What is HMB?

HMB or Beta-Hydroxy Beta-methylbutyrate Leucine. It's a metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine. HMB is produced in our body from the protein in our diet and is also found in small amounts from foods such as catfish, grapefruit and alfalfa. The company Metabolic Technologies, Inc. has exclusively licensed HMB patents from The Iowa State University Research Foundation. MTI requires all manufactures and/or retailers to obtain a sub-license to use HMB in nutritional products. MTI was founded in 1990 by university professors Steven L. Nissen, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Naji N. Abumrad, M.D. Ultimately their research led to the discovery of HMB and its effects on health and performance. MTI's first product was HMB. After seven years of safety and efficacy research in animals and humans, HMB was introduced to the national market in 1995 via EAS, it actually was one of the early products EAS introduced, both as a stand-alone product and as a combo product with creatine (Betagen). At this same time, Twin Lab engaged EAS in a “marketing war”, pushing their product KIC Fuel as a better choice.

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Benefits of HMB

HMB supplements help the process of muscle growth by minimizing the amount of muscle that is broken down after you train. You may get the following benefits:

  • Increased gains of lean muscle
  • Prevents muscle catabolism
  • Speeds up muscle repair and recovery times
  • Increase VO2 max and endurance

HMB supplements help to slow down a process call proteolysis, which is the natural process of the breaking down of muscle tissue that occurs after intense physical activity such as training – remember training is actually a catabolic event! Taking HMB gives the body a head start on recovery by minimizing the amount of muscle breakdown and protein degradation after exercise. This means that your body stays in an anabolic state longer allowing for more muscle growth. This area is currently popular with the use of newer product ideas such as intra-workout drinks – a huge category! Yet, I haven't seen HMB in any of them and this product can be considered a pioneer of this category.

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Evidence Behind HMB

This is one of those products with a ton of studies to back up it's claims. Here I will list some examples of the evidence that's out there:

Thomson, J.S., Watson, P.E., and D.S. Rowlands, 2009: Effects of nine weeks of beta-hydroxy-beta- methylbutyrate supplementation on strength and body composition in resistance trained men, J. Strength Cond. Res. 23:827-835
In this 9-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, HMB increased lean mass, decreased fat mass and resulted in a substantial increase in lower body strength.

Rowlands, D.S., and J.S. Thomson, 2009 Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate supplementation during resistance training on strength, body composition, and muscle damage in trained and untrained young men: a meta-analysis, J. Strength Cond. Res. 23:836-846

This recent meta-analysis ( The process or technique of synthesizing research results by using various statistical methods to retrieve, select, and combine) was conducted on the effects of HMB in younger men participating in resistance-training programs. The data were broken into trained and untrained subject groups. The authors concluded that HMB supplementation resulted in clear overall increases in strength in men beginning a weight training program, but that the benefit of HMB in trained athletes was smaller.

Wilson, G.J., J.M. Wilson, and A.H. Manninen, 2008 Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on exercise performance and body composition across varying levels of age, sex, and training experience: A review, Nutr. Metab. (Lond) 5:1 This independent, peer-reviewed paper discusses the critical details of HMB studies and the variables affecting the results of these studies. Included is a review of the current research showing how HMB works (metabolic mechanisms). This paper concludes that collectively there is not only clinical data, but also mechanistic data supporting HMB's effect on increasing muscle mass and strength.

Lamboley, C.R., D. Royer, and I.J. Dionne, 2007 Effects of ß-hydroxy-ß-methylbutyrate (HMB) on aerobic performance components and body composition in college students, Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 17:56-69 Placebo-controlled study in college students. HMB supplementation significantly increased maximal oxygen consumption.

In my research for this guide, I have to say I was impressed by the amount of and more importantly, the availability of the research.

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HMB Supplements and Dosage

When choosing a HMB product, always look for the patent number 5,348,979 on the product label! Every licensed HMB product is required to carry this patent number. HMB is available as a stand-alone product in tablets, capsules and powder. It comes combined with other products, most notably with creatine as a powder – this dates back to the early years of creatine being on the market. The recommended dosage is three grams per day with it typically spaced over 3 servings a day. Should you decide to "customize" your dosage, research has shown that 38 mg per 2 pounds of body weight each day is ideal. I would, in fact, suggest a custom drink using this product – as stated above regarding the intra-workout category, I would add creatine and hmb to any existing intra-workout powder for improved effectiveness and results. As I've said before, this is a huge area right now allowing you to stay in an anabolic state while you train. Imagine the impact on recovery if you can side-step the catabolic process that usually starts at the end of your workout!

As always refer to the product label for specific dosage instructions.

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