Creatine plus HMB may boost testosterone levels in elite male endurance athletes

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Comstock
© Getty Images / Comstock

Related tags Creatine Hmb Testosterone Sports nutrition

A combination of Creatine plus HMB may increase testosterone levels and boost aerobic power, compared to Creatine or HMB alone, suggest new data from Spain.

Data published in Biomolecules ​indicated that creatine monohydrate (CrM) and beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation for 10 weeks increased testosterone levels and the effects were significantly greater than an additive effect.

“The combination of 3 g/day of CrM plus 0.04 g/kg/day of HMB for 10 weeks showed an increase in testosterone and T/C [testosterone/cortisol ratio] compared with placebo or isolated supplementation,” ​wrote researchers from the University of the Basque Country and the University of Valladolid.

“Moreover, this combined supplementation revealed a synergistic effect on testosterone and T/C and an antagonistic effect on cortisol, which are positive results for athletes’ recovery. However, this combination did not present any differences in EIMD [exercise-induced muscle damage].

“Therefore, the combined use of these two ergogenic supplements could promote faster muscle recovery from high-intensity activity but without preventing muscle damage.”

"The effect was greater than the sum of the individual parts"

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Dr Chad Kerksick, director of the Exercise and Performance Nutrition Laboratory at Lindenwood University in Missouri, told us that the study does expand our knowledge and understanding of creatine + HMB. 

“The efficacy of creatine is unquestioned and the efficacy of HMB as it relates to optimizing resistance training adaptations has come under heavy fire in the past five years or so while its efficacy to support performance and favorable body composition changes in trained athletes has a few supportive studies.  Their combination has not yielded consistent outcomes and this study helps add to the literature,” ​said Dr Kerksick. 

“It is interesting how there seems to be an interactive effect with HMB and Creatine on testosterone changes,” ​he added. “Creatine barely moved testosterone, and HMB increased a good bit but when added together the increase was not additive, it was greater than the sum of the individual parts.”

Dr Kerksick also noted that a synergistic, antagonist effect for cortisol changes was reported.

Commenting on the changes to the testosterone/cortisol ratio, he added that this ratio has been indicated as somewhat crude indicator of training readiness.  “While it has been criticized for its validity in this scope, these outcomes pretty clearly suggest the combo of Cr + HMB can improve this outcome,” ​he said.

Study details

The study included on seven elite male traditional rowers per group, but “this is expected with high-level athletes”,​ noted Dr Kerksick.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: Placebo, CrM only, HMB only, or a combination of CrM and HMB.

The data showed no significant differences between the groups for a range of markers of exercise-induced muscle damage.

However, the combination of CrM and HMB led to significantly greater increases in testosterone and changes in the testosterone/cortisol ratio that were observed for placebo, or for CrM or HMB alone.

Aerobic power benefits, too?

Writing in Nutrients​, the same researchers reported that additional data from the same trial indicated that the CrM plus HMB group displaced significantly higher aerobic power during a rowing test.

“The knowledge gained from this study could have practical application for athletes and practitioners who are interested in improving their endurance capacity, given that the intake over 10 weeks of a combination of HMB (3 g/day) and CrM (0.04 g/kg/day) could improve sport endurance capacity,” ​wrote the researchers in Nutrients​.

“In the context of post-exercise recovery, this would result in the improvement of anaerobic performance, i.e., both supplements could have the same effect through different mechanisms of action, which fully justifies their combined use.”

Sources: Biomolecules
2020, 10(1), 140; doi: 10.3390/biom10010140
“Long-Term Effect of Combination of Creatine Monohydrate Plus β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (HMB) on Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage and Anabolic/Catabolic Hormones in Elite Male Endurance Athletes”
Authors: J. Fernández-Landa et al.

2020, 12(1), 193; doi: 10.3390/nu12010193
“Effect of Ten Weeks of Creatine Monohydrate Plus HMB Supplementation on Athletic Performance Tests in Elite Male Endurance Athletes”
Authors: J. Fernández-Landa et al.

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