ONNIT Alpha Brain Review: Safe and Effective? A Dietitian Examines

By Ellen Landes

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onnit alpha brain rating

Fit Healthy Momma Rating: 8/10 ⭐

ONNIT Alpha Brain is a legit nootropic supplement designed to improve brain function, specifically enhancing memory and focus.

How often have you sat down to work and felt like you were unable to get into the zone and really accomplish what you set out to do? It can be so frustrating and discouraging!

When you start to feel overwhelmed with the amount of work on your plate, the idea of taking a supplement to help you focus and get things done might sound exciting and maybe even like a dream come true.

ONNIT, a sports nutrition company, formulated their product, Alpha Brain for just that. It’s designed to help individuals find that focus and drive in order to get things done and feel accomplished.

If this sounds too good to be true, you might be right.

Below, we’ll run through each ingredient on its label and take an in-depth look at this supplement to determine how effective and safe it really is.

Quick Summary of ONNIT Alpha Brain Review

Product:

Alpha Brain (Nootropic)

Best for:

Helps to support cognitive functions, including memory, speed, mental and focus

Brand:

ONNIT

Founders:

Aubrey Marcus

Website:

Age range:

Adults (18+)

Price:

$34.95 for a 30-count, or $79.95 for a 90-count

Discounts/Coupons:

Save 15% if you subscribe (subscription savings model)

Subscription Option:

✔

Avg. User Rating:

4/5 ⭐ (3,390 reviews via ONNIT.com)

FHM Rating:

8/10 ⭐ (Good)

onnit alpha brain summary review

What Is ONNIT Alpha Brain?

ONNIT Alpha Brain is a nootropic supplement that is meant to improve brain function, including memory and focus. It’s caffeine free, dairy free, nut free, paleo, gluten free, and keto-friendly.

Nootropics are a class of substances that are thought to improve mental focus and performance. Common examples of nootropics that have research supporting their effectiveness are caffeine, creatine, and green tea (1, 2, 3).

product review alpha brain and onnit brand logo

The Brand Behind It

ONNIT is a company that offers sports nutrition supplements, apparel, workouts, and equipment.

It was founded by Aubrey Marcus, a lifelong athlete, public speaker, and author, in 2011.

According to the website, ONNIT is, “on a mission to empower as many individuals as possible with a holistic philosophy regarding physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. We believe that if people have access to the best tools and knowledge, they will be able to achieve their fullest human potential, leading to a global movement for the good of all.”

If you’re considering taking Alpha Brain, be sure to weigh the pros and cons below. We’ll also discuss these in more detail throughout this article.

Pros:

  • Clinically-tested nootropic ingredients have been found to be effective in a clinical trial
  • Some of the ingredients included are backed by research
  • Thousands of positive reviews

Cons:

  • Potential for negative side effects
  • Proprietary blends (this may or may not be a con for you!)
  • A more recent clinical trial found the supplement to be ineffective
  • Expensive - you’ll pay a minimum of $1.50 per serving, depending on if you sign up for a subscription and if you purchase a 30-count or 90-count bottle

Important Ingredients You Need to Know About

alpha brain key ingredients

Alpha Brain contains quite a few ingredients, some of which are evidence based. Let’s take a look at each one closely and consider the evidence (or lack thereof) supporting their effectiveness when it comes to brain function.

One thing to note before we dive in is that this supplement, as with many on the market these days, contains proprietary blends. If you look at the label, you’ll see the blend listed, with a total amount. Underneath, you’ll see the individual ingredients included in the blend, but they are not required to include the amount of each individual ingredient, just the total amount.

This may not matter to you, but if you are sensitive to any of the individual ingredients, you won’t know the dose, so it may be best to avoid the supplement to be safe.

Onnit Flow Blend (650 Mg)

The Onnit Flow Blend is designed to promote alpha brain wave production and cell function. It’s made with a combination of l-tyrosine, l-theanine, oat straw extract, phosphatidylserine, and cat’s claw extract. Let’s review each of these and consider how they might help with focus and brain function.

L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the body and is also found in high protein foods, including meat, dairy, and fish.

When taken as a supplement, l-tyrosine has been found to boost memory and cognitive ability in healthy adults and older adults, so it’s great to see it included in a supplement that is meant to do just that (4, 5, 6).

L-Theanine

Theanine is another amino acid that is found naturally in green tea.

L-theanine supplementation may help improve attention in middle-aged adults (7).

It may also help promote mental health in healthy individuals by helping to lower stress-related symptoms, though more research is needed, particularly larger clinical trials (8, 9).

Oat Straw Extract

Oat straw extract is derived from the Avena sativa plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other biological functions that may benefit human health (10).

A placebo-controlled study found that oat straw extract increased the speed of cognitive performance as well as memory in healthy adults ages 40-65. These findings were repeated in another study on adults ages 35-65  (11, 12).

While the results are promising, larger studies are still needed to confirm the effectiveness of oat straw extract.

Phosphatidylserine 

Phosphatidylserine is a type of phospholipid that serves as a fatty layer that protects the cells in the brain.

It has been shown to support brain health by boosting both short-term and long-term memory, concentration, problem-solving, and language skills (13).

A small study found that phosphatidylserine helped individuals feel more relaxed and less stressed.  This may help if you’re the type of person who feels consumed by the amount of work ahead of them (14).

Research also supports phosphatidylserine supplementation for improving memory and overall cognitive function (15, 16).

Cat's Claw Extract (350mg) 

Cat’s claw extract comes from a woody vine found in the Amazon rainforest.

It is thought to help prevent some chronic conditions, even some cancers, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

In vitro research (meaning, test tube studies, rather than human trials) does support cat’s claw extract’s ability to improve cognitive function (17).

In animal studies, cat’s claw extract has been found to help prevent plaque build up in the brain, which could be beneficial in preventing Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline (18).

However, there is currently no strong evidence or human studies to support these claims.

Onnit Focus Blend, 240mg

The Onnit Focus Blend is designed to promote neurotransmitter production in the brain. It is a proprietary blend containing Alpha-GPC, bacopa extract, and toothed clubmoss. Below, we’ll discuss the effectiveness of each of these ingredients. 

Alpha-GPC

Alpha-GPC stands for alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine and it’s often used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases.

It works in the brain by increasing the release of acetylcholine, a chemical that is important for messaging and brain function.

While this sounds promising, research has found no statistically significant changes in cognitive function when Alpha-GPC was taken as a supplement. However, other research did find that it helped boost motivation in healthy adults (19, 20).

Ultimately the research is still mixed, but there is enough to suggest the need for further research as Alpha-GPC may offer cognitive benefits (21, 22).

Bacopa Extract (100mg)

Bacopa extract is derived from a plant that grows underwater and is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Research supports the use of bacopa extract in boosting brain function by improving concentration as well as memory (23, 24, 25).

Additionally, supplementing with bacopa extract may help relieve stress and anxiety and improve mood by lowering cortisol levels, though more research on the topic is needed (26).

Toothed Clubmoss (Huperzia Serrata, 400mg)

Toothed clubmoss, or Huperzia Serrata, is an herb that is often used in Chinese medicine for improving brain health.

It’s ability to improve cognitive function has been seen multiple times in animal studies (27, 28).

While some research supports supplementing with toothed clubmoss in humans to improve brain function, more studies are still needed (29, 30).

Onnit Fuel Blend, 60mg

The goal of the Onnit Fuel Blend is to protect and support a healthy environment for the brain. Let’s take a look at its ingredients, l-leucine and pterostilbene.

L-Leucine

Leucine is a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) that is important for building and repairing muscle.

Supplementing with leucine, and BCAAs in general, is popular among weightlifters because they may help promote recovery and boost muscle protein synthesis, though the research on this is a bit mixed (31).

When it comes to brain function, one study did find that a supplement, containing leucine along with other amino acids, improved attention and cognitive flexibility. While this is promising, there isn’t a ton of research on this topic (32).

Pterostilbene

Pterostilbene is an antioxidant found in blueberries.

Animal studies suggest that pterostilbene may help improve cognitive function by reducing oxidative stress in the body (33, 34).

The effectiveness in boosting brain function is possible in humans as well and some research supports it. However, the research isn’t rich enough in humans to confirm these claims (35, 36).

Vitamin B6, 10 Mg

The research on vitamin B6 supplementation for brain health is mixed. In fact, one study actually found that it had no benefit in improving mood or brain function (37, 38).

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it’s not stored in the body (fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body). So taking a vitamin B6 supplement likely won’t be unsafe or cause any concern, but don’t expect any big benefits in terms of focus or memory by taking it.

Claimed Benefits Analysis

alpha brain nootropic benefits

Being productive is what many customers experience while taking ONNIT's Alpha Brain nootropic supplement.

Alpha Brain’s effectiveness is supported by a 2015 randomized clinical control trial, though a more recent study found the results to be insignificant (39, 40).

This is interesting because most supplements have not been directly tested in clinical trials (though oftentimes, their individual ingredients have been). So it’s useful information as a consumer to see that this specific supplement has been clinically-studied and in one instance, found to be effective.

However, as with much of the research on supplements and their ingredients, there just isn’t enough evidence to say for sure. That being said, many of the ingredients themselves do have promising research too.

Is It Safe?

alpha brain onnit safety

Overall, Alpha Brain is likely safe, but, like all supplements, it has not been directly tested for safety and it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, this supplement has been third-party clinically-studied, which means you can trust the quality of the product and that it does not contain anything not included on the label.

If you are a healthy adult without any medical conditions, it’s safe for you to try this supplement out, if you choose. However, be sure to run it by your doctor first, especially if you’re taking any medication. Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to skip this one.

Potential Side Effects

onnit alpha brain side effects

Unfortunately, there are quite a few potential side effects from Alpha Brain, though not everyone will experience all, or any of these.

Some of the potential side effects include headaches, nausea, anxiety and a higher heart rate, and insomnia. It should go without saying, but if you do experience any of these, stop taking the supplement.

If you are wanting to try Alpha Brain, but you’re worried about experiencing side effects, you can try starting with a half a dose, or just 1 capsule, to see how you feel before going for the full dose.

Age Range

Alpha Brain is meant for healthy adults and should not be consumed by children or anyone under the age of 18.

adults take onnit alpha brain and game

Cost and Where to Buy

Alpha Brain comes in either 30-count or 90-count bottles for $34.95 or $79.95, respectively. Though, signing up with a recurring subscription order will save you 15%.

Depending on which bottle you choose and whether or not you opt for a subscription, you’ll be paying $1.50 or more per serving.

You can purchase Alpha Brain directly through ONNIT’s website, Amazon, and most vitamin and supplement retailers both online and in-person.

Trust Ratings and Reviews: What Are Customers Saying?

The product has great reviews overall. On the website itself, there are over 3,000 reviews total and a rating of 4 starts. On Amazon, the rating is 4.5/5 out of an impressive 14,000 reviews. No doubt, it’s a popular purchase among consumers.

However, it is not without negative reviews as well, and some of the unhappy customers have shared some pretty terrible experiences. Some experienced extreme side effects like vomiting and hot flashes. This may not happen to everyone, but if you tend to be sensitive to some supplements, you may wish to skip this one.

Happy customers found the supplement to be super effective and many felt they were able to focus better and accomplish more. Many individuals also commented that they did not experience any negative side effects at all.

It’s important to note that some individuals may experience a placebo effect in which they believe the product is going to work so they feel positive effects, regardless of the actual effectiveness of the product.

Everyone is different and will have a different experience with supplements. If you are worried, this may not be the supplement for you, or you can try with just 1 of the 2 capsules to start.

real alpha brain customer reviews

Verified Review

Alternatives Compared to ONNIT Alpha Brain

There are countless ONNIT Alpha Brain alternatives (other nootropics) that are available and have similar ratings. In the table below, you'll see comparable competitors such as Qualia Mind, Mind Lab Pro and a newer nootropic-type product called Thesis Logic. All of these alternatives to Alpha Brain promise the same benefits, but each product is "best for" specific benefits, which you'll see in the table below. 

Nootropic

Price

Best for

Avg. Rating

$79.95 for 1x purchase of 90 count, or $67.96 with monthly subscription

Memory and focus

4/5 ⭐ (3,000+ reviews)

$139 for 1x purchase, or $69.50 with monthly subscription ($119 per month after 1st month)

Creativity

4.2/5 ⭐ (1,000+ reviews)

$62.10 for 1 month supply, or the more months you add the more you save

Clarity

4/5 ⭐ (1,800+ reviews)

$119 for 1x purchase, or $79 monthly with subscription

Facilitate analytical thinking

4.5/5 ⭐ (43 reviews)

Is It Effective? A Dietitian’s Recommendation

Maybe! Looking back through the ingredients, some do have some research supporting them. However, most of the research is in preliminary stages and hardly conclusive.

So, while you may experience benefits by taking this supplement, don’t expect huge results.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with trying it out to see for yourself, as long as you are not pregnant or breastfeeding.

Additionally, if you take any other medications or supplements, it’s a good idea to run this by your doctor before adding it to your routine as many supplements can interact with medications.

Focus on These Tips for Success from the RD

As a general rule of thumb, focusing on lifestyle habits should come before taking any sort of supplement, regardless of your health goals.

So before you begin a new supplement, consider your own day to day habits. Are there areas that could use improvement? If so, I encourage you to implement strategies to improve in those areas first and foremost.

This way, you’ll lay a healthy foundation first and then you can experiment with a supplement, like Alpha Brain, if you’d like.

When it comes to nutrition and brain function and health, there are a few nutrients that are important to keep in mind. Focus on regularly adding the following to your diet:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can consume these through a diet rich in fish like salmon and albacore tuna, or you can add an omega-3 supplement to your routine. According to research, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function (41).
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is important for brain health too. If you eat animal products, you’re likely getting plenty through your diet. However, if you avoid animal products, you may want to consider a supplement, but check with your doctor first (42).
  • Zinc. This mineral may help prevent some cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Try to regularly include things like meat, nuts, beans, or fortified breakfast cereal (43).
  • Magnesium.  Magnesium may also help prevent cognitive diseases. You can get plenty of magnesium by consuming beans, seeds, spinach, nuts, and soy products (44).
  • Iron. A deficiency in iron can lead to several health concerns, like anemia. It can also cause a decrease in brain function and even lead to changes in social behavior. Be sure to regularly consume meat, eggs, spinach, beans, and seeds (45).
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is another nutrient that may help prevent brain disorders. Make sure you’re getting plenty by including citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes in your diet (46).

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. An overall healthy diet and lifestyle is going to be important for all aspects of health - including your brain!

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of sleep, stress management, hydration, and movement. If any of these areas are lacking, focusing may be more challenging.

About the author 

Ellen Landes

Ellen Landes, MS, RDN, CPT is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, and university instructor. She holds bachelor and master's degrees in human nutrition and dietetics and is a certified personal trainer through ACSM. Her writing focuses on evidence-based nutrition, fitness, and other health topics.

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