What is Guarana?
Guarana is a common ingredient in many popular stimulant-based weight loss products. You’ll also find it in energy drinks. Guarana is included mainly for its caffeine content (caffeine is a potent thermogenic, and guarana is standardized to between 10-16% caffeine), but it has other potential benefits as well…
It also has antioxidant and diuretic properties. Harvested in Brazil and Uraguay, this wild-growing climbing shrub has been used for centuries as a general health-tonic, and recently as a refreshing, “invigorating” drink. However, it’s the fat burning potential of guarana that concerns us most here. When harvested and processed, the ripe Guarana fruit yields about 10% caffeine.
Caffeine and Energy / Weight Loss
Caffeine does a fine job of goading the nervous system into action, resulting in additional fat burning through a complex process called lipolysis (encourages fat cells to release fat into the bloodstream for fuel). It also provides a decent energy boost that helps you make it through the day, get to the gym, and keep up with your kids!
No wonder so many of us are hooked on the stuff!
And yes, there is clinical data validating caffeine’s effects on weight loss (see Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50, Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97, Am J Physiol. 1995 Oct;269(4 Pt 1):E671-8).
Just don’t expect miracles… its effects are minor at best.
Dirty Rotten Tricks
For uninspired products that are based almost entirely on caffeine, guarana can be used to make the formula look more “cutting edge.”
For example, a product with the following on the label…
- Kola seed extract
- Guarana extract
- Coffee bean extract
Is going to appear to be more “impressive” than a product with only “caffeine” on its label, despite the fact that every one of the aforementioned provide nothing more than that; caffeine. It also allows the manufacturer to use “fuzzy” labelling like “naturally sourced” or “all-natural”… which makes the consumer feel good, but in essence means very little.
Guarana and Weight Loss
As a “supporting” ingredient, guarana provides some value to most products — although its effects are not dramatic, and to date, its benefits can attributed solely to its caffeine content. In other words, I would not be scared away by any product that uses guarana in a back-up role.
Any product that uses guarana as a core ingredient (like Brazlian Phyre) doesn’t need to be avoided as long as it is priced accordingly (i.e., it should be cheap, since you can buy caffeine pills for next to nothing). Just remember…
There is little evidence guarana provides much of a fat burning effect beyond that of its caffeine content.