Nootropics for BJJ – Science Backed Brain Enhancers for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Fighters

best nootropics for bjj and martial arts

BJJ isn’t for the faint-hearted. You need patience, discipline, and dedication to become a great BJJ fighter. And it’s not just for self-defense – BJJ improves your physical and mental health. Martial artists such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, and Jacki Can are perfect examples of these traits.

As with any other sport, BJJ requires you to be the master of concentration. It’s not just about physical prowess, it’s also about mind-over-matter. In this article, we’ll look at how natural nootropics for BJJ can boost your performance and help you achieve better results in training and fights.

How Nootropics Can Improve Your BJJ Performance

Just like bodybuilders and other athletes, you need to be physically and mentally tough as a BJJ fighter. The difference is, you don’t necessarily need to have a chiseled physique in BJJ(though it wouldn’t hurt to have a physique as ripped as Van Damme’s). Apart from a strong work ethic, you also need resolute dedication.

Most importantly, to keep up with the demands of BJJ you need to stay in top mental and physical shape. Notice how iconic martial artists accomplished incredible feats with not just their physical strength, but also with their mental discipline. The most effective nootropics help BJJ athletes keep their minds in top shape all year-round.

Strength and Power

BJJ is a deceiving sport. Some of the best grapplers may not have the most intimidating physiques. But they’re stronger than you might think.

[alert type=”info” icon-size=”normal”]A 2006 paper from the Journal of Sports reported that the complex nature of martial arts like BJJ requires tremendous strength and coordination. There are many muscles involved in grappling, including your extensors and flexors, as well as abdomen and trunk muscles that rotate the body.[/alert]

Taking a natural nootropic which improves concentration also improves physical performance – the more zoned in you are during BJJ training, the stronger you’ll become. This goes a long way for your long-term results.

Reaction Time and Speed

As a BJJ fighter you need speed and reaction time. Even though you might not be kicking and punching like other fighters, you’ll still need to be strategic and quick. Sometimes there’s no time to think – it’s a matter of pure instinct and reflexes.

BJJ veterans describe reaction time as the ability to respond to a certain stimulus as fast as possible. This involves the amount of time it takes for the brain to take in, process, and respond to stimulation – sending electrical signals to specific parts of your body instructing them how to react. Your opponent’s moves will determine your reaction time.

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For example, when an opponent tries to do a sneaky move on a protagonist and force him into submission, the latter notices this transpiring from his peripheral vision. The protagonist’s brain processes the information and then sends impulses to his left arm to block the move. The brain tells him to do a countermove on his opponent. All of this happens within seconds.

You need a clear headspace and sharp reaction time to conquer your fight-or-flight response. Taking a high-quality nootropic supplement can help you with that and more.


Focus & concentration are arguably the most important mental skills a martial artist can master. They are behind incredible feats like punching through a brick wall or chopping multiple pieces of wood. When a BJJ fighter harnesses his mental strength correctly, amazing feats can be accomplished.

As a paper published in the Journal of Human Kinetics writes:

“Martial art training may be considered a mediator of cognitive function as it is a mind-body exercise requiring greater cortical recruitment due (to) the inherently more complex movement patterns compared to the same repetitive actions of the aerobic or resistance exercises that have already been investigated.”

Put simply, a strong mind-body connection is pivotal to BJJ.

By controlling and disciplining your mind your BJJ skills will improve. Yet, this is easier said than done. If you can take your focus to a never-before-reached level, you’ll succeed on your journey. The latest research-backed nootropic ingredients can help you to reach this elusive goal.

Stress Management

Here’s the thing: fighting is stressful. All athletes experience stress, including BJJ fighters (youngsters and adults alike). For example, the July 2017 issue of the journal reported that:

“Taekwondo combats pose a high stress on young athletes, eliciting a fast reactivity of the sympathetic-adreno-medullary system relative to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system.”

Hard training affects your body and mind. As a hard training individual, you’ll experience two types of stress:

  • Oxidative stress – This involves having too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants to protect healthy cells. Left unchecked, too much oxidative stress can over time lead to serious health issues. (1)
  • Cortisol – This is a stress hormone that can impair your training and recovery. Chronically high cortisol levels can prevent a BJJ fighter from achieving their goals. It’s very important to keep your cortisol levels in check.

The problem with stress is that it’s catabolic, a.k.a muscle wasting. It also negatively affects athletic performance overall.

By minimizing cortisol and oxidative stress in your body you’ll be able to recover faster and perform at peak levels – both physically and mentally. Some nootropic ingredients can help you achieve this goal.

Physical Performance

Bodybuilding and team sports like football and basketball are grueling, but martial arts like BJJ are arguably even more difficult.

For one, excelling in BJJ requires extreme dedication; you don’t master your skills in just several months or so. You learn the ropes and then practice them over and over again until you can perform it in your sleep. Even if you think you’ve practiced everything down to perfection, there’s always something new to learn.

According to science, martial arts like BJJ challenge all of your energy systems. Not only that, but the potential for a fighter to overtrain is also a real concern.

The key point: BJJ is a full-body workout that requires tremendous dedication. In that sense, you want to stay on top of your mental game because that will see your performance soar.

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BJJ and the Mind

man posing on sea martial arts

When you see amazing martial arts feats on TV or social media, you can’t help but watch in awe. These people perform stunning feats that require the highest level of cognitive performance. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to succeed.

For centuries, martial artists (including BJJ) have strived to find a delicate balance between energy from external and internal sources. This starts with hard physical training. This disciplines your body and sets the stage for greater mental challenges. After all, we can’t establish a strict BJJ training regimen without committing to it mentally.

Experts say that balancing mental and physical states makes a BJJ athlete more skilled at dealing with stress and adversity. The person can apply the teachings from his practice to every area of his life (career, relationships, health, family, etc.)

Key point: BJJ is as much a mental discipline as it’s a physical one, and it has a knock-on effect on other areas of your life.


The 8 Best Nootropics for BJJ

Rhodiola Rosea

rhodiola rosea as a nootropic for mitochondria

Rhodiola Rosea is an extensively studied herbal adaptogen. Native to arctic climates, it keeps both mental and physical stress at bay. BJJ fighters have to deal with cortisol and oxidative stress on a regular basis. Rhodiola Rosea helps wards off fatigue when they’re under mental and physical pressure. (2)

Furthermore, Rhodiola optimizes a number of biological pathways for improved cognitive performance. Without the unwanted side effects, such as the spike-crash effect from caffeine. More specifically, Rhodiola helps regulate your neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

As a result, you’ll feel enhanced mental processing speed, memory, and concentration. Experts suggest these Rhodiola’s effects kick in within 30 minutes and can last up to 6 hours. In regards to long-term brain health, Rhodiola provides antioxidant benefits that protect your brain cells from damage and cognitive decline.

In essence, taking Rhodiola Rosea helps BJJ fighters perform their moves with enhanced mental energy and less brain fog. This is one ingredient that strengthens the link between their mind and body.

More on Rhodiola Rosea


l tyrosine as a nootropic for bjj

L-Tyrosine is a small amino acid molecule that helps create catecholamine neurotransmitters – including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Studies show us that depleted catecholamine levels make us more susceptible to stress and mental fatigue. L-Tyrosine supplementation helps recharge catecholamine levels for increased mental performance during high-pressure conditions. These can include:

  • Overtraining
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Multitasking
  • Exposure to extreme weather or loud noises

What’s more, some experts also suggest L-Tyrosine helps block stress hormones for enhanced daily performance. This goes a long way for BJJ fighters who need to keep their stress hormones in check.

More on L-Tyrosine

L-Theanine (+Caffeine)

l theanine as a nootropic for bjj

L-Theanine is a small molecule derived from green tea. It assists in mental clarity, calm focus, and out-of-the-box thinking. This is thanks to l-theanine’s ability to enhance your alpha brainwaves.

Not only that, but l-theanine also increases inhibitory brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. Serotonin and GABA, in particular, are very effective at keeping stress levels at bay and balancing mood. (3)

L-theanine also helps balance excitatory neurotransmitters which helps protect from agitation, stress, and tension (this is why some pre-workout supplements include l-theanine to offset the negative side effects of caffeine). This bioactivity also helps protect your neurons and fight age-related cognitive decline.

L-theanine helps BJJ fighters increase their alertness and focus – critical aspects for peak performance. BJJ requires full attention. Taking l-theanine is an effective way to stay locked in on your goal.

More on L-Theanine

Maritime Pine Bark Extract

maritime pine bark extract as a nootropic for BJJ

Best nootropic supplements use pine bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, also known as Pinus Pinaster. It helps support your cognitive function in two main ways:

  • Provides antioxidants: These small molecules protect the brain from oxidative stress and aging.
  • Boosts brain blood flow: Pine bark extract boosts nitric oxide (N.O.), which dilates your blood vessels and improves cardiovascular function.

Pine bark extract is clearly up to the task – helping to regulate the immune system, improving joint health, and enhancing athletic performance. These are key benefits for the hard-training BJJ athlete.

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Sharp PS Green Phosphatidylserine as a nootropic for BJJ

Phosphatidylserine, or simply PS, is an integral part of your brain cell membranes, where it aids in the brain cell formation and repair. It’s the only nootropic with an FDA-qualified health claim, and is arguably the most research-backed natural brain booster.

Your brain cell membranes perform a number of vital functions:

  • Send and receive electrical signals
  • Promote oxygen and nutrient absorption into your brain cells
  • Create neurotransmitters (dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, GABA, etc.)
  • Interact with the immune system

One of the most interesting findings on PS for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu relates to exercise performance. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, PS supplementation significantly boosts cognition before exercise. “Improved cognitive function could benefit athletes and non-athletes alike.” (4)

BJJ fighters can benefit massively from taking phosphatidylserine. This phospholipid should boost their mental prowess before training and competitions.

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Vitamin B6

BJJ athletes spend lots of mental and physical energy. Grappling, focusing, competing, doing drills, and defending yourself from fierce opposition can drain your energy reserves. B vitamins, which boost your energy levels in general, can help here too. Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine helps enhance your cognitive function in the following ways:

  • Boosts cerebral blood flow. Vitamin B6 regulates homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a by-product amino acid of eating red meat and has detrimental effects on our cardiovascular health – potentially inhibiting circulation in the brain.
  • Enhances nerve growth. Vitamin B6 helps facilitate myelin sheath, neural connection, and neuron growth in your brain.
  • Supports brain chemicals. Pyridoxine or vitamin B6 is an essential cofactor for the synthesis of GABA, serotonin, melatonin, and norepinephrine.

Researchers have also reported the connection between vitamin B6 levels and immunity. As a BJJ fighter your training demands may increase inflammation and suppress the immune system. Taking vitamin B6 aids in keeping these negative effects at bay. (5)

More on Vitamin B6

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 (aka, folate) is another essential nutrient that can help those who take part in BJJ. In general, vitamin B9 is an all-rounder ingredient, helping with brain developement, cognitive function, circulation throughout the body, and more.

Studies have also shown that folate is effective at supporting serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine production for improved mood. Folate also boosts nitric oxide (N.O.) for dilated blood vessels, and consequently, improved blood flow to your brain. (6) This in turn helps you to perform at peak physical and mental levels.

More on Vitamin B9

Vitamin B12

One of the most crucial vitamins for physical and mental performance is vitamin B12. Also known as cobalamin, it helps enhance your CNS (central nervous system) function. Along with facilitating the synthesis of neurotransmitters and the protective myelin sheath that wraps around your nerves.

Vitamin B12 also supports brain blood flow by inhibiting homocysteine. This, in turn, makes you mentally sharper. You’ll sometimes hear experts calling vitamin B12 the “energy vitamin,” due to its important role in energy metabolism. Insufficient vitamin B12 intake can lead to lots of problems, including a weak immune system, fatigue, slow muscle recovery, and poor mental focus. (7)

BJJ athletes need ample amounts of cobalamin (1.4 to 3.0 micrograms daily) to keep their mental and physical energy tanks fully charged. It’s not that easy to have optimal vitamin B12 levels though. Our bodies only absorb it efficiently from animal foods (especially the liver). And as the body gets older, its ability to absorb vitamin B12 decreases.

More on Vitamin B12

The #1 Overall Nootropic Stack for BJJ

We currently rate Mind Lab Pro as the most effective nootropic stack for BJJ athletes and martial artists because of its complex Universal Nootropic™ design.

Researching and stacking multiple nootropic ingredients on your own can be not only expensive but also time-consuming. Getting a premade nootropic formula made by professionals is one of the best ways to benefit from science-backed ingredients while keeping the costs low.

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Mind Lab Pro® is formulated to promote a sharp, peak-performance mindstate, also known as 100% Brainpower™

>Click to Read Review<

Mind Lab Pro uses some of the most effective nootropic ingredients listed in this article, including Rhodiola Rosea, Maritime Pine Bark Extract and the essential B vitamins.

L-Theanine in Mind Lab Pro promotes clear, focused headspace, while L-Tyrosine helps you maintain peak cognitive performance during training and competitions. Learn more about Mind Lab Pro in our review here.

If you’re serious about getting the most out of your training, you should look into stacking Mind Lab Pro with Performance Lab supplements.

Performance Lab line is developed by Opti-Nutra, a specialist supplement company with a team of neuroscientists and fitness experts.

Anything Else to Consider?

If you’re interested in stacking supplements to maximize your strength, focus, intensity, and ultimate BJJ gains, then combining Mind Lab Pro + Performance Lab SPORT is the best way to go about it.

  • These supplements are non-irradiated, non-GMO, free of gluten, caffeine, artificial colors, synthetic fillers, and banned substances. The premium ingredients found in these products can enhance your performance naturally, for the superior BJJ results you’re after.

Both Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab products are delivered in 100% vegan NutriCaps made from fermented tapioca. Although you can only get these products direct on the official website, you’re guaranteed to get the latest batch of the product every time you order it.

There are heaps of positive reviews of Mind Lab Pro and Performance Lab online – pro and amateur athletes from around the world take them. For us, this is just as important as these supplements’ impressive ingredient profiles.

Performance Lab® Formulas

Performance Lab supplements that synergize with Mind Lab Pro for enhanced physical performance in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu include:

NutriGenesis Multi webp to jpg

Containing Nutrigenesis™ nature-identical vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy cognition and athletic prowess.

Ingredients include: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin K + K2, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B7, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Strontium, Inositol, Vanadium, Boron

  • Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi (previously known as Whole-Food Multi) supports daily performance and long-range health across all pathways; it offers customized support for men’s and women’s specific nutritional needs.

>Click to read our NutriGenesis Multi Review<

SPORT Pre-Workout


A muscle-priming sports nutrition supplement formulated to support high-intensity training.

Ingredients include: Creatine (Creapure® pH10), Cordyceps Super™ (50% polysaccharides), L-Citrulline, L-Glutamine (Ajinomoto®), L-Carnosine (N-beta-alanyl-histidine), Himalayan Pink Salt, Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins)

  • Performance Lab Sport increases muscle energy, blood flow throughout the body, electrolyte delivery into muscle tissue, oxygen uptake, lactic acid buffering, and overall muscle function. Put simply, it’s designed to help you kick ass.

The Bottom Line

BJJ fighters need to be mentally sharp so they can perform at the highest level consistently. Nootropics can help you boost your cognitive performance for improved long-term results.

Mind Lab Pro is our current #1 rated nootropic stack for BJJ fighters –  it helps boost intensity, focus, motivation, and energy. The nootropics in Mind Lab Pro are some of the best ones on the market, and help with various aspects of BJJ training, making it an all-round strong choice for any athlete.

Whether you’re a new BJJ fighter or a veteran BJJ fighter. Mind Lab Pro will help improve your energy levels, motivation, and stress resistance, which will in turn have a massive impact on your progress.

Learn more about Mind Lab Pro.

Study References

  1. Oxidative stress in health and disease: The therapeutic potential of Nrf2 activation. (source)
  2. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue–a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. (source)
  3. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. (source)
  4. The effects of IQPLUS Focus on cognitive function, mood and endocrine response before and following acute exercise. (source)
  5. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. (source)
  6. Role of folic acid in nitric oxide bioavailability and vascular endothelial function. (source)
  7. Vitamin B12 in Health and Disease. (source)

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