Focus is one of the hardest parts of achieving your goals – we’ve spent enough time in academic research to know that your ability to concentrate has a big influence on the way that you perform. This isn’t restricted to training or studying: energy and focus make a huge difference in everything you do.
This article is going to aim at the products and practices you can use to improve these factors in your success. Whether you’re looking to game better, train better or work more effectively, the information here is going to prepare you to bring you’re A-game.
Getting Past Caffeine
You probably expected to see caffeine on this list, but we’re going to go a different way with it. After all, everybody knows caffeine is going to improve cognitive ability and wakefulness: it’s the most popular drug in the world and has been in use for centuries.
Rather, we’re going to look at alternatives and additions that you can get your hands on to boost your resting effectiveness. Caffeine is great but it’s short-term and it won’t always improve your overall cognitive ability without keeping on a high.
By all means drink your (black) coffee, but don’t get sucked into thinking this is the only (or best) solution for cognitive performance.
3 Acetylcholine Boosters
Acetylcholine is one of the most prized chemicals in the body as it is related to both athletic performance and cognitive ability. If you’re able to improve your acetylcholine, you’ll experience improvements in pretty much everything that matters.
There are a few products that already exist to ensure that you’re producing optimal levels of ACh and they have slightly different benefits so we’re going to break them down individually.
1) Choline (Bitartrate)
Choline is the building block of ACh – as you can probably tell from the name. If you’re consuming choline then there’s a good chance it’s going to be used for brain chemicals that boost your focus and perceptions of energy.
The problem with Choline is that oral supplementation is relatively unreliable for boosting the amount that gets to your nervous system. Stomach acid destroys a lot of the compound and you’re going to see a marginal benefit. This is still enough to adjust your ACh levels which should have positive results.
The form of Choline you take will only have a mild effect on the availability, with bitartrate, citrate and CPD-Choline leading the way.
If Choline is one building block of ACh, DMAE is important to lay the foundation for ACh production. It isn’t specifically involved in the development of ACh (it isn’t a constituent part), but DMAE does contribute to a number of the reactions in the body that are necessary for ACh production.
Much like taking creatine to ensure you produce enough ATP, proper DMAE supplementation gives your body the raw materials to produce ACh naturally. This is a great way of improving your mental health and performance in combination with Choline supplementation.
3) Huperzine A
While Choline and DMAE are contributors to improved ACh production, Huperzine is an emerging prospect for reducing the breakdown of ACh in the brain.
Huperzine combats Acetylcholinase: an enzyme that reduces the concentration of ACh. This means that, theoretically, more Huperzine means less breakdown of ACh and thus more of it floating around in your brain.
These 3 supplements are all great ways to ensure that you’re running the best amount of this key neurotransmitter. ACh is heavily linked to your memory, cognition and mental health – as well as reducing the risk of degenerative brain disease.
EAAs: Tryptophan and Tyrosine
Tryptophan and Tyrosine aren’t just fancy alliteration: they’re essential amino acids that play key roles in the production of dopamine and serotonin. You’ve probably heard of these compounds before: they signal for mood and fatigue in interesting and often-competing ways.
This is the serotonin pre-drug, and also plays a role in the production of melatonin. These two compounds are both excellent for mental health and performance, so it’s safe to say that increased tryptophan levels are going to be beneficial.
Your body can’t synthesise Tryptophan, so it’s going to be important to consume them (and in the right quantities) through diet and supplementation.
Supplementing tryptophan is a great way to improve mental performance because you’re probably not using your dietary tryptophan. Research suggest that dietary EAAs run into problems with the brain barrier, while pure supplements are far more effective at being used by the brain.
Unlike Tryptophan, tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid and is generally easier to acquire: it can be manufactured in the body from other amino acids and is found in many common foods. Overall, it’s not an essential supplement but it is a key factor in the production and regulation of Dopamine – the happy drug.
To make it simple, tyrosine is used to create L-Dopa which is used to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Theoretically, combatting tyrosine deficiency can increase L-Dopa and, thus, more dopamine (even if this doesn’t mean more ‘happy’).
Dopamine is going to mean improved reward-system effectiveness in the brain and is tied to motivation. It is also a key player in mental health and performance, with dopamine deficiency being tied to ADHD and Parkinson’s.
With a huge impact on executive function, motor control, wakefulness and attention, tyrosine levels can play a huge role in your mental performance in almost any field where brain power and precision are going to be useful (and there are plenty of those!).
Once you’ve nailed down the basics of your diet, sleep and hydration you’re going to see big benefits from proper supplementation. These products are going to provide the best possible environment for focus and energy.
We’re not too concerned with what you use it for: whether it’s major-league gaming, sports or competitive antiquing. All that matters is that this combination of products will give you the best foundation to perform to your best in anything you try.