The field of amino acid supplements has seen a dramatic change in recent years. Studies showing the benefits of Branched Chain Amino Acids have prompted a large number of such products in recent years. More recently, the amino acid Leucine has been identified as being critically important for building muscle mass which has led companies to enter an arms race where their BCAA supplements are presented as new and improved with higher and higher ratios of Leucine to the other two BCAA’s (Isoleucine and Valine). Even though there is a considerable body of research supporting the tradition 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine to the other two, supplement companies have come out with 4:1:1, 8:1:1 and even a 10:1:1 formula (take a bow Musclemeds).
At the same time as this others have decided to produce essential amino formulas seeking to replicate an ideal ratio for building muscle tissue in humans based on Net Nitrogen Utilisation (Humapro and Recov Bipeptides being two such products). While some have gone down the route of essential amino acid blends, others have decided standard BCAA supplements can be improved by using a more refined source (Ajinomoto sourced BCAA’s as seen in IBCAA and Strive).
You would think there was nothing left to be uncovered in this field but now researchers from Chungbuk National University in South Korea have uncovered what is potentially a new pathway for building muscle faster than before with the use of an amino acid mixture derived from silk.
The silk preparation was given to mice and dosed 50, 160 or 500mg/kg silk protein dissolved in solution. This is Group A. Group B was given a solution containing just water and no silk solution.
The mice were then made to swim for 30 minutes while the researchers tracked measurements of how they performed.
On days 14, 18, 28 and 42 a weight was attached to the tails of the mice and they were forced to swim until exhaustion. Interestingly enough the mice given the silk solution were able to swim for longer than those given the water. As the study progressed all mice increased their performance as measured by the time to exhaustion test but those given silk progressed at a more rapid rate and the mice given the highest dose of silk proteins far outperformed the other groups given lower doses.
After 44 days the researchers took measurements of cortisone (similar to cortisol, a stress hormone) and testosterone from the mice. The mice given just water experienced a drop in testosterone after exericise while the groups given silk protein experienced a rise in testosterone which, remarkably was more noticeable for those mice given the lowest dose
The Korean researchers then proceeded to measure body composition
The table above shows a rise in muscle mass in all groups compared to the start (resting period) with the biggest rise in muscle mass occurring in the high dose silk amino acid group of mice.
What does this study tell us?
Well, first of all it demonstrates once again of the performance and body composition benefits of amino acid mixtures and that this benefit is dose dependent. The rise in testosterone which occurred mainly in the low testosterone group is interesting and would require more research. Potentially the testosterone levels of the high dosed mice being lower may be due to the fact their bodies have adapted to an earlier rise in testosterone and had by then reverted back towards baseline. In this respect it would be interesting to see whether or not a later test of testosterone levels would have revealed that all testosterone levels in the silk amino acid ingesting mice had reverted to baseline.
How much would a human need to take?
If we convert the doses used in mice to a human weighing 80kg it would work out to 4g, 12.8g or 40g of Silk Amino Acids per day. This would be a high dose although not too far off from what many who use BCAA supplements use. The fact that rodents’ metabolisms are much faster than humans’ you could probably afford to reduce these dosages.
How do they compare to other amino acid formulation?
This is the million dollar question and until someone compares mice (or better still, humans) taking Silk Amino Acids versus regular amino acids (or indeed Leucine enriched, IBCAA or EAA formulas) we will not know whether the introduction of Silk Amino Acids is going to be an advance in sports nutrition or just a newfangled way of marketing the same product.
Try a silk amino acid based supplement
Purchase Blox by BPI from us today, and test it for yourself.
© 2012, Reggie Johal. All rights reserved.