Nootropics for Weight Loss: Should You Take Them?

  • By Performance Lab
  • 8 minute read
Nootropics for Weight Loss: Should You Take Them?

Take a look at any health store supplement shelf, and you’ll see all sorts of things catered towards performance. From pre-workout and post-workout nutrition, to amino acids, electrolytes, stimulants, and, of course, weight loss pills.

When you’re trying to lose weight, upping the intensity of your workouts and getting on board with a good fat burner can be super helpful, but there’s one class of supplements that may offer some pretty good benefits, too.

They’re called nootropics. And while most people take them as a one-way street to laser focus and greater workout intensity, can adding in a nootropic pre-workout also improve focus and boost weight loss?

Losing weight can be a mentally taxing process, and to see results, your brain needs to be with it. So, we’re talking about the role of nootropics in weight loss and what the best options are for you to reach your weight loss goals.

What Are Nootropics And Why Take Them?

If you look around the gym, you’ll probably see loads of people in their zone crushing whatever exercise they’re doing.

On the other hand, there’s probably a good handful of people checking their phone, looking around, and doing everything but actually working out. For both of these people, there’s one common denominator—focus.

When you have the mental stamina to push through your workouts, every rep, set, and exercise has a purpose; you’re training with intensity, which means your training will be much more effective and productive.

Not to mention, there’s something called the mind-muscle connection that’s been proven to be an effective training technique but requires a good deal of concentration and focus, and when you can channel that, you’re looking at an even stronger session and better results.

Where the latter group lacks focus, that’s where a good nootropic can come into the picture. Nootropics are a class of supplements designed to enhance cognitive function, drive focus and attention, and maximize your concentration during whatever the task is at hand, but they also function to support better brain health.

They do this by acting as vasodilators against small arteries and veins in the brain to enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients that support better cognitive abilities and a healthier state of mind 1, 2.

The Link Between Weight Loss And Cognitive Function

Losing weight can be a challenge no matter how you slice it, but when your mind isn’t focused on the task at hand, it can be easy to fall off the beaten path.

There’s a fair bit of evidence linking obesity and cognitive impairment, suggesting that weight loss is associated with significant improvements in attention and memory, as well as executive function and language 3.

But at the end of the day, in order to lose weight, it comes down to things like:

  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Drive
  • Willpower
  • Motivation

All of which stem from cognitive capabilities. So, if your brain isn’t functioning at a high level, chances are your ability to stick to a weight loss plan and bust your butt at the gym isn’t going to be good. But there’s another aspect.

Recent research actually suggests that working memory is an important cognitive process that underpins several aspects of appetite control. Poorer episodic memory ability has been linked to a reduced sensitivity to internal states of hunger and satiety, and an increased tendency towards uncontrolled eating 4.

And that’s where nootropics can work. They enhance all aspects of cognitive function to support all aspects involved in weight loss.

Can Nootropics Help With Weight Loss?

Unlike a fat burner or anything that revs metabolism, a nootropic won’t stimulate weight loss directly. It doesn’t trigger lipolysis or regulate appetite like a weight management supplement does, but what it does do is provide the drive and fuel to stick to your weight loss goals and/or exercise program.

One of the big things that’s needed to keep on the weight loss train is motivation. If we don’t see progress and we don’t have motivation, sticking to the plan can be really tough.

Receive unique insights, advice and exclusive offers.
image of Performance Lab® capsules

Studies suggest that a lack of motivation is one of the main causes for poor adherence to weight loss treatments in obese people, and “internal motivation to lose weight” and “self-motivation” have been suggested as good predictors of successful weight control 5.

But one of the main things about motivation is that no matter how bad of a desire you have to lose weight, if you’re fatigued and not focused, the motivation is going to wane.

And studies show that chronic fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness, both of which have been linked with obesity, can significantly impact individual well-being 6.

Both chronic fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness are usually the result of chemical imbalances within the brain—usually cortisol, dopamine, and melatonin—so fighting these imbalances with supplements that boost brain health and enhance neurotransmitter balance can help to fight fatigue and get your motivation back on track.

The other aspect of weight loss we need to touch on where nootropics can be powerful is for concentration and focus. We can’t deny that working out daily—and having a good workout—requires intense focus and drive.

And there will be days where you’re just not driven to train, your focus isn’t bouncing from place to place rather than on the activity at hand, and your ability to stick to your meal plan went out the window.

But nootropics are one of the most powerful supplements for boosting focus and enhancing concentration, which ultimately leads to better performance in and out of the gym.

So, with all of that said, it’s not a direct route to weight loss with nootropics, but there is the potential for them to facilitate weight loss by sharpening the mental aspects that are needed to achieve it.

The 5 Best Nootropics For Better Performance (And Better Results)

1. Citicoline

Citicoline, also known as cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline), has been used since the 1970s as a potent nootropic for treating various cognitive impairments. It’s naturally found in the body, where it serves as an essential intermediate for synthesizing the major phospholipid of cell membranes, phosphatidylcholine 7.

Clinically speaking, citicoline has been used to treat traumatic brain injury, stroke, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and brain aging, where it helps to support the stabilization of cell membranes and reduce the presence of free radicals, but there’s also some evidence that it may boost the release of dopamine in the brain, leading to enhanced focus and attention 8.

Citicoline has also been linked with a better memory, which, at first glance, may seem unrelated to weight loss, but it’s not.

A good memory helps you not only keep track of your goal-related outcomes, but it also impacts your competency, both of which are critical for sticking to a weight-loss regimen.

2. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine (PS) isn’t a supplement we often hear about, but it’s a powerhouse where brain health is concerned. PS is a fat-soluble amino acid required for healthy nerve cell membranes and myelin 9.

The incorporation of phosphatidylserine into neuronal cell membranes also influences the metabolism of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which play critical roles in various cognitive processes, including memory, learning and information recall, focus and concentration, reasoning and problem solving, language skills and communication, and locomotor function, especially reactions and reflexes.

But what’s also important to note is that incorporation of phosphatidylserine into membranes is sensitive to the availability of both PS and DHA, which makes supplementing omega-3 fatty acids critical to maintaining adequate levels and function of phosphatidylserine 9.

3. Caffeine + L-theanine

Caffeine is a compound we all know and love, and is generally a staple in many fitness supplements, including those for weight loss.

The reason it’s commonly consumed for increased alertness and focus is because of its ability to act as an adenosine antagonist and prevent the onset of fatigue. Several studies also support the role of caffeine in promoting decreases in weight, BMI, and body fat 10.

However, in high doses like those found in a lot of pre-workout supplements, caffeine can actually hinder performance and interfere with weight loss by causing excessive secretion of catecholamines like cortisol.

But when we add in a powerful nootropic like L-theanine, we help mitigate the negative effects of caffeine and support stronger focus and better brainwave stability to leave you with calm, clean stimulation and no nasty side effects 11.

4. Omega-3s

Omega-3s have long been linked with better brain function. The brain is comprised of more than 60% fat and DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, is one of the most important fats for supporting proper cognitive function and maintaining brain health.

On the weight loss side, several mechanisms have been proposed for omega-3s anti-obesity effects, including increased adipocyte apoptosis, increased plasma adiponectin levels, and altered fat oxidation and energy expenditure 12.

No concrete mechanism has been confirmed, but studies support the link between omega-3 supplementation and reduced abdominal fat, especially when combined with lifestyle modifications.

The other aspect we have to hit on is the role of omega-3s in cognitive function. They are abundant in cellular membranes and are critical for the maintenance of normal brain function, preserving cell membrane health, and facilitating communication between brain cells 13.

Studies of older adults show that low levels of brain DHA are linked to smaller brain size, a sign of accelerated brain aging, as well as impaired cognitive function 14.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, nootropics aren’t going to give you a direct line to weight loss, but they can play a pretty good supporting role.

And when you stack up the Performance Lab lineup, you’re getting the best we have to offer for better training intensity, better focus, and a better chance of achieving your weight loss goals.


  1. JF Dartigues, L Carcaillon, C Helmer, N Lechevallier, A Lafuma, B Vasodilators and nootropics as predictors of dementia and mortality in the PAQUID cohort.J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007;55(3):395-399.
  2. NA Suliman, CN Mat Taib, MA Mohd Moklas, MI Adenan, MR Hidayat Baharuldin, R Basir. Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4391375.
  3. N Veronese, S Facchini, B Stubbs, et al. Weight loss is associated with improvements in cognitive function among overweight and obese people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017;72:87-94.
  4. S Higgs, MS Spette Cognitive Control of Eating: the Role of Memory in Appetite and Weight Gain.Curr Obes Rep. 2018;7(1):50-59.
  5. PJ Teixeira, MN Silva, J Mata, AL Palmeira, D Markland. Motivation, self-determination, and long-term weight control.Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9:22.
  6. AN Vgontzas, EO Bixler, GP Obesity-related sleepiness and fatigue: the role of the stress system and cytokines.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006;1083:329-344.
  7. M Fioravanti, AE Buckley. Citicoline (Cognizin) in the treatment of cognitive impairment. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(3):247-251.
  8. P Fonlupt, M Martinet, H Effect of CDP-choline on dopamine metabolism in central nervous system. In: Zappia V, Kennedy EP, Nilsson BI, et al., editors.Novel biochemical, pharmacological, and clinical aspects of CDP-choline. New York: Elsevier; Sci: 1985. pp.169–77.
  9. MJ Glade, K Smith. Phosphatidylserine and the human brain. 2015;31(6):781-786.
  10. R Tabrizi, P Saneei, KB Lankarani, et al. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(16):2688-2696.
  11. T Giesbrecht, JA Rycroft, MJ Rowson, EA De Bruin. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness.Nutr Neurosci. 2010;13(6):283-290.
  12. S Du, J Jin, W Fang, Q Su. Does Fish Oil Have an Anti-Obesity Effect in Overweight/Obese Adults? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.PLoS One. 2015;10(11):e0142652.
  13. SC Dyall. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015;7:52.
  14. ZS Tan, WS Harris, AS Beiser, et al. Red blood cell ω-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging.  2012;78(9):658-664.