Neurohacker Nootropic Energy...
A next-generation energy-drink!
It turns out Nootropic Energy improves massively upon a product category that can traditionally be viewed as very unhealthy - your run of the mill $3 energy shots that are sold in supermarkets and gas stations.
Below I review Qualia Energy Shot by Neurohacker. I've divided this blog post into several sections:
Don't want to read this entire blog post?
Read my summary below...
Want to try Qualia Nootropic Energy? Click HERE and use discount code FERGUS to save
One of the greatest marketing ploys in the last decades?
The name "energy" drinks implies that such drinks increase your energy.
Of course, in fact, they do - at least temporarily. In the long-run, however, such drinks almost certainly decrease your energy levels.
And there's more:
A quick search through the medical literature demonstrates that energy drinks are associated with a wide array of potential health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, impaired sleep, and others (65; 66; 67; 68; 69; 70).
Other side-effects are poorer dental (excess sugar), kidney, metabolic, and mental health.
The medical literature even supports the question as of whether these drinks are safe in the first place!
The combination of caffeine and sugar is what's instrumental in causing these energy-drink-associated health problems.
And that's not all...
Energy drinks are frequently combined with alcohol creating an even more deadly combination!
The Yummly recipe website shows a whopping 700,000 recipes that combine Red Bull energy drink with alcohol (71).
Then there's the problem of marketing: even though energy drinks aren't healthy by any stretch of the imagination, companies are very aggressively marketing these drinks to young people.
While speculation, I think making an analogy to smoking is not out of the question. Tying young people to a brand early on makes them customers for life.
I agree with that hypothesis even though not all scientists do. I've observed the phenomenon in many people (clients and others), some who had even worse withdrawal periods than that associated with quitting cigarettes.
So, energy drinks are potentially dangerous!
About 20,000 people visit the emergency room every single year due to excess energy drink consumption (84).
Just consider a few of the most horrific stories (81):
"From 2009 to 2012, 5-hour Energy drinks may have killed 13 people and sent an additional 33 to the hospital.
Dr. Sean Patrick Nord, USC director of the Section of Toxicology, has compared drinking several energy shots per day to consuming 30–40 cups of coffee. If a person has more than one in a short period of time, it’s really not surprising if the energy drinks kill him."
"In 2015, 19-year-old Dustin Hood drank three-and-a-half cans of Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period and then went to play a basketball game. [...] When combined with the exercise, the amount of caffeine that he consumed was enough to give him cardiac arrhythmia according to a lawsuit filed by his father. Dustin collapsed during the game and died in the [hospital]."
"You may not have heard of the energy drink called “Bullet,” but it is a cheap and popular caffeinated beverage in several countries, including [Nigeria]. In 2014, a man named Elijah Nwankwo, who was living in the state of Ebonyi, accepted a $100 bet from one of his friends that Elijah could not consume eight Bullet energy drinks by himself.
Nwankwo took on the challenge and began chugging them one after another. He collapsed and slipped into a coma. His friends rushed him to the hospital, but it was too late. He lost the bet—and his life."
So let's just look at some of the ingredients in some common energy drinks. Here's Monster Energy (82):
Note that 1 can of Monster Energy contains a whopping 58 grams of sugar, which equals almost 15 teaspoons of sugar.
Several types of sugars are actually added, such as glucose, maltodextrin, "sugar" (probably table sugar), to make the product maximally rewarding to the brain. Your brain responds more positively to several types of sugar instead of just one - the more ingredients creating taste the more "hyper-palatable" foods (maximally rewarding) foods become (84; 85; 86; 87; 88).
Some added salt makes the drink even more rewarding for your brain.
160 milligrams of caffeine equals the caffeine content of 1.5 cups of coffee. Besides the regular Monster Energy drink, other drinks also exist that contains even more caffeine.
Then there's benzoic acid, sorbic acid, and color added to preserve the product and make it more appealing.
Another drink, called "Amp Energy", has similar makeup (83):
Also notice that, in addition to caffeine and sugar, that there's brominated vegetable oil added to this energy drink, which may cause thyroid problems because of the bromide as well as loads of health consequences due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Also, high fructose corn syrups and concentrated orange juice make up the sugars in this drink.
Then, additives like calcium disodium EDTA, apple extract, "natural" flavor, "natural" apple extract, are added to preserve freshness, add color to the product, and increase flavor.
A toxic bomb of synthetic ingredients and stimulants.
So it's great that Neurohacker is developing a healthier alternative!
But does Neurohacker succeed? Let's find out by first looking at my personal experience:
There's not much to say here...
I feel very different on Neuorhacker's Energy Shot compared to regular energy drinks.
Many of the ingredients - which I review in the next section - ensure that the product is far superior to a regular energy drink.
One downside of Qualia Energy Shot that I will keep repeating over and over again is that it still contains caffeine.
That caffeine - 90 milligrams to be exact - is buffered with 200 milligrams of theanine though,. That theanine keeps the rough edges of caffeine away (more on that later). Examples of rough edges are jitters and anxiety and stress.
The added ginseng has similar effects
Other ingredients such as "alpha GPC" and "EnXtra Alpinia Galanga Root Extract" also increase alertness through non-caffeine mediated ways. Theanine does the same. So overall, the amount of focus and wakefulness benefits you're getting from this energy drink far exceed that of a regular 90 milligrams cup of coffee (or similar energy drink).
My experience mirrored that view.
Overall, there's not too much to say about the Qualia Energy Shot formulation other than it makes me feel great with fewer side-effects traditional energy drinks have.
If you're interested, Alex has also extensively reviewed his experience on the Qualia Energy Shot:
If you prefer reading instead of watching a video, let me summarize Alex' conclusions below:
Our experience is clear, right? We both experience Nootropic Energy as a much better alternative than regular energy drinks!
(You can buy Nootropic Energy HERE - discount code FERGUS saves you money)
Let's move to the next section then, reviewing all ingredients in this energy shot:
Below I've reviewed all 11 ingredients found in this nootropic energy drink.
Quite logical to include some niacin as an energy drink should increase your... energy... right?
While niacin deficiencies are rare, higher ("supraphisiological") doses of the vitamin might lead to additional health improvements (7; 8; 9; 10). In plain English and oversimplifying, "more is better" even if you're not deficient.
Hence, it's rational to include niacin into an energy shot for Neurohacker.
Including niacin, therefore, does align with Neurohacker's reputation of focusing on cognitive performance.
Verdict: decent compound that potentially increases both energy and overall cognition. Dosing is okay but could be improved under the assumption that these energy shots are used a standalone and not in combination with other Qualia products.
First of all: my compliments for including ingredients that are not commonly included into both energy drinks as well as nootropic stacks.
For workouts, combining both compounds appear to increase energy levels during the workout and pump.
For cognitive performance, fatigue decreases and cognitive performance on several tests improves. Reaction time, decision making, and accuracy were also enhanced.
Studies used a dose of 1,500 milligrams though, so 800 mg might be slightly underdosed. More studies also need to be conducted to definitively conclude that NooLVLTM is beneficial.
Verdict: promising compound for both energy and cognitive performance that show's Neuorhacker's creativity in their formulations. Potentially underdosed.
Alpinia Galanga is a root in the ginger family.
Alpinia is yet another compound that doesn't have a huge scientific backing behind it but is nonetheless very interesting (19).
The one high-quality study used with this compound showed an increase in alertness with EnXtra Alpinia Galanga Root Extract, as well as improvements in response time. Of course, both benefits will aid your overall energy levels as well as cognition.
Verdict: very interesting compound that may have promising benefits from an energy drink perspective.
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NATL) is an "amino acid". Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and have widely varying effects inside the human body, simply because proteins are so omnipresent within biology.
The "tyrosine" amino acid, specifically, is very important for dopamine production in your brain (23; 24). Dopamine is a "neurotransmitter" or "brain signaling compound" that's heavily involved with motivation, creativity, abstract thought, self-control, and well being (25; 26; 27; 28).
Various different foods, from both plants and animal foods, contain tyrosone, so the question is: "should you be supplementing?"
Several studies have looked at linking tyrosine or NATL supplementation and cognitive performance:
Hence, tyrosine is very promising for improving cognitive performance.
The 250 milligrams included in Qualia Energy Shot is reasonable although, potentially, slightly underdosed.
Verdict: great ingredient that improves both physical and mental performance, in part, because it's a building-block of important neurotransmitters.
Theanine is very simple, and yet, one of the best-researched nootropics out there. Theanine is also a personal favorite of mine because it both calms you down as well as increases your overall cognitive performance in several different domains.
Another benefit is that theanine decreases the "amped-up" or "jittery" feeling of caffeine, another ingredient I'll be talking about in a second (36; 37; 38; 39). In general, theanine lowers your stress levels (35).
The stress-lowering effect may, in turn, result in improving verbal fluency and several executive functions (such as impulse control and working memory).
Alcohol, for instance, also affects the GABA system (as well as other neurotransmitters). Theanine gives you somewhat similar effects without the side-effects of alcohol.
Tea naturally contains higher levels of theanine. To ingest 200 milligrams of theanine, however, you'd need to consume 8 average cups of teas. Hence, the levels included in this Qualia Energy shot are supraphysiological in a sense, but in a very good way.
Verdict: perfect ingredient that has demonstrable cognitive performance effects. Dose is perfect too.
Another excellent compound included in this energy shot.
But there's more:
Normally you should be consuming sufficient levels of the "choline" nutrient from your diet. The problem, however, is that 80%+ of people don't consume sufficient eggs and organ meats, the main two high-quality sources of choline (42).
Verdict: perfect ingredient to include in an energy drink. Alpha GPC has excellent benefits for mental as well as physical performance.
Blueberries have a legendary reputation of boosting cognitive performance. Many studies actually demonstrate that blueberries work for increasing cognition and lower brain-inflammation (43; 44; 45; 46; 47).
As a result, memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility may all improve, for instance.
Many of the studies use higher doses, such as 500 or 1,000 milligrams (48). I'm not saying that 200 milligrams won't have positive effects but the compound might be slightly underdosed in this energy shot.
The counterargument against that thesis is that these blueberries will work synergistically with many of the other compounds.
Verdict: blueberries have demonstrable cognitive performance benefits according to most of the research. The 200-milligram dose is slightly low though.
Coffeeberry, providing 90 milligrams of caffeine, which is slightly less than the average cup of coffee.
Do I like it?
Honest answer: no!
I don't like to have my hand forced in using caffeine, and therefore, prefer that all nootropics don't contain the compound. If I want to consume caffeine I'll drink a (few) cups of coffee.
For slow metabolizers like me, in fact, the inclusion of caffeine is a problem. The scientific literature reports wildly varying half-life times of caffeine inside the human body, ranging from 2 to up to 16 hours (49; 50; 51).
The results from my personal experimentation?
With some luck, you're a fast metabolizer of caffeine and there won't be any problem. You don't know for sure without testing though.
(Many people notice crazy health improvements after quitting caffeine for some time, such as a period of 4-6 weeks. Camille Julia has written a great review of the role of caffeine in society if you'd like to learn more.)
My overall view?
Including caffeine is like including cocaine: both will enhance physical and cognitive performance in the short-term for most people, and yet, both are not beneficial to many people's health.
Sure, I know some people do much better on caffeine than without, even after having tested themselves on caffeine-free periods sometimes. The argument, however, is whether a supplement should "force your hand" by necessitating caffeine use.
I think the answer is "no".
Keep in mind, moreover, that my treatment of coffeeberry is not fully complete with an analysis of the physiological effects of caffeine. Coffee is a far more complex compound than just caffeine alone.
In fact, coffee contains many compounds that affect human physiology, such as polyphenols (such as chlorogenic acid). I'm not going to consider these compounds in detail here, however, as caffeine is almost certainly the reason for including organic coffeeberry in this product and not the inclusion of ingredients such as polyphenols.
If Neurohacker wanted to include polyphenols they could have used the ingredients they've already included in their Eternus anti-aging stack, for instance.
Verdict: I don't think caffeine should be included because it's detrimental to some people's (long-term) health. Fortunately, the dose is very low so 1 Nootropic Energy Shot in the morning shouldn't be an issue for most people.
A standardized American ginseng extract: simple yet effective.
Right now, Korean (true) and Russian ginseng are more prominently studied but their American counterpart is also slowly getting more popular online (60).
One study has specifically investigated the effects of the Cereboost American Ginseng, at 200 milligrams, and concludes that it improves both working memory and spatial memory (59).
My issue, with this formulation, is that the Cerebroost version is only 100 milligrams instead of 200, making it impossible to generalize the results of that study towards users of Qualia Energy Shot.
Verdict: decent compound that may improve cognitive performance and probably is neuroprotective, albeit, is underdosed, unfortunately.
Again, a good sign of Neurohacker's creativity to include these lesser-well-known compounds. Celastrus is an Asian plant that has been used in traditional Asian medicine, such as Aryuvedic traditions.
More high-quality (human) research is needed to draw any definitive conclusions on this compound though.
Verdict: an interesting compound that may improve cognitive performance if animal studies can be replicated in humans.
Very interesting choice of ingredients...
I know that saffron was or still is a spice that's more costly than gold. Fortunately for Neuorhacker, only 3 milligrams of saffron are included in the energy shot.
Saffron might help your cells create new mitochondria, for instance. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cells. Glucose absorption into muscle cells intead of fat cells may also be stimulated, for instance.
As a result, you may get strength and endurance increases quicker on saffron.
Saffron in Qualia Energy Shot is underdosed: 3 milligrams are included while most studies use 7-30 milligrams. Some studies use doses as high as 300 milligrams per day.
Verdict: interesting compound that may improve mood and exercise performance that is unfortunately underdosed.
The main ingredients in this product.
There's still more though:
The 11 ingredients I just reviewed are not all included in this product though...
As an energy drink, Qualia Nootropic Energy contains a few other ingredients such as:
The first few ingredients are perfect. The last 2 ingredients, however - "natural bitterness masker" and "natural flavors", I'd like not to have seen in an energy drink. If Neurohacker ever develops a new version of Nootropic Energy I recommend using truly natural ingredients for making the product tasty.
The inclusion of natural flavors was a slight let down for me, in fact.
Overall, however, due to the 11 nootropic ingredients listed in the previous section, I still think this formulation is lightyears ahead of the competition of energy drinks!
So now that I've reviewed all the ingredients, let me conclude how well I consider this formulation:
Overall, I think Neurohacker's idea with Qualia Energy Shot is great.
I thereby assume that it's their vision to overhaul the current paradigm in energy drinks that mostly relies on high doses of caffeine and some B-vitamins.
Let's consider a few products sold in the Netherlands, the place where I currently live.
The Dutch version of Red Bull Energy Drink contains:
(There's also a sugar-free version of this energy drink available)
The RDA levels are based upon Dutch recommendations, not US ones, but both systems have huge similarities in their dietary recommendations.
However, if you look at the label of the product, there are additional ingredients added that are not straightforwardly displayed on the website, such as:
As you can see, Red Bull has far fewer compounds that might act as a nootropic, such as vitamin B3. Red Bull also contains many additional ingredients for flavoring that aren't contained in Qualia Nootropic Energy.
Overall, the inclusion of the formulation of 11 nootropic ingredients in Qualia Nootropic Energy is highly creative and massively improves upon existing "energy drink" or "energy shots" offered by the market today.
So let's, therefore, zoom out and consider the bigger picture:
I'm very much impressed with Qualia Nootropic Energy if you look at the broader energy drink market (discount code FERGUS saves you money!)
One thing I had hoped for, however - a caffeine-free product - hasn't been produced.
I personally think that if Neurohacker replaced the 130 milligrams of organic coffeeberry with 130 milligrams or Rhodiola Rosea or Ashwagandha standardized extract, the product would be far better.
Having said that, if you compare Qualia Energy Shot to any other energy drink right now then it completely blows them out of the water.
Hence, if you're a regular consumer of energy drinks, Qualia Energy shot completely blows them out of the water.
But there's one point of contention:
If you don't use any discounts (such as discount code FERGUS) and don't subscribe to Neurohacker's program to get a steady supply of the Energy Shot, you'll pay $119 for 20 bottles of this product.
That's almost $6 per Qualia Energy Shot can.
(With subscription the price is $100, so $5 per can, and less with the FERGUS discount code)
For 24 cans of Red Bull energy drink you'll pay $52 on Amazon on July 27, 2020, and Monster Energy costs $33 for 24 cans, excluding shipping.
Red Bull is therefore priced at $2.1 per can and Monster Energy at $1.37.
Neurohacker products can be bought without shipping costs, however, making the product somewhat less expensive in comparison.
Is Neurohacker's Qualia Energy Shot superior even in face of the (much) higher prices? Yes, but if and only if you make sufficient money.
I've made the case many times that nootropics pay for themselves once you reach a certain income level.
If you've got a job that requires high-level cognition, however, in any shape or form, whether that's logic, working or long-term memory, creativity, abstract thought, social skills, or even precise perception, then nootropics will pay for themselves.
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 a health consultant at Alexfergus.com.
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