Big ol’ swole post ahead.
All the way to the hilt today. Forget stopping at the surface.
“What makes a person average is their focus”
If you haven’t been getting the results you want…how great is your ability to focus?
What has been your main focus?
Finding your why involves introspective focus.
Becoming stronger and having a worthy life requires us to find, know, and live our why.
Taking nootropics is no different. Without a why, you are aimlessly just poppin pills and sifting powders with your fingers crossed whispering to your favorite deity to send some brain gainz your way.
Without an intense focus, how can you truly claim arete?1
Why do you truly want to take nootropics? Because they can be a bridge to another desire?
A desire for better: Better focus. Better memory. Better/more self-esteem through more competence.
Or a desire to lessen something: Less fatigue. Less stress. Less anxiety. Less depression.
I urge you to look deeper. To focus on the why behind the whys above.
Connecting with and acting from that deeper why immerses you that much more into your power.
Ground yourself in that why, choose a goal for using nootropics, then…
Assess Your Baseline and Max It Out to Get the Jump on Nootropics
If you never have the context of what a strong, healthy, and relaxed mind & body feels like…you might end up using smart drugs as a crutch without realizing it. I suggest getting your baseline health together before hopping on the nootropotrain with any seriousness. Otherwise, your nootropic usage will get you to only the baseline rather than the apex. Here are a few tips I highly recommend you make habits if you haven’t already:
#1: Get High Quality Sleep
Sleep is just about the most powerful way to heal your body. Don’t listen to Thomas Edison, sleep is important. Think you only need 5-6 hours? I thought that too until I stopped using an alarm and got into a sleep rhythm. If you are lifting weights and you sleep less than 7 hours, you ain’t reaching yo full gainz potential. You’re missing all kindsssssss of gainz. All kinds. Missing out on sleep impacts physical and brain gainz (especially working memory, which is tied to IQ, and attention)6.
In college, I noticed over a period of weeks and months, a direct correlation between sleep, stress and being able to add more weight to the bar. Test out not waking up with an alarm (if you can). I also remember, some people boasting about only needing 4-6 hours of sleep. Their exercise habits were nil to none when I questioned them. If you aren’t exerting your body, of course less sleep is needed. You won’t get much stronger either. Idiotic trade-off.
Find the range of hours you thrive on and get into a sleep groove. Do yourself a favor and get F.lux if you use a computer during dark hours.
Because blue light disrupts melatonin production (hormone that controls in your sleep/awake rhythm)7, I use orange CFL bulbs at night. After the sun goes down, flip ’em on (especially 1 hr before sleep) and relax. Put your environment to work for you. Utilize passive health improvement. More on sleep later.
I’ve slowly observed over the years that society is engineering us (and itself) into fragility and dependence. At times, zig when the herd’s zagging.
–Get a sleep routine and guard it with your life.
–Reduce blue light exposure at least 30mins–1hr before sleep.
–Read Lights Out by T.S. Wiley.
#2: Get your Metabolism on Point
Metabolism is not how much energy/calories you consume, that’s actually total energy expenditure (TEE) and Basal metabolic rate (BMR), which are a part of metabolism. Metabolism is, as Matt Stone describes:
“The sum of all physiological events that take place in the body that turn food, water, air, vitamins, minerals, and more into what we know as life.”
I’ve slowly come to believe that by focusing on health using metabolism as the foundation, almost everything else falls into place. Before taking noot stacks, I suggest balancing your metabolism.
A few people I suggest listening to when it comes to metabolism and health: Dr. Ray Peat, Leigh Peele, Danny Roddy, Matt Stone, Andrew Kim, and Anthony Colpo
With that said, metabolism is a HELL of a lot bigger than this post, but there are a few things significantly correlated with a busted metabolism (look at these together, not in isolation):
- Low pulse rate (According to Josh and Jeanne Rubin of EastWestHealing.com, “a desired pulse rate should range from 75-85 BPM at rest.”)
- Low body temperature (consistently below 36.67°C/98°F)
- Frequent digestive issues (consistent straining during dumps, consistently shooting rabbit pellets, clean wipes are rare, daily dumps are rare; bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea are frequent)
- Consistently experiencing cold hands and feet (even in warmer months)
- Often waking around 2-4 AM and having difficulty going back to sleep (cortisol contributes to this)
- Frequently clear urinations (even with low water consumption) and often waking up to piss at night
- Frequently feeling sluggish and/or mental fog even on your days off
- Bad sex, lackluster orgasms, libido lower than the Mariana trench
See the picture on this page for more low metabolism contributors…how many do you have?
The more of these symptoms you have, the shittier your metabolism and probably the reason nootropics won’t work well for you. Excessive corticosteroids levels (stress hormones) may also hinder proper nootropic function5.
But guess what…
“Sucrose consumption lowers ACTH, the main pituitary stress hormone2,3, and stress promotes increased sugar and fat consumption4.”
Think carbs are the devil? Reconsider them. Your thyroid and metabolism will thank you.
–Decrease and avoid all unnecessary: stress, toxins, allergens, and chronic inflammation to have a health metabolism.
–See Mike’s post on low hanging fruit.
–Visit 180degreehealth.com and DannyRoddy.com for fringe health ideas that actually work. Forget Paleo, Low-carb, veganism, and all other dietary dogma. Do what gets results in reality and allows you to thrive, long term. Danny’s Hair Like a Fox book logically pieces together why men go bald from a perspective no else mentions: a busted metabolism. Are you not interested?
–Most people still think carbon dioxide is just a waste product. It isn’t.
#3: Strong Body, Strong Mind. Strong Mind, Strong Body
Training your body AND mind must be a top priority if you want to not just live but THRIVE. A strong body can lead to a strong mind and vice versa, IF you use one to train the other.
Sprints. Use more weight. Get more volume. Prowler. Boxing. MMA. BJJ. Yall know what it is. Exercise and cognition improvement are like sheath and sword. Researchers who probably have no time to exercise are constantly discovering that exercise has effects on nearly everything in the body. Increasing BOTH anaerobic and aerobic strength has positive effects on memory, problem solving, and fight off “Old timer’s” and Parkinson’s disease8.
Move your body. Often. Lift heavy. Sleep heavy. Relax often. Work in cycles of what Cal Newport calls “deep work” (intense and deliberate practice) and shallow work.
Strengthen your will and use it when strengthening your body. Research and take advice from other strong people like Bruce Lee, Aleksandr Karelin, Arthur Saxon, Nikola Tesla etc.
–Get consistently high quality sleep, Fix yo metabolism!, and move your body daily. All those things other animals do by instinct…Ration is a gift and a curse to us human animals.
–Handling those 3 “low hanging fruit” will help give you an even greater mental edge. Without addressing them, taking nootropics would be like putting clean fuel into a dirty, worn down engine. It may not be a problem with the fuel. Check the engine.
–I’m just warming up. I got a lot more work to do before I can bring that fire like Chaos & Pain or Danger & Play. Stay in the loop, get on my email list, and get exclusive subscriber-only content.
P.S. This is part 1 of 2. Part 2 will be about HOW to choose what nootropics to take as a beginner
P.P.S. Your why may morph as new information and knowledge changes your perspective and a new context arises. Allow it to, as long as your inner fire still moves you in the right direction.
P.P.P.S. Don’t use nootropics to treat the symptoms of a larger, possibly hidden problem. Get yourself checked out plus blood work done if you have persistent and/or painful problems.
2 Metabolism. 2009 Dec;58(12):1825-31. Effects of glucose infusion on neuroendocrine and cognitive parameters in Addison disease. Klement J, Hubold C, Hallschmid M, Loeck C, Oltmanns KM, Lehnert H, Born J, Peters A. Endocrinology. 2001 Jul;142(7):2796-804.
3 Physiol Behav. 2011 Apr 18;103(1):104-10. HPA axis dampening by limited sucrose intake: reward frequency vs. caloric consumption. Ulrich-Lai YM, Ostrander MM, Herman JP.
4 Endocrinology. 2004 Aug;145(8):3754-62. Chronic stress promotes palatable feeding, which reduces signs of stress: feedforward and feedback effects of chronic stress. Pecoraro N, Reyes F, Gomez F, Bhargava A, Dallman MF.
5 Thanks to Dr. Peat for this source: C. Mondadori, “In search of the mechanism of action of the nootropics: New insights and potential clinical implications,” Life Sci. 55(25-26), 2171-2178, 1994. “…the fact that high levels of corticosteroids suppress the effects of the nootropics could also have clinical implications: in the light of the observation that the majority of Alzheimer patients have elevated steroid levels it could explain why there is always only a small proportion of patients…that respond to treatment with nootropics.”
8 http://www.bodbot.com/Cognitive_Health.html, see sources 1-7 on this page.
Post image source: Aleksandr Karelin: http://www.athsportsnutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/karelin.jpg