HMB first rose to popularity in the 1990’s but at this time it was overpriced and never really gained the momentum it deserved. Most athletes know very little about how this supplement works and its role in the body which is a great shame because the prices of HMB are now very reasonable. It could be the key to optimising your training and achieving your dream physique.
What is HMB?
ß-Hydroxy ß-methylbutyrate (HMB) is a metabolite of the essential branch chain amino acid leucine which means it is a byproduct of the breakdown of Leucine. HMB is naturally produced in the body from proteins we consume in our diet, but it can also be found in small amounts in obscure foods such as catfish.
The Benefits of HMB
HMB supplements help to slow down a process call proteolysis, which is the natural process of breaking down muscle tissue that occurs after intense physical activity. Most people take HMB to enhance effects of training on muscle size and strength by optimising time spent in an anabolic state.
The following benefits are associated with HMB supplementation:
- Increased gains of lean muscle
- Preservation of lean muscle when cutting
- Prevention of muscle catabolism
- Reduction of delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) 24 hours post-exercise
- Enhanced body fat reduction
- Decreased total cholesterol (particularly LDL)
- Decreased systolic blood pressure
- Increased VO2 max and endurance
- Improved mood
Like with any other nutrients, the amount that you need is dependent on bodyweight. In general, if you weigh 60kg or less 2g per day is sufficient. If you weigh more than 60kg, you can take a dosage of up to 4g per day. Ideally, you should only take 1g of HMB at a time, so if you weigh more than 60kg you will need to take the supplement up to four separate times per day. Short term studies have found that even 6g of HMB per day is not harmful however due to limited long term research this is not advisable.
Studies have been carried out on subjects of various age, gender and training status over short durations (12 weeks or less). No studies have found significant negative side effects. In fact, most studies found positive effects on overall health as well as increases in lean muscle mass. It cannot categorically be stated that HMB has no side effects in the long-term as research in this area is minimal.
HMB supplements are commonly taken with protein shakes, glutamine, creatine and carbohydrate. Stacking creatine and HMB has a very positive effect on training as you provide your muscles with the power to work harder while minimising muscle breakdown and reducing recovery time.
Nissen S, Sharp RL, Panton L, Vukovich M, Trappe S & Fuller JC, HMB Supplementation in Humans is Safe and May Decrease Cardiovascular Risk Factors, The Journal of Nutrition, 2000, 130(8):1937-45.
Panton LB, Rathmacher JA, Baier S, Nissen S, Nutritional Supplementation of the Leucine Metabolite HMB During Resistance Training, Nutrition, 2000, 16(9):734-9.