Role of Guarana Extract in Weight Loss

The Amazon rainforest is home to a plethora of superfruits known for their nutritional density and health benefits. One such fruit bursting onto the scene is the guarana.

Guarana is a climbing plant native to Brazil that produces vibrant orange berries. These small berries have been used for centuries by Amazonian tribespeople to boost energy, health, and wellbeing.

Inside each guarana berry resides coffee bean-shaped seeds containing potent compounds. Dried and powdered guarana seeds have become a popular addition to energy drinks and weight loss supplements.

But why are people turning to this exotic Amazonian fruit to shed pounds? Let’s analyze the science behind guarana’s weight loss effects.

Role of Guarana in Weight Loss

What is Guarana?

The guarana plant, scientifically called Paullinia cupana, is valued for its caffeine-rich seeds. Since ancient times, Amazonians have prepared guarana seeds as a drink or food to promote alertness and stamina.

Guarana seeds contain up to 8% caffeine – over twice the amount in coffee beans! But guarana provides more sustained energy and focus than the jittery effect of caffeine alone.

This is due to natural compounds in the seeds, like tannins, saponins, and catechins, that modulate the release of caffeine over time. Guarana also contains antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin B variants, magnesium, potassium, and more.

Nowadays, guarana extract supplements have skyrocketed in popularity outside the Amazon. Guarana fat-burning pills and drinks are marketed to boost metabolism, suppress appetite, and amplify workouts.

But is there solid evidence guarana can help you lose weight? Let’s break down what the research says.

Why Guarana Might Promote Weight Loss

Scientists have identified several mechanisms by which guarana extract may spur weight loss:

1. Appetite Suppression

Multiple studies indicate guarana can act as an appetite suppressant. This effect is likely due to guarana’s caffeine content and catechins.

Research shows caffeine consumption can reduce the hunger hormone ghrelin while increasing satiety hormones like PYY and GLP-1. This promotes a feeling of fullness.[1]

The catechins in guarana, like epicatechin and procyanidins, are also linked to suppressing appetite signals in the brain. Taking guarana daily may help curb cravings and reduce overall calorie intake. [2]

2. Thermogenesis

Thermogenesis refers to heat production in the body, which requires burning calories. Guarana has been shown to increase thermogenesis, possibly due to its caffeine content.

One study found subjects taking guarana extract experienced up to 8% higher energy expenditure due to thermogenesis. The researchers estimated this could promote up to 2 pounds of fat loss per month with no other changes. [3]

3. Metabolism

Some research indicates guarana can enhance metabolic mechanisms related to fat burning like lipolysis, the breakdown of fat cells. Saponins and polyphenols in guarana may trigger this effect.

A study in mice given guarana extract saw increased lipolysis in adipose tissue samples. The same effect was not seen in control groups, indicating guarana’s role in metabolism regulation. [4]

4. Exercise Performance

We all know building calorie-burning lean muscle requires exercise. Guarana’s natural caffeine can boost exercise capacity, helping you power through tougher, longer workouts.

One study had athletes perform high-intensity exercise tests after taking guarana supplements. The guarana group experienced increased oxygen uptake, power output, and time to exhaustion. [5]

Guarana allows you to burn more calories and build metabolism-boosting muscle by energising your workouts.

Weight Loss Research on Guarana

The mechanisms above make a compelling case for guarana as a weight loss aid. But does the current research confirm guarana’s efficacy?

Here’s a breakdown of key clinical trials investigating guarana for weight loss:

Positive Effects on Weight Loss

  • A double-blind study had overweight adults take either a placebo or guarana extract daily while following a low-calorie diet. After just 15 days, the guarana group lost an average of 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs) more than the placebo group. [6]
  • Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial had subjects take either a guarana supplement or placebo for 8 weeks alongside a calorie-controlled diet and exercise regimen. The guarana group lost an average of 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs) — significantly higher than placebo. [7]
  • A 12-week study pairing guarana capsules with aerobic exercise three times a week found the combo resulted in nearly 5 times more fat mass reduction compared to exercise alone. [8]

Mixed Results

However, a few studies show more modest effects:

  • A double-blind trial using guarana failed to find significant differences in weight loss compared to placebo over 45 days. Both groups lost weight from diet and exercise changes. [9]
  • A review of 5 clinical studies concluded guarana led to only slightly more weight loss compared to control groups, though it improved fat metabolism. [10]


Some limitations have been pointed out that may impact guarana’s weight loss potential:

  • Studies use varying guarana doses (50mg – 1200mg caffeine) making it difficult to determine efficacy. [11]
  • Guarana is often combined with other ingredients like green tea, so isolating its effects is challenging.
  • Larger scale, long-term randomized controlled trials are still lacking.

So in summary, while some promising research indicates guarana can boost weight loss, especially when combined with lifestyle changes, more clinical evidence is still needed.

Trying Guarana for Your Weight Loss Goals

Based on the current evidence, guarana supplements may provide additional weight loss benefits when stacked with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and an overall calorie deficit.

Here are some tips for using guarana for weight loss:

  • Look for guarana extract supplements with 50-75% caffeine content. Doses of 50-200mg caffeine from guarana may be optimal.
  • Take guarana 30-60 minutes pre-workout to maximize energy, fat burning, and metabolism effects.
  • Combine with green tea or coffee extracts for added thermogenesis and antioxidant protection.
  • Start with lower doses and monitor the effects. Increase cautiously to avoid side effects like insomnia, anxiety, etc.
  • Avoid late-day supplementation, which can disrupt sleep due to the caffeine content.

Of course, check with your doctor before taking guarana, especially if you have medical conditions or take medication where interactions are a concern.

While guarana isn’t a magic bullet for dropping pounds, it holds promise as a thermogenic weight loss accelerator when combined with the right lifestyle.

Takeaway on Guarana for Weight Loss

Thanks to its natural caffeine content and unique compounds like saponins and tannins, guarana extract can:

  • Boost thermogenesis and metabolic fat-burning
  • Increase exercise performance and energy expenditure
  • Suppress appetite and food cravings

Though more clinical trials are warranted, these mechanisms make guarana a potentially effective supplemental helper for losing those stubborn pounds when combined with daily activity, a calorie-controlled diet, and healthy habits.

As an exotic Amazonian berry backed by traditional use and emerging research, guarana is now firmly on the radar for anyone looking to enhance their weight loss efforts with.

Just be sure to temper expectations to avoid disappointment and focus on the fundamentals like diet and exercise.

When used right alongside lifestyle changes, guarana just may give your weight loss journey the added push you need to reach your goals faster and empower your health.



About Jessica J, M.D

Written & reviewed by Dr. Jessica J. Follow me on Pinterest & LinkedIn.