Alpha BRAIN vs. Alpha BRAIN Instant

Alpha BRAIN vs. Alpha BRAIN Instant

Perhaps the most popular supplement company, thanks in large part to Joe Rogan’s stature as a podcasting powerhouse, Onnit offers two versions of its staple nootropic: Alpha BRAIN vs. Alpha BRAIN Instant. For me, it’s a no-brainer as to which one is better: Alpha BRAIN Instant. Not only does the powder formulation of Alpha BRAIN Instant taste better (not least of all because the standard version’s capsules don’t taste like anything at all) but Instant also supplies more nootropics at a slightly greater value. Granted, neither stacks are the best nootropic supplement you can buy, but Alpha BRAIN Instant is a decent, nutritional source of daily brain-nourishing nootropics.

Formula Design

Alpha BRAIN & Alpha BRAIN Instant are basically the same formula, with exception to their delivery systems and some key dosages. In a nut shell, the main difference between these supplements is:

  • Alpha BRAIN comes in capsules.
  • Alpha BRAIN Instant works as a powder drink mixture.

Given the addictive popularity of powder mixes, you’d think there would be more nootropic supplements like Alpha BRAIN Instant, but surprisingly there isn’t. Alpha BRAIN Instant is fairly one-of-a-kind, even despite its similarities to Alpha BRAIN capsules.

All the same, let’s check out each formula.

Alpha BRAIN Review: Formula Analysis

Annoyingly, Alpha BRAIN hides its individual ingredient dosages beneath proprietary blends. Until Onnit decides to be more forthright with their ingredients, I’ll always feel somewhat antagonistic towards this brand. Nonetheless, Alpha BRAIN’s blends do supply a decent range of nootropics:

  • ONNIT Flow Blend: L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Oatstraw for alpha brainwave states of creative thinking & “relaxed wakefulness,” as well as Phosphatidylserine for additional brain structure support.
  • ONNIT Focus Blend: Neurotransmitter support for enhanced focus & learning, thanks to choline donor Alpha-GPC, memory booster Bacopa, & mental supercharger Hup-A.
  • ONNIT Fuel Blend: Anabolic L-Leucine protein with neuroprotector Pterostilbene, the latter of which I like as a brain healthy antioxidant… but I’m not sure what the L-Leucine does here.

And then there’s the cat’s claw extract, which seems to offer additional antioxidant support for brain health — though it’s questionable if this herbal extract has any effect on cognitive performance. Which is a fairly good summary of Alpha BRAIN altogether: I trust that this formula is healthy for the brain, but the performance boosts here are difficult to detect.

Alpha BRAIN Instant Review: Formula Analysis

Alpha BRAIN Instant is essentially the same formula as Alpha BRAIN, plus a few key changes that may elevate the stack above its predecessor:

  • More Flow: Compare Instant’s 1,150 mg dosed Flow Blend to OG Alpha BRAIN’s 650 mg. That’s nearly double the flow.
  • BioPerine: The Fuel Blend also gets a slight increase of 5 mg for the addition of BioPerine, a valuable nutrient enhancing brand of black pepper.

Together, these changes seem to enhance the overall effects of Alpha BRAIN, giving them a more instantaneous advantage on cognition, thanks in large part to BioPerine’s increase on nutrient absorption. This ensures that more of the formula is being absorbed (i.e. utilized).

However, what’s odd is how BioPerine, which requires a very meager dosage to work, is dosed higher than Pterostilbene. Really, the Fuel Blend’s 65mg dosage isn’t enough for Pterostilbene alone, let alone Pterostilbene and L-Leucine (a useless ingredient here). So, I feel like in both Instant and the original Alpha BRAIN, this blend is mostly useless — although the BioPerine in Instant may help with the formula’s overall bioavailability.

Unique Features

Again, there isn’t much to separate Alpha BRAIN and Alpha BRAIN Instant beyond their delivery systems and a couple differences in dosages. Nonetheless, here are the unique features of each supplement:


  • More Focus: The Alpha BRAIN formula has slightly more Focus Blend (240mg compared to Instant’s 225mg).
  • Capsules: Alpha BRAIN comes in capsules, with 2 capsules per serving.

Alpha BRAIN Instant

  • More Flow: Alpha BRAIN Instant’s Flow Blend dosage is nearly double that of Alpha BRAIN’s Flow Blend.
  • BioPerine: The small 5mg addition of BioPerine can theoretically go a long way in increasing the bio-availability of every other ingredient in this formula.
  • Powder Mix: Alpha BRAIN Instant comes in flavored liquid powder mixes, 1 packet (3.7g) per serving.

Potency & Quality

While Alpha BRAIN’s ingredient profile hits a lot of key nootropic targets, both the capsule and powder versions of this supplement leave plenty of room for improvement in the quality department. Alpha BRAIN even used to have a patented extract of cat’s claw (called ac-11), but it looks like they swapped it for just standard cat’s claw extract. Which is probably fine: I’m sure their current cat’s claw extract delivers on the herb’s antioxidant benefits.

Alpha-GPC is a good source of choline, and I can see why Onnit, which is more so a sports brand than an outright “brain health” company, would opt for alpha-GPC, a popular cholinergic among athletes and bodybuilders, over citicoline. However, if we’re talking nootropics, I’d prefer to see citicoline (which has brain-charging cytidine, a precursor to uridine) instead of alpha-GPC here.

Between Alpha BRAIN vs. Alpha BRAIN Instant, the latter seems to gain a slight edge on potency with its addition of more “Flow” ingredients, as well as BioPerine, which is practically synonymous with “potency.” There are more “sweet” Other Ingredients added to make sure that Alpha BRAIN Instant doesn’t taste like garbage. It’s not too big of a deal.

On the whole, neither Alpha BRAIN nor Alpha BRAIN Instant really achieve “alpha” levels of ingredient quality and potency. Despite the popularity and recognition of this brand, these formulas are on the cheap end of the quality spectrum when it comes to premade nootropic stacks.

Alpha BRAIN or Alpha BRAIN Instant: Which is better?

Alpha BRAIN is the lesser of the two.

I understand the popularity of Alpha BRAIN, which is a frequently discussed nootropic supplement on reddit; however, this popularity has much less to do with the merits of this stack than its association with Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan is a likeable, healthy, studly man, the exact type of guy you’d seek for nutrition advice. But all the same, Alpha BRAIN simply is not the best nootropic supplement out there.

In some bizarro alternate reality where Alpha BRAIN is the only nootropic supplement you can buy, I’d think, “Okay, fine, I’ll accept it.” However, with all the far superior (and more affordable) nootropic supplements out there, I just can’t get excited for this supplement. At best, Alpha BRAIN can point you to many great nootropics with its decent ingredient profile. But I wouldn’t necessarily get this from this stack.

Alpha BRAIN Instant is the no-brainer option here.

Who says more isn’t always better? Because they’re wrong: Alpha BRAIN Instant supplies more nootropic power than Alpha BRAIN, and thus it’s the better option here. Plus, it tastes better. Or rather it tastes good, whereas Alpha BRAIN’s capsules don’t taste like anything at all.

Really, Alpha BRAIN Instant functions more so like an Alpha BRAIN 1.5 than an outright Alpha BRAIN 2.0 upgrade. However, that 0.5 update on the original formula, which comes by way of the powder mix delivery system and the additional Flow Blend (as well as the addition of BioPerine black pepper extract), does enough to warrant buying the liquid mix packets over the capsules.

Not to mention that it’s (strangely) more affordable than Alpha BRAIN, if we’re discounting Alpha BRAIN’s still pretty expensive 45-serving option.

My Recommendation

Alpha BRAIN supplies traditional capsules. This may be a plus if you like the convenience of only having to pop a serving of pills whenever you want. Granted, it’s a small convenience, but depending on how you currently stack nootropics, it’s a consideration.

Alpha BRAIN Instant supplies powdered drinks. I very much like the design (& taste) of Alpha BRAIN Instant over Alpha BRAIN’s capsules. While I don’t typically use the placebo effect as a bona fide measure in these reviews (and I don’t here), there is something truly beneficial about having a distinct taste & liquid experience to “trigger” the mental reaction to nootropics versus simply swallowing flavorless capsules.

It makes nootropics fun — and I’m all about having fun, baby. Obviously, due to their similarities, both Alpha BRAIN & Alpha BRAIN Instant are expected to work very similarly. Yet, I have more confidence in the Instant formulation over standard Alpha BRAIN.

Alpha BRAIN Instant > Alpha BRAIN

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