TL;DR Summary: When to take HMB
It is recommended to take HMB supplements around one hour before you work out. You can also take HMB immediately post-workout. This ensures HMB levels are replenished following intense exercise. It is important to take HMB consistently every day for optimal results.
HMB is nothing short of a miracle supplement. For decades athletes have assumed that it is practically impossible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. For the most part, they’ve been right; until recently the idea of losing fat while retaining 99% of your muscle mass was pure fantasy.
But now, things are different, thanks to HMB.
HMB, or Hydroxymethylbutyrate as it is more formally known, is a brand new supplement on the market. It has not been in use for very long, and even today it is far from the most popular supplement in your local gym.
But HMB has the potential to completely change the fitness industry if used correctly.
So what is HMB, and what does it do?
What does HMB do?
HMB is a naturally occurring substance in humans. It is involved in several bodily processes, particularly those related to muscle maintenance, breakdown, and growth.
Clinical trials have found that HMB supplementation actively preserves muscle mass. When given to people undergoing intensive weight training programs, HMB acts to prevent the muscle catabolism which can result from periods of overtraining and inadequate recovery.
Other studies have found that HMB is effective at preventing muscle wastage during periods of intense calorie restriction, and it appears to help preserve muscle mass during fasted training.
How does HMB work?
The exact mechanism of action of HMB I humans is not fully understood. However, there are some compelling theories used to explain the benefits we see from its use.
One theory suggests that HMB works by inhibiting proteasomes; these are protein complexes which degrade, break down and destroy damaged or unneeded proteins. It is these bodies which degrade muscle tissue during periods of starvation and overtraining. By inhibiting specific proteasomes, so the theory goes, HMB prevents muscle protein breakdown, thus preserving lean muscle mass.
Some non-human studies have turned up another potential explanation. It appears that HMB may actively increase serum levels of Growth Hormone and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). These two hormones are two of the main drivers of muscle mass growth and repair (along with testosterone).
If you could naturally increase HGH and IGF-1 levels, you’d see dramatic increases in lean muscle mass, and a drastic reduction in muscle mass loss during a cut.
The exact mechanism of action of HMB is not as important as the strength of the benefits we see when using it. It is clear from the scientific evidence that HMB is extremely effective across user groups and in different contexts.
So how should you use HMB for maximum benefits?
When is the best time to take HMB?
When should you take HMB for the best possible results?
It is quite difficult to give a straight answer to this question. When you take HMB isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you take HMB consistently. Your body can maintain HMB levels for a fairly long time, and the muscle-saving effects seem to last for several hours or more.
To really ensure that HMB is protecting your gains, it is best to take it 60-90 minutes before training. That way your body will have plenty of time to absorb the HMB, so it can be there to do its job while you train.
You will also benefit a lot if you take HMB immediately after training. Taking HMB right after your workout will stop any muscle protein breakdown in its tracks and immediately begin the repair process. There is evidence that HMB enhances and speeds up muscle tissue recovery, so taking it post-workout makes a lot of sense.
On non-training days, it doesn’t really matter when you take HMB. All that matters is that you top yourself up with HMB to prevent muscle catabolism throughout the day, and to optimize recovery from the previous training session.
- Does HMB Burn Fat?
- How much HMB should you take per day?
- Should you take HMB every day?
- When to take HMB for best results
Pavel Sadovnik is a leading biochemical scientist with a PhD in biochemical engineering. He has spent decades working in industry as a chemist and pjharmaceutical consultant. He has extensive experience with the supplement industry, and specialises in supplement tsting and formulation consultancy. He is the Editor of NARSTO.