There are several benefits of HMB for those who practice sports, namely athletes who practice high intensity exercises: it helps in muscle recovery, increased strength, muscle pain, among others.
HMB or β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate is a compound originating from the metabolism of leucine. Approximately 5% of the leucine consumed through the diet is converted into HMB in the body.
The literature suggests that HMB has properties that attenuate protein degradation, especially in conditions where the individual is more likely to lose muscle mass, such as restricted diets, prolonged fasting periods or diseases that accelerate muscle atrophy.
Although primarily disclosed as a supplement that prevents catabolism, HMB also appears to be associated with other benefits.
1 - Stimulates protein synthesis
HMB is a metabolite of leucine, the main amino acid responsible for activating the body's signaling mechanisms for the synthesis of muscle proteins (via mTOR), it can be deduced that HMB may also contribute to muscle protein synthesis.
HMB also decreases protein degradation, caused by hard training, by inhibition of myofibrillar proteolysis (the natural process of muscle tissue decomposition that occurs after intense physical activity).
2 - Decreases muscle pain and muscle recovery time
During exercise, muscle cells release some enzymes that will accelerate energy production. The greater the muscle damage, the higher the concentrations of these enzymes. This is the case of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), considered markers of muscle damage.
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According to a study published in 2009, consuming 3 gr of HMB before training significantly prevents the increase in blood levels of LDH. Likewise, supplementing with 3 grams of HMB before training prevents an increase in CPK levels. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, subjects who consumed HMB had significantly lower CPK blood levels (104%) than those who did not take the supplement (329%).
3 - Increases Muscle Strength
Strength gains are maximized with the use of HMB. A meta-analysis based on resistance exercise training studies with HMB supplements shows results in increasing strength. This increased strength was observed in both trained and untrained men, young or old, and in women.
4 - Increase the VO2 max. and Resistance to Fatigue
HMB improves aerobic performance in endurance athletes (marathoners, cyclists and triathletes), which in turn improves the level of training. It also increases the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) and improves the respiratory compensation point (CPR).
It seems that HMB can reduce metabolic acidosis, and studies also show that it helps athletes to tolerate high intensity exercises over a long period of time.
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HOW TO TAKE HMB?
The recommended dose of HMB is 3g per day divided into 2 doses.
In most studies with HMB the dose used is 3 grams, which seems to be sufficient for its anti-catabolic and muscle damage reduction effects to be manifested. In fact, studies comparing doses of 3 to 6 grams found no reason to use the higher dose.
Blood levels of HMB peak 60 to 120 minutes after dosing. For this reason, and for the purpose of reducing muscle fatigue, it may be beneficial to consume HMB between 30 to 45 minutes before training. Another option will be after training.
Scientific studies indicate that HMB supplementation appears to be safe. Supplementation with 3 or 6 grams of HMB did not promote signs of toxicity.
In a study of the reference performed by Nissen et al. which gathered data from nine studies where safety of HMB was assessed, the researchers concluded that HMB can be safely consumed as ergogenic.
By Joana Correia, Nutricionist