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HMB, or Eeta-hydroxy Eeta-methylbutyrate, is quite a popular bodybuilding supplement, and there is some research to back up its effects. HMB is a water-soluble metabolite of the amino acid leucine, and is made by our bodies or obtained from food. It is present in small quantities in both plant and animal foods, and is also a constituent of breast milk.

HMB appears to upregulate the body's ability to build muscle and burn fat (Nissen, et al 1996). HMB is a precursor of proteins of muscle and the immune system in supporting maximal cell repair. Thus the muscle membrane can be more rapidly repaired after exercise-induced damage. Muscle growth is supported by having enough HMB available for membrane expansion. HMB may also reduce protein turnover, hence it has an anti -catabolic effect. Its lipogenic effects are poorly documented.

How much HMB is required depends on how much muscle you already have, i.e. a heavily muscled bodybuilder will require more than a newcomer to the gym. Doses somewhere between 1.5g and 5g per day have been indicated to be optimal. It is possibly best taken post training along with simple carbohydrates, in a loading and maintenance phase, like creatine. It is also suggested that HMB be cycled, as continued use may down-regulate its effects.

HMB is perfectly safe and side effect free. But, despite reasonable research it is just not raved about as much as other supplements, and it does not produce such dramatic initial changes that creatine monohydrate does. It is very expensive, due to the fact that manufacturers claim it to be costly to produce. It appears that HMB may have positive effects for bodybuilding, but is by no means a 'great' supplement and I would spend my money on other products.

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