What Are Nootropics?

Lately, the buzz around nootropics has been increasing – and for good reason. Nootropics are often referred to as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers” and are natural supplements known to boost mental performance and improve brain health. The word nootropics comes from the Greek words “nous” (mind) and “trepein” (to bend). 

Nootropics initially gained attention for their potential to improve focus, memory, and creativity, but now their positive effects are expanding beyond this. In fact, they are now being explored for their roles in mood regulation, stress management, and even weight loss.

The Science Behind Nootropics and Weight Management

So, how can certain nootropics help with weight management? Well, these benefits likely stem from their abilities to modulate metabolic rates, regulate appetite, and improve energy levels. The brain, as the central regulatory hub, continuously communicates with our digestive system, often referred to as the brain-gut connection. This connection is vital in signaling hunger, fullness, and even influencing our food choices. Nootropics, by acting on various neurotransmitters and neural pathways, can potentially impact this connection. 

4 Nootropics That May Help Manage Weight

Not all nootropics have been shown to help manage weight, but there are several that have been identified to play a role, such as rhodiola rosea, green tea extract, L-tyrosine, and 5-HTP. Let’s take a look at what the science says about them.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a small plant with yellow flowers that has adaptogenic properties. Rhodiola may not directly impact weight loss, but it can indirectly help with weight by improving other lifestyle factors, like stress and exercise performance. 

One of the major contributing factors to weight gain or the inability to lose weight is excess cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone in the body, and when levels remain high for too long, it can wreak havoc on the body. Studies have suggested that rhodiola may help reduce stress and boost mood – leading to reduced9 levels of cortisol. 

Additionally, rhodiola has been found to have potential benefits for exercise performance and recovery. A systematic review7 noted that supplementing with rhodiola was able to improve exercise capacity by increasing the production of ATP, leading to superior energy levels and sustained exercise tolerance. 

Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract has been used for centuries for its various health-promoting properties. Green tea extract is enriched with a polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been known to boost metabolic rate5, potentially aiding in the burning of fat. In fact, a clinical trial2 found that high-dose green tea extract resulted in significant weight loss, reduced waist circumference, and a decrease in total cholesterol levels in women with central obesity.

Moreover, green tea extract contains a modest amount of caffeine, which can enhance alertness, focus, and energy – elements beneficial for cognitive tasks. On the weight management front, research3 has consistently shown a positive link between the consumption of green tea extract and increased fat oxidation, especially during exercise. 


L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that plays a foundational role in the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. As a nootropic, L-Tyrosine is used for its ability to improve cognitive performance, particularly in stressful and demanding situations. Studies suggest that L-Tyrosine supplementation can enhance focus, reduce stress-induced cognitive decline, and elevate mood. 

When it comes to weight management, the link is slightly indirect. L-Tyrosine’s influence on neurotransmitter production can lead to enhanced mood and energy, factors that may subsequently impact exercise performance and motivation. Additionally, by modulating dopamine levels, there might be potential effects on appetite1 regulation and reward-driven eating behaviors. Interestingly, tyrosine is also used by the body to generate thyroid6 hormones, which play an essential role in regulating all metabolic processes. 


5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid that serves as a precursor to serotonin, a critical neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, appetite control, and sleep patterns. 5-HTP was recognized primarily for its potential mood-enhancing properties, playing a role in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. 

In the context of weight management, the connection is rooted in its impact on appetite4. Scientific evidence suggests that by boosting serotonin levels, 5-HTP can help regulate appetite, leading to reduced calorie intake. Specifically, increased serotonin is associated with feelings of fullness and reduced cravings, especially for carbohydrates. Some studies8 indicate that individuals taking 5-HTP may experience decreased food intake and consequent weight loss. Beyond just weight, the elevation of serotonin levels can indirectly support a healthier lifestyle by promoting better mood and sleep, both of which play a role in holistic weight management.

Things to Consider When Using Nootropics for Weight Management

When it comes to healthy weight management, the best way to ensure success is by incorporating a multifaceted approach that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, adequate sleep, and proper hydration. Of course, these nootropics can be a helpful addition, but they should be used in conjunction with these other lifestyle factors, not as a replacement. 

It’s important to understand that nootropics, like any other supplements or medications, can come with potential side effects and drug interactions. Some individuals may experience changes in appetite, mood, or sleep patterns, among other side effects. Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement, especially if you are taking prescription medications or have existing health conditions. 

Key Takeaways

Nootropics are most commonly used for their cognitive enhancing abilities, but now they are being researched for their effects on weight management. Rhodiola rosea, green tea extract, L-tyrosine, and 5-HTP are just a few of these nootropics that may help contribute to a healthy weight. However, nootropics are not meant to replace important lifestyle factors like a balanced diet and regular exercise. These adaptogenic substances work best when paired with a healthy lifestyle. Before integrating any supplement into your regimen, always speak with your healthcare provider first.

  1. Bloom, K. W. S. R. (2020, July 24). [REVIEW]: The role of oxyntomodulin and peptide Tyrosine-Tyrosine (PYY) in appetite control. Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/547277
  2. Chen, I., Liu, C., Chiu, J., & Hsu, C. H. (2016). Therapeutic effect of high-dose green tea extract on weight reduction: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clinical Nutrition, 35(3), 592–599. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2015.05.003
  3. Hodgson, A. B., Randell, R. K., & Jeukendrup, A. E. (2013). The effect of green tea extract on fat oxidation at rest and during exercise: evidence of efficacy and proposed mechanisms. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(2), 129–140. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.112.003269
  4. Ioannou, S., & Williams, A. (2016). Preliminary fMRI findings concerning the influence of 5-HTP on food selection. Brain and Behavior, 7(1), e00594. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.594
  5. Kapoor, M. P., Sugita, M., Fukuzawa, Y., & Ōkubo, T. (2017). Physiological effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) on energy expenditure for prospective fat oxidation in humans: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 43, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2016.10.013
  6. Khaliq, W., Andreis, D., Kleyman, A., Gräler, M. H., & Singer, M. (2015). Reductions in tyrosine levels are associated with thyroid hormone and catecholamine disturbances in sepsis. Intensive Care Medicine Experimental, 3(S1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2197-425x-3-s1-a686
  7. Lu, Y., Deng, B., Xu, L., Liu, H., Song, Y. J., & Lin, F. (2022). Effects of Rhodiola rosea supplementation on Exercise and sport: a Systematic review. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.856287
  8. Maffei, M. E. (2020). 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): natural occurrence, analysis, biosynthesis, biotechnology, physiology and toxicology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(1), 181. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22010181
  9. Olsson, E., Von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. (2008). A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Standardised Extract SHR-5 of the Roots of Rhodiola roseain the Treatment of Subjects with Stress-Related Fatigue. Planta Medica, 75(02), 105–112. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0028-1088346