Whey plus HMB boosts recovery more than whey alone: Study

By Louise Reid

- Last updated on GMT

Whey plus HMB boosts recovery more than whey alone: Study
Adding the amino acid derivative beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) and the disaccharide sweetener isomaltulose to whey protein powder improves recovery from demanding exercise, researchers have found.

The EAS Sports Nutrition-funded study saw a reduction in indirect markers: muscle damage, reductions in muscle soreness and improved physical performance in the HMB group compared to the control group on whey protein powder alone. The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition​.

HMB is a metabolite of leucine, a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) found in whey protein.

Muscle recovery benefits

Steve Hertzler, PhD, senior research scientist and chief scientific officer at EAS emphasised to NutraIngredients that the overall macronutrient profile of the diets of the subjects was controlled – I.e. the treatment and control groups received the same macronutrient and energy intake, including what was provided in the supplement. 

“This highlights the importance of getting the right nutrients to the muscles at the right time to promote better recovery.”

He added: “Because full muscle recovery has many components - energy provision, reduction of muscle protein breakdown, decreasing oxidative stress, increasing muscle protein synthesis, decreasing inflammation, etc - there are multiple points where appropriate sports nutrition can benefit recovery​.” 

Study details

Thirteen resistance-trained men took part in the double-blinded, counterbalanced, within-group study and ingested a whey protein, HMB, and isomaltulose supplement or just whey protein twice daily before, during, and following three consecutive days of intense resistance exercise. Treatment outcomes were evaluated using blood-based muscle damage markers and hormones, perceptual measures of muscle soreness, and countermovement jump performance.

Results showed that when high loads and short periods are used during high-frequency resistance exercise, the addition of HMB and slow-release carbohydrate to whey protein is more effective at promoting recovery than whey protein alone. 

Sensory issues

HMB has typically been incorporated into ready-to-drink liquid nutritionals and powders. Its adverse sensory properties (odour and flavour) make it somewhat difficult to work with, according to Hertzler, limiting its potential for fortification in a broader range of products, such as bars.


The EAS Recovery Protein product in question contained a blend of fast-digesting maltodextrin, slowly digesting isomaltulose and waxy maize, provide energy for muscle recovery. 

The study was conducted by the Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University and the Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, The University of Connecticut.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a position paper on HMB in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition​  as a nutritional supplement. For more information, please click here​.

Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Published online, 11 March 2015, Volume 34, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 91-99

doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.938790

The Addition of Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate and Isomaltulose to Whey Protein Improves Recovery from Highly Demanding Resistance Exercise.

Authors: William J. Kraemer et al

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