REGENERATION – What Works and Why

Nootropics: More You for More Impact

By Lashaun Dale

Most of us think that sheer willpower will allow us to achieve our goals, whether we’re trying to get in shape, land a new job or meditate (or do anything else) consistently. But, as experts often say, willpower is like a muscle: It’s just as susceptible to fatigue. Add in procrastination and it’s clear we can get in our own way before we’re even ready to head out the door.

The founders of Neurohacker Collective believe that the starting place for healthy behavior is making the brain work better. Once the brain is optimized, they believe, goals such as regular exercise, a healthy diet or getting enough sleep become easy and natural. So the company is developing dietary supplements called nootropics, formulated to improve brain performance (and help us get out of the way of our own goals).

Improving performance, starting with the brain

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Greg Kelly, lead product formulator for Neurohacker Collective, points out that bodybuilders and athletes could be considered the first “biohackers”—a term created by Dave Asprey of Bulletproof to describe individuals like himself who conduct their own research and self-experimentation to find what improves their physical and mental performance.

“For years, bodybuilders have known about supplements, pre-workouts and post-workouts to help them build muscle,” Kelly explains.

But there is one major obstacle. “We used to think the limiting factor of performance was physical fatigue,” he says. “Now we know that it’s probably mental fatigue that plays a more prominent role. Once we have improved mental toughness, we get more out of our investment in exercise.”

As athletes and enthusiasts have begun to recognize that performance is dependent on the function of body and brain, Kelly says that Neurohacker Collective is developing products to support not just the brain or the body but both. The company’s flagship product, Qualia, was developed based on recent research into how the brain self-regulates and how this impacts the body’s performance.

Kelly says Qualia users are reporting they have the mental energy to push their body that much harder, work out that much longer, and also find the motivation, focus and attention to learn new routines and apply them in competition.

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

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Biohacking is not for everyone, however, and Kelly notes the importance of individual experience as dietary supplements may deliver qualitative (versus quantified) results.

For that reason, Ben Cote, director of community for Neurohacker Collective, sees his job as providing a bridge between people who actively study their own experiences and those who are interested to learn more about how they can take ownership of their health. The company’s product development and marketing initiatives encourage a large biohacker audience to give and receive information about the use of Qualia and its effects.

“It’s finding tools, techniques, rituals and different applications that work best for you,” Cote explains, “and [gaining] sovereignty over your own health and your own experience [instead of] relying on your doctor to prescribe something.” From Cote’s perspective, it’s an “upgrade to your conscious experience of what it means to be you.”

Boosting the mind-brain interface

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Beyond body and brain, Neurohacker Collective makes a further distinction: benefits to the mind-brain interface. Kelly distinguishes between the brain’s cognitive performance and the mind, signifying your experience of your brain’s performance or, more simply, who you are and how you perceive the world. When it comes to being your best self, Kelly says, that “best self” is entirely based on who you are as a unique individual.

And over time, users have reported benefits from nootropics—and specifically, Qualia—that impact their experience of themselves and the world. Those effects include improved emotional resiliency such as more patience, less distractedness and an overall ability to be present in the moment. Kelly says Neurohacker Collective intends to address the mind with future products expressly designed to enhance “what it means to be you.”

Building the quantified self

In addition to encouraging users to share their qualitative experiences with the biohacker community, Neurohacker Collective is actively engaged in quantifying the effects of Qualia—not only for the purpose of documenting its effects but also in support of individuals’ efforts to document their own progress. The company conducted a small pilot study using the Cambridge Brain Sciences platform to measure brain performance before and after taking Qualia.

“One of the more dramatic findings was that measured concentration improved about 85 percent,” Kelly says. “That would have a direct tie-in to athletic performance” and our ability to focus and concentrate on our workouts.

Even as Neurohacker Collective is conducting a double-blind, controlled study of its product, it gives customers access to the Cambridge Brain Sciences platform. Users can measure their experience before and after using Qualia—and not just for the sake of adding more stats to the “quantified self” that tracking and mapping technology has allowed us to build. “The process of giving and receiving feedback is what really facilitates change and improvement in our performance,” Kelly says. “You can see that it’s not just the placebo effect; it’s not that you’re thinking it’s working—[you can see that] it’s really making a difference in your life.”

Learn more about nootropics and neuradaptagens at neurohacker.com. 24Life readers can enjoy an additional 15 percent off any Qualia order using code 24HOURFITNESS.

Video credit: wundervisuals, iStock
Photo credit: lzf, iStock; monsitj, iStock; gradyreese, iStock; LeoPatrizi, iStock; jacoblund, iStock; Nastasic, iStock; PeopleImages, iStock

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Author

Lashaun Dale

Lashaun Dale loves yoga and fitness and finds magic in movement, music and mobs of people. She holds degrees in International Relations, Philosophy and Applied Anthropology, as well as an MPH from the School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. With two decades of group fitness programming experience, Dale currently serves as vice president of content & programming for 24 Hour Fitness and editor-in-chief of 24Life magazine. A regular contributor to SELF and Women’s Health and Fitness, as well as popular blogs and podcasts, she’ll teach yoga anytime she is given an opportunity to get her om on.

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