HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate)

By Bill Willis, BSc, a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.

The Problem: Muscle protein Breakdown

Intense weight training damages muscle. Muscle damage, however, is the signal that initiates a cascade of biochemical reactions, the sum of which act to build new muscle mass and strength after a workout.

The problem is that many of these events are catabolic in nature; they break muscle tissue down. Bodies are constantly breaking down muscle and rebuilding it; at the end of the day if the “protein turnover scales” are tipped in our favor we will build muscle- if not we loose muscle or break even at best. Anything that can tip the scales in our favor, if only even slightly, will be a powerful muscle building compound.

Steroids Beneficial, But Illegal

anabolic steroids are very powerful inhibitors of muscle protein breakdown. This is the primary reason that steroids build muscle so effectively; it is the inhibition of muscle protein breakdown, rather than increased protein synthesis that makes Steroids so effective. While steroids certainly work, they are not without side effects and they are illegal. If steroids are not the answer then what is? We need a steroid alternative, a compound (preferably occurring naturally), with the ability to inhibit muscle protein breakdown, tipping the scales of protein turnover in our favor so we can pack on the muscle.

Solution: Purchase and Take HMB

HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate) is such a compound. HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine that has been around 35 years that either leucine or one of its metabolites elicits a powerful anticatabolic effect (1). However, until only in recent years was this metabolite identified as HMB. HMB is naturally occurring and we produce it in quantities of 0.2-0.4 grams/day. Supplementing with gram-doses of HMB can have a significant muscle building effect, especially after an intense workout.

In a series of double-blind, placebo-controlled research studies HMB was conclusively shown to decrease body fat, inhibit muscle protein breakdown, and increase muscle mass after a period of intense weight training compared to placebo. (2)

Finally! A potent muscle building compound with real research to back it up!

HMB Dosage

Take HMB 3x/day with meals, for a total of 3-6 g/day. HMB is very well tolerated. Many guys have reported good results with up to 9 g/day. HMB works best with intense training. HMB is very effective for muscle building/weight gain cycles or during dieting phases, to combat the inevitable muscle loss associated with a low calorie diet so that you can get totally ripped up while retaining the maximum amount of muscle possible.

Reference List

1. Hider, R. C., Fern, E. B. & London, D. R. Relationship between intracellular amino acids and protein synthesis in the extensor digitorum longus muscle of rats. Biochem. J.114, 171-178 (1969).

2. Nissen, S. et al. Effect of leucine metabolite beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. J. Appl. Physiol81, 2095-2104 (1996)