Over-fifties who don’t do strength training will notice that their bodies start to lose muscle mass fast while the fat accumulates. According to an animal study done at Florida State University, HMB supplementation can help prevent this to a large extent. If you don’t do anything about it, and don’t do weight training or eat a high-protein diet, then aging will play havoc with your muscle mass. As long ago as the seventies physiologists discovered that people in their eighties have about thirty percent less muscle than people in their fifties. [J Appl Physiol. 1979 Mar;46(3):451-6.]
Studies also show that as we age the body accumulates fat layers more easily.
In the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition scientists at Florida State University recently published the results of a study in which they examined whether HMB supplementation could at least delay this process in rats.
HMB is a leucine metabolite which some scientists believe has anabolic or anti-catabolic properties. About five percent of the leucine you consume through your diet is converted into HMB. For this reason HMB supplements manufacturers stress that if you’re looking to achieve the effect of 3-6 g HMB by taking leucine, you need to take 60-120 g leucine a day. This reasoning however conveniently forgets that leucine has anabolic properties of its own and through other metabolites. But never mind.
The researchers gave rats the equivalent of a human dose of 6 g HMB for 16 weeks. They used relatively young lab rats, 44 weeks old, somewhat older rats aged 60 weeks and elderly rats aged 102 weeks. The researchers did not subject their lab animals to an exercise programme.
The middle-aged rats had considerably more fat mass than the younger rats, but HMB supplementation changed this. In the elderly rats the HMB made the animals even slimmer than they had been when young.
Elderly rats had almost thirty percent less strength in their front legs than the young ones did, but in the elderly rats that were given HMB the decrease was only fifteen percent. The elderly rats that had been given HMB also developed significantly more lean body mass than the rats in the control group.
“The results of our present study in sedentary rats indicate that HMB may prove efficacious in blunting deleterious changes in muscle mass and myofiber dimensions with age”, the researchers conclude. “Moreover, our findings demonstrate that HMB may have a catabolic effect on adipose tissue, although underlying mechanisms in fat metabolism remain to be elucidated.”