The Brain Candy Experiment – Part 2/3

I know, I know. You’re wondering if Adrian became so Limitless that he disappeared from his blogging adventures leaving you all hanging about this mysterious Brain Candy supplement that sounds all too interesting.

So have I become Limitless?

Well, sorta, but not really is the short answer. I called that sh*t in Part 1, there was bound to be a serious flaw to this product in relation to the ridiculous 300mg caffeine dosage level. You mind as well read part 1 if any of this is to make sense.

This installment, Part 2 of the Brain Candy Experiment will really be the best read if you want an honest opinion of the supplement. I’m going to first give an overall review and then break it down into all the nuances for those that want more info.

Overall Review: Yay or Nay?

If I were forced to give a simple Yay or Nay as to the product’s worth in trying (if the marketing hype on T-Nation you read has really got you interested) then quite simple: it’s a big Yay! It’s worth the purchase to experiment for yourself.

At this time (end of April 2012) the caffeine-free version has not been released to the general public for sale so I am reviewing the full caffeine version. The taste is okay, not great. The claim to reducing social anxiety I have witnessed first hand. My mental clarity hasn’t ever been this sharp; EVER. My mood (as mentioned in Part 1, I have mild bipolar disorder) has been incredibly stable and positive. My ability to handle stupidity (of my own accord and others especially) and stress are fantastic. Lastly, my overall sense of well-being (mentally; not physically, read more if you want to understand) was greatly improved the 28 days I ran this experiment on myself.

But the supplement is far from perfect. It has some major flaws. It has some very major perks as well. So before you click the good ol’ Add-To-Cart button I suggest you read on.

The Adrian Crowe Style Review:

Let’s go step by step in every detail of what the product claims as well as other notes I wish to convey. Shall we start with an easy one:

Taste

It’s the exact liquid flavoring system they use for all their products (Surge Workout Fuel, Anaconda and Mag-10) which is a VERY BORING orange flavor. Not orange creamsicle. Not orange, the fruit or fruit juice. But artificial, boring, sorta gross popsicle style orange. It’s tolerable but in my opinion very lazy on their part to not release a better, more refreshing flavor seeing how we’re supposed to slam this stuff first thing in the morning; groggy, bad breath and all. Seriously, give me a lemon/lime, grapefruit, pineapple, sour apple or something!!

From what I understand the caffeine free version is supposed to taste like citrus which I’m assuming they used the same flavoring as with Biotest’s Alpha-GPC liquid product which is fine by me as that taste is quite good (and that product is awesome BTW).

Digestion

This stuff really doesn’t sit well in the stomach. On day 1 I though I just had a mild tummy ache. By day 3 I realized it was the Brain Candy. I was able to negate that by drinking it with my breakfast but then again that also slightly limits its absorption. 3 other people I gave bottles too felt the nauseated stomach too.

Increases Confidence

That’s a big claim on Biotest’s part but they felt so strong about Brain Candy’s ability they listed it first on the bottle in regards to what the product was formulated to do.

Confidence is a tough thing to judge. Is confidence something I perceive in myself? That others perceive in me? What’s the difference between confidence and a sense of well-being or what about ego???

I think to answer the question we’d have to first define attributes in our lives that bring us confidence. For me, it’s my ability to communicate, articulate and, in general, find a way to help people solve problems and challenges in their lives especially related to their health and fitness. Guess I chose the right job.

So did Brain Candy increase my ability to articulate, communicate and help me help others even better? Yes! And big, resounding yes!!

I’ve never been so clear in mind, in my entire life, than in the past month I was supplementing with Brain Candy (quote me on that if you like). It was that which increased my confidence greatly.

Reduces Social Anxiety

I have to wonder where Biotest was going with this one? Seems an interesting tag to attach to a nootropic product. For most people social anxiety is a non-issue. For others, it can be very debilitating. It can be as simple as being a gloomy person who really feels annoyed and aggravated around others to very unique disorders like Anthropophobia (fear of people) or Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces; people who don’t leave their houses).

For me, my social anxieties have always been related to large groups of people. One-on-one I’m awesome, totally comfortable and can be myself. Two others, sure, no problem. Three, okay, if I sorta know them at least. 4 or more and it’s all downhill. I go from being the one who’s usually talkative to the dude in the corner who’s super quiet and just wants to go back to being a homebody.

I don’t drink so the idea of parties where drinking is occurring just irks me and I have zero interest in. That may simply be my social anxiety, my annoyance of people when drunk (I don’t find it funny, I find you stupid), or that I’m just an introvert by nature and I have enough of the extrovert-run world we live in within my career as is. I work with people, very closely for 8-16hrs of my day, the last thing I really want is more people in my off time.

However, I was invited to a birthday party, at a restaurant recently for a buddy of mine. I enjoy his company and really wanted to wish him a happy b-day, so me and my gal went. The problem was two-fold: there would be significant drinking and the other dozen people there I’d never met. Huge problem. Before Brain Candy that is.

I took a whole bottle about an hour before the event. Not once did I feel the uncomfortable, crawling in my skin, get me outta here feeling I normally would. I was able to relax, talk at relative ease with strangers, tolerate those drinking around me (even when they got mighty tipsy). In fact, everyone that knows “he (me) doesn’t do this sort of thing” was utterly surprised I stayed the whole night and was one of the last to leave.

Dare I say: I enjoyed myself.

Improves Mood

Aside from the major flaw of this product which I’ll talk about after this one category, I must say my mood has greatly improved. Perhaps a better way to put it is that my mood weathers the storms.

In reading about Brain Candy on the T-Nation website there was mention of a scale that really rung home for me.

You know those psycho happy people, that no matter what they’re always chipper? Even when they have a “bad day” it seems like it’s just one of our “normal” days? Let’s call those people the +5’s.

You know those doom and gloom depressive people? The ones where everything is “just fine” or “okay, I guess”; the glass always half empty sort? Energy vampires can fall into this category too. Let’s call them the -5’s.

Okay, so most people fall somewhere in the middle, right? If I had to put myself on that scale, I’d call myself a +2.

What really intrigued me was the discussion on T-Nation regarding how when a +5 person has a down day they maybe get knocked down to a +2 or at worst, a 0 (let’s call that a blah, blue day). But when a 0 to +2 person (such as myself) has a bad day, well we can slide down the scale a lot sharper and end up at a -2 or -3. And don’t get me started on those that live at a -5, because everything is always seemingly going wrong.

What if we could weather the storms of life better? Enter Brain Candy. Now, being a +2 by nature and living with mild bipolar disorder (my manic moments come around 11am-1pm and my down phase starts at 8pm and leads me right through to bed time) I am VERY unstable from day-to-day. If y’all ever wonder why I am seemingly ON one day and OFF the next; that’s why. I slid way down the scale the night before and haven’t bounced back yet. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get myself out of a funk.

In the 28 days of using Brain Candy I had only one single down. One. Usually I have one extreme one a month (read: crazy suicidal thoughts even when I’m totally happy about my life thus far; yay team bipolar!), and 2-3 normal downs a week. I had one down. That’s friggin major!!

Energy

I know what you were thinking when you read the Brain Candy product page: sounds like an energy drink with brain stuff added in. So what are we talking about here? A Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, NOS except with gingko or other brain stuff?

One look at the ingredient label would really suggest that. So being a person that really likes caffeine in the form of energy drink (albeit I limit myself) and try to stick with Q instead, this really appealed to me. For about the same price ($3 per drink; I know they are cheaper in the States) I could get a better formulated energy drink that has some major hype behind it. Sounds good, you’re thinking. You can finally get off that 6 can a day habit. haha

I must first admit that 1) I’m caffeine sensitive 2) I’ve faced adrenal fatigue many times in the past due to too much caffeine in my day 3) I’m highly sensitive to most supplements (in all ways) and 4) I highly enjoy and usually recommend Biotest supplements as I feel they make some pretty good ones.

Brain Candy is absolute destruction to your adrenal glands/energy system. Worst crash in my life. Day 1 was horrid. By Day 15 I was near falling asleep between sets of heavy front squats. By Day 28 I am left absolutely destroyed in relation to my ability to produce and maintain basic levels of energy. I’m yawning all day. People keep asking me “what’s wrong dude?” I knew it was going to happen with the 300mg of caffeine in this product.

Yes, it got me going in the morning; great buzz. But after the half way point it was barely bringing me back to my old normal.

I can’t explain how absolutely terrible a feeling it is to have raised confidence, reduced social anxiety, to be more clear in the mind than you ever have been before and yet you’re so completely exhausted you can’t drum up the energy to go change your life.

Biotest has failed by over-caffeinating the product. 150mg would have sufficed. 300mg is overkill.

And what if you’re one of those that could drink a pot of coffee and go right to sleep? Well, I’d have to suspect that this product’s positives which I’ve outlined in the above categories would also not be felt to the degree I felt them.

Sleep, the Side Note

For those that don’t know I track my sleep via a Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager system. It allows me to check my total sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep, how many times I woke during the night and for how long, how long it took me to fall asleep, etc. So what happened?

Well, let’s look at the numbers:

My total sleep trend the past 4 months:

As you’ll see in the month prior to Brain Candy (I started Mar 28th) I was working and succeeding at increasing all factors of my sleep, most importantly the total time.

Let’s look at what the weeks looked like during the experiment:

At first I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep, but by day 8 where I made a note in my journal about being exhausted all the time you’ll see my sleep time increased. BUT then it started dying come week 4. Why?

Let’s look at Deep Sleep (you know the kind where you wake after 2 hours and go, wow, I could almost get up and go about my day; in other words the most important part of sleep, in my opinion of course):

It tanked. Big time. So badly on the daily basis I actually had to take some melatonin to boost it 1-3 nights a week, hence why I was able to get it back up sort of. Now it may not seem like much but an extra 10-15 mins of Deep Sleep is major! Most people see about 1-1.25 hours of deep sleep if they had 8 hours total sleep.

How about REM?

As to be expected, with more total sleep you will generally see an increase in REM sleep. I don’t find the extra 15-45mins of REM sleep really does too much for me in terms of feeling rested. Also of note however, that come week 4, when I reached adrenal fatigue, my sleep as a whole went to shit, despite being completely exhausted.

Why?

I worked quite hard since January to get myself to only wake 1-2 times a night. During the experiment it doubled. So I was having more interrupted sleep which we all know ruins the quality we feel when we wake.

Last thing:

Not only was I waking up more but I was awake longer. Again, not good.

Now, I fully admit, this may be simply because I’m a caffeine sensitive individual. But you are here for a review which is an opinion and I’m quite simply trying to show you more data then you’ll ever find in any other review of the product…period. You can judge for yourself from here.

Summary

If after reading the above review, understanding the major flaw of this product being over caffeinated and how that can lead to adrenal fatigue, understanding yourself and how well you handle 3 cups of coffee worth of caffeine in one shot on empty stomach and you’re still interested in all the exceptional positives I’ve laid out above, I’d say give it a whirl.

If you know you’re caffeine sensitive stay away from the original version. While the cracked-outta-my-mind feeling can be fun, the jitters and inability to focus on one thing (because Brain Candy makes it so you focus on 10 at the same time) can be rather bothersome.

Now, how does Adrian heal himself after this experiment? Well, I’m going caffeine free. No pre-workouts, no green tea (I don’t drink coffee already). I’m doing a 2 week wash out. I’m also going to have to take an adrenal support supplement, up my vitamin C and increase my salt intake slightly (all things that have helped me recover from this position in years before). I’m also heading into the first vacation I’ve had in 3 years so the lack of work stress and ability to sleep in longer if I choose will be a big help.

When Biotest finally releases the caffeine-free version of Brain Candy I’ll be the first to order, guaranteed! I want the mental clarity, the mood weathering, the confidence in my abilities all taken to that level again….but I can’t do the cracked out (300mg caffeine) version. I know where my personal caffeine limits are in a day. I would like to be able to control that.

So c’mon Biotest, get your stuff in order and release it already!

So did Adrian become Limitless?

In the mind, yes, very much so! But try being the world’s fastest runner chained to a stone wall.

I didn’t get very far.

Note: in Part 3 I will let you know how I recover from the adrenal fatigue and let you know how I weather being off of Brain Candy as well as if I then notice any other nuances versus being ON.

BTW, you can now find me on:

Instagram @adriancroweathletictraining

Facebook page at Adrian Crowe Athletic Training “The Crowe’s Nest”

YouTube www.youtube.com/acathletictraining

or email me directly at adrian@adriancrowe.com

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6 comments on “The Brain Candy Experiment – Part 2/3

  1. […] engine and are looking for a full product review of Biotest Brain Candy, make sure you check out Part 2 where I outline it all for […]

  2. Shane says:

    Hey Adrian,

    Thanks for putting up an honest and thorough review. I’ve been very interested in this product ever since it was released and was interested in getting an unbiased opinion on it. Some of the claims made seemed pretty wild, but were such that, if true, could really help me out.

    I suffer from social anxiety in a way very similar to you. More than three people, and I usually retreat to the back of the room if possible. Two exceptions though: 1) If I don’t know the people, then it can happen with even one or two people (I will force myself, but I’m very uncomfortable) and 2) If I’m in a position of authority (then I have no problems – I can speak to a group of strangers and be fine on a topic I know more about than they do). Not sure which comes first, but I also have a lack of confidence in my ideas when in a group setting (this can be a bit of a problem in a PhD program). So I don’t know if the lack of confidence leads to me not wanting to talk and this being interpreted as social anxiety, the social anxiety leading me not to talk and interpreting this as a lack of confidence, or a combination of the two.

    The other parts that really interested me were the mood enhancing effects and the ability to tolerate stupidity. I was shopping with my wife yesterday and I nearly lost it on the other customers. Everyone and everything was getting under my skin very easily and bothering me more than it should. I had read the scale analogy on T-Nation and was again looking for some independent confirmation on it. I’m probably about a 0 or 1 on that scale usually, so having rough or very stressful days can have a significantly negative impact on me.

    I’m not too worried about the amount of caffeine as I’m quite tolerant of it, but I’m slightly concerned then about your comment suspecting that the other ingredients might not be felt to the same degree. Oh well, I suppose the only way I’ll know for sure is to try it for myself and see how I react. The potential positives seem to outweigh the potential drawbacks, at least for me.

    Again, thanks for the awesome review.

    • Adrian Crowe says:

      Thanks Shane. Took me a while to type up (understatement). I gave a couple bottles away to friends (two that are caffeine sensitive and two that aren’t). The two that don’t feel stims also really didn’t notice much else about the product either. BUT they only had one bottle and I agree it takes a good 3-5 days to feel the magic. The other two people who are sensitive felt as I did, that it was stomach nauseating and too cracked out for their liking. Everyone is going to react differently I guess depending on their stimulant sensitivity and body awareness to supplements, etc so if it still sounds interesting, it’s worth the first 16 bottle case purchase.

  3. The Jack says:

    Hey Adrian,

    read the whole thing and liked it 🙂 I have been trying to find some info on the ingredients, more than “base formulation – 4500 mg”. What would you say the proportions of the product were if you wanted to reverse engineer it to get rid of the caffeine?

    Alternatively, how would you proportion the ingredients, if you were to cap it yourself? If you can cap it. There must be a reason Biotest made it liquid?

    Thanks for the artice again. Great site!

    • Adrian Crowe says:

      Thank you! I think the info on the individual ingredients is pretty easy to find, except for Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine (CDP-choline). Also, one could if inclined source out bulk power type companies and try to “reverse engineer” it. As for the liquid delivery, I’m not sure I could explain a reason other than convenience and competition with other energy type shots. With Power Drive they already have a powdered nootropic so maybe no sense in having competing products in their product line.

      As for making it yourself, that’s always a bitch with proprietary formulas. The base formula says 4500mg of 5 ingredients so each of them is 900mg if equal. If you really want, I would look elsewhere as to what efficacious amounts of each ingredient are. For example DMAE is usually found in 50-200mg amounts; theanine I usually see in 100mg dosages in other products.

      That said, there’s a little birdie that tells me the wait may soon be over for the caffeine free version. I’m all for convenience and using my purchasing power to support companies that innovate great products.

  4. […] go read my Brain Candy series here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. It’ll take you a whole of 10 […]

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