Powders, pills, and stacks.

In the podcast world, Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss are two of the major contenders in the new medium. Both also pride themselves in testing out the products and services that sponsor their show.

Tim Ferriss is affiliated with a company called Four Sigmatic that sells mushroom coffee, which claims to combine the focus and concentration of coffee, along with anti-flammatory benefits from mushroom supplements like chaga, reishi, and lion’s mane.

The caffeine properties are relatively small, but the lion’s mane and other supplements within are meant to increase productivity and focus throughout the day, which trumps regular coffee in the long run.

Joe Rogan is affiliated with a company called Onnit, which creates Alpha Brain, a product meant to improve verbal recall and task completion. Alpha Brain is also one of the few products on the market that does have clinical trials and Rogan believes it helps him recall words and phrases better than a placebo. 

For both products, most consumers simply want to know, “Does it work?” Both products have mixed reviews, but overall there are mixed reviews for both products, as each seems to depend on the user involved.

Mushroom Coffee Mix is about $12 bucks for ten servings and Alpha Brain is around $35 for a 15-day supply (Alpha Brain also has a powder form, but the capsules are more popular). Amazon gives Mushroom Coffee 3.8/5 stars and Alpha Brain has a 4.2/5 star review, but it’s only available on the Onnit website.

Our team has taken both supplements for various week-long tests. For non-creatives, the Mushroom Coffee stayed with them throughout the day and seemed to be more effective (for them) than Alpha Brain.

The creatives and writers noticed a little something extra with the Mushroom Coffee, but in our second trial, we felt a similar initial jolt if we paired coffee with the Alpha Brain.

Alpha Brain includes bacopa, cat’s claw, huperzia serrate, and oat straw, where cat’s claw is almost unanimous with Onnit. Neither product is anywhere near Adderall or other prescription pills for memory and focus.

It’s also important to consider that both Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss have been on the ketogenic diet for an extended period of time while taking other supplements (listen to either podcast with guest Dom D'Agostino for more info). It’s possible that this could improve the effects of either supplement even more.

In the end, however, it seems like creating your own stack would be the best way to find out what works best for you. Essentially, both Alpha Brain and Mushroom Coffee are stacks meant to help the general user, but the more specific you get for your needs, the better the stack will work for you.

As Brain Tropic writes, “A nootropic stack is the combination of two or more supplements that have beneficial effects on memory, learning, focus, or motivation, in order to create a synergistic effect in the brain greater than any increase in cognition than the supplements you “stack” could create on their own.”

With custom stacks, it’s important to know that more isn’t always better, and things like price, frequency, and negative effects should also be considered and researched before you start working on your own stack.

Some basic examples may include 200 mg L-Theanine and 100 mg of Caffeine (Tim Ferriss recommends taking caffeine this way as coffees vary in caffeine per cup). Other examples may include a morning Multivitamin, Fish Oil, 600 mg Alpha GPC, and 4.8 Piracetam, along with 2g Lion’s Mane Mushroom.

Again, creating a personal stack can be risky if the proper precautions aren't taken, but it’s also the best way to find out what works best for you. If you’ve never tried Mushroom Coffee or Alpha Brain, consider testing both at different points and track your personal results to find out what works best for you.