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May 25, 2023
Are you looking for a safe and effective supplement to help you reduce muscle protein breakdown and boost exercise performance? If so, HMB may be just what you need!
HMB has been used for decades for its potential to enhance muscle growth and improve exercise recovery. But what exactly is HMB, and how does it work?
In this post, we'll take a closer look at HMB, its benefits, any side effects, and how to use it to achieve your bodybuilding goals. HMB may be the missing piece in your fitness puzzle, whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting out.
Let's get started!
Table of Contents:
HMB, meaning beta-hydroxy beta-methyl butyrate, is a dietary supplement sometimes used by athletes and bodybuilders. As a leucine metabolite, it reduces muscle protein breakdown while increasing protein synthesis, leading to a net increase in muscle mass.
HMB has been shown to help maintain muscle mass while dieting or during periods of low activity and promote muscle hypertrophy when combined with intense resistance training. We will dig deeper into the specifics later in the article, but for beginners will get the best results using HMB.
HMB works by reducing muscle cells protein breakdown and promoting protein synthesis. When you exercise, your body degrades muscle proteins, which causes muscular damage and discomfort. HMB helps reduce this muscle protein breakdown by inhibiting certain enzymes that break down muscle proteins1.
In addition to reducing muscle protein breakdown, HMB also increases protein synthesis, which is the process by which the body builds new proteins. This increase in protein synthesis could lead to more muscle mass and improve muscular strength over time.
HMB could also allow for faster recovery and better overall performance. According to research, HMB's anti-inflammatory qualities may aid in the reduction of muscle damage and discomfort following exercise2.
While we need more research to fully dig into the mechanisms behind HMB, its ability to reduce muscle protein breakdown and promote protein synthesis makes it a popular supplement for bodybuilders looking to support muscle growth and recovery.
As previously stated, HMB is a metabolite of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid in high-protein diets such as beef, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Your body breaks these proteins into amino acids, including leucine.
Once leucine is in the body, it can be used in various ways, including protein synthesis and energy production. A small portion of leucine is also converted into HMB through a series of enzymatic reactions that occur primarily in the liver.
The human body gets all of its HMB from dietary sources of leucine, with roughly five percent of all dietary leucine being converted to HMB3.
While the body does produce some HMB on its own, the amount is relatively small compared to the amounts found in dietary supplements. Most people will want to supplement HMB to get a significant amount.
Looking for more reasons too convince you to take HMB? Here are the five best benefits of beta hydroxy beta methylbutyrate supplements.
Recent research shows that HMB has been shown to help increase muscle growth, specifically in untrained young men4, boosting protein synthesis and improving recovery.
For example, a 2018 study showed HMB supplementation improved work capacity recovery within 24 hours after high-intensity exercise5.
Supplementing with HMB can improve strength gains in trained and untrained lifters. A 2009 meta-analysis examined nine studies that included trained and untrained subjects.
Based on the data, HMB offers a clear benefit for lower body strength gains in beginners6. Although the meta-analysis only showed a trivial benefit for trained lifters, some research supports strength gains for everyone.
For instance, one study by Panton and colleagues found that when paired with an exercise regimen, HMB may boost upper body strength and decrease muscle damage regardless of gender or training status7.
HMB has been shown to reduce not only exercise-induced muscle damage but muscle loss from aging as well. In one study, 3g of HMB supplementation following a long run led to decreased creatine phosphokinase and LDH response.
Both are metabolites of muscular breakdown, so a reduction supports the concept that HMB supplementation can slow exercise-induced muscle damage8.
Additionally, HMB can prevent muscle loss in older adults. Another study examined how HMB affects older people after ten days of bed rest. The subjects supplementing with HMB saw less muscle loss than those who didn't take HMB9.
HMB activates the body's mTOR enzyme, inducing muscle protein synthesis10. The research is in mice, but it is plausible since HMB is a metabolite of leucine, and leucine is the primary driver of muscle protein synthesis11.
HMB has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness caused by intense training. That's great news for muscle recovery!
What sets HMB apart from other supplements is its safety and effectiveness. It has been extensively studied in human trials for decades and is safe for long-term use, with no known adverse effects reported.
However, as with any supplement, dosage is key. Taking between 1 to 3g of HMB per day is recommended in most cases.
HMB supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders that contain HMB as the main active ingredient. As mentioned, HMB is a naturally occurring compound both found in food and produced in the body as a byproduct of leucine metabolism.
That said, it is much easier to get enough HMB through supplementation. HMB supplements come in various forms, including capsules, tablets, powders, and liquid formulations. You can also get products with HMB with amino acids arginine and glutamine or vitamin D.
Most studies looking at HMB have used the calcium salt of HMB (HMB-Ca). However, another form of HMB, HMB-free acid, has recently taken over as the most popular form.
They are typically taken daily in doses ranging from 1 to 3 grams, although the optimal amount depends on things like body weight and exercise intensity.
Bodybuilders may benefit from supplementing with HMB for several reasons.
First, HMB studies show it supports building muscle by promoting protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown. Combine more protein generation and less muscle loss with enough time, and you've got a recipe for muscle mass and strength gains.
Moreover, HMB may also help reduce muscle damage and soreness after exercise, allowing for faster recovery and better overall performance. The harder and more often you can train without injury, the better your performance.
Finally, HMB may have anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, potentially positively impacting overall health and well-being.
Most people can benefit by supplementing with HMB, but there are three groups who will see the best results.
As mentioned, HMB supplementation is great for bodybuilders. Competitive bodybuilders often train in catabolic states, and anti-catabolism is one of HMB's best qualities. One user praised HMB's positive effects on their frequent, high-volume training schedule:
"HMB is great for long high intensity workouts with lots of volume. I'm able to recover and grow from 3 hour workouts now, doing ~15 sets per body part and 3 BP per workout (so total 40-45 sets). HMB is more or less useless for low volume work IMO." (source)
As bodybuilders get more training volume than most, a safe and effective supplement like HMB is a great option to improve body composition for anyone looking for that edge over the competition.
New lifters can expect to gain muscle strength, improve body composition, increase muscle mass, and reduce muscle damage with HMB.
In case you didn't notice, beginners' benefits mimic those of advanced bodybuilders, but they're just to a larger degree.
Since beginners typically see more initial muscle damage from lifting, and HMB can suppress muscle damage and muscle protein breakdown, the impact of HMB for muscle growth is more significant.
As we age, muscle mass and strength naturally decline, and HMB can help combat this by reducing protein breakdown and promoting protein synthesis.
Additionally, older lifters often experience more muscle soreness and fatigue from physical exercise than younger lifters. Supplementing with HMB may help reduce muscle damage and soreness after exercise.
Lastly, HMB's anti-inflammatory properties may positively impact overall health and well-being, especially for older lifters at increased risk of age-related health conditions.
HMB supplements are generally safe for all people. However, there is insufficient research on their safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it's best to avoid them. The same can be said for children, although there shouldn't be any issue.
Lastly, in rare occurrences, some experience GI issues when supplementing with HMB. If that happens, discontinue use or try a lower dose.
Several HMB supplements are available on the market, and it's tough to determine which ones are the best, as there really are many great options. But, to get started, I recommend checking out our list of the Best HMB Supplements.
When choosing the right HMB supplement for you, consider the following:
Considering these factors, my two favorite HMB products are Transparent Labs Creatine HMB & Optimum Nutrition HMB.
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB is a flavored powder that tastes great and mixes well. Plus, it contains 5g of creatine monohydrate (another must-have product!) per serving, so you get two effective supplements in one.
Optimum Nutrition HMB is the best pure HMB on the market. Optimum is one of the industry's most reputable brands, and you really can't go wrong with using their products.
The optimal dosage of HMB can vary depending on factors such as age, weight, and level of physical activity. However, most studies on HMB supplementation suggest a dosage range of 1-3 grams daily.
Up to 6g per day is safe, but it's important to note that taking more than the recommended dosage does not necessarily result in more significant benefits.
Let's take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions about HMB.
No evidence suggests that HMB is bad for your liver when taken appropriately. However, people with pre-existing liver conditions should consult their healthcare provider before taking HMB supplements.
HMB supplements are generally safe for healthy adults when taken in appropriate doses.
No, HMB is not a steroid. It is a naturally occurring metabolite of the amino acid leucine.
Evidence suggests that HMB can help preserve muscle mass and strength, improve recovery, and enhance overall health. However, based on the literature, new lifters see the most significant benefits of an HMB supplement.
HMB supplements can be purchased at many health and supplement stores and online retailers. To find a list of high-quality options in one convenient place, check out our article on Best HMB Supplements.
There is no evidence to suggest that HMB causes hair loss.
HMB benefits muscle mass and strength preservation, improves recovery, increases bone density, and enhances overall health. It reduces protein breakdown and promotes protein synthesis, reduces muscle damage and soreness after exercise, increases muscle strength, and provides anti-inflammatory effects.
HMB supplements benefit athletes and bodybuilders looking to preserve muscle mass and strength, improve recovery, and enhance overall health. They may also help older individuals combat age-related muscle loss and improve bone density.
HMB supplements are generally safe when taken in appropriate doses by healthy individuals. However, as with any supplement, it's essential to use it correctly.
Since there are no known side effects from taking appropriately dosed HMB, and it has evidence to support its effectiveness, it's a good supplement.
HMB is not likely to cause unwanted weight gain, as it does not stimulate appetite or promote fat storage. However, it may help preserve and build muscle mass, so you could gain lean body mass while taking it.
Calcium HMB is a form of HMB bound to calcium. It is one of the most popular forms of HMB.
HMB supplementation has been shown to have numerous benefits for bodybuilders and athletes looking to enhance their performance and recovery. It can help promote muscle growth, reduce muscle breakdown, and improve overall physical performance.
While HMB is generally safe and effective, supplements alone will not do the work for you. Consistency with a dialed-in nutrition plan and exercise program is essential for achieving optimal results. That said, HMB can be a valuable tool for those looking to take their training to the next level.
Looking for an HMB supplement to help you optimize your results in the gym? Check out our article covering the 7 Best HMB Supplements.
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