Review: 32GI Guarana Caffeine Shot, Separating Energy Gel & Caffeine

 

32GI Guarana Caffeine Shot provides 60 mg of caffeine per 4.5g pack. Pure liquid guarana is the caffeine source instead of coffee. Guarana is maybe less sensitive to the stomach. The shot also contains 13 calories and 3.3g of carbohydrates, of which 2.3g is sugar, mostly from brown rice syrup. Its texture is gel-like and the flavor has a “twist” of medicine-like bitter-sweetness.

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Caffeine is widely accepted as an athletic performance booster and not to mention a naturally occurring substance in delicious beverages (coffee and tea) and added in many energy gels. Its benefits are well covered, ranging from fatigue delay and fat oxidization to increased alertness and focus.

Today, I will share our review on 32GI’s G-Shot-Guarana Caffeine Shot and the benefits of separating your energy gel and caffeine intake during a race.

Before we get into it, we recently reviewed the South African-based company’s energy gel and energy chew if you are interested in learning more about its products and product design philosophy.

Aaannnnd one more thing. I just want to let you know that I cut off caffeine, both tea and coffee, for seven days to properly test this caffeinated race fuel. (According to 32GI, it works “best when the user is caffeine intolerant. Athletes should try to avoid caffeine completely in the two weeks leading up to the event to maximise its effect.”)

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Marketing claims

The G-Shot line falls under 32GI’s “Race” series, which does not follow the gel maker’s low-glycemic philosophy for replenishing carbohydrates. The “lower and steadier rise in blood sugar” concept is reserved for the “Endure” series in the forms of sports drinks and energy chews.

G-Shot has one flavor – Espresso Flavor – and here are some of the beneficial claims.

  • It replicates the “potency, taste and effect of a real-life espresso coffee shot.”
  • Pure liquid guarana is its caffeine source instead of coffee. Guarana is maybe less sensitive to the stomach.
  • The shot contains few carbohydrates and is low in calories, allowing you to separate your calorie, sugar, and caffeine intake. The benefit is precision with when to refuel what.

 

Guarana – caffeine powerhouse from the Amazon

Although you may not have heard of guarana, you have likely consumed it before. It’s an ingredient in energy drinks such as Monster, Red Bull, and sodas. The fruit of this native plant of the Amazon basin is rich in caffeine, containing four times more caffeine than coffee beans.

It also has theophylline and theobromine, two stimulants with caffeine-like properties as well as anti-oxidants such as tannins, saponins, and catechins.

In addition, coffee upsets the stomach of some athletes, so guarana is an alternative to get a caffeine boost. Tonics made with guarana have long been used to treat digestive problems.

Ingredients and nutritional facts

The Guarana Caffeine Shot still contains 3.3g of carbohydrates, of which 2.3g is sugar, mostly from brown rice syrup.

Brown rice syrup consists of maltotriose (three glucose molecules), maltose (two glucose molecules), and glucose.

At 4.5g, the shot provides 13 calories and 60 mg of caffeine (about the same as a shot of espresso). The ingredient list is short and straightforward, which is always a plus in my book. However, since there’s no coffee in the shot, I’m curious to know where it got the espresso flavor. The list only says “natural flavouring.”

 

Taste and consistency

The caffeine shot is gel-like. The coffee flavor has a “twist” of medicine-like bitter-sweetness. I wouldn’t say it tastes great, just palatable. I did noticed that the after taste lingered a bit longer than usual.

But the flavor and texture aren’t the primary concerns. 4.5g is such a small amount of liquid that it’s not difficult to handle.

 

Packaging – one-hand convenience

Just like its energy gels, the caffeine shot comes in the patented one-hand snap design. It’s a flat packet smaller than a credit card, so it’s super easy to carry along for any endurance activity.

Simply snap it in half with one hand to open up a crack at the center and suck. It’s easy and mess-free.

 

Performance

After seven days of caffeine-free living, I was pretty much over the withdrawal stage. On the sixth and seventh days, I was feeling normal despite not having that morning cup of Joe. To test the the shot, I planned a 16km run. Maintain an easy-to-moderate pace for 13km and cut it down to threshold pace for the last three.

I took one shot minutes before the workout and then one more around 35-40 minutes into the run. I also had a 500ml soft flask of water mixed with 25ml of glucose and a pinch of salt.

Takeaways

  • After depriving myself of coffee, the first shot was super charged. Shot it and I was ready to surge with 60mg of caffeine coursing through my veins. Effect was quite noticeable.
  • However, after seven caffeine-free days,  I suspect that any food or drinks with caffeine would have given me a substantial boost. The shot’s main advantage is putting the caffeine in a compact, easy-to-carry, and easy-to-open package.
  • Yet! the caffeine high is similar to that of green tea. It’s lighter and made me very alert, which is a great feeling to have when exercising. Where as coffee often gives me a heavier feeling.
  • I think a caffeine shot makes a lot of sense. We often wake up a little late and don’t have time to brew a cup of coffee before heading out for a workout. And if you’re like me, a person who needs a caffeine fix to function, this caffeine shot is a good product for you.
  • For my mid-week easy runs in the morning (usually under 90 minutes), I like to do them empty stomach. And, a big dose of sugar early in the morning is not appealing to me. It’s good to have something convenient that provides a quick caffeine kick without all the sugars.
  • For a race, I can totally see the benefit of separating my energy gel and caffeine intake. Too much caffeine and sugar are detrimental to performance (jitters, elevated heart rate, gastrointestinal distress, to name a few). It’s not a bad idea to separate the two and be more precise with when to replenish what.
  • Guarana is a good caffeine source. Some might argue it’s healthier than coffee since it’s kinder to the stomach and provides anti-oxidant properties.
  • The one-hand snap design is worth mentioning again. It’s just a well-thought-out design. I hate not being able to tear open an energy gel during a race.

 

Conclusion

This is the first time I’ve tried a standalone caffeine shot. While it might be a hassle to carry extra packages during a race, I do see the benefits of consuming sugars and caffeine separately.

There were definitely times when I had already taken three energy gels in an hour and didn’t want to risk “overdosing” on carbohydrates by eating another full gel, but did feel like I need a boost. A caffeine shot with low carbohydrate and calorie content would have been helpful.

For trail ultramarathons that require running overnight on little sleep, this is a good product. 20+ hours into a quad-busting, mentally draining ordeal, a full gel is often the last thing you want to refuel with.  A quick shot of caffeine to provide a kick during the dark and lonely night might just be the thing you need.

32GI G-Shot – Guaranga Caffeine shot set well. Flavor was palatable and caused zero stomach issues. The caffeine high was very pleasant. I felt light and focused, which is exactly the way I want to feel during a race.

It worked as advertised. Highly recommend!

 

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Need a little motivation to head out the door as winter approaches? Here are some fan-favorites from our “Inspiration” section. Happiness happens when you run.