HMB supplementation, is it worth it?

Recently I was discussing performance based supplements with a local CF owner and coach.  As anyone who has ever thought about increasing performance knows, there are a shit-load of different types of supplements out there, and for each one, at least 5-20 vendors that want to sell it to you.  Needless to say, it can be daunting to figure out what will actually boost your performance and what is just snake-venom (a waste of money).

One of the last topics we chatted about was HMB supplementation… specifically from the company Blonyx.  When I research a new supplement, I’ll generally look in two extremely different places.  The first is the least scientific place ever… message boards on sites for powerlifting, weight lifting, BJJ, crossfit, etc.  You can get a decent sense of whether people are excited about something or not but that’s about it.  Sometimes you’ll run across an intelligent post but most of it is garbage.  That said, its still helpful just to know if there’s a pre-existing opinion about it from people that are training hard day in and day out.  The second place I’ll look is in a Pubmed search which has a mixture of good and bad scientific studies on almost anything you can think of… seriously I mean ANYTHING.  The problem with the studies is that usually the style of training used in them is not-applicable to how most of us actually train.  Anyway, here’s what I found:

First, the scientific reports… these look pretty promising at a first glance:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Nissen+HMB

Seems like HMB has some pretty wide ranging effects… but it also seems like many of the metabolism/strength performance based papers used it in combination with various amino acids (L-arginine and L-lysine, etc.) OR creatine.  This particular study caught my attention because Blonyx sells HMB with creatine as one of its products.  Also, in those message boards I mentioned earlier, the people that did mention some improvement in performance seemed to be taking HMB in combination with BCAA’s and/or creatine. Very interesting…

One more study caught my eye, this one linking HMB efficacy and vitamin D levels which basically said that you need to have adequate levels of vitamin D to actually get a strength benefit from HMB… considering that upwards of 50% of the U.S. is vitamin D deficient, it could explain why various people have really different results with HMB supplementation.

Ultimately, I can’t say for sure that HMB is going to turn you into an animal but I think its worth checking out based upon the literature out there.  That said, if you’re going to give it a try, it definitely seems like you’d want to take it with creatine, BCAA’s and make sure that you’re not vitamin D deficient.  If anyone does have experience with it (positive or negative) leave a comment below.  Its always good to learn from one another.