Meta-analysis finds that HMB supplementation supports healthy muscle mass in older adults

April 15, 2021
Sebastian Krawiec

A recent meta-analysis found that Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), a metabolite of leucine, shows promise in supporting the body composition of older adults.

A recent meta-analysis1 found that Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), a metabolite of leucine, shows promise in supporting the body composition of older adults. HMB is used widely in sports nutrition applications for the support of muscle mass and strength as well as to support the muscle mass of older adults that may be dealing with sarcopenia, though that remains controversial. The meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the existing data to determine the efficacy of HMB on the body composition of older adults.

After pooling the results of nine studies, totaling 448 subjects, meta-analysis showed that HMB supplementation significantly increase fat-free mass in older adults compared to control groups, but had no effect on fat mass. The average age of study participants was 65. HMB doses ranged between 1.5 grams per day to 3 grams per day for no fewer than four weeks. Sometimes a combination of substrates were used, including various combinations of L-arginine, L-glutamine, lysine, ascorbic acid and a carbohydrate.

Four of the nine studies included an exercise intervention. In sub-group analysis, HMB supplementation alone saw significant improvements in fat-free mass in older adults, but the addition of exercise to HMB supplementation showed no additional fat-free mass change.

“The results of the meta-analysis showed that oral HMB supplementation could effectively increase muscle mass, but the change in fat mass was not significant,” the researchers determine. “The increase in muscle mass is due to the net positive balance of protein renewal in the skeletal muscle caused by HMB through stimulation of protein synthesis and attenuation of protein degradation,” they go on to explain. When it comes to pairing supplementation with exercise, the researchers also state that exercise programs need to be designed according to the different physical health needs of older people.

“This review is timely given the growing healthy aging market segment,” said Larry Kolb, president of TSI Group, in a press release. TSI Group manufactures an HMB ingredient called myHMB. “There is a very strong need among consumers and healthcare practitioners for more information on maintaining muscle mass and function in healthy older adults,” he adds.

Reference

  1. Lin Z et al. “Effects of oral administration of β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate on lean body mass in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” European Geriatric Medicine, vol. 12 (2021): 239-251