✓ Medically Reviewed and Fact-Checked by Dr. Jesse Ropat, PharmD, RPh, B.Sc.
If you’re on the hunt for a workout supplement that supports muscle gains, you have likely heard of HMB supplements.
Studies suggest it’s a great supplement to preserve muscle. It’s most effective for the elderly, those who train extremely hard, and those currently in a caloric deficit who need to maintain muscle and strength. If that’s you, keep reading. It has an array of other potential benefits including…
Today, we’ll cover whether an HMB supplement is worth the try and the best options on the market.
HMB has a few different names: hydroxymethylbutyrate, beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyric acid or beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate… It’s a lot.
For everyone’s sake, let’s just stick with HMB.
Our body forms HMB naturally when it breaks down Leucine. Leucine is the amino acid responsible for building and repairing muscles.
Leucine activates mTOR, which clever marketers have coined as “the anabolic switch,” moving your cells into a state of building up (anabolism) versus breaking down (catabolism). It’s the main ingredient in BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) supplements, and as most people agree now, the only BCAA that really seems to matter for this mechanism.
HMB is a metabolite of leucine. Whereas leucine’s benefits center on stimulating anabolism, HMB’s benefits center on reducing muscle protein breakdown.
NATURAL OR SYNTHETIC
SPERMIDINE PER SERVING
BEST PRICE ONLINE
Oxford Healthspan Primeadine
Prebiotics for Absorption
Renue by Science LIPO Spermidine
Longevity Labs Spermidine Life+
Limitless Life Nootropics Spermidine
Ultra Health Liposomal Spermidine
Every supplement on our list is third-party tested. The supplement industry is known for its loose requirements, which is why we only include companies that third-party test their products for purity and quality.
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Best HMB Supplement Overall: Slim Sciences HMB+
Best HMB Capsules: Slim Sciences HMB+
Best HMB and Vitamin D3 Supplement: Life Extension Wellness Code Muscle Strength & Restore Formula
Best HMB Protein Powder: Power Life High Impact Plant Protein
Best HMB Supplement for Elderly: Slim Sciences HMB+
Best HMB For Muscle Gain: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Best HMB Supplement for Vegans: Slim Sciences HMB+
Best HMB Powder: Life Extension Wellness Code Muscle Strength & Restore Formula
Best HMB Supplement for Women: Slim Sciences HMB+
Best HMB and Creatine Supplement: Transparent Labs Creatine HMB
Now, let’s get to our list of the 12 best HMB supplements.
When it comes to overall quality, transparency, and value, Slim Sciences HMB+ is tough to beat.
First, this is a pure, simple product. These HMB capsules contain a full 1000mg of HMB. Just one serving, 2000mg, will be enough for most people to activate the anabolic switch and reduce muscle breakdown.
It’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. It’s manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and made in the USA. These strict testing standards are what make Slim Sciences HMB+ stand out.
Normally, because of the quality, this product is more expensive than others. But for RFS readers they’re offering a Buy 1, Get 2 Free offer, making the price among the best on the market.
They also have a 180-day money-back guarantee. So if it’s not for you, then there’s virtually no risk.
For all of these reasons, Slim Sciences HMB+ is our top pick for the best HMB supplement.
Life Extension’s Wellness Code® Muscle Strength & Restore Formula is a unique blend designed to support muscle health and growth. This unflavored powder is versatile, mixing seamlessly with any beverage, including protein shakes, making it a convenient addition to your daily regimen.
I add it to my smoothies if I have an extra hard training day ahead of me.
Each serving delivers 3 g of HMB, a bioactive leucine metabolite, and 1,000 IU of vitamin D3, both of which are essential for maintaining muscle mass and building strength. In fact, HMB and Vitamin D3 often go together because they work as a tandem to support muscle size and strength.
This formula is designed to preserve healthy muscle function at any age, making it suitable for individuals across different life stages.
For those aiming to maintain muscle health, especially as they age, this formula is a must-have. Its potent combination of HMB and vitamin D3 ensures that you’re getting the support you need for sustained muscle function. Plus, with its easy-to-mix formula, incorporating it into your daily routine is a breeze.
Creatine monohydrate is one of the most well-researched performance supplements in existence. It’s proven to support muscle-building, strength, and performance.
The combination, then, is a natural choice. Research on HMB and creatine together has shown, unsurprisingly to increase endurance, improve strength, and reduce muscle loss. However, whether the benefits are synergistic is up for debate.
If you don’t already take creatine, you should be. So you might as well get both of them in one supplement.
This also comes in a powder that’s a delicious pre-workout, intra-workout, or post-workout drink.
Personally, I like it as an intra-workout, since creatine has been shown to improve between-set recovery, while HMB reduces muscle breakdown. Blue raspberry is my favorite flavor, but there are a lot of options.
The product also contains vitamin D3 and Bioperine, an ingredient that may improve absorption.
It’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. Overall, it’s a high-quality product from a third-party tested brand.
Personally, Transparent Labs Creatine + HMB is my favorite HMB product.
You remember that guy from P90X? Well, High Impact Plant Protein is a meticulously crafted formula by Tony Horton, designed to support muscle maintenance and promote optimal digestion. This vegan protein blend is ideal for those looking to benefit from a plant-based protein source that not only aids in building lean muscle but also ensures better digestion.
This plant protein is tailored to help maintain muscle mass while simultaneously supporting digestive health.
Not only that, but Tony Horton’s confidence in the product is evident with a 90-day refund promise. If users don’t witness significant results such as enhanced energy, leaner muscle, reduced fat, and improved digestion, they offer a full refund.
For those venturing into the world of plant-based proteins, High Impact Plant Protein stands out with its promise of muscle maintenance and digestive support. The added assurance of a 90-day refund promise makes it a risk-free choice for individuals keen on experiencing the benefits of a high-quality vegan protein blend.
Double Wood Supplements offers a great capsule-based option for HMB. Each bottle has about 60 servings, and each serving provides 2,000 mg of HMB. It’s also sustainably sourced and manufactured in the United States.
Double Wood offers a money-back guarantee on all of its supplements. So if you’re new to HMB and looking for a supplement to try, this one’s for you.
This product contains HMB and nothing else, other than what makes up the capsule. Often, with simple supplements like this you only pay for exactly what you want.
While you’re shopping at Double Wood, browse through their selection of single-ingredient products.
The capsule does contain gelatin, so it’s not a vegan product. This is the big knock on this product.
PureBulk’s Calcium HMB gives you options. You can pick the kind (powder or capsule) and quantity of HMB you want. All of PureBulk’s supplements are third-party tested for quality and potency. Plus, its HMB is free of sugar, gluten, dairy, and additives. It’s a great option if you like to buy in bulk and already know that HMB works for you.
For another bulk powder option, you can’t go wrong with Bulk Supplements HMB powder. They have a few more sizing options than PureBulk, and a comparable price. Between the two, we’re splitting hairs, but they’re both solid buy-in-bulk options.
Each serving of MRM Nutrition’s HMB 1000 has 1000 mg of HMB and 30% of your required Vitamin D, which is essential for bone strength. Its ingredients are responsibly sourced and have no added gluten, soy, or dairy. Each bottle contains about 60 servings.
Optimum Nutrition offers a potent HMB supplement with 1000 mg per serving. HMB is the only ingredient, which means you’re getting the good stuff without any fluff. It technically has 90 servings but recommends taking 3 capsules per day. So, if you follow that recommendation, you’re only actually getting a month’s supply.
NOW Foods Sports HMB Double Strength offers 1000 mg of HMB per capsule and 60% of your required daily Vitamin D. It’s recommended to take capsules 1 to 3 per day for the best results. Depending on your intake, each bottle has 30 to 90 servings. It’s another great option for vegan and keto diets.
MET-Rx® is a renowned brand in the fitness supplement industry, and their HMB 1000 is a testament to their commitment to quality. Designed for those who are serious about their training, this supplement promises to support strength levels and muscle health, especially when combined with weight training.
Each capsule delivers 4x the HMB compared to their previous 250 mg formula, ensuring you get a powerful dose every time.
The primary benefit of HMB is its ability to support muscle strength. MET-Rx® HMB 1000 is designed to provide this support, especially when used in conjunction with weight training.
If you’re looking for a supplement that’s backed by a trusted brand and delivers a potent dose of HMB, MET-Rx® HMB 1000 is a solid choice. Whether you’re an athlete looking to enhance recovery or someone aiming to preserve muscle mass, this supplement can be a valuable addition to your regimen.
HMB has a range of potential benefits, but they all relate to its impact on muscle protein synthesis and reducing muscle protein breakdown.
It’s believed that HMB reduces exercise-induced muscle breakdown, improves cardiovascular performance, and promotes muscle growth because of it relation to leucine.
One study in 2000 showed that participants who took HMB built more upper body strength than the placebo group. In addition, a 1996 study concluded that participants who took HMB supplements experienced less exercise-induced muscle breakdown than those who did not.
While early research was promising, recent studies indicate that HMB might not aid muscle growth as much as we previously thought.
For example, a review of 10 studies determined that taking HMB in addition to exercise had no significant effect on strength, athletic performance, or muscle mass. Exercise alone produced the same results.
Does that mean that HMB doesn’t work? No, but it may not work the same for everyone.
On the bright side, multiple studies suggest that HMB can reduce muscle breakdown.
One study showed that taking HMB helped prevent muscle loss in participants with certain health conditions. Another study suggested that taking HMB helped reduce muscle breakdown in elderly participants.
It’s particularly promsing for age-related muscle loss, which is why it’s a great supplement for many older people. I would argue that you can take HMB well before your elder years because, around age 30, the average person begins to lose muscle mass.
Related to its ability to support recovery, HMB may also accelerate healing. In one retrospective analysis, supplementation of HMB, arginine, and glutamine accelerated the healing process.
There’s also promising research that HMB can boost your cardiovascular and anaerobic health.
For example, elite rowers in a 12 week study took HMB daily and reported improvements in their aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Another study indicated that taking HMB increased participants’ aerobic capacity.
In one study, when compared with the placebo, HMB supplementation resulted in a decrease in total cholesterol, a decrease in LDL cholesterol, and a decrease in blood pressure.
We call these surrogate markers of cardiovascular health, and the results suggest a decrease in the risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to 1 study, taking 3g of HMB per day while doing resistance training exercise increased both fat free mass, and strength. However, muscle breakdown was also lower in the HMB group.
Additionally, taking BCAA supplements with high levels of Leucine (~75%+) results in preferential loss of fat in the visceral region, while maintaining muscular performance.
Does this mean it’s a miracle weight loss supplement? No. But it may help supplement the work you’re already doing.
As we age, our body composition changes. We gather more fat in the abdominal region, and we lose lean body mass due to loss of skeletal muscle. Both of these combined result in a greater risk of fractures and falls, more hospitalizations, and these tend to reduce our life expectancy drastically.
Muscle tissue is a large determining factor for quality of life, impacting both our balance and strength. In the aging population, HMB may be an ally. In one review, HMB supplementation had no adverse effects in any of the studies analyzed, regardless of dose or administration route, which may be enough to encourage its use by the elderly.
They also found that HMB has a positive effect on body composition and strength, especially in bedridden or sedentary elderly, due to its anticatabolic properties.
Per the research, this seems to be especially valuable for older adults. Muscle loss is a culprit of a downstream of negative health and wellness consequences as we age, and HMB seems to be most effective with this demographic. So if you want to buy HMB for your grandparents, it’s not a bad idea.
We all know and love creatine monohydrate (CM). It’s tried, tested, and proven to be effective.
But what about a combination of CM and HMB? Could they possibly contribute to your pre-workout or supplement stack?
A few studies investigated the effect of combining both supplements on different variables related to performance, with controversial results.
The main purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of 10 weeks of CrM plus HMB supplementation on sports performance, which was measured by an incremental test to exhaustion in elite male traditional rowers.
This study was a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, 10-week study, with 28 participants in 4 groups: placebo, HMB, CM, and CM+HMB.
They conducted before and after tests to exhaustion, and what they found was that the combination group(CM + HMB) over 10 weeks showed a synergistic effect on aerobic power. This promising result may indicate that HMB has a place in your stack. However, I said it’s controversial, and that’s because it didn’t have any significant change on muscle mass. So take these results with a grain of salt.
In sum, research on HMB has yielded mixed results. It’s more likely to benefit older adults or people just starting their fitness journey. Regardless, HMB is a safe supplement. It’s a variation on an amino acid, so there’s little downside. If its potential benefits align with your fitness goals and you’ve talked to your healthcare provider, give it a try.
With that said, advanced trainees often swear by it. It’s hard to do robust scientific studies on extreme populations, like elite athletes or bodybuilders. Many competitors report that it supports their lean muscle mass, and continue to take it. While we can’t back it up, it’s perhaps unfair to fully dismiss their claims based on personal experience and in-the-trenches work.
HMB is considered a safe supplement with no serious side effects reported. However, it’s always best to consult a health professional before trying a new supplement.
It’s a form of an amino acid, so as far as safety goes, HMB is a low-risk option for most people.
HMB might help reduce exercise-induced muscle breakdown and enhance cardiovascular health. If that aligns with your fitness goals, taking an HMB supplement is worth the try.
My answer to this is, “meh.” As we mentioned, the claims that HMB is an essential muscle-building dietary supplement have been exaggerated.
It can indirectly increase muscle mass by helping you preserve your muscles.
So f you’re training long, hard workouts where you’re not refueling your muscles, that’s where it’s going to have the most impact. Anecdotally, it’s also popular when training fasted.
As we mentioned, the research hasn’t shown significant benefits for muscle gain. As always, effective training and sound nutrition is how you build muscle.
That said, especially in older adults, it can help preserve muscle mass.
Bodybuilders are probably one of the groups who can benefit from an HBM supplement the most. In bodybuilding, small differences can make or break your on-stage result. HMB may help bodybuilders hang on to their muscles, especially in a cutting phase. If you’re looking for that 1% difference, HMB may be a worthwhile addition. As mentioned, many elite bodybuilders swear by it, and this is a tough population to do robust studies on.
It may. One study in resistance-trained men blunted muscle damage. In the study, the participants who took HMB subjectively said they felt more prepared to train hard.
The best HMB supplements for men will be the same ones that are the best for women too. Strength and muscle are for everyone.
HMB comes in powders and capsules.
Depending on the product you get, there are a bunch of options. If you get an unflavored powder, be warned that HBM tastes terrible. Mix it with a protein powder shake or smoothie to mask it.
We have flavored, unflavored, and capsule options listed for you to research and choose from.
As explained in this study, there are two forms of supplemental HMB:
1) Calcium Salt HMB
2) Free-Form HMB
The most common and well-studied form is the calcium salt. If you look on the supplement label and see calcium listed, this is the form they use. Right now, there’s no convincing evidence that either form is significantly more effective.
Many research studies use 3 grams of HMB as an upper limit. Most products are around 1-2 grams. It’s hard to say exactly what’s best, but to get the most of HMB, you likely won’t need to take more than 3 grams.
What’s most important is that you take it consistently. With that said, since it reduces muscle breakdown, it makes to take it before your workout, when you’re most likely to go into a catabolic state. In some studies, a 3g dose was split up over 3 times a day. If you’re taking a higher dose, you may benefit from this approach.
HMB and BCAA each have their place. HMB is generally better for preventing muscle protein, whereas BCAAs are more for quick energy and activating muscle protein synthesis during training.
If you’re trying to prevent losing muscle, HMB probably will be more effective. BCAA, though, contains three amino acids which is why it may provide some energy.
As mentioned, there’s one study that looks at HMB supplementation for wound healing. However, this study looked at HMB along with arginine and glutamine.
HMB is only found in small quantities in food. That said, if you want the benefits of HMB, focus on a high-protein diet, and in particular, a high-leucine diet. About 5% of your leucine gets converted to HMB, according to this study.
There’s not a lot of great evidence to suggest that. According to the NIH, people who used both HMB and creatine were found to have increased testosterone levels after 10 weeks of supplementation, but there aren’t studies testing just HMB alone.
HMB and Vitamin D may be a potent combination, especially for older adults. Together they help preserve muscle mass and support bone health. For more on this, check out this study.
As mentioned, HMB and creatine also seem to go together.
For wound healing, combine it with arginine and glutamine.
All to say, YES, HMB can be part of a custom and comprehensive supplement stack.
That’s for you to decide. HMB may be a great choice for you…
As always, talk with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement. We are not doctors, and we don’t play them on the internet.