What is it?
HMB is actually a metabolite of the amino acid L-leucine. L-leucine is one of three amino acids known as the branched chain amino acids or BCAA (isoleucine and valine being the other two).
It has been known for a long time that BCAA play a critical role in the turn over of lean body tissues (muscle) and is muscle sparing (i.e. anti-catabolic) in a variety of muscle wasting states. Of the three BCAA, L-leucine appears to be the most important to preserving hard earned muscle mass and intense exercise and certain disease states have been shown to eat up a great deal of L-leucine. So far so good!
The main drawback of L-leucine is the fact that you must use large amounts of this amino acid to get a positive effect, making it both expensive and impractical. Many studies that showed benefits were in fact done intravenously and used as much as 5 grams per hour of L-leucine!
That, my friend, is a lot of leucine.
So, it was theorized there might be a metabolite of this ultra important amino acid that was responsible for many of the positive effects of L-leucine but could be taken in far lower doses and by mouth (as opposed to having a tube stuck in your arm). That metabolite appears to be HMB.
During stressful conditions, animals will often lose weight and/or become quite ill. Some even die. This of course can be quite expensive for any company trying to make a living from these animals in one way or another. When animals were fed HMB a large reduction in mortality rates, increases in muscle mass, and improvements in immune function in the animals fed HMB, were found.
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