As a by-product of leucine, beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl-butyrate can only be made in the body when the amino acid is present. Also referred to as HMB, the by-product is metabolised from a portion of the branched-chain amino acid. However, leucine is an essential amino acid, meaning that it can’t be produced in the body and instead it is sourced in your daily diet, especially from the macronutrient protein.
Because of the dependence of leucine for the production of HMB, levels in the body can be limited, which is why it is commonly supplemented. However, there are some misconceptions surrounding HMB supplements – here, we aim to set the record straight on a few of the most common myths.
1. Is it legal?
Many people question whether HMB supplements are legal – the simple answer is: yes, there are legal.
2. Is HMB a steroid?
There is speculation that HMB could be a steroid, it isn’t. In fact, HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. However, there are questions surrounding the idea that HMB could be more effective than steroids, although there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
3. Is it a banned substance?
Not only are HMB supplements legal but they are also not on the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. This means that athletes are safe to supplement HMB when training, with no risk of failing a drugs test, as it is classed as a ‘dietary supplement’. Also, keep in mind that HMB is already naturally produced in the body, so by supplementing it, you are simply increasing or maintaining the HMB levels in the body.
4. How long should you supplement HMB for?
Some people question if you can only safely take HMB short term – however, there is no evidence to show that long term supplementation is unsafe on the body. The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s position stand on HMB as a nutritional supplement concludes its safety and recommends the supplement should be taken at 1–2 grams 60–120 minutes prior to exercise if consuming HMB-Ca. In addition, the Society states it is likely that HMB will work ideally if consumed at a dosage of 3 grams for two weeks prior to a high intensity bout that induces muscle damage.