Perky Jerky? Energy boosts? Guarana.
The Wall Street Journal (March 2nd, 2010) had a very informative piece about guarana, a highly caffeinated plant from South American that is used in a variety of products such as energy drinks, dietary supplements, herbal tea, beef jerky, and candy.
The science does, somewhat, back up claims that guarana can boost energy, mood, and brain function and even promote weight loss. The energy, mood and brain function boosts were better than what would be expected from caffeine alone.
1. If you have ANY sort of heart issue, stay away. One woman with the heart condition mitral valve prolapse died after consuming a guarana containing energy drink.
2. Weight loss ONLY occurred using guarana with other products.
3. Few studies have been performed and just how much of an extra boost guarana may yield over caffeine is unclear.
4. Pay attention to the caffeine content in any guarana containing product. Keep in mind that an average 8 oz cup of coffee has approximately 100-130 mg of caffeine. Some guarana products can have as much as 350 mg or more. Be wary of syrups.
For example one package of "Perky Jerky", which is marketed as caffeinated beef jerky, contains approximately 120 mg of caffeine, along with 180 calories and 22 grams of protein. But keep in mind that a "serving size" is 1 oz. One 8oz Red Bull or original Rock Star has 80 mg of caffeine. (8 oz of Starbucks yields 165 mg.) Perky Jerky and some energy drinks will also have sugar. Perky Jerky contains 5 grams for each 1 oz serving, so 10 grams for the packet.
5. Just because it comes from a shrub does NOT make it better or "more natural." Caffeine is caffeine.
Now, you are probably wondering about the caffeine in chocolate, yes? We've got answers. Read an earlier post demystifying the "will my dessert keep me up tonight?"