Is Japanese Hornet Spit a Supplement Worth Taking for Athletic Advantage?
Nutritional supplements that claim to boost endurance naturally are nothing new. But in many cases, the scientific studies have just not been there to back the claims. So might be the case with VAAM Energy Hornet Juice, a sports drink that claims to boost athletic performance and sustain energy.
VAAM (Vespa Amino Acid Mixture) contains a synthetic version of liquids secreted by the Vespa mandarinia – or Asian Giant Hornet – which is a very large-sized wasp with a body length of 27 – 45 mm which includes a quarter-inch stinger. The queen can reach 5.5 cm! The insects have the ability to fly as many as 50-60 miles per day at a speed of 25 miles an hour.
Back in 2000, Japanese long-distance runner Naoko Takahashi won Olympic gold for the women’s marathon in Sydney with a record time of 2:23:14. She attributed her success to the use of Hornet Juice. Other top athletes in Japan say the drink works wonders in preventing dehydration, maintaining energy levels and preventing fatigue.
But, of course, the scientific studies into the supplement have been few and small.
In 2001, researchers in Japan studied the effects of VAAM using six healthy young male subjects exercising on a treadmill. The researchers found that the men experienced an increase in fat oxidation, thus the claims that the product helps the body use fat for energy during exercise and could potentially aid weight loss.
In a second study, based on the theory that amino acids, especially branched chain amino acids (BCAA), improves exercise activity, researchers created an amino acid mixture using 1.8% VAAM collected from V. mandarinia larvae and fed it to mice. The mice given VAAM were able to swim longer t han those given other amino acid mixtures.
A third study involved a total of 24 healthy male subjects consisting of endurance runners, sprinters, soccer players and men who were sedentary. The athletes given VAAM appeared to experience a reduction in physical stresses which then helped them to improve their overall training ability.
Most recently, Hornet Juice was tested on 24 sedentary women in their 60’s. The researchers claim that combined with a 90 minute twice-a-week workout, VAAM helped increase aerobic fitness and decrease abdominal fat.
As you can see, these studies are very small and some are more than 10 years old. Today, the FDA has not approved any claims that VAAM Hornet Juice is either effective for improving athletic endurance or for weight loss. Nor has its safety been tested among a wider group of people.
Additionally, the supplement is quite expensive – at $2.50 per serving.
For athletic endurance, skip the bee pollen, worm-and-turtle soup, and reindeer milk (all of which have been used – and sworn to be effective by testimonials! – by successful athletes). Instead, train appropriately, giving importance to rest and recovery days, and try adding some of these endurance-boosting superfoods to your diet:
1. Quinoa – it contains all nine essential amino acids which are critical to the functioning of the human body. It is also a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium.
2. Kale – this leafy green is full of nutrients for athletic performance, including magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, folate, zinc and iron.
3. Bananas – the “perfect” food to consume 30 minutes before an endurance race because they are packed with complex carbs and potassium (which minimizes cramping and helsp the cardiovascular system function.)
4. Chia Seeds – one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. The ancient grain has been used for centuries by the Aztecs and the Mayans as an energy source.
5. Lean Beef – Iron is a crucial nutrient for endurance athletes because a deficiency leads to fatigue.
6. Sports Drinks – Gatorade, Powerade and the like are cheaper than Hornet Juice and provide the carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fluid to get you through long periods of exercise.
Saito Shin’ichi, Tsuchita Hiroshi, Mukai Naoki, Abe Takashi. Effects of ingestion of Vespa Amino Acid Mixture (VAAM) under postprandial conditions on blood ketone body concentrations during prolonged exercise in humans. Bulletin of Institute of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Tsukuba. VOL.24;NO.;PAGE.71-78(2001)
Abe Takashi, Yoshimi Takiguchi, Masahiro Tamura, Junko Shimura, Ken-Ichi Yamazaki. Effects of Vespa Amino Acid Mixture (VAAM) Isolated from Hornet Larval Saliva and Modified VAAM Nutrients on Endurance Exercise in Swimming Mice. Japanese Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine. Vol 44 No 2. 1995
Koh Mizuno, Kastumi Asano, Takashi Abe, Koji Morishita. Effects of Ingestion of Hornet Larval Salivary Amino Acid Mixture on Metabolic Responses during Exercise
Sasai H, Matsuo T, Fujita M, Saito M, Tanaka K. Effects of regular exercise combined with ingestion of vespa amino acid mixture on aerobic fitness and cardiovascular disease risk factors in sedentary older women: a preliminary study. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2011 Jan;11(1):24-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2010.00630.x
NY TIMES, January 3, 2001
Active.com: 6 Superfoods to Boost Your Endurance
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