Tim Ferriss is probably most well known as the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, a New York Times bestseller that claims to help increase your per-hour productivity by ten times, and thereby change your life and business. He's also a prolific podcaster and blogger with a large following.
Tim uses nootropics. In a recent blog post, entitled "My Favorite 'Smart Drugs'", he mentions, "I’m often asked which 'smart drugs' I use to improve mental performance and productivity." So in response to those questions, he put together a short video in which he identifies and describes his favorite nootropics.
I’ve compared the nootropics that Tim recommends to reviews on Examine.com, an independent and unbiased encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition that is not affiliated in any way with any supplement company. Below is a table that summarizes what I found, followed by some observations. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Please consult a physician before and during use of these and other nootropics.
The "nootropic" column lists the supplements that Tim recommends, either explicitly or implicitly by recommending products that contain them. The "evidence" column shows the Examine.com score for level of evidence on a scale of 0 to 4 for the nootropic effect with the strongest supporting evidence. The "effect" column shows the Examine.com score for magnitude of effect on a scale of 0 to 3 for the effect with the strongest supporting evidence.
|Caffeine (Coffee and Yerba Mate)||3||2|
|Chaga Mushroom (Coffee)||?||?|
|Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol)||3||1|
|Lion's Mane Mushroom (Coffee and Tea)||2||1|
Average Evidence: 2.3 (equivalent of "single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies")
Average Effect: 1.1 (equivalent of "minor")
Tim gives a couple particularly strong nootropic recommendations. Rhodiola and Creatine are in my list of top tier nootropics. According to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on humans, Rhodiola may provide a notable decrease to fatigue, and a notable increase to cognition and subjective well-being. Creatine may provide a notable decrease to fatigue.
While probably not particularly effective as a nootropic, Coenzyme Q10 is in my list of top tier geroprotectors, along with Creatine. According to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on humans, Coenzyme Q10 may provide a notable decrease to lipid peroxidation. And Creatine may provide a strong increase to power output and a notable increase to hydration.
Tim also recommends a couple products that contain Caffeine. It can certainly be an effective nootropic. However, as Tim notes on his blog, Caffeine should probably be cycled so as to avoid developing a tolerance and thereby losing its benefits -- and to avoid potentially developing a dependence.
A few of Tim's recommendations appear to be lacking in evidence or effect. Lion's Mane Mushroom and Yerba Mate score lower in evidence and effect than I would like to see before recommending them on objective grounds. Anise and Stevia are probably included in the tea mostly for taste, and not so much for nootropic benefit. Unfortunately, Examine.com does not provide a review for Ketone. From a little research I've done on it, I'd expect any nootropic benefits to be secondary to other health benefits.
To Tim and others considering his nootropic stack, I'd offer a few recommendations. Consider Ashwagandha and Inositol to decrease stress, Acetyl-L-Carnitine for brain detox, Bacopa Monnieri to improve memory, Fish Oil and Zinc to support mood, Ginkgo to support long-term brain function, L-Theanine to promote relaxation or to decrease side effects from Caffeine, and Melatonin to promote sleep and improve next-day focus. For more information about these nootropics, take a look at my list of real smart drugs. And for a single product that combines several top nootropics, take a look at Clarity.