly respected in Chinese medicine. Fortunately, modern science has also discovered the potential benefits of this plant compound.
Let's look at some of the expected effects of Rhodiola:
Downside? The 100-milligram dosage is not the highest. Some studies use Rhodiola dosages over 1,000 milligrams (1 gram) with positive results, for instance (32). Many others use 150 - 400 milligrams.
In traditional medicine, Rhodiola has even be used in doses of several grams -- although that's not 3 grams of standardized extract, for example.
The saving grace is that the amount of rosavins and salidroside is relatively high in this extract -- although some extracts have a minimum of 5% rosavins (used in Jarrow's extract for instance).
If Plato were my product I'd up the dosage to 150 or 200 milligrams for a standard dose. And yet, including this ingredient in a nootropic stack is laudable!
Another adaptogen that also acts as a nootropic. The upside is that "Panax Ginseng" Is included in Plato, the most well-studied form of ginseng.
Panax ginseng is also known as "Korean ginseng" or "true ginseng", as opposed to other ginsengs such as Siberian ginseng (which is less expensive than its Panax counterpart.)
Let's have a look at what science says about Panax Ginseng's benefits:
The choice of this standardized extract - specifically the "Indena® 27-30%", is laudable. The dosage may be on the low-end of the spectrum--although the chosen ingredient itself is excellent.
What's kind of interesting is that L-theanine is the only ingredient in Plato that's not a standardized extract.
Suntheanine offers a standardized version of L-theanine, for instance, that's widely used in the nootropics market -- but Plato included a generic version (as far as I can tell.)
So what's theanine? Theanine is an ingredient found in tea. The main benefit of this compound is that it creates a very stable non-anxious type of focus that's based on relaxation instead of increases in energy production.
Let's have one last look at the science of this compound:
What do I think about the ingredients?
As the title already says, the ingredients are "safe, subtle, and standard". There's nothing fancy in Plato and that's both a good and bad thing.
Let's start with the bad:
Contrary to Qualia Mind, for instance, which has tons of ingredients that I know for certain have nootropic properties, such as phosphatidylserine, different forms of choline, amino acids such as phenylalanine, artichoke and forskolin, and many others.
The creators of Plato claim they've only included ingredients that have a proven nootropic track record in Randomized Controlled Trials and healthy participants. I, however, find such an approach excessively conservative.
Plato feels like it's more working in the background compared to the very obvious effects of Qualia Mind, for instance. Remember that Qualia Mind doesn't have any stimulants either - although some ingredients like "huperzine-A" and choline precursors can come off as stimulating.
The "safe, subtle, and standard" approach of Plato does have its benefits though: the 4 ingredients boost your mood and enhance relaxation and the effects are not as obvious as a product such as Qualia Mind.
Additionally, Plato uses standardized extracts which makes taking the product more predictable. Standardized extracts reduce the variability of the effect you're getting because if you get Rhodiola from different suppliers, the amounts of active ingredients and toxic byproducts (such as heavy metals) can vary.
Of the 4 ingredients used in Plato, moreover, 3 of them are adaptogens. The 4th ingredient also induces relaxation just like many other adaptogens. So overall I consider Plato more of an adaptogen product than a full-spectrum nootropic.
Additionally, no stimulants are used, which is a big plus for me. I know other reviews on the internet disagree with me but I think they're wrong. I don't think stimulants belong in most nootropic products because it removes the element of choice from the user.
Stimulants are very easy to add to any nootropic stack because you can simply drink one or more cups of coffee or swallow a Modafinil or Adderall pill. Of course, using stimulants comes at a price so it's not smart to rely on them long-term -- something that Plato gets right.
The upside of the stable and safe approach of Plato is that there's very little that can go wrong.
So let's sum up my conclusions about the ingredients, beginning with the good:
Overall: nice, but not spectacular. Let's move on to my personal experience taking Plato:
Below I've divided my experience with and assessment of Plato into different categories:
Let me first say a bit about my background. Over the last month, I've experimented with different doses of Plato. I've taken both a regular dose as well as double the regular dose. The reason for a higher dose is because I'm a bigger guy of around 225 pounds of bodyweight.
My main job is writing blog posts, answering e-mails, and coaching on the phone or through Zoom with clients in functional medicine - so these are the perfect tasks to test a nootropic stack with.
The Plato product does slightly improve my focus, overall relaxation, and happiness so I definitely got benefit from taking this product. I may also have somewhat higher energy levels when taking Plato.
I've ended up with mixed feelings after taking Plato for a while. Plato is like that dependable uncle that will always help you when you ask him but there's nothing shiny or exciting about him. As a result, you'll feel both the need to have him near you and to avoid him.
I must say, additionally, that Plato works very well for my physiology. I'm a type-A personality who is always driving himself to the edge and beyond and thus the approach Plato is taking with the adaptogens is a very good one for me personally.
If you're not a type-A personality, however, and you're naturally very relaxed and easygoing then Plato might be less beneficial for you. Such people are regularly "parasympathetically dominant" and will do less well with nootropics that promote relaxation.
For me, personally, the effects of Plato are subtle and not even as in your face as drinking a cup of coffee. If this product is marketed to a larger segment of the population instead of people really interested in health, I'm pretty sure many people will say that they're "feeling nothing" -- even though many studies show the effects are there.
My biggest issue with Plato?
Very frequently you don't want "safe, subtle, and standard" but you want something extraordinary. You'll want to spend time with that other uncle who is surfing crazy waves in the ocean, motorbiking, creates art, and throws delicious parties (frequently a bit too delicious).
Again, I do feel good on Plato but it's all a bit too conservative. No very obvious effects are found, which can both be a good thing as well as a detriment.
The Plato website states it takes up to 6 weeks to feel the full benefits of this nootropic stack. In one sense I agree with that statement while in another I don't - let me explain:
Whenever you take an adaptogen like Rhodiola or Ashwagandha, which I have done with varying doses over the years, there is an immediate benefit. In other words, after taking those two adaptogens you'll immediately feel more relaxed and energetic. Those effects don't take 6 weeks to build up in the same way you don't need to wait for 6 weeks to feel the effects of coffee.
I do concede, however, that taking Plato for longer periods of time might beget some structural changes to the human body that you won't get from one-time-consumption.
In other words, if Plato makes you more relaxed for week after week, there will be physiological effects associated with that longer-term relaxation as well. An analogy to understand that principle is going on a holiday: after just one day you'll relax, yes, but perhaps only after a week or month have you really settled into that relaxation while no longer thinking about your job.
Right now Plato is priced at $46 for one shipment and $39 per month if you take a subscription.
With a subscription, you'll have sufficient pills to take the nootropic stack every single day of the week (including weekends).
Plato's price is reasonable when compared to the benefits (from 4 ingredients) you'll be getting from it -- it doesn't even come near the $100+ you're paying for Qualia Mind. The price can be justified in my opinion because you're not paying more per ingredient than with other nootropic stacks.
I hate writing reviews that don't end up on a positive note because I know people behind products like Plato have worked really hard creating them and the message behind them. I do feel the love and dedication of the producers of Plato seeping through.
I can also tell that the creators of Plato are reasonably well-read in the scientific literature behind nootropics which makes not recommending their product more difficult for me.
And yet, I really wanted to like this product but in fact, I don't. In its current formulation, many better alternatives are available to Plato, such as Mind Lab Pro or Qualia -- although these alternatives are located in higher price categories.
So perhaps beginners who want to use nootropic stacks for the first time and need a safe product to test with Plato is the ideal partner in crime.
And if you're interested, you can buy Plato HERE.
The bottom line? Sorry, Plato, you're my safe uncle, but I'm ditching you for the more exciting and crazy one! (But do please bail me out if I get in trouble).
This is a post by Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MS), and is currently the chief science writer at Alexfergus.com.
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