Along with creatine, protein, and a select few others, HMB (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate ) is one of the handful of bodybuilding supplements that has been shown in multiple research studies to help lifters build muscle and lose fat. But in order to get the most of out HMB, you need to make sure you get enough at the right times.
So how much HMB do you need to get bigger?
Both science and broscience hold answers for us, but it’s helpful to first understand what HMB is and what it does.
What Is HMB and How Can It Help You?
Leucine is one of the three branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, and studies have shown that it enhances protein synthesis in the body. Researchers have also found that leucine can limit proteolysis, or muscle breakdown. The combination of those two traits means that leucine can improve your overall nitrogen balance, a measure of protein gain (or loss) at any given moment.
Because the amount of leucine required for enhanced proteolysis is significantly more than the amount required for an uptick in synthesis, researchers hypothesized that the proteolysis effect is due to a metabolite of leucine. Subsequent research has shown that one of those metabolites, HMB, does indeed reduce proteolysis on its own. It ALSO increases the rate of protein synthesis.
How Much HMB Do You Need?
You’r probably thinking that you can get HMB from your diet since it is derived from an essential amino acid — leucine — and that is true. Egg whites, poultry, fish, and grass-fed meats are all high in leucine, for example.
But only a small percentage of the leucine you consume through food, or even in supplemental form is converted to HMB. In fact, most estimates put HMB production under half a gram per day for most healthy adults. Even if you consider that bodybuilders take in much more protein, and thus leucine, than the average person, we probably make less than a gram daily.
Meanwhile, many research studies, like those discussed in this 2008 literature review, suggest that at least 3 grams of HMB per day are required to induce benefits in protein synthesis and proteolysis. For large, hard-training lifters, that number can climb to six grams or more per day.
All this points to the need for HMB supplementation if you want to reap maximum benefits, as your body just cannot produce enough on its own to provide the full ergogenic effects from large quantities of HMB.
Should You Take HMB?
There ARE some studies which show that HMB produces little effect for some trainees, but there are enough that DO suggest enhanced muscle-building for many lifters that it’s probably a worthy addition for most, at least on a trial basis.
Of course, before you commit to taking large amounts of any supplement on a daily basis, be sure to talk with your physician to make sure that it won’t cause you any health problems. While the incident of reported side effects for those taking supplemental HMB has been low, only your doctor can help you decide for sure if its right and safe for you.
If you’re looking for a boost in new muscle mass, though, HMB looks promising for the typical lifter.
Want Even More Information?
If you want to learn ALL about how to build new muscle, be sure to check out our bodybuilding ebooks. They are yours free.