When developing any kind of supplement regimen, research is of paramount importance. Many bodybuilders and athletes consider HMB (hydroxy methylbutyrate) an excellent product to prevent from becoming overly catabolic during difficult workouts.
Of course, with the high cost of different supplements, it is useful to know whether a product you already take can work as a replacement. HMB is a metabolite of leucine, which is a branched chain amino acid found in BCAA products you might already use. Because HMB is derived from leucine, many compare HMB vs. leucine to see whether a new product is necessary.
HMB vs. Leucine – Which is More Effective?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer when comparing HMB vs. leucine. Even though HMB is a metabolite of leucine, there is evidence that in certain ways, the parent leucine BCAA is still more effective. For example, leucine has a 40% better stimulatory effect on protein synthesis. At face value, that might make one believe leucine is better for working out, but there are HMB advantages.
Digging further into the study, scientists reported that even though HMB was not as useful in stimulating protein synthesis, it was far more powerful for protein retention (preventing muscle breakdown), which made it superior to leucine overall.
Bottom Line: Leucine by itself may stimulate more muscle growth, but if you use HMB you can protect your existing muscle so that it is more effective than pure leucine by itself. This is one of the main reasons why so many people have decided to purchase HMB in addition to their BCAA products.
HMB vs. leucine
Studies of HMB vs. Leucine
The HMB and leucine studies are also both relatively useful for determining the right supplement regimen for you. The mechanisms of action in the human body are different between leucine and HMB. For leucine, the mTOR pathway is activated, which stimulates muscle growth. Studies on both animals and humans have shown that leucine is one of the most effective branched chain amino acids for this purpose.
HMB studies are just as encouraging, if not more so. There are around 12 studies that prove enhanced power output while using HMB. Further, 8 studies show higher lean mass and 3 focus primarily on the muscle damage benefits.
There may be products, such as creatine, which have more studies, but anyone looking at HMB vs. leucine will be satisfied with the level of research that has been completed. Luckily, lots of the creatine monohydrate studies also show a potential synergy with HMB.
Should You Take HMB or Leucine?
There are benefits of taking leucine and benefits of HMB. If you are dedicated to getting bigger, stronger, and maintaining better athletic performance, it definitely will help to get both leucine and HMB. Most BCAA products will already come with a leucine component (usually the main component) and you can purchase HMB separately.
The only reason it is so beneficial to use is because of the different pathways that each uses in order to provide better results in the gym. You will find it better and easier to build muscle when taking the HMB product.