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Are HMB Supplements Better than Steroids? – Research Review




Are HMB Supplements Better than Steroids?

          Have you ever read the reports claiming that HMB supplements are better than steroids? Steroids have become very popular in helping build the body; you might wonder if it is true. You are reading this because you are trying to get more information on HMB supplements. You are considering to start using it, or you have started using it? You are not getting the desired results. This article is going to discuss:

  • What are HMB Supplements?
  • The Surprising Information
  • How HMB Works?
  • Initial Research about HMB
  • The recent controversial report
  • The Result from the Research
  • Why the result does not seem feasible for experienced lifters
  • How does the recent research compare with previous research?
  • Results in the recent research OR Why HMB is better than steroids?
  • Other Explanations Provided for the Results Obtained
  • Another reason why we do not accept the recent research
  • The implications for you as a weightlifter

What are HMB Supplements?

            HMB is the acronym for beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate. It is a type of supplement available in the market for many years. It is a leucine metabolite, amino acid moly linked with triggering muscle growth. Also, it can improve how quickly an individual recovers. After being involved in exercise as well as indirectly growing the muscle. However, the properties of the metabolite of amino acid do not include delivering the effects that taking steroids provides.

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The Surprising Information

          It comes as a surprise that research that was released. Recent times showed that when it comes to building muscle, HMB works better. A lot of people have wondered how that could be possible. Especially considering that HMB supplements are not a new product and have been around for some time. Furthermore, some people have used it in the past. It has never really been linked to the building of muscles.

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        On the contrary, its major function was to heal the muscles during exercises. When a person exercises, especially when starting, their muscle tends to get fatigued. The major use of HMB supplements was to increase the individual's endurance during exercises. This was why it was shocking when the information was promoted that HMB supplements can now not only build muscles but also are better than steroids in building muscles.

How HMB Supplements Work?

           HMB is a byproduct that occurs naturally in the body when leucine breaks down. It works similarly to leucine. Thus, it has similar effects to leucine. Both leucine and this byproduct work independently to increase muscle protein synthesis. They also inhibit the breakdown of muscle protein as well. However, leucine is more effective at synthesizing protein, while HMB is more effective at inhibiting the breakdown of protein and mitigating the damage to muscle as a result of training.

Initial Research about HMB Supplements

          Due to how HMB works, previous research has proven it to be a very effective supplement for new lifters. Many studies involving lightly trained and untrained lifters from various labs supported this. Some of the researched were funded by organizations that are into the sales of HMB while others were from independent sources. The need to mention the source of fund is because the source could sometimes request for the researchers to make the results favor their business.

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         This sometimes happen based on he who pays the titan dictates the tune. However, the results of the earlier research were logical due to their mechanism. The fact that they decreased the damage of muscle and inhibit the breakdown of muscle protein meant that they could serve as an important supplement for new lifters.

          A lot of studies including those not related to HMB have proved that the growth of muscle in new lifters took some time. Initially, there was no muscle growth in the initial three to four weeks after they started training. However, after this initial period, there is a quick acceleration for about 2 months before the growth of the muscles slows down. The reasons for this have been explained under two school of thoughts.

Related Article: 12 Muscle Supplements that a Skinny Guy Should Take

Thoughts about HMB Supplements

Movements and Exercises

            The new lifters start taking complex movements they were not taken before, they would require some time to master such movements. By the time they do, their muscles will be used to it and it will no more be too much stress on the muscles. For instance, a study that employed leg press, bench press, and squat discovered that the arms were rapid within the initial 10 weeks after training started. On the other hand, there was no significant increase in the trunk and leg lean mass. This was probably because a lot of people concentrate more on their bicep curls as soon as they start. However, it takes some time before they get comfortable with carrying out leg press or bench press.

Damage of the muscle

           Believing that the damage of the muscle and the breakdown of muscle protein to some degree happen during training. While this is applicable for both experienced and new lifters, the new lifters experience significantly more muscle damage and protein breakdown. As a result, it is logical that HMB will be a useful supplement for new lifters. They can get more protein in their muscle, even though a significant part of the protein is utilized for repairing their muscles. Thus, the repairs of the muscles as opposed to having to build new tissues contribute significantly to their progress in rapidly growing some muscles within the first three months, before the progress reduces.

The synthesis of their muscle protein

             In the recent study, those who just started training recorded larger spikes in synthesizing their muscle protein. However, the muscles did not grow well as a result of a significant increase in the damage of muscle. As a result, the increased synthesis of protein did not correlate well with the growth of the muscle. However, after training for three weeks, the synthesis of muscle protein after training had slightly reduced. However, the growth rate increased. By now the damage on the muscle had reduced significantly making the growth in the muscle to correlate well with the increase in the synthesis of protein.

The recent controversial report

          Based on this explanation, it is easy to understand that new lifters will benefit significantly from using HMB. Reducing muscle protein breakdown and slightly reducing muscle damage that limits growth. It will gain more strength and muscle within the first few training months.

          However, in 2014, 6th of March to be précised, a study was released by Jacob Wilson. Do you know what the research was all about? Yes, it titled: ’12 Weeks Effects of HMB on Muscle Mass & strength’. The major reason why the result suddenly became very popular was due to the results that were gotten from the research. The research was carried out through a double-blind three-phase diet-and placebo-controlled random intervention. The first phase was a resistance training program that lasted 8 weeks. The second phase entailed an overreaching cycle that went on for 2 weeks. The third phase was another 2 weeks taper.

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           The power, strength, and mass of the muscle were accessed before the first week, on the fourth week, the eighth week, and twelfth week towards accessing what effects HMB-FA had on the individuals. During the overreaching cycle, the assessment of creatine kinase (CK), testosterone, and cortisol was carried out at the ninth and tenth weeks.

The Result from the Research

          The research claimed that those taking HMB recorded 16.3 lbs (7.4kg) lean mass gain during the 12 weeks, while the other group that was taking placebo recorded 4.6 lbs (2.1kg) within the same period. Furthermore, the result further claimed that the group taking HMB had their fat mass reduced by 6.6 percent, while those taking placebo had body fat decreased by 2.1 percent. The result was controversial because they do not reflect previous researches that have been carried out with similar conditions or other research conducted after the study either to confirm the result or carried out neutrally.

Related Article: Simple Guide For Muscle Mass Building With CBD Oil

            For instance, one of such recent research showed that those taking ATP and HMB supplements got 18.7 lbs (8.5kg) lean mass gain as opposed to 2.1kg in the previous research for the placebo group, while they lost 8.5 percent body fat as opposed to 2.4 percent for the placebo group in the previous research. This is considering that the research was carried out on already experienced lifters, not new ones.

Why the result does not seem feasible for experienced lifters

             As experienced lifters, it is not expected for HMB to have a lot of significant effect on their muscles. This is because even as an experienced lifter, you might still have some level of muscle damage, however, it is very minimal. Furthermore, there is a slight increase in the breakdown of muscle protein. However, considering they are little, they do not play a significant role in the muscle-building process of experienced lifters. There might be slight effects from taking HMB supplements, but it would not be as significant as in new lifters who witnessed the significant breakdown of protein and damage to the muscle. Thus, the normal thing is that the longer you have been training, the lesser the effect you should expect from using HMBs.

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How the recent research compares with previous research

             All the former research had shown that HMBs are only very effective for new lifters and only slightly effective for old lifters. In some cases, such research showed no effect in older lifters who took HMB. However, studies for both experienced and new lifters showed that HMB offered a bit of advantage in line with losing fat. Even though it is not a significant loss, it was still a bit effective. This is why it was surprising that recent research shows that you can get significant muscle gain and fat loss by consuming HMB.

Results in the recent research OR Why HMB is better than steroids?

          According to the authors of the recent research, they attempted to claim that the type of HMB supplement they used differs from other types of supplement or steroids. They claimed that they used a different type of HMB supplement from the normal HMB supplements. The normal HMB supplements are sold in the form of calcium salts while the HMB supplement used for the research was said to be HMB free acid.

               However, this explanation does not hold a lot of water as the only difference between the HMB free acid and the HMB supplement was the fact that it is more easily absorbed compared to the normal HMB supplement. There are a lot of other supplements that have a faster absorbing option but do not automatically give significant differences in effects. For instance, when Creatine nitrate is consumed, the body absorbs it much faster than when creatine monohydrate is absorbed.

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            This does not make Creatine nitrate any more effective than creatine monohydrate. Another example is Whey isolate that the body can absorb faster than its concentrate. In this case, there is no significant difference in effects as well. However, this study suddenly wants us to believe that because HMB free acid is absorbed faster. It suddenly makes it much more effective than the normal HMB supplements that have been used in previous researches. This is also considering that for the recent controversial research, the HMB free acid was consumed alongside meals. It is common knowledge that taking supplements with meals slows down the rate at which the supplement is absorbed compared to when taken without a meal.

Other Explanations Provided for the Results Obtained

          The researchers also claimed that a key factor that influenced their results was how much the participants in the research trained, stating that they trained hard. Even though this could play a significant role as the amount of lean muscle you gain could be significantly influenced by how hard you trained, it still does not justify the huge results posted. This is also considering that the training was not strictly for people that took the HMB supplement. In reality, if both of them trained in the same way and for the same period, the group that took placebo was expected to have a much better result than those that took the HMB supplements. This is in line with the fact that the research was carried out on experienced lifters instead of new lifters.

Must Read: 12 Best Books About Anabolic Steroids and Where to Buy Them

Another reason why we do not accept the recent research

            Part of the funds used for the study was obtained from Metabolic Technologies Inc. Metabolic Technologies currently holds the HMB free acid patent. This is the type of HMB supplement that the researchers used for their studies. The company employed three of the authors that were part of the research. Furthermore, they were involved in the manuscript preparation and study design of the research. Considering the unrealistic result, it could be safe to say that the researcher tried to make the results favorable to the company since they were a major sponsor of the research. This would help the company to make more money selling their HMB-free acid and probably sponsor other researches. Or perhaps, they might have been instructed to make the results favorable for the company to boost sales.

The implications for you as a weight lifter

               The two recent studies that brought about controversies in the use. The HMB supplements were partly funded by a company that holds the HMB free acid patent. Thus, there is a probability that the results were doctored to reflect a result that would boost the sales and profit of the organization that was a major sponsor of the research. We hope this is not the case since researches are supposed to be neutral and only provide true and beneficial results to the general public. Understandably, HMBs can help new lifters as they experienced more muscle damage and breakdown of protein.

             The protein breakdown inhibition properties of HMB supplements and the quick repair of damaged results can help to improve endurance in new lifters, help them practice more and help them generate better results. However, when it comes to experienced lifters, they are already used to their routine practice. Also, they suffer minimal muscle damage, as a result, the effect of HMB, while could still be slight, will not be significant.

            In line with the claims that HMB free acid absorbs into the body faster will not result in significant changes in effects. The only difference will be that instead of waiting for perhaps an hour to start noticing the effects. Remember, you can start feeling such effects within the first 5 minutes. This does not automatically translate to a different result or significant changes in the result. It only leads to the results being felt much faster.


              It can be concluded that the recent controversial results recorded with the use of HMB free acids are not accurate. There might have been other factors that influenced the result that was not stated in the research. However, it does not seem in any way feasible that just taking HMB supplements as an experienced lifter. It will result in significant muscle gain within a short period. Furthermore, placebo or normal steroids are much more effective for building muscles. For experienced lifters compared to taking HMB supplements, irrespective of if it is the normal HMB calcium salt. The HMB free acid that was used in the controversial result.

            You should thus, not expect that you will significantly gain muscles or significantly lose fat. Just because you took HMB free acid with your normal routine. You will achieve a much better result using low to medium-quantity steroids and a rigorous workout routine. It is not like it will hurt or slow you down. If you should continue to take HMB supplements as an experienced lifter, anyway. You might get slight relief from muscle damage. Also, you will still have minimal muscle damage even as an experienced lifter. However, you should not expect that taking the supplements or the HMB free acids will produce miracle results. Helping you gain a lot of lean muscles or losing a lot of fat within the 12 weeks. The research lasted or even within a much longer period.


              For new lifters, however, using HMB supplements will greatly enhance your muscle development. However, you don’t have to be particular in using HMB-free acids or HMB calcium salts. As both will produce the same effects. The HMB free acids produce the effects much faster, while the calcium salt after some time. This will help you get quick results within the first 3 months. When you are still getting used to weight lifting and when you will be suffering a lot of muscle damage.

               You will get faster muscle repairs and better endurance to complete your routine at that initial stage. However, after 3 months, your body and muscle should be used to your routine. You will then be getting lesser muscle damage. Subsequently, HMB supplements will have lesser effects on your muscle gains or fat loss. You need to continue your normal routine. Take some steroids (if you want to, though you will get faster results). Also, you will continue to gain lean muscle and lose fat.

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