Thanks for joining the board! For a lot of people, starting it with just a couple of complementary compounds and then adding one or so items in at a time is a good way to experiment. The two main problems with most pre-made stacks are the cost vs. getting the individual ingredients, lack of ability to customize or scale your stack (at the mercy of the pre-formulated amount) and not being able to test the elements out bit by bit to see what does what and which are most effective.
Two of the most commonly suggested "newbie stacks" are the classic caffeine-theanine stack (found in nature in green tea, though not in the perfect ratio of theanine to caffeine) and the basic racetam/choline stack. Caffeine is of course one of the most widely used supplements and social drugs in use worldwide, l-theanine is a compound found in green tea and guyausa that, in addition to being a focusing agent, is also slightly sedative and anxiolytic (calming). The theanine cuts down on possible jitters from the caffeine and according to multiple studies, the proper ratio of theanine to caffeine is more effective than either alone.
Here's an article we recently published at the Peak Nootropics blog on this subject:
Piracetam (there's a great introductory article at our blog here: http://peaknootropics.com/piracetams-multiple-mechanisms-of-action/ ) was the first of the "classic racetams" which were the first drugs discovered by Dr. Corneliu Giurgea who coined the term "nootropics" around 5 decades ago. It is the first and most studied of the nootropics but all the classic racetams (piracetam, aniracetam (another article here about the "social and anxiolytic" racetam: http://peaknootropics.com/piracetams-multiple-mechanisms-of-action/ and oxiracetam) are GRAS, meaning generally regarded as safe, with a lower LD-50 than common table salt. That said, you should always consult with your doctor before beginning a supplementation or exercise regimen ESPECIALLY if you have any pre-existing conditions, are currently under a physician's care or are taking any prescription or over-the-counter meds for any serious, persistent or chronic conditions.
The racetams work by increasing the brain's levels of acetylcholine (the learning, memory and movement neurotransmitter) which is synthesized out of dietary choline. Choline, an essential fatty acid, is essential to brain health, but most people are already deficient, so it's recommended to take a good choline supplement (CDP choline and Alpha GPC are great, high quality acetylcholine precursors) along with any racetams to decrease potentiality of side effects like head ache or brain fog.
Here's a great article on choline and it's purpose, once again from our blog.
Drop us a line anytime with any other nootropic, longevity or cognitive enhancing questions or your own progress and experiences.