Studies have found that taking HMB may be associated with numerous benefits, especially in the area of body composition. these include increased muscle growth and decreased muscle breakdown.
Although quite a few studies have examined the impact of hmb, additional research is needed to fully understand its effects in various populations.
These are some of the promising benefits of taking hmb.
can help muscle growth in certain people
Commonly, companies market HMB as a supplement that helps muscle growth. however, research on hmb in this area shows mixed results and is inconclusive.
Earlier studies, from the early 2000s and earlier, have found it may help in certain populations.
these studies looked at the effects of hmb in untrained people and older people. those who combined taking hmb with resistance training experienced greater muscle growth than those who did only resistance training (6, 7, 8, 9).
In addition, a review of 7 studies in 287 older adults looked at the effects of taking 2-3 grams of HMB daily for periods ranging from 8 weeks to 12 months (3).
participants taking hmb gained an average of 0.78 pounds (0.35 kg) more muscle than those taking a placebo supplement (3).
However, other studies have found that hmb did not influence muscle growth.
for example, a review of 10 studies looked at the effects of hmb in 384 adults aged 50 years and older (10).
found that combining hmb supplementation with physical exercise had little or no effect on changing body composition, strength, or exercise performance, compared to exercise alone (10).
an analysis of 6 studies in 193 participants found that it may not improve these factors for trained, competitive athletes either.
found that when athletes took 3 to 6 grams of hmb daily for a period of 3 days to 12 weeks, they experienced no increases in strength or changes in body composition (11).
In summary, the research on hmb and muscle growth shows mixed results. however, some research shows that this supplement may benefit muscle growth in untrained and older people.
can help reduce muscle breakdown
Research suggests HMB may help reduce muscle breakdown.
Test tube studies suggest that HMB may help prevent muscle breakdown in several ways within cells, such as by suppressing genes and enzymes that promote muscle protein breakdown (12).
An analysis of 15 studies looked at the effects of taking HMB in 2,137 people. these participants had health conditions that promote muscle loss, such as cancer, hiv, kidney failure, and malnutrition (4).
the analysis found that taking 3-4 grams of hmb daily for a period of 7 days to 6 months was significantly more effective in preventing muscle loss than a placebo (4).
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Similarly, other studies in older people have shown that taking HMB can help preserve muscle mass during periods of bed rest (13, 14).
However, scientists need to do more research on hmb and its potential protective effects against muscle breakdown in a broader range of participants, including healthy youth and adults, before recommending it for this purpose.
can help adaptations to exercise
Some research has indicated that HMB may improve adaptations to exercise. this refers to a longer-term change rather than an immediate one.
For example, a 12-week study in 16 elite rowers found that taking 3 grams of HMB daily significantly increased aerobic exercise capacity and peak anaerobic power, and helped reduce body fat, compared with a placebo (5).
Anaerobic power refers to the maximum power you can produce during high-intensity exercise.
Similarly, another 12-week study in 42 combat sports athletes found that taking 3 grams of hmb daily significantly increased aerobic and anaerobic exercise capacity, compared to a placebo (15).
Other studies in athletes and healthy adults have shown that taking 3 grams of hmb daily has similar effects on aerobic and anaerobic capacity (16, 17, 18).
other potential benefits
Studies have associated HMB with several other benefits. however, there are fewer studies or weaker evidence to support them.
This is why more research is needed on the potential benefits below before experts can fully understand them and make recommendations.
A review of 9 studies in 254 participants looked at the effects of taking 1-3 grams of HMB daily in addition to a regular weight-lifting program.
Participants experienced a significant reduction in markers of muscle damage and improved recovery (19).
Research from animal studies suggests that HMB may help reduce age-related mental decline. however, scientists need to study these effects in humans (20, 21, 22).
Several test-tube and human studies have shown that taking hmb can reduce inflammatory markers, such as tnf-α, il-8, and infγ (23, 24).
a 4-week study in 11 people with diabetes who were on dialysis found that taking a supplement containing hmb along with arginine and glutamine significantly improved wound healing (25).
an earlier review of 9 studies found that taking 3 grams of hmb daily significantly lowered total cholesterol, ldl (bad) cholesterol, and systolic blood pressure compared to taking a placebo.
systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading.
However, it is unclear whether hmb, exercise, or both were responsible for these effects (26, 27).
more research of a higher quality is needed to look at this further.
Studies have linked HMB to several health benefits, including better adaptations to exercise, reduced muscle loss, improved recovery from exercise, and more. it can also increase muscle growth in untrained people and older people.