The reason HMB is becoming so popular is that it has a completely unique property among natural supplements.
HMB does not actively encourage fat loss; it doesn’t increase fat oxidation, it doesn’t discourage the storing of fat, and it doesn’t suppress appetite. But it does arguably do something much more impressive.
HMB actively prevents muscle protein breakdown.
That’s right; this natural, safe supplement can do something that (until now) only synthetic performance enhancing drugs have been able to achieve!
Because HMB is increasingly being added to high-spec bodybuilding supplements and fat burners, it is now being taken alongside lots of other popular sports supplements. This raises questions about interactions and side effects.
One thing we get asked repeatedly by our customers is how HMB stacks with creatine.
This makes sense. HMB is particularly useful for athletes who need to maximize strength, power and athleticism while dropping weight. This is exactly the demographic who stand to benefit enormously from creatine too.
So can you take creatine and HMB together?
Should you be taking creatine with HMB?
What is the best way to mix creatine and HMB for maximum gains during a cut?
To answer these questions, we need to first take a closer look at both HMB and creatine explaining what these supplements do and how they work. We will then look at how you should take creatine and HMB together for the best results.
What is HMB & How Does it Work?
HMB is a phenomenal ingredient to have in a fat burner.
The incredible thing about HMB is that it works on the level of individual proteins in your muscle tissue.
The exact mechanism of action of HMB is not completely understood. It is likely that HMB actually works via multiple different mechanisms. There is evidence to suggest that HMB influences the levels of anabolic hormone (namely testosterone and human growth hormone), which would definitely produce the benefits we observe from HMB supplementation.
While HMB may indeed influence anabolic factors in the human body, it is unlikely that this is the main way it saves muscle mass.
Judging by the evidence, it seems highly likely that HMB primarily works by blocking muscle protein breakdown. Simply put, HMB blocks the action of protein bundles called proteasomes. These bodies are responsible for breaking down and destroying proteins that the body views as old, damaged, or unnecessary. Proteasomes are most active during periods of extreme caloric restriction, fasting, or intense physical activity. They are especially active in people with an unnatural amount of muscle mass (as the body views this as metabolically “expensive”).
By preventing these proteasomes from destroying proteins in muscle tissue, HMB effectively prevents muscle catabolism.
Importantly, HMB doesn’t prevent muscle catabolism by delivering calories to cause growth; it doesn’t break a fast, it is effectively calorie-free (since you only need to take a few grams), and it doesn’t affect athletic performance in any way.
This is why HMB is used by professional bodybuilders, competitive fighters and strength athletes around the world.
It allows them to aggressively lose fat without worrying about losing their gains. This is particularly important for natural athletes. Normally, a natural bodybuilder will lose almost as much muscle mass as fat during a cut. HMB is a natural solution to this problem, and it has enormous potential for enhancing a cut.
If you're wondering how much HMB take take per day to see these kinds of benefits, the answer is no more than 1500mg. While some supplements contain up to 3000mg, studies show no added benefits above a dose of 1500mg HMB per day.
What is Creatine & How Does it Work?
Creatine is currently one of the most widely used supplements in the fitness world, and rightly so.
Whereas HMB is the ideal supplement for preventing muscle mass loss, creatine is arguably the most effective supplement for promoting lean muscle mass, strength, and explosive power.
Like HMB, vcreatine is a naturally occurring substance present in the human body at all times. Like HMB, it is particularly concentrated in your muscles.
So what does creatine do?
Creatine is involved in energy metabolism at its most basic level.
In your cells you have structures called mitochondria. These are the engines of your cells; all energy is released by these cell structures. The way your mitochondria release energy from food is by turning ATP (adenosine triphosphate) into ADP (adenosine diphosphate). Basically, when a phosphate group is ripped from ATP to produce ADP, energy is released.
Once you’ve ran out of ATP, you need to convert the ADP back into ATP so the cycle can start again. This is where creatine comes in; it speeds up the replenishing of your ATP stores, which in turn allows you to release more energy in a shorter space of time.
In practice, creatine’s main benefit is that it lets you unleash more explosive power and to recover faster in between heavy sets. This happens because creatine both increases your ATP stores and speeds up the process of replenishing ATP stores after a heavy set or explosive movement.
Most people using creatine find that they can get an extra couple of reps out on their max working sets. Over many weeks and months, this amounts to a lot more stimulus for muscle growth.
Another way that creatine works is by good old fashioned mass building. Creatine monohydrate is a salt. When it saturates your muscles, it pulls water into those muscles to maintain fluid balance. In doing so, creatine rapidly increases your fat-free mass, which almost instantly enables most people to move more weight in the gym (at least with the bench press and deadlift).
However, for serious athletes, creatine’s effects on power output are far more important than how it influences water retention.
How Do Creatine & HMB Work Together?
Creatine and HMB can be thought of as working towards the same goal from two different angles.
Creatine is most effective for increasing explosive power and accelerating recovery between heavy sets. This allows you to do more heavy reps and sets per workout, which leads to significantly greater muscle mass gains over the long-term.
While creatine does increase body weight through water retention, it is 100% fat-free mass. When you stop taking creatine, you rapidly lose all that retained water, but the gains you made will remain.
So effective is creatine at promoting muscle mass gains that many professional coaches prioritize the use of creatine supplements over protein supplements.
HMB, on the other hand, works towards the same goal, just from the opposite side. While creatine supports strength and power, and by extension muscle mass gains, HMB protects those gains. It prevents muscle protein breakdown even in the face of severe caloric restriction, targeted over-training, and fasting.
Together, HMB and creatine supports muscle mass growth and retention during periods of intensive training. This is what makes them such powerful tools for athletes undergoing pre-season or pre-contest training, when diets are most strict and training intensity at its highest.
Should You Take Creatine & HMB At The Same Time?
Does creatine work well when taken with HMB?
Creatine and HMB not only work well together; they are a match made in heaven.
If your goal is to retain as much muscle mass as possible while cutting, then both creatine and HMB can be extremely beneficial for you.
You can think of these two supplements as taking care of both ends of the same problem: how to keep your gains while cutting. Creatine boosts your performance in the gym and helps you attack your workouts with real strength and power, while HMB means you don’t have to worry about muscle catabolism while training in a fasted or calorically restricted state.
Both of these supplements are extremely safe. Neither HMB nor creatine are thought to have any side effects whatsoever, at least when used in sensible doses as per supplement manufacturer guidelines. Neither HMB nor creatine are known to have any long-term health effects at all.
So should you be taking both HMB and creatine?
If your goal is to be as strong, powerful and muscular as possible, then the answer is a resounding yes. If you are planning on a rapid cut – be it for a bodybuilding show or a competitive fight – then creatine and HMB are necessities, nor luxuries.