HMB, or beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine and has been widely studied for its effects on bolstering muscle synthesis and preventing muscle fiber breakdown.
The new study, published in Nutrition Research, found that HMB supplements at a dose of 3 grams per day for 23 days were associated with significantly lower levels of inflammatory markers, including TNF-alpha, INF-gamma, and IL-8, compared to placebo.
“Although this is the first study to examine the potential benefits of HMB ingestion in soldiers, it does appear to support previous investigations indicating that HMB ingestion can attenuate the cytokine response to a muscle damaging protocol in both short (4 days) and long (12-weeks) duration supplement protocols,” wrote the authors, led by Jay Hoffman, PhD from the University of Central Florida.
The study used the commercially available BetaTor HMB ingredient from Ames, Iowa-based Metabolic Technologies Inc., and the company supported the study.
Dr Hoffman and his co-workers recruited 27 male soldiers from an elite combat unit of the Israel Defense Forces to participate in their study. The men were randomly assigned to receive either 3 grams per day of HMB or placebo for 23 days. During the final week of the intervention the men participated in extreme physical training, including night hikes carrying heavy loads.
Results showed that, for the 13 men who completed the trial (drop-outs due to poor compliance or injury), TNF-alpha levels were significantly lower in the HMB group than in the placebo group. There was also a non-significant trend to lower levels of INF-gamma, IL-6 and IL-8.
“The results of this study does provide evidence that HMB supplementation may attenuate the inflammatory response to high intense military training, which may have offered some benefit for maintaining muscle quality,” wrote the researchers.
“As such the hypothesis of the study that HMB supplementation can attenuate muscle loss and the inflammatory response during highly intense, sustained military training is accepted.
“Additional research is needed to substantiate the potential benefits that HMB supplementation may have on reducing the inflammatory response during sustained intense military operations, and its potential implication for sustained military performance.”
ISSN position paper
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.
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Source: Nutrition Research
Volume 36, Issue 6, Pages 553–563, doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.02.006
“HMB attenuates the cytokine response during sustained military training”
Authors: J.R. Hoffman, et al.