HMB Benefits: Body Building, Health

HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid) is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine that is used in dietary supplements to help promote muscle growth and exercise performance according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

HMB grows muscle tissue by simulating protein synthesis and reducing protein breakdown. A double-blind study published in European Journal of Applied Physiology stated that HMB supplementation along with resistance training increased lean body mass by 7.4 kg on average compared to 2.1 kg on average for the placebo group.

Questions arise such as what the side effects of HMB are, what is the best dosage of HMB, and when should you take HMB. Also, in this article will evaluate the 7 benefits of taking HMB.

1. Aids Muscle Growth

Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is the process by which muscle cells increase in size and volume in response to increased mechanical loading or other types of physical stimulation. During this process, the number of contractile proteins within each muscle fiber increases, resulting in an increase in the overall size and strength of the muscle.

HMB aids muscle growth by reducing proteolysis which is a process that breaks down protein according to a paper published by S. Nissen in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1996.

HMB increases muscle growth by increasing the protein synthesis rate. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2013 administered HMB at various concentrations to neonatal pigs and determined that the protein synthesis rate in skeletal muscle had increased based on the analysis of tissues.

Muscle growth can be hindered by muscle breakdown. HMB does reduce the process of muscle breakdown.

2. Reduces Muscle Breakdown

Muscle breakdown, also known as rhabdomyolysis, is the process by which muscle cell content is broken down and metabolized for energy.

HMB reduces muscle breakdown by increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown. This minimizing of protein breakdown and damage to muscle cells is important for bodybuilders. A paper published in the Biomedicines Journal in 2023 stated that an analysis by Pathways Studio indicated that HMB may have improved statin drawbacks. Statins have been attributed to the development of rhabdomyolysis.

Another concept besides muscle breakdown that is important to muscle building is recovery time.

3. Speeds Recovery Time for Weightlifters

Recovery time for bodybuilding is the period between exercise sessions when the body repairs damaged muscle tissue, replenishes energy stores, and adapts to the stress of the workout.

HMB speeds recovery time for weightlifters by reducing the force of pro-inframammary medicators. A paper published by Jay Hoffman, Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, Sport and Exercise Science, University of Central Florida, stated that a 23-day HMB supplementation study on combat soldiers revealed that there was a reduction in inflammation response.

Inflammation that is out of control can actually cause muscle breakdown along with increasing recovery time.

4. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is a protective response triggered by damage to living tissues. It is characterized by the classical signs of pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function.

HMB reduces inflammation by decreasing the circulating inflammatory biomarkers c-reactive protein and interleukin-6 according to a paper published in the Progress in Nutrition Journal in 2019 by Foad Asjodi.

Not only does inflammation hinder muscle growth, it also affects breathing capacity which causes quicker exhaustion during workouts.

5. Increases Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity

Aerobic capacity is the ability to sustain physical activity for extended periods of time using oxygen. It is the amount of oxygen that can be used by the body during exercise. Anaerobic capacity is the ability to perform short-term, high-intensity activities without the use of oxygen.

HMB increases aerobic and anaerobic capacity by improving muscle metabolism that allows for better energy production and endurance. A study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition on 16 elite rowers. The test subjects were administered 3 g/day of HMB over a 10-day period. The VO2 max rate of oxygen increased by 2.7 ml/kg/min. compared to a reduction of VO2 of -1.0 ml/kg/min for the placebo group.

Anaerobic peak power increased for the test group. The refusal time to continue in the progressive test increased. While for the placebo group, these amounts decreased.

Having a high aerobic capacity is important to body builders that wish to tone muscle by reducing body fat. HMS also aids in burning calories.

6. Causes Weight Loss

Weight loss is the process of losing total body mass because of reducing the number of calories consumed, increasing physical activity, or an illness.

HMB causes weight loss by reducing fatigue during exercise allowing the preservation of lean muscle mass, while at the same time, burning calories. A HMB study was published in the Obesity Medicine Journal in September 2019. The study was of 40 overweight sedentary women over 6 weeks (17 in the control group, and 18 in the HMB group). There was a positive effect on the body composition for the HMB group. These women had a decrease in weight, along with a lowered abdominal and waist measurement.

Controlling weight aids in reduction of inflammation which is beneficial for brain orders such as Alzheimer’s.

7. Lowers the Intensity of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by the destruction of nerve cells and the loss of cognitive functions, including memory, language, judgement, and reasoning.

HMB lowers the intensity of Alzheimer’s Disease by use of its neuroprotective function. A HMB study published in the Cell Reports Journal of familial Alzheimer’s Disease mice reported improvements in spatial learning, memory, and a reduction in plaque load.

Nevertheless, there are concerns on the negative effects that may be present with HMB supplementation.

What are the Side Effects of Taking HMB?

The side effects of HMB are nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea. No adverse side effects were reported in a study on HMB published by Gabriel J Wilson, Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, even though a enormous amount of the supplement was administered to test animals that was equivalent to 450 g per day for a 200-pound man.

In a HMB supplementation after a liver transplant study published in the Nutrients Journal in 2019, no side effects were reported for the control group of the HMB group. No adverse effects were reported for the liver or kidneys.

Even though the likeliness of side effects is low, there is an optimum dosage for HMB supplementation to achieve the best outcome.

What is the Best Dosage for HMB?

The best dosage for HMB for adults is 3g per day. A study in the Antioxidants Journal in 2018 stated that a 3 g dose of HMB causes a plasma concentration of HMB just 1 hour after consumption.

Timing for the consumption of HMB is important.

When Should you Take HMB?

You should take HMB 1 hour before intense exercise which means pre-workout. If you are consuming HMB-FA, take it 30-60 minutes before your workout.

What to Mix with HMB?

You can mix HMB with creatine, vitamin D or glutamine. Glutamine will help to remove excess ammonia and it will help to enhance your immune system.