Yes, caffeine! I love that stuff! Who doesn’t?
Well, a lot of people, really, even those who consume caffeine in one form or another every day. Because, for many of us, there’s not really much of an option to skip out on that morning cup of coffee.
In fact, we might even get angry at the suggestion of eliminating caffeine from the diet. Because to acknowledge that we’re somewhat mildly addicted to the stuff is to acknowledge that we have a problem.
And screw that—I don’t a problem! I can stop whenever I want!!
Fortunately, caffeine does have its advantages, both in terms of fitness and health. And there are caffeinated supplements we can take that genuinely qualify as health supplements.
But there are also a bunch of very unhealthy supplements that pack way too much caffeine in their capsules and that we derisively call “caffeine pills.”
This is unfortunate, given that there are some awesome caffeine pills that may help you with your daily productivity and motivation.
We’ve even found the Best Caffeine Pills of 2020 that you should definitely consider if you’re seeking a healthier caffeine option than those five cups of coffee in the morning. (Or, God forbid, energy drinks!).
With that in mind, let’s read on to learn all that there is to know about the good and the bad of caffeine pills. As well as which caffeine pills you should buy.
The Best 5 Caffeine Pill Guide
What is there to really know about caffeine pills other than that they’re pills full of caffeine?
Isn’t that the whole story here, or is there more that goes into what we call “caffeine pills”?
Depends on the pill, of course, but if we’re talking about healthy and effective caffeine pills that actually improve cognitive performance without hurting long-term brain health, then, well, yes: there’s more to a caffeine pill than caffeine.
Because just caffeine isn’t enough to significantly improve cognitive performance while qualifying as a truly healthy health supplement. Yet, if it’s not enough to qualify as a health supplement, what then is caffeine?
Is Caffeine a Nootropic?
The misuse of the term “nootropic” has been increasing ever the 2011 hit film Limitless, the movie that put cognitive enhancers on the mainstream map.
Except not everything that enhances cognition is technically a nootropic—or it’s not a nootropic in the way that Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the founder of the concept of nootropics, had defined “nootropic.”
Essentially, for a substance to qualify as a nootropic it must not only improve cognitive performance but also protect brain health.
Adderall, modafinil, and, arguably, caffeine—these types of stimulants, though cognitive enhancers, may actually be detrimental to brain health. We often take them despite their assumed detriments to our health.
So, then, for the most part, no: caffeine is not a bona fide nootropic.
The Performance Benefits of Caffeine
Having said all that, caffeine does possess significant nootropic and ergogenic properties when used appropriately and modestly. At a reasonable daily dosage, caffeine improves the following areas of performance:
- Nootropic: energy, attention, working memory, mood, motivation.
- Athletic: intensity, alertness, endurance, competitiveness.
- Thermogenic: calorie-burning, energy expenditure.
Many people avoid caffeine due to fears of becoming addicted to the substance.
But a modest amount of daily caffeine may significantly help your daily work productivity and exercise performance; with some research suggesting that there may be actual health advantages to its use.
Even so, standalone caffeine isn’t enough to give you that much of a competitive advantage. To get the most out of your caffeine, you’ll need to stack it with a few complementary ingredients that help sharpen its focus-enhancing benefits and shave off the jagged, jittery edge.
What to Look for in a Caffeine Pill
Ironically, caffeine is the least impressive part of an effective caffeine pill.
Really, when considering whether or not you should buy a caffeine supplement, you should be looking at the non-caffeine ingredients to make your decision—and, well, okay, you should also look at the caffeine content as well to ensure that it is:
- Natural: not synthetic, artificially made caffeine.
- Modestly Dosed: not way, way, way overdosed.
Most supplements overdose their caffeine content. Which is why the first thing you should check for on the Supplement Facts of a caffeine supplement is:
This is such an annoying, yet incredibly common trick that many supplement manufacturers do.
The proprietary blend is a supplement label strategy to hide the so-called “proprietary secrets” of a product’s formula from competitors. By lumping all the ingredient dosages under a catch-all “blend” dosage.
When supplements list their ingredients under a proprietary blend, you can’t be 100% sure how much of each ingredient you’re getting. You can only discern their respective dosages by their listing order: highest dosed ingredients are at the top of the list, lowest dosed ingredients at the bottom.
The reason many caffeine supplements do this, or, really, any type of supplement that carries caffeine, is because their more expensive, non-caffeine ingredients are way underdosed…
…So they’re relying on caffeine’s feel-good effects to pick up the slack. To fool you into feeling like it’s ‘working’.
Odds are if a supplement has caffeine hidden beneath a proprietary blend, it’s a bad supplement. Especially if caffeine has high priority on the blend’s list of ingredients.
So, look for proprietary blends on the Supplement Facts. After ensuring that all ingredient dosages are transparently displayed, you should then look for:
Caffeine + L-Theanine
Any caffeine pill that doesn’t also include L-theanine isn’t worth your time, let alone your money.
For many, the Caffeine + L-Theanine combo is a great entry point into the wild world of nootropics. We’re already quite familiar with the effects of caffeine, so familiar that we tend to take it for granted.
Even so, combining L-theanine, an anxiolytic amino from green tea, with caffeine makes the caffeine experience surprisingly …well, it makes it surprisingly surprising.
It significantly enhances the focus-sharpening benefits of caffeine while mitigating caffeine’s “jittery” side effects.
Taken alone, caffeine improves cognitive performance. Most of us know this to be true with a modest amount of caffeine, but the same applies to standalone L-theanine as well.
However, together, the two compounds seem to synergize. Resulting in a greater degree of cognitive performance that’s multiplied, not simply added.
Think of it as calm, yet energized focus. Creative, composed thinking aided by both compounds’ mood boosting properties.
That’s called balance. But balance is only half of the question here.
Balance + Recovery
There’s no biological free lunch. This is an inarguable party-pooper fact that many stim-lovers would prefer to ignore. But they shouldn’t ignore this fact, namely because it’s a fact, but also because understanding that caffeine and other stimulants work at a cost to some aspects of our health may better prepare us to counter that cost with a Balance + Recovery plan.
Already, we covered L-theanine, which helps balance caffeine’s more jittery side. But what also needs to be addressed with caffeine is how this compound depletes certain neurochemical factors, such as:
- Catecholamines: the feel-good “fight or flight” class of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, that facilitate caffeine’s boost on focus, attention, energy, mood, and so on;
- Vitamin Co-Factors: especially B vitamins, several of which act as co-factors in the syntheses of catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmitters.
By accompanying caffeine with catecholaminergic nootropics and a smart B-complex, an effective caffeine stack may not only enhance the positive cognitive effects of caffeine. But also increase the brain’s neurochemical supply. Thereby alleviating the post-energy cognitive crash that often follows any sudden spike in energy.
Best 5 Supplement’s Criteria for the Best Caffeine Pills of 2020
The spike-and-drop is the bane of the caffeine pill industry.
So much so that many people avoid these types of supplements altogether. The comedown simply isn’t worth the come-up.
But, fortunately, there are caffeine pills that do more than enough to ensure a more stable, sustained rise in energy without any hard, painful crash back to reality.
The best caffeine pills do this by answering “Yes” to the following questions:
- L-Theanine: Is this ingredient in the formula?
- Recovery: Do the other ingredients replenish catecholamines?
- Quality: Is the formula potent, easy-to-absorb, and high-quality?
- Quantity: Are the dosages reasonable and transparent?
- Safe: Does the formula avoid banned stimulant substances?
- Affordable: Does the price match the value?
There aren’t too many caffeine supplements that can answer in the affirmative to these questions. And some caffeine pills that might look promising screw themselves by resorting to the proprietary blend gimmick.
It’s a very tempting gimmick, considering how easy it is to mask an ineffective formula with a heavy dose of caffeine.
Having said that, there is one caffeine stack in particular that stands out here as the best and most effective caffeine pills of the year.
Check it out.
Best Caffeine Pills of 2020: Performance Lab Stim
*To Buy, Visit: www.performancelab.com/product/stim
By far the best caffeine pills of 2020 are those that are found in the bottle of Performance Lab Stim. The only stim-fueled supplement (at time of writing) in the Performance Lab line of supplements.
Typically, being “stim-free” is one of the selling points of Performance Lab’s supplements. However, many of us do enjoy some stimulation in our health supplements, especially in our workout health supplements.
And so, adding a stim formula to the mix was definitely a smart move for these guys.
For example, you can stack Performance Lab Stim with their non-stim pre-workout; this allows you to choose when to consume caffeine, so you still have a pre-workout you can take for late-night gym sessions that won’t keep you up at night. You don’t have that luxury with pre-workouts that contain caffeine in its formula since you can’t take it out.
But even if you don’t take Performance Lab Stim with other Performance Lab supplements, the formula stands on its own as a worthwhile purchase. While some supplements do supply the caffeine + L-theanine duo, most fail to deliver on the catecholaminergic end of the deal. And none deliver on both to such a high standard as Performance Lab Stim does.
Let’s take a closer look at the formula:
Performance Lab Stim Ingredients
Supplying a modest amount of Natural Caffeine (50mg) sourced from Coffea robusta seeds (i.e., coffee beans), Performance Lab Stim is one of the most responsibly dosed caffeine pills available. This is important, considering that not everyone shares the same level of caffeine tolerance.
For some, 50mg will be enough to feel jazzed. For others, doubling the dosage to 100mg is what gets the job done. This same degree of customization isn’t possible with a hefty dose of caffeine per serving.
Additionally, the 50mg is appropriately ratioed at half of the L-theanine dosage (100mg). This is the preferred caffeine to L-theanine ratio to ensure that caffeine’s stimulatory effects don’t overpower L-theanine’s calm relief. What’s cool, too, is that L-theanine is a very safe nootropic, so you’re fine to double the serving count to two pills without worrying about taking too much L-theanine.
As one of the best nootropics available, L-Theanine is incredibly unique in how it can simultaneously improve focus and relaxation.
Typically, any substance that alleviates anxiety and hyperactivity does so by sedating the mind, effectively impairing cognitive performance by turning the brain into groggy, foggy mush.
Not so with L-theanine. This amino acid, sourced from green tea leaves, seems to work through some unknown bio-mechanism by promoting alpha brainwaves, the brain frequency state associated with calm, meditative thinking.
While on L-theanine, you’re alert but also cool as a cucumber.
And when you take both L-theanine and caffeine at the same time, you’re alert, cool as a cucumber, and totally energized, feeling good and motivated to happily get through the workday, the workout, or whatever grueling task you need to do that would go by so much faster if only you had a better attitude towards it.
What’s more, Performance Lab uses the Suntheanine® brand of L-theanine, which is a 100% pure L-isomer-theanine that’s been clinically studied and observed as safe and effective for long-term use.
Perhaps the ultimate anti-stress nootropic, L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that works as a precursor compound required for the synthesis of catecholamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
Under conditions of high stress and activity, the brain burns through catecholamines to maintain the elevated vigilance and alertness associated with such conditions. However, once those catecholamine reserves dry up, the brain essentially burns out, leaving you feeling totally braindead and fatigued. This is why after a day of drinking way too much coffee, your mind feels zapped, like you can’t focus on anything except for whatever dumb, low-level stuff’s playing on the TV.
By replenishing your catecholamine levels, Performance Lab’s L-tyrosine combats the post-energy crash that tends to come with excess caffeine intake, allowing you to stay mentally present in both the AM and PM.
When we drink coffee, we urinate. A lot. And what we lose in all that urine is a healthy dose of B Vitamins, which is a bummer because B vitamins help us feel good and keep our blood circulation and energy levels up and, well, a lot of other really important stuff in our bodies.
In terms of caffeine recover, Performance Lab’s B vitamins (B2, B6, B9, B12) essentially replenish the key B vitamins that typically decline with caffeine intake.
Their use here is particularly impressive given their co-factor involvement in the synthesis of catecholamine neurotransmitters. Paired with L-tyrosine, this B vitamin complex may not only help with caffeine recovery but also significantly improve your energy and mood levels beyond what caffeine accomplishes on its own.
How to Take Performance Lab Stim
It’s easy: drink with water, right? Right. But here’s the official directions from Performance Lab itself:
Take 1 capsule for stimulation. Taken as directed, Stim’s 50 mg caffeine serving size is effective for most.
Those with greater tolerance or a higher optimal caffeine dose may take additional Stim NutriCaps® in 50 mg caffeine increments up to 250 mg (5 NutriCaps®) per day, due to the formula’s scalable design.
And, of course, taking them earlier in the day is smartest, if you’re trying to get deep, healthy sleep at night. But you already knew that. Everyone knows that—duh.
Where to Buy Performance Lab Stim
You can buy Performance Lab Stim—and all other Performance Lab supplements—at the Performance Lab website: performancelab.com.
Unlike most other supplement companies, Performance Lab doesn’t sell their products through third-party retailers, like Amazon or GNC, but exclusively through their site, which is impressively informational and transparent regarding their manufacturing practices.
How Much Does It Cost?
Ugh, why is it always “money” with you? How tacky.
Fortunately, this stack’s very affordable, and the price definitely matches the value, especially when you buy in bulk, as you can see:
- One Bottle: $35 for 30 pills
- Two Bottles: $66.50 for 60 pills (5% saving)
- Three Bottles: $94.50 for 90 pills (10% saving)
With each additional bottle (up to three bottles), the total price of the order reduces by an additional 5%, which is super cool. This discount system applies to all Performance Lab supplements, by the way.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Is that enough caffeine?
Compared to other caffeine-powered supplements that supply upwards of 200mg to 300mg caffeine per serving, the 50mg caffeine seems particularly modest. But more isn’t exactly better in this case, especially considering that many of these hyper-caffeinated stacks use that much caffeine to mask how ineffective their formulas truly are.
At a certain point, caffeine actually negatively impacts cognitive performance, making it much more difficult to focus.
However, you may double the dosage, if need be. Again, Performance Lab suggests those with a higher caffeine tolerance may take up to five pills (250mg caffeine) max daily.
Do the nootropics have any side effects?
Say you do double the dosage, that means you’re also doubling the dosages of the other cognitive enhancers.
Is that okay? The answer is yes, these ingredients are safe and all-natural.
The risk of adverse effects with these ingredients is very, very low, and the increase in their dosages will help maintain a balancing counter-effect to caffeine’s stimulatory effects on your neurochemistry.
Can I stack Performance Lab Stim with other supplements?
Yes. This is actually what makes Performance Lab Stim such an exciting addition to their product line. Their other supplements are intentionally stim-free to allow their users the option to add an external source of caffeine or not.
With this new stim-containing formula, Performance Lab now supplies an external source of caffeine that meets the same high-quality standards of their other formulas.
With that in mind, here are a few awesome supplements that work well with Performance Lab Stim:
- Performance Lab Mind: a simple, yet powerful stack of natural nootropics, Performance Lab Mind provides a daily boost on mental performance and long-term brain health support. Plus, this stack contains even more L-tyrosine, which is very cool. More on Performance Lab Mind.
- Performance Lab Energy: whereas Performance Lab Stim provides stimulatory energy, Performance Lab Energy actually improves natural energy via enhancing mitochondrial ATP energy production. Together, Stim + Energy elevate both acute and long-term vitality. More on Performance Lab Energy.
- Performance Lab SPORT Pre: energy and muscle pumps, those are the two primary benefits of any pre-workout stack worth its salt, and Performance Lab SPORT Pre is worth a lot of salt (in fact, it has Himalayan Pink Salt as an ingredient!), thanks to its use of creatine for natural energy and L-citrulline for N.O. boosted muscle pumps, and more. More on Performance Lab SPORT Pre.
All the supplements listed above are stim-free, all-natural, vegan-friendly—the works! So, you won’t have to worry over any adverse effects or negative ingredient interactions while stacking these products with Performance Lab Stim.
Even prior to my introduction to Performance Lab Stim, my personal pick-me-up stack included at the bare minimum caffeine + L-theanine + L-tyrosine. These really are the best ingredients for quick, on-the-spot cognitive performance enhancement and recovery. Whereas many nootropics require ongoing supplementation to reach peak effect, these ingredients work immediately to great effect.
Not everyone enjoys the idea of consuming more caffeine in addition to their daily coffee habit. However, substituting that coffee habit, or even augmenting it, with Performance Lab Stim’s nootropic-supported caffeine pills may help you get the most out of your caffeine without having to pay for it in the evening with a worthless, spent brain. As a companion stack to both workplace and workout supplements, Performance Lab Stim is one of the most versatile caffeine pill supplements you can buy.