NutraBio Q&A: Do silk amino acids really improve athletic performance, or are they just a hype?

If you’ve heard any of the talk about silk amino acids (SAA), you might be ready to throw away your branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and other supplements. But not so fast! SAA is being sold as the greatest breakthrough in modern sports supplementation, but is there any truth to this hype?

In my opinion, there is no empirical evidence to prove that silk amino acids (SAA), especially in the form sold as sports supplements, have any benefit whatsoever to performance athletes. Here’s why:

Sports supplements sold as silk amino acids do not contain any real silk amino acids!

The silk amino acid used in the research that started all this hype was sericin, a natural water-soluble glycoprotein extracted from raw silk. Sericin is a specific hydrolyzed protein, a peptide consisting approximately 18 aminos acids in a specific combination and structure. There are absolutely NO sports supplements sold today that contain sericin as an ingredient. Instead, a combination of the five most predominant aminos in sericin are blended together with some flavoring and hyped to the public. There is no way to extend the findings on the sericin research to the products on the market today because they contain no sericin. It’s marketing hype at its finest.

The study does not show a benefit of supplementing with SAA over any other protein or amino!

We all know that protein and amino acids in general have benefits to building muscle and improving athletic performance. So here’s the study: Two groups of mice were weighted down and forced to swim for 30 minutes a day for 44 straight days. One group of mice was given SAA protein every day during training, while the second group was given no protein. Huh? Did we really a veterinary hospital in Chungbuk, Korea, to research this? If protein and aminos are known to benefit performance, then the study should have contrasted SAA to other proteins or amino blends, such as BCAAs or even whey protein to see if there was any real improvement. The study didn’t prove anything other than what we already knew: protein helps!

One more point: This small study in question was done on eight-week-old mice. The dose that was shown to be effective was 500mg per kg of bodyweight. The equivalent weight-dependent dose for me, at 190 pounds, would be 43 grams. The SAA sports supplements on the market today have an average of about 4 grams per dose. So based on the research, I would need to take 11 times the recommended dose to even pretend that the product is effective.

So if you want to know why I’m so negative on SAA supplements, it’s simple: irrelevant research studies, products that that don’t contain the same ingredients used in the study, and products that are severely under-dosed. In my opinion, any one of these is reason enough to invalidate the claims made on SAA supplements.

Mark Glazier

NutraBio Labs, CEO