Bruna Schmitz

When it comes to age-related muscle breakdown, the effects of taking beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) maybe even more powerful than previously thought.

In a recent study published
in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found that, in lab animals, HMB supplementation has the potential be incredibly beneficial for adults of virtually all ages for preserving muscle, increasing strength, and even burning fat.

Over the course of the study, HMB curbed the age-related rise of atrogin-1, an enzyme that has been demonstrated
 to be a predictor of long-term muscle wasting. While young rats in the control group showed a noticeable decline in grip strength, those that were given HMB did not. In fact, they actually demonstrated a 23% increase in strength as they aged. And while the control group saw a 10–15% decrease in muscle size across all age groups, young and middle-aged rats in the HMB group improved their motor function, balance, and whole-body strength. This echoes previous research that has shown HMB to counter age-related declines in muscle size.

And while fat mass remained consistent among middle-aged rats in the control group, it dropped by 56% in the HMB group and continued to decline as the rats progressed into old age.

This seems to be clear evidence of the ability of HMB
 to blunt age-related losses
 of muscle strength and size,
 a phenomenon that may be a result of the supplement’s ability to directly increase the oxidative capacity of muscle fibers, as well as its capacity for burning fat.

References: T.P. Souza-Junior, et al., J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 8:17, 2011.