Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Wasp juice supplement enhances aerobic capacity

Study shows you build up just as much muscle with low weights and lots of reps
A Japanese sports supplement that's based on the juice that the Asian wasp Vespa mandarina uses to feed itself enhances the effect of a light fitness and cardio programme, write researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Geriatrics & Gerontology International.

Vespa Sport Supplements came to endurance athletes' attention during the 2000 Olympic games, after the victory of the Japanese marathon runner Naoko Takahashi. Newspapers reported that she put her success down to "stomach juices of giant, killer hornets that fly 100 km a day at up to 25 km/hour."

That's not quite accurate. The Meiji Dairies Corporation supplements that Takahashi used were synthetic. Their composition was based on that of the juice that the larvae of the Vespa mandarina exude for their adult guardians. These insects of prey may be at the top of the food chain, but they are incapable of digesting their own prey. For their nutrition they are dependent on their own larvae.

Key ingredients in the wasp juice are proline and glycine, Takashi Abe of the Japanese company Riken discovered. His theory is that the amino acids stimulate the citric acid cycle in the body, which in turn enhances the conversion of glucose and fatty acids into energy. According to endurance athletes' reviews on the web, the wasp juice does have 'some effect', but this shouldn't be exaggerated. And some report feeling nauseous. [ May 08 2009]

The authors of the article in Geriatrics & Gerontology International wanted to know whether the wasp juice had an effect on people who are not fanatical about exercise. So they did an experiment with 24 healthy but inactive women in their early sixties. The researchers got the women to train for 12 weeks. Twice a week the subjects did an hour and half of training in the gym. They did either aerobics or non-intensive strength training.

Half of the women were given a placebo. The other half was given 190 ml of a sports drink containing 3 g wasp amino acids [Vespa Amino Acid Mixture or VAAM].

After 12 weeks the VO2max of the supplements group had increased by more than that of the placebo group. The VO2max is the strongest indicator of cardiovascular fitness.

Study shows you build up just as much muscle with low weights and lots of reps

Study shows you build up just as much muscle with low weights and lots of reps

What's more, the amount of belly fat decreased by more in the experimental group than in the placebo group.

"Vespa Amino Acid Mixture ingestion might be beneficial for maintaining aerobic fitness and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk factors in older women", the researchers conclude. They think that the wasp juice might have more effect "if a longer duration exercise regimen or much greater exercise volume were administered".

The research was financed by Meiji Dairies Corporation.

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2010 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print].

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