Fact-checked by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.
Written by Lorenz Mac
If you’re familiar with the world of nootropics, you might want to try alpha-GPC. It’s a powerful supplement that’s safe and stocked on most nutrition store shelves.
Alpha-GPC has benefits for everyone, whether you want to build a stronger brain or push your physical limits. Let’s take a look at how this powerful nootropic works, and how you can use it to improve your physical and cognitive performance.
What is Alpha-GPC?
Alpha-glycerophosphocholine (alpha-GPC) is a special type of fat found in eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, and soy.
Alpha-GPC is unique thanks to its role as a choline source. Choline is a valuable nutrient that your body uses for a few different things:
- Cell membrane formation. Choline gives your cells (particularly your brain cells) structural integrity and protection[*].
- Acetylcholine production. Acetylcholine is one of the major chemicals in your brain. It influences your memory, mood, muscle control, and energy production[*].
- Fat burning. Choline is an essential part of fat metabolism. In other words, your body needs choline to break down fat and use it for energy[*].
Alpha-GPC is popular with entrepreneurs and athletes alike, for its physical and cognitive benefits. Here’s why:
- Alpha-GPC is a nootropic. In other words, it makes your brain stronger. It enhances memory and gives your brain the raw materials to make plentiful acetylcholine, a valuable neurotransmitter. It works so well that it’s prescribed throughout Europe for memory loss (it’s over-the-counter in the U.S.).
- Alpha-GPC boosts physical performance. It increases physical strength and makes you produce more human growth hormone (HGH), which translates to faster recovery and better results in the gym.
You can get alpha-GPC from eggs and dairy (and soy, if you eat it), but the best way to get a big dose of this brain-boosting nutrient is through an alpha-GPC supplement.
Alpha-GPC is one of the safest and best-studied nootropics. It’s prescribed in Europe to improve cognitive decline — specifically memory — and you can get it over-the-counter in the U.S. Let’s talk about why you might want to take it as a supplement or get more of this choline source in your diet.
Benefits of Alpha-GPC
There are several good reasons to make alpha-GPC a part of your morning supplement routine.
#1: Enhanced Focus
Low choline levels lead to trouble concentrating — people who don’t get enough of it display symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)[*]. One study found that children with ADHD had a dramatically reduced amount of the acetylcholine receptor[*]. If you struggle with ADHD, alpha-GPC may help.
And if you don’t have ADHD and just want better brain function, alpha-GPC is still worth your time. Healthy people who took alpha-GPC showed better reaction time and increased the ability to focus on a mentally fatiguing task [*].
#2: Improved Memory
Alpha-GPC gives your brain the building blocks for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a fundamental role in memory formation.
Study after study has found that alpha-GPC improves cognitive function in humans[*].
One study, for example, gave people alpha-GPC or placebo for ten days before prescribing them with an amnesia-inducing drug called scopolamine. The results showed that supplementation blocks memory impairments caused by scopolamine[*].
Other research has found that alpha-GPC helps recover age-related memory loss, including memory improvement in people with Alzheimer’s disease[*].
#3: Increased Growth Hormone and Better Athletic Performance
More recent studies suggest that alpha-GPC may benefit power output and athletic performance.
Healthy young men who took a single dose of alpha-GPC showed increased growth hormone secretion and fat-burning within an hour [*]. At the 60-minute mark, their growth hormone had increased by 290%. The levels returned back to baseline after two hours.
Higher growth hormone means faster muscle recovery and increased fat oxidation (or fat burning). If you want to see faster results in the gym, consider taking alpha-GPC 30-60 minutes before working out.
#4: Deeper Ketosis
If you eat a ketogenic diet, you can get some unique benefits from this performance-enhancing nootropic.
Taking alpha-GPC makes you more efficient at burning fat, which translates to increased ketone production. An alpha-GPC supplement increased both BHB and acetoacetate ketones two hours after people took it [*].
How To Take Alpha GPC: Different Doses for Different Tasks
How much should you take?
It depends. Dosage changes based on whether you use it for mental or physical performance.
To increase fat burning and growth hormone, take up to 600mg of alpha-GPC, 30-60 minutes before working out[*].
For general mental performance, a smaller dose of alpha-GPC is fine. Most labels suggest 200-600mg. Experiment and see what makes you feel the best.
Alpha-GPC increases acetylcholine levels almost immediately, so you can expect to feel the effects 20-30 minutes after ingestion.
The effects of alpha-GPC last about four to six hours. You can take multiple 200-600mg doses in a day, but make sure you space them at least four hours apart; otherwise, you risk getting too much choline, which can lead to temporary side effects (see below).
Where to Get Alpha GPC
Alpha-GPC is safe and there are no legal restrictions on it. You can find it in most supplement shops, grocery stores, and online vendors.
Using a nootropic supplement blend that contains alpha-GPC will provide you with the proper dosage of alpha-GPC, along with other mental and physical enhancers.
If you’re not into taking a lot of dietary supplements, you can also get alpha-GPC in foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk. Avoid soy and soy lecithin — also nutritional sources of alpha-GPC — which can cause inflammation and aren’t keto-friendly.
Side Effects of Alpha-GPC
Although alpha-GPC is generally well tolerated by healthy adults, there are some side effects to watch out for.
Too much choline can cause:
- Gastrointestinal distress
These side effects are especially prevalent in people sensitive to choline.
Side effects are temporary, and usually only occur in very high doses. Researchers have found no adverse effects with an alpha-GPC dose as high as 1600mg[*].
Avoid alpha-GPC if you’re taking anticholinergic drugs — compounds that block acetylcholine — or antihistamines.
Alpha-GPC may also interfere with blood pressure levels, so make sure to talk to your doctor before supplementing. Especially if you have low blood pressure or are on blood pressure lowering medications.
Alpha-GPC: The Brain and Body Nootropic Enhancer
Alpha-GPC is one of the best-studied nootropics to date. It has powerful benefits for brain health and physical performance. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for a mental edge or an athlete who wants faster results in the gym, this supplement has something to offer you.