Top 5 Supplements for Energy
Click image for full size
Adrafinil and Memory Formation
Adrafinil can increase memory formation and recall directly and indirectly. Augmenting glutamate levels can directly enhance memory.  Glutamate, which is generally stimulatory, plays major roles in memory formation and recall. GABA tends to inhibit glutamate.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory consolidation. Modulating the neurotransmitter that affects memory formation and inhibiting the neurotransmitter that inhibits memory formation in the area of the brain responsible for memory can drastically enhance memory.  Memory formation can be indirectly enhanced through increased attention span as well.
Your morning cup of coffee isn’t working anymore, deadlines are piling up and sleep has become a distant commodity. We’ve all been there: trying to make up for sleep deprivation by drinking gallons of coffee. Usually, you end up shaking like a leaf in autumn while your thoughts race faster than the speed of light.
While caffeine is easily accessible, (usually) delicious, and cheap, there are other supplements that can wake you up in a different way. Some supplements can help you push your body to crush PRs. Other supplements get your mind in the zone, so you can read without having to resist the urge to run a marathon.
Energize Your Mind
AKA: (RS)-2- benzhydrylsulfinylethanehydroxamic acid
This powerful supplement is perfect for staying alert during sleep deprivation. Adrafinil is a prodrug to modafinil. Modafinil is a drug prescribed to people who work swing shifts as well as people suffering from narcolepsy.  Adrafinil and Modafinil have nearly identical pharmacological effects.  Mental clarity and general wakefulness can become apparent within 45-60 minutes of consumption.  The half-life of Modafinil is 15 hours.  Effects tend to become more pronounced after taking Adrafinil for several days due to its long half-life.
Adrafinil can cause wakefulness and alertness without the jitters.  Adrafinil works by increasing overall brain activity.  The overall increase in brain activity is likely the result of Adrafinil augmenting Alpha-1 adrenergic receptors, suppressing GABA (an anxiolytic neurotransmitter), and increasing dopamine and glutamate (stimulatory neurotransmitters). 
Adrafinil can have cognitive benefits independent of sleep deprivation. The most improved cognitive function that can occur from Adrafinil supplementation is the ability to comprehend vast amounts of information.  Put simply, Adrafinil can improve the ability to digest, conceptualize, and store information. This benefit makes it particularly useful for students and those in the business realm.
Increased attention span can act synergistically with enhanced novel concept conceptualization. By augmenting dopamine, Adrafinil can improve attention, concentration, happiness, and overall energy.  Adrafinil has also been associated with improved sociability, communication, patience, and interest in others. 
Improved motivation and attention span also carry over to exercise. Adrafinil can augment a class of receptors known as the Alpha-1 Adrenergic receptors.  Alpha-1 Adrenergic receptors interact with adrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. By indirectly augmenting adrenaline and norepinephrine, Adrafinil can improve mental vigilance. One study found that supplementing with Adrafinil prior to exercise increased endurance. In that study, participants exercised at 85% of their VO2max. The Adrafinil group had lower ratings of perceived exhaustion which allowed them to exercise longer. 
The diverse mechanisms through which Adrafinil can improve cognition allow multiple applications. Students can enjoy its ability to increase memory formation/recall; meanwhile, it can also help business professionals stay sharp between the ears for an entire day.
AKA: Phenotropil, carphedon, fonturacetam
This powerful nootropic can provide long-lasting energy and focus alongside its memory enhancing potential. Phenylpiracetam is widely regarded as one of the most potent nootropics. It is 30-60x more potent and effective than piracetam, and it is used for a wider range of indications.  The benefits of phenylpiracetam are primarily cerebral in nature. However, it can also improve endurance and vigilance. 
Phenylpiracetam can improve cognition due to it acting as a psychostimulant.  The mechanisms through which its benefits manifest are more efficient and effective than the mechanisms of piracetam.  Phenylpiracetam is fully absorbed in less than an hour. Once absorbed, it is able to pass the blood-brain barrier, where it employs its nootropic benefits. The half-life of phenylpiracetam is between 2.5 and 3 hours. 
Once it passes the blood-brain barrier, Phenylpiracetam can begin abolishing fatigue and improving cognition. Phenylpiracetam can increase all areas of cognitive function as it increases overall brain activity.  One study noted a 12% improvement in all cognitive performance metrics following Phenylpiracetam supplementation. 
Longer attention span, enhanced working memory, and improved problem solving can occur following Phenylpiracetam supplementation.  Although phenylpiracetam can increase attention span, it generally does not reduce the ability to switch between tasks. 
Phenylpiracetam can boost all areas of cognitive function, making it a solid supplement by itself or as a staple in a supplement stack. Its psychostimulant properties can deliver the extra charge to put you ahead of the game. Enhanced focus and problem solving can increase productivity to give you the edge in school and at work.
Energize Your Body
AKA: Yohimbin, Corynine, Quebrachin, Quebrachine, Aphrosol, Yohimex, Yohimbe HCL
Yohimbine is a natural supplement that you shouldn’t underestimate. It is extracted from the pausinytalia yohimbe tree. Yohimbine is one of the most popular ingredients in weight loss supplements. It can increase metabolism, improve performance, and it even has some nootropic properties. [9, 10, 11]
Yohimbine acts as an allosteric modulator of the catecholamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, epinephrine, and adrenaline.  It also decreases the reuptake of these neurotransmitters.  Neurotransmitter reuptake is when a synapse reabsorbs and recycles a neurotransmitter that it previously secreted. Decreased catecholamine neurotransmitter reuptake increases their respective concentrations in the brain. Put simply, yohimbine can increase the amount of adrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. It does so without directly increasing the amounts released.
The modulation of catecholamine neurotransmitters allows yohimbine to act as a thermogenic. Yohimbine can increase caloric expenditure during workouts by 29.6% through this mechanism.  Additionally, yohimbine can increase plasma concentrations of free fatty acids and glycerol, both of which are indicative of fat mobilization. 
Nootropic benefits have been reported following yohimbine supplementation. Its nootropic benefits stem from yohimbine acting as an indirect modulator of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.  Research suggests yohimbine can improve arithmetic task performance which is likely secondary to increased arousal.  Increasing dopamine and acetylcholine can improve focus and motivation while increased serotonin levels can boost one’s mood.
Yohimbine is one of the most popular ingredients in weight loss supplements for a reason. Supplementation can provide an impressive boost in energy to power through workouts. Do not underestimate the strength of yohimbine. It is recommended to start with 2.5mg to assess its effects, and only increase as needed. Once individual effects have been assessed, dosage can be increased to 0.2mg/kg body weight (e.g. 14mg/150lb person, 18mg/200lb person, 22mg/250lb person).
AKA: PEA, beta phenylethylamine, phenethylamine, β-phenethylamine, Benzeneethanamine, B-phenylethylamine hcl, 2 phenylethylamine
Supplementing with phenylethylamine can take your physical performance to the next level. It is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. Cocoa beans are the primary natural source of phenylethylamine. In the body, phenylethylamine is found on every dopamine receptor. Phenylethylamine and tyramine regulate the release of dopamine. 
Phenylethylamine supplementation can modulate catecholaminergic transmission within the central nervous system.  Supplementation can increase the efficacy of noradrenaline, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.  Increased adrenaline and similar neurotransmitters can result in huge boosts in energy and motivation. Adrenaline generally isn’t a neurotransmitter that can ease the difficulty of surmounting a mentally strenuous task. However, Phenylethylamine may help you push through a brutal workout and leave your limits in the past.
The Mild Stimulant
Acetyl L-Carnitine is in a category of its own; it can benefit the mind and the body equally. Relative to the previous supplements, ALCAR is milder in nature. It is not a stereotypical stimulant, making it perfect for individuals who do not normally tolerate stimulants well, yet still want a pick-me-up. L-Carnitine boosts energy by aiding the transportation of lipids from cellular membranes to the mitochondria. In doing so, it can improve cellular metabolism and ATP production. 
Improved cellular metabolism means ALCAR is an indispensable pre-workout ingredient. Its performance-based benefits are two-fold. ALCAR decreases muscular dependence on glycogen, which allows the muscles to preserve their primary fuel.  Supplementing with Acetyl L-Carnitine also decreases lactate post-workout.  L-Carnitine can increase work output and capacity by 11% by allowing muscle tissue to use two fuels instead of one.  Congruently, one study noted an increase in sprint performance by up to 15% in the group that consumed ALCAR prior to exercise.  Increased work capacity, as in more reps and sets, plus less lactic acid equals more gains.
Similar to other energy enhancing supplements, ALCAR can modulate neurotransmitters, albeit to a lesser degree than those previously mentioned.  Don’t let that dissuade you, as it can increase focus, enhance short-term and long-term memory, and boost your mood. [18, 15] Acetyl L-Carnitine is commonly used to alleviate physical and mental fatigue.  It combats fatigue by mildly increasing noradrenaline and serotonin.  The mood boosting properties are due to the boost in serotonin, which is also known as the happy hormone.
One study observed the cognitive effects of Acetyl L-Carnitine on children suffering from attention related issues. Their parents and teachers assessed their cognitive changes. The children given Acetyl L-Carnitine had better grades. The ALCAR group also scored higher on behavior and concentration assessments. 
Adding L-Theanine to an energy supplement can help avoid the cognitive effects that accompany over-stimulation. L-Theanine is the amino acid that gives tea its relaxation properties. Stacking Theanine with a stimulant allows one to reap benefits that would not occur if consumed independently. For example, the popular caffeine + L-Theanine stack can increase creativity, focus, and learning.  Users have reported L-Theanine helps create a calm sense of focus when consumed with other stimulants as well.
Dopamine synthesis requires a B6 dependent enzyme.  Supplementing with additional vitamin B6 can increase the activity of this enzyme which can increase overall dopamine synthesis.  Since most stimulants modulate dopamine, B6 can act synergistically with other energy enhancing supplements.
This essential vitamin is necessary for cellular energy production. Inadequate intake prevents optimal energy production and can subsequently have adverse effects on cognition.  Stacking vitamin B12 with an energy supplement can maximize benefits.
- Malykh, Andrei G., and M. Reza Sadaie. “Piracetam and Piracetam-Like Drugs: From Basic Science to Novel Clinical Applications to CNS Disorders.” Drugs 70.3 (2010): 287-312. Web.
- Bobkov, Yu G., et al. “Pharmacological Characteristics of 4-Phenylpiracetam ? A New Phenyl Analog of Piracetam.” Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine95.4 (1983): 464-7. Web.