October 20, 2011
I first became familiar with beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) when I was doing research on behalf of my grandmother, who had a condition that was causing her body to waste muscle. I came across promising research that oral supplementation with HMB could aid in the prevention of muscle damage and assist in increasing muscle strength and lean muscle mass.
It was during this search that, as an over-forty fitness fanatic who was noticing changes in my body due to good ole gravity, my eyes widened and my posture perked when I also noted that these results where even greater when combined with strength training. I thought, "Hmm, could HMB be helpful for me as well?"
After further understanding more thoroughly about this ingredient, I think so. Here is what I learned.
HMB is naturally occurring in small quantities in some foods such as grapefruit, catfish, and alfalfa and is a metabolite of leucine, one of the body's essential branch chain amino acid. HMB seems to play a pivotal part in protein synthesis and therefore the synthesis of muscle tissue. It also has the ability to burn fat and builds muscle more consistently in response to exercise. It has been proven particularly helpful for endurance athletes like myself by speeding recovery: there's less muscle destruction during intense workouts, allowing recovery to happen more quickly.
By reducing protein catabolism (breaking down) and wear and tear produced when people open fire on their muscles with both prolonged, heavy-duty endurance and strength work, HMB can help athletes to resist fatiguing and therefore get the most out of their workouts.
HMB has been clinically shown to reduce the levels of a chemical called 3-methylhistidine a marker of protein degradation. Plasma levels of two key muscle enzymes, which are often considered to be the markers of muscle damage, CK and LDH, also were lower with the HMB supplementation.
I take three to six grams, two or three times per day with meals, to build muscle when I am training for a particular event or have a desired strength goal. However, to promote fat loss and simply maintain muscle mass, 2-3 grams between meals seems to work spectacularly.
So, don’t let this little nugget get overlooked—especially for those of us daring to defy the effects of aging and gravity.
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