HMB Guide: Everything You Need to Know

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate or better known as HMB, is a supplement that has been around for a long time – due in part to the fact that it actually works. HMB is a metabolite of leucine that aids in recovery as well as protein synthesis (which helps improve muscle growth). This HMB guide will go further in-depth when it comes to the research behind this supplement and all of the benefits that you can yield from its use.

What is HMB?

As mentioned above, HMB is a metabolite of the powerful amino acid leucine. Leucine has been known for its anabolic effects when it comes to muscle recovery and growth. HMB is considered a dietary supplement and has been used as far back as the early 1990s.

HMB is actually produced naturally by the body in the liver and the muscle itself, but only when leucine is present to be broken down.

Obviously, muscles don’t simply grow on their own without something acting upon them and forcing them to do so. When you create the perfect storm of training for hypertrophy (following a proper nutrition plan, quality rest, and utilizing scientifically-backed supplements), you put yourself in the best position to achieve the results you desire. And in the case of this article, we’re specifically talking about supplementing with HMB.

What Benefits Can HMB Provide for You?

For years many have been supplementing with HMB to aid in putting on quality lean muscle mass and maximizing hypertrophy[1]. Without training for hypertrophy, you will see minimal gains, if any muscle gains at all. The goal and what HMB can help provide you with is the ability to increase your overall strength and allow you to see improvements and gains in your lean body mass over time[2].

To achieve hypertrophy and help build quality muscle, you will need to train at a high level. When you exercise at a high level and/or with high-volume training methods, you can speed up the recovery process following those intense bouts of exercise through the supplementation of HMB[3].

Another benefit of supplementing with HMB is when it comes to aging, we generally tend to have problems maintaining lean muscle mass, and many experience a form of muscle wasting or atrophy. When individuals supplemented with an HMB supplement, they were found to better preserve lean muscle mass even as they age[4]. The even better news is that all hope isn’t lost for those who have already suffered muscle loss or atrophy. Supplementing with HMB can actually help reverse the effects of muscle loss and help regain the muscle that was previously wasted[5].

To piggyback on what was said about muscle wasting above, many people follow an intermittent fasting nutrition plan. This creates upwards of 16 hours or more when an individual is in a fasted state. Many believe that exercising in a fasted state would cause muscle wasting. With that being said, supplementing with HMB has been shown to help reduce muscle breakdown even when you are in a fasted state[6] – making it advantageous to use when you are exercising in a fasted state.

Lastly, when you consider taking supplements, everyone wants to know that what they are taking is safe. Well, research has shown that supplementing with HMB is, indeed, safe and has not caused any adverse side effects[7].



  1. Pimentel, G. D., et al. (2011). Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate supplementation stimulates skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rats via the mTOR pathway. Nutrition & Metabolism. 8(11).
  2. Slater, G. J., Jenkins, D. (2000). Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation and the promotion of muscle growth and strength. Sports Medicine. 30(2), 105-116.
  3. Wilson, J. M., et al. (2013). International society of sports nutrition position stand: beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB). Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 10(1), 6.
  4. Wu, H., et al. (2015). Effect of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate supplementation on muscle loss in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gerontology and Geriatrics. 61(2), 168-175.
  5. Argiles, J. M., et al. (2016). Skeletal muscle regulates metabolism via interorgan crosstalk: roles in health and disease. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 17(9), 789-796.
  6. Wilson, J. M., et al. (2013). Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutryate free acid reduces markers of exercise-induced muscle damage and improves recovery in resistance-trained men. British Journal of Nutrition. 110(3), 538-544.
  7. Nissen, S., et. al. (2000). Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation in humans is safe and may decrease cardiovascular risk factors. The Journal of Nutrition. 130(8), 1937-1945.