What is it?
HMB is a substance formed naturally when the body breaks down the amino acid leucine, a component of protein.
Does it occur naturally in the body?
What are the claims?
There are two. The first is that if you ingest amino acids, you'll be able to increase protein and increase muscle mass. The second is that HMB will decrease the amount of muscle breakdown caused by strength training.
Does it work?
A review of studies published in the journal Sports Medicine indicates it may have a small effect, but only on untrained athletes just beginning a weight training program. There have also been some studies indicating it may be helpful for increasing lean tissue on AIDS and cancer patients.
The theory that HMB can build muscle by decreasing the amount of muscle breakdown is problematic because building new muscle requires some breakdown of protein within the muscle tissue.
An interesting note: Two studies did show that subjects who took HMB saw a reduction in both blood pressure and cholesterol. While researchers were quick to note people should not start taking HMB to reduce either blood pressure or cholesterol, it is something that more studies are currently looking into.
What are the dangers?
The current studies do not show any significant adverse health effects from taking HMB.
The Bottom Line
HMB does not appear to influence body composition without the stimulus provided by resistance training. HMB does appear to offer some benefit for people with AIDS and cancer, provided it is prescribed and monitored by a doctor.
Unless prescribed by a doctor for a medical condition, we cannot recommend the supplement HMB for people simply looking to build muscle.
Links for More Info
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
|United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
|National Institutes of Health
|United States Department of Agriculture
|WebMD - Helping you make better decisions for life.
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