Guarana vs. Coffee

Guarana vs. Coffee

Coffee is not for everyone. The bitter taste and short lived energy burst can leave many of us wanting an alternative. In this case, Guarana may be a perfect choice.

One of the the main advantages of Guarana over coffee is the duration of the stimulation. Guarana energy is much longer lasting than coffee, plus the stimulation is less jittery and more clear in character. Guarana is absorbed slowly by the body. This results in a long lasting energy release over hours - a stark contrast to the fast rush and crash experienced with coffee.

Guarana not only contains higher amounts of caffeine than coffee, it also contains other alkaloids and fats that suppress the sensation of hunger and thirst. This is one of the reasons why Guarana is often used in weight loss programs. Also, since only a small amount of the powder is needed, there are virtually no calories being ingested, which further is ideal for anyone looking to loose weight.

The natural heat that Guarana creates within the body is known as thermogenesis, and is a normal metabolic process that aids the breakdown of stored body fat into energy. Whilst the caffeine present in both coffee and Guarana is known to facilitate this, the theobromine and theophylline found in Guarana enhances it further.

As a result, Guarana is an extremely viable, and in many aspects preferable alternative to coffee. It delivers much longer lasting energy without the jitters, plus it packs healthy antioxidants. It could be argued that the quick rush from coffee is what you need in the morning; however, switching coffee for Guarana as a daytime drink can release more sustainable energy to get you through a hard days work.

What is Guarana?

What is Guarana?

Guarana, also known as Brazilian cocoa, is an Amazonian climbing plant whose fruits have long been used as a stimulant and energiser. It is a member of the maple family, Sapinidaceae, and is most commonly found growing across Brazil.

In its natural environment, Guarana can grow to over 12 meters long, and it produces small round fruit that resemble an eye, which has inspired many local legends. The name itself comes from the Sateré-Maué word for the plant, warana, which translates as “eye of the people”.

Guarana was introduced to European settlers in the 16th century and brought back by Spanish conquistadores, such as Oviedo and Hernández. Although Guarana has been available in Europe for all of these centuries, it was only in the last few years when it really caught on. Early reports of tribal and traditional use have now been scientifically verified, which led to a much broader acceptance.

Guarana’s popularity comes from its stimulating effects. The fruit of Guarana has a caffeine content that far outweighs that of coffee beans. Coffee beans have a caffeine content of 1-2%, whereas Guarana has a caffeine content of 4-8% - more than four times as much! Guarana also contains the alkaloids theophylline and theobromine, which set Guarana apart from other sources of caffeine.

The use of Guarana predates the “discovery” of Brazil, where the native Indian tribes have long used it to prepare various foods, drinks and medicines by making it into a paste. It was traditionally used as a stimulant and as an astringent to treat chronic diarrhoea; however, other traditional uses also include the treatment of pain, hypertension, fever, dysentery and migraines.


Guarana also plays a significant cultural role amongst the native Indian tribes of Brazil, such as the Tupi and Guarani. According to legend, Guarana was created when one of their deities killed a beloved village child. To appease the villagers, the deity took the left eye of the child and planted it in the rainforest, creating the wild variety of Guarana. The deity then took the right eye of the child and then planted it in the centre of the village, giving the villagers the domestic variant of Guarana.

Today, Guarana is used as a mainstream product ingredient in Brazil, and a worldwide export. It is used in a large number of food products, including the „national beverage“ of Brazil: Guarana Soda. However, although Guarana has been largely commercialised, it is viewed with a heritage status, and an important factor to the native Indian economy. As a result, 80% of the world’s commercial production of Guarana paste is done by the Brazilian tribes of the Amazon, and is controlled by FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation). This ensures that tribes are supported, and traditional, manual methods of harvest and production are maintained without compromising the villager’s way of life.

How does Guarana Work?

How does Guarana Work?

The main compound in Guarana is guaranin, which is identical to caffeine. Like the thein in green tea and matein in yerba mate, guaranin is another synonym for caffeine. Besides, Guarana contains theophylline, theobromine and a number of xanthine alkaloids which modulate the effects of the caffeine.

Caffeine acts as a stimulant, triggering feelings of alertness and focus. This is enhanced further by theophylline and theobromine, which stimulate the heart and central nervous system to alleviate fatigue and increase mental acuity. Both theophylline and theobromine also have strong diuretic traits, reducing constriction of the bronchioles in the lungs, thus potentially helping with conditions such as asthma.

In addition to their stimulating effects, the compounds found within Guarana allow them to act as efficient antioxidants. Research has shown that even at low doses, Guarana prevents the process of lipid peroxidation. It has also been found to significantly increase blood glucose levels, as well as suprpess exercise induced hypoglycaemia (in mice).

As a result of research, the use of Guarana is growing significantly is Western countries as a natural stimulant, health food and coffee alternative. It is now contained in many natural tonics, protein bars, herbal formulas and energy drinks. However, caution is advised when choosing products, as a number of shady manufacturers mislabel their products as containing Guarana when they do not. In these cases, it is often just caffeine that has been added in.

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