HMB has been around for over two decades and was touted as the next big thing for both muscle gain and in the retention of existing muscle tissue (as when dieting/decreasing calories).* Unfortunately, back in the 1990’s when it became popular it was very expensive and therefore overlooked, understudied and underused. Fortunately, since then there has been enough research and the price has drastically decreased due to better technological and manufacturing practices. So how does HMB work? Well one of the ways it works is by reducing cell membrane damage due to exercise.*
MARKERS OF CELL DAMAGE
There are three main markers which researchers look at when examining muscular proteolysis (breakdown of protein into peptides or amino acids) or damage: creatine phosphokinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and 3-methylhistidine (3-MH). Research has shown HMB supplementation to maintain healthy levels of all of these parameters 1,2.*
One study showed that supplementing with HMB decreased CK levels below the initial screening values at the two week mark, while the placebo group’s CK levels were more than five times as much as their initial screening value3!*
CK levels in the blood rise from muscle cells “leaking” out CK due to cellular membrane damage. This study showed that supplementing with HMB helped to maintain healthy muscle cell membranes and allowed less “leaking out” of CK out from the muscle cells3.*
How does one use HMB effectively?
Consuming HMB in close proximity to your workout will enhance it’s effectiveness4. Think about adding it 30 minutes before and immediately after your workout. Results are usually seen after about 2 weeks of consisitent use. About 38 mg. per kilogram of bodyweight is the recommended dosage, according to this study, to enhance skeletal muscle growth, strength, and power in untrained and trained populations when the appropriate exercise prescription is utilized4.* An example is a male weighing 75 kg. should take 2,850 mg. or 2.8 grams of HMB. Since the pills come in 500 mg amounts, he would take in 6 capsules – having 4 before the workout and 2 after the workout, since most studies have correlated best results prior to an exercise bout.
Currently, two forms of HMB have been used in studies: Calcium HMB (HMB-Ca) and a free acid form of HMB (HMB-FA). HMB-FA may increase plasma absorption and retention of HMB to a greater extent than HMB-Ca. That said, there is not enough research with HMB-FA is not enough to determine whether this form is superior. HMB has also been demonstrated to increase lean body mass and functionality in the elderly and sedentary populations.* That’s why you may have seen it advertised in senior nutritional shakes. What’s more, chronic consumption of HMB has been shown to be safe in both young and old populations as it has been on the market for over two decades with no known side effects4. To further muscle retention and enhance muscle protein synthesis I would also add branched chain amino acids, or simply BCAA’s, as they have also been shown to support muscle retention (cell preservation) and increase protein synthesis (muscle building) when taken before a workout5.* So why not add both HMB and BCAA’s to your supplement menu it’s sure to better your strength, power and overall well being! For the most cost effective versions I recommend using NOW Foods HMB and NOW Foods BCAA’s.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- Nissen, S. et al. (1996) Effect of Leucine Metabolite -hydroxy- -methlbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. Journal of Applied Physiology. 81(5):2095-104.
- Panton, L. B. (2000) Nutritional Supplementation of Leucine Metabolite -hydroxy- -methlbutyrate (HMB) During Resistance Training. Nutrition. 16:734-739.
- Jowko, Ewa, et al. (2001) Creatine and -hydroxy- -methlbutyrate (HMB) Additively Increase Lean Body Mass and Muscle Strength During a Weight-Training Program. Nutrition. 17:588-566.
- Jacob M Wilson, et al. (2013) International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2013 10:6 10.1186/1550-2783-10-6
- T. C. Vary, C. J. Lynch (2007) Nutrient Signaling Components Controlling Protein Synthesis in Striated Muscle J. Nutr. 137 no. 8 1835-1843
Disclaimer: I am provided products by NOW Foods as NOW Wellness Influencer, that said, as anybody who knows me knows, I never endorse or encourage the use of a product or service unless I wholeheartedly believe in it!