The Best Energy-Boosting Supplements (That Actually Work!)
Goodbye, foggy-headed mornings and sleepy afternoons. With these effective energy supplements, you’ll get all the energy you need to get through the day.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
It’s true: You can actually clear morning cobwebs without caffeine, sharpen your clarity and concentration, banish afternoon slumps and even work out like a superstar. And no, you don’t need superhuman energy. If you’re feeling tired, sluggish or just plain sleepy, we’ve got your stamina solution – no matter what kind of energy you’re craving. Add some energy-boosting supplements into your daily diet.
We’ve rounded up six of the best science-backed energy supplements for razor-sharp focus, crazy exercise endurance, sustained vitality and jitter-free, all-day energy. Add these into your daily supplement regimen when you’re in need of a boost.
1. B complex
Provides clarity, focus and improved cognitive function.
Your body requires a variety of supporting nutrients to free energy from the foods you eat, but B vitamins are especially important. B vitamins play a key role in converting glucose to ATP, the form of energy used by cells to power their operations. Vitamins B6 and B12 are especially important for maintaining health and function of nerve cells, allowing them to send signals quickly and efficiently to improve cognition and mental stamina. And vitamin B12 is crucial for red blood cell production as well as transporting energy-boosting oxygen to the muscles and brain.
Studies show even mild B vitamin deficiencies impact cognitive function, focus and clarity, and supplements can lessen fatigue, brain fog and psychological stress. Look for a supplement that includes all eight B vitamins, plus inositol, choline and PABA. Research shows a combo is more effective than individual Bs.
2. Rhodiola rosea
Aids mental performance, concentration and relaxed alertness.
Also called Arctic root, rhodiola rosea is a perennial flowering herb that’s been used for thousands of years to sharpen focus, clear brain fog and enhance the body’s resistance to exhaustion and fatigue. It works in part by inhibiting pathways involved in cortisol synthesis, normalizing cortisol in response to stamina-sapping stress and promoting relaxed alertness.
Research suggests rhodiola influences serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters associated with focus, motivation and productivity. In studies, rhodiola rosea extract significantly and consistently minimized fatigue and improved mental performance, enhancing sharpness and concentration while alleviating stress. Look for extracts, capsules or tablets standardized to contain at least 3 percent rosavin and 1 percent salidroside, the bioactive, fatigue-fighting compounds.
Boosts athletic performance, extends endurance and increases tolerance for tough workouts.
Related to the mushroom family, cordyceps is traditionally derived from a fungus that grows on caterpillars in the mountainous regions of China. But that’s gross and not sustainable, so modern (and vegan) versions are cultivated on grains.
Cordyceps is ideal for enhancing stamina and endurance, especially in high-intensity workouts. It works by increasing levels of ATP and improving insulin sensitivity, so cells can use energy quickly and efficiently. As a supplement, it’s particularly effective for prolonged or intense workouts, blunting lactic acid accumulation that makes muscles crampy and fatigued. And research links cordyceps supplements with significant improvements in endurance and a greater tolerance to high-intensity activity. Look for organic cordyceps militaris forms, in capsules, tinctures or powders.
4. Korean ginseng
Delivers smooth-flowing energy, balanced motivation and overall well-being.
Used for thousands of years as a healing tonic, ginseng is said to enhance qi – defined as vital life force, like a smooth flow of energy through the body. It’s also associated with a sense of balance, steady motivation and just generally feeling… better. Research suggests compounds in ginseng (called ginsenosides) maximize energy production in cells and increase ATP, amplifying stamina and alleviating weariness. Other studies show Korean ginseng extract invigorates, reduces physical and mental fatigue, and boosts mood and well-being.
You’ll find both white and red Korean ginseng available in supplement form. The difference: Korean red ginseng is steamed, then dried (a process that is believed to improve its bioactivity). For the greatest vitality-promoting benefits, look for Korean ginseng or Korean red ginseng, in tinctures, capsules, tablets or teas.
5. Nicotinamide riboside
Offers a boost for whole-body vitality, youthful energy and motivation.
Here’s a nutrient that’s critical for cellular energy: NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme that plays a key role in the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses that make most of your cells’ supply of ATP. But the body’s production of NAD+ declines with age, often dramatically by the time you’re 60, leaving you drained, depleted and feeling your years. Taking straight NAD+ as a supplement doesn’t work; it’s not stable in capsule form and degrades quickly with heat and light exposure. And because it’s broken down by the digestive system, NAD+ supplements have little effect.
Instead, look for NAD+ precursors that naturally boost the body’s production of this critical coenzyme. One of the best? Nicotinamide riboside, which is shown to significantly increase blood levels of NAD+, offsetting age-related declines, enhancing cellular energy production and improving mitochondrial function.
6. Maca root
Provides more vigor, endurance and sustained stamina.
Sourced from a Peruvian plant that’s related to radish and other cruciferous vegetables, maca was historically used to promote stamina, vigor and vitality. It’s considered an adaptogen, meaning it interacts with the body’s innate physiology, normalizing systems and functions and supporting our natural ability to adapt to physical stressors.
Research shows maca works in part by decreasing lactic acid to lessen muscle fatigue, and increasing liver glycogen content to fuel workouts and sustain endurance. In other studies, maca extract measurably boosted stamina, improved performance in athletes, and amped up focus and clarity. Look for organic maca in capsules or powders. Gelatinized forms, in which starches are broken down by heat, are easier to digest and absorb.
Need even more energy? Your diet can help! Try one of these energy-boosting ideas beyond supplements alone:
- If You’re Having Trouble Getting Out of Bed, You Need This 1-Week Energy-Boosting Meal Plan
- Need More Energy? Try These 5 Foods Full of Vitamin B12
- Your Get-More-Energy Meal Plan
Featured recipe: Chocolate Raspberry Bars with Cordyceps