Odds are you’ve heard of Guarana and probably what you’ve heard is bad. Insomnia, anxiety and dehydration are just some of the side effects mentioned on the web. While these are not completely false, they are definitely exaggerated and taken out of context. In this article we’re going to break it down for you. The truth about Guarana and how you should be using it.
Like most things, if you really want to know the truth, the best way is to either experience it for yourself (you can do that here) or go to the source. This is what we’ve done, traveling all the way to the Amazon Rainforest to understand the whole supply chain and the ins and outs of pure, organic Guarana. Let’s begin at the source!
Paullinia cupana or Guarana is native to the Amazon region of Brazil. The name Guarana was given to the plant by the Guarani tribe of the Amazon and it means “fruit like the eyes of the people”. As you can see in the photo it really does look like an eye!
It is the seed of the Guarana plant that was used by indigenous tribes of the Amazon. They would remove the shell, dry the seed, in some cases roast it and ground it into a powder. Very similar to the coffee bean. The Guarana powder was then added to a warm liquid and used for many reasons, some including preventing diarrhea, headaches, fever, accelerating metabolism and suppressing appetite. Guarana has also been used for centuries by Indigenous people to heighten focus and endurance during long hunting journeys. This is what sparked the attention of the energy drink companies such as Red Bull and V.
How does it work?
Guarana has a unique mix of pure, natural caffeine, alkaloids and polyphenols. It is rare to find this mixture in nature and it is this complex structure that make it such a powerful Superfood. Let’s look at how it works:
Guarana sustains energy
Guarana has 4x the caffeine of coffee but is absorbed twice as slow! It is believed that the polyphenols or tannins found within Guarana are responsible for its ability to release caffeine over a longer period. Complex, wholefoods like Organic Guarana (and make sure its organic!) are generally absorbed slower than highly processed foods such as sugar. Look at coffee for example. Alertness from coffee generally lasts around 45 minutes, Guarana continues to improve focus for up to 6 hours! What does this mean? It means Guarana is perfect for exercise and study as the body and mind are able to sustain energy and focus for longer periods. Research here.
The same rules that apply for coffee, apply for Guarana. Don’t eat too much, otherwise you will feel some of those side effects mentioned. Our recommendation is 5g/day. One of our favourite uses is as a coffee alternative in the morning. If you’re not sure how to use Guarana, checkout our Recipes & Advice page. We’ve seen Cacao-Guarana lattes used brilliantly to help people get up and going for their 5:30am workouts. It’s also perfect for those of you looking for a natural and organic pre-training supplement. Pre-trainers can be quite dangerous to your health (checkout this article for more) so it’s best to stay away from them. Guarana is a great alternative! Overall, you can use Guarana on those days when you know you need to be on point. It might be a competition day, exam or even a long drive.
Guarana supports weight management
Guarana also has the ability to support your weight management goals for three reasons:
- Activates fat breakdown
- Suppress appetite
- Improves metabolism
Basically, Guarana helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Research here This is mostly due to the caffeine found within Guarana but it is still a mystery why Guarana is so effective at this. Our best guess is because of its unique makeup built by the rich soil, pure water and clean air of the Amazon Rainforest.
While we do not specifically recommend using Guarana to lose weight, it can be helpful adding it within your weight loss program for two reasons:
- Suppress cravings and appetite to help you stick to your diet
- Increased energy to help stay on track with your exercise and workout program.
Where you can go wrong with Guarana
Where you can get into trouble with Guarana is when it is mixed in energy drinks or pharmaceutical products. Firstly, the amount of Guarana in these beverages is probably very small and it may be in a highly processed form. If you see Guarana extract, flavour or syrup on the ingredient listing then try to avoid it. When consumed in these forms many people experience side effects similar to drinking too much coffee or those associated with sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It is probably not the Guarana! It’s more likely the high amount of sugar or added caffeine.
The age old advice of keeping it simple and natural, applies to Guarana as it does to most foods. If your using pure, organic Guarana powder and you stick to 5g/day, you should have no problems. In fact, you should feel more energised, focused and on track with your weight management goals. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding it’s best to avoid any foods high in caffeine. Lastly, we always try to encourage people to think about where their products come from and who they are supporting. If you’re going to buy Guarana and you have the option, buy one that’s either wild-harvested, agro-forest grown or ethically traded (if you’re unsure checkout our blog post on wild-harvested products). Not only will you get the health benefits but you’ll also feel great, knowing that your hard earned dollars are going back to supporting Indigenous communities and the environment. Try to stay away from any Guarana in energy drinks and remember to read the ingredient listing on the back.
If you want to learn more about Ubatubas Guarana, checkout our Wild-Harvest Guarana video.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions below!