Can HMB Prevent Muscle Breakdown and Maintain Muscle Mass?

Can HMB Prevent Muscle Breakdown and Maintain Muscle Mass?

HMB (also known by the tongue-twisting name beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate) is a molecule that helps protect and repair muscle tissue in the body.

HMB is also a byproduct of leucine (a branched-chain amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis). HMB is a vital component of muscle cell membranes, maintaining muscle cell integrity by protecting muscles and supporting muscle regeneration.

5 Potential Benefits of HMB

  1. Prevents Muscle Breakdown
  2. Improves Lean Muscle Mass
  3. Improves Athletic Endurance
  4. Reduces Muscle Fatigue
  5. Improves Strength and Power

HMB plays a vital role in the muscle adaptation process by stimulating the synthesis of muscle protein through the mTOR pathway. As indicated earlier, levels of HMB in the body are dependent on the availability of leucine. 

Since our body cannot produce essential amino acids, our body must source these amino acids (including leucine) from food. You can find HMB in foods such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs, alfalfa, and grapefruits.

HMB for Muscle Loss Prevention

Since exercise leads to the breakdown of muscle, HMB is said to reduce muscle breakdown during high-intensity exercise. Research by the American Association for Cancer Research found that HMB, combined with arginine and glutamine, led to muscle growth in cancer and AIDS patients. These are, of course, people with chronic disease, not healthy people.

However, another study investigating the effect of HMB on experienced athletes suggests that HMB supplements do not affect muscle growth. Research by Kingston University claims that HMB enhances lean body mass and reduces body fat as long as resistance exercise stresses the muscles.

Further research by the Institute of Sport and Physical Education in Poland shows that a combination of creatine and HMB leads to greater muscular strength and size amongst athletes undergoing progressive resistance training.

Although creatine and HMB use different mechanisms, the researchers found that athletes who took a combination of HMB and creatine experienced a greater decrease in body-fat. Is this result caused by HMB and creatine working together, or creatine alone? In this case, the benefits were most likely due to the introduction of creatine into the athletes’ diet.

Another promising study by Czech researchers shows that HMB increases muscle strength in sedentary and overweight women, even when the women didn’t perform any exercise.

Safety and Side Effects

The International Olympic Committee has sanctioned the use of HMB, giving it the green light in competitions. Therefore, HMB appears to contain no harmful side effects and doesn’t infringe upon existing doping laws.

Additional research by Iowa State University found no harmful side effects in blood samples of more than 100 individuals using HMB. Furthermore, it’s easy to validate the safety and quality of any HMB supplement by checking

Research recommends 3 grams of HMB at least an hour before working out. In order to obtain the recommended dose of HMB, which is 3 grams per day, you need to consume extremely high doses (over 750 grams of high-quality protein or 60 grams of leucine per day). 

Further research shows that HMB’s efficiency doesn’t improve with higher doses. For example, increasing your HMB dose from 3 grams to 6 grams doesn’t improve HMBs effectiveness.

Effectiveness of HMB

Despite the benefits associated with HMB, it’s essential to keep in mind that HMB cannot overcome an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Remember, HMB comes from leucine, and leucine is a component of protein. You need to eat real, whole foods, train smart, and get adequate amounts of sleep as opposed to relying on HMB to protect your muscles.

Overall, the evidence doesn’t support the idea that HMB prevents muscle loss and is worth taking for healthy individuals. In cases of muscle atrophy (as seen in bed-ridden patients), HMB is effective for preventing muscle loss. However, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that HMB prevents muscle loss and atrophy in athletes and healthy individuals.