HMB – What is it and is it effective?

Is HMB supplementation effective?

HMB is fast becoming one of the most common ‘extras’ added to formula style protein shakes, but what the hell is it?

What is HMB?

[column size=”one-third”]Hydroxymethylbutyric_acid[/column] [column size=”two-third” last=”true”] HMB (Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate) is a metabolite of Leucine (one of the three branched chain amino acids). [/column] It’s used to help prevent muscle catabolism by preventing proteins breaking down during intense physical activity. It’s also used for its ability to increase protein synthesis throughout the day. However, it’s main function and therefore its marketing, is geared towards the former, as primarily an anti-catabolic supplement rather than an agent to increase protein synthesis.

What does anti-catabolic mean!? Essentially, because of its ability to prevent proteins breaking down during exercise, HMB has a unique ability to prevent our bodies from breaking down our existing muscle tissue. This ‘prevention’ technique is used most commonly epitomized during our race to get a protein shake in immediately after a workout to prevent us from using muscle to fuel muscle. Sounds like a dream supplement right?

When’s the best time to use HMB?

There’s no ideal time period for consuming HMB. Some say that it’s best immediately after working out, while others insist that unlike protein, which is best taken straight after a workout, HMB can effectively promote protein synthesis throughout the day. All in all, HMB is added to all kinds of commercial protein shakes, in post workout but also in slow release ‘night-time’ protein formulas too. Clearly the supplement industry agrees with both. What is widely thought to be effective, is to combine HMB with protein to profit the most from the anti-catabolic and protein synthesis enhancing effects.

How Much HMB should I be taking?

Guidelines are currently at 3 grams per day. Some HMB is created naturally in the body through BCAAs but this amount is incredibly low. We prefer to take HMB separately rather than use formulas with HMB included, that way, we know exactly how much HMB we ingesting, rather than it being unevenly distributed in protein tubs.

Is there any evidence?

Both major universities and the International Society of Sports Nutrition have conducted research into the effectiveness of HMB. Each research investigation differs slightly, but most concluded some effectiveness in the two properties were interested in, namely, maintaining muscle and increasing protein synthesis. Studies also shown increased recovery times as well as potentially aiding with fat loss.

More rigorous trials are probably needed for it to obtain the rank that protein powder, fat loss supplements and creatine have. However, the results are generally pretty positive and we suggest that you make your own conclusions by simply giving it a go.

If you’re looking to try it, Optimum Nutrition generally have a good deal on for about 50% off RRP on Amazon with their 90 capsule range:

Optimum Nutrition HMB, 1000mg, 90 Capsules


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2 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    Why are they putting this in protein shakes ??????????? mine has hmb in it but way less than 3g per serving

    • BulkingBro says:

      As a selling point. Putting 3g of HMB per serving would shoot their costs right up. Better to use a standard whey and buy the ‘add ins’ separate to get full results from HMB.

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