Guarana vs. Caffeine: What’s The Difference?

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Coffee and energy drink enthusiasts often wonder: What is the difference between guarana vs. caffeine? While the two go hand in hand when discussing natural ways to increase your energy, they’re not quite the same thing. If you’ve ever wanted to know how guarana compares to caffeine, keep reading.

What is Guarana?

Guarana is a natural plant extract that is native to the Amazon. For centuries, it has been used by Amazonian tribes for medicinal purposes. Indigenous groups often made a drink using natural guarana, which was specifically brewed to increase energy before hunting trips.

Though the guarana plant bears fruit, the black seeds are the most valuable part of the plant. It is the guarana seeds that contain the most caffeine. The guarana seeds are plucked, roasted, and crushed into a fine powder to make pure guarana extract. This extract can then be used in various drinks and tonics.

While the native tribes in the Amazon still use guarana extract in rituals and even baked goods, it is most commonly used in energy drinks in Western societies.

Uses of Caffeine

Coffee is often credited with being the most popular source of caffeine, but it is not the most potent source. Other sources of caffeine include green tea, dark chocolate, and soda. 

Guarana is another example of caffeine. In fact, guarana is a natural source of caffeine, and it is quite potent. According to a study published in PLoS One, guarana extract contains approximately four times the amount of caffeine as coffee beans.  

These common caffeine sources have become foods and drinks that some people consume on a daily basis. Depending on someone’s lifestyle, it’s not uncommon for someone to consume multiple caffeine sources in a single day.

The popularity of caffeine can be attributed to its many benefits and uses, including:

  • Increased physical energy
  • Reduced feelings of fatigue and tiredness
  • Cognitive stimulation related to attention, focus, memory, and mood
  • Greater athletic performance and stamina
  • Source of beneficial antioxidants

Guarana Compared to Caffeine

Guarana and other caffeine sources share many similarities, including: 

 

However, there are some differences between guarana and one of the most common sources of caffeine, coffee. Coffee contains less caffeine than guarana. Coffee has also been thoroughly researched, so its uses, benefits, side effects, and interactions are all well-known. The research on guarana is still in the preliminary stages.

 

Guarana as a Source of Caffeine

One of the main appeals to guarana vs. coffee is that guarana is a more potent source of caffeine. Since caffeine tolerance may result in users needing more caffeine to experience the stimulating effects, guarana offers a higher concentration of caffeine than coffee. This means frequent coffee drinkers can become resilient to coffee’s effects. Introducing guarana as an alternative source of caffeine is one way to incorporate different types of caffeine and potentially avoid tolerance. 

Guarana is also an attractive source of caffeine due to its many benefits. While it offers similar perks as coffee — boosted energy levels, increased stamina, improved cognition, etc. — it’s also a natural plant extract with various benefits. According to Healthline, some of the advantages of guarana include weight loss, antioxidant content, improved digestion, pain reliever, heart health, and more.

Guarana Caffeine Levels

Guarana has the highest concentration of caffeine compared to any other plant, according to WebMD. While coffee has 2% caffeine by weight, guarana has between 3.6% and 5.8% caffeine by weight. Since there is no standard dose of guarana, medical experts recommend asking your doctors how much guarana is recommended in a single dosage.

Mayo Clinic recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for adults. Check the label of any guarana products and drinks to ensure that you do not exceed this cap.

Does Guarana Keep You Awake?

The caffeine in guarana may help you stay awake and alert. Like all forms of caffeine, it is not recommended to take guarana before bedtime. This may hinder your sleep. If you rely on caffeine sources like coffee in the morning, guarana may be a suitable alternative to fight fatigue and increase your energy levels. The effects of caffeine are felt within 15-45 minutes with a half-life of 5 hours, according to Medical News Today. This means someone who consumes 40mg of caffeine will have 20mg remaining in their system after 5 hours. To experience the energy-boosting effects of caffeine without negatively affecting your sleep cycle, be sure to consume caffeinated beverages like natural energy drinks earlier in the day.

Guarana vs. Caffeine: What’s Best for You?

Guarana is just one form of caffeine, albeit a very potent one. It is also a source of antioxidants and has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. This explains why the popularity of guarana as a caffeine source is quickly growing. When choosing between guarana vs. caffeine, consult your doctor to determine what source of caffeine is best for you.