The hardest thing about cutting fat is keeping hold of your gains. Even professional athletes struggle to walk the line between dropping weight and dropping muscle mass.
For a lot of athletes, weight cuts are a disaster.
In order to make weight for a fight, for example, an MMA fighter may have to drop 20lbs in a matter of weeks. Such drastic dieting inevitably leads to rapid muscle mass loss. Dropping weight quickly saps your strength, lowers energy levels, and hinders proper training.
So, the fighter goes into a title match at their weakest and least powerful – NOT A GOOD SITUATION!
This is a particularly serious issue for natural athletes. Without the assistance of performance enhancing drugs, losing substantial amounts of body fat inevitably means losing a significant amount of muscle mass, strength, power, energy, and motivation.
Or does it?
HMB may be the perfect solution for natural athletes looking to minimize muscle mass loss during cuts. It may not be the most popular supplement in the gym, but HMB is potentially one of the most powerful tools for bodybuilders, strength athletes, and competitive fighters. Right now some of the best fat burners on the market use HMB to solidify gains while torching fat.
Even still, few people know how to properly utilize HMB for maximum benefits.
Specifically, many people appear confused over the best time to take HMB, or if they have to take it at a specific time at all.
So when should you take HMB?
When is the best time to take HMB; before or after a workout?
To answer this question properly, let’s start off by exploring what HMB is, what it does, and how it works.
What is HMB?
HMB is short for β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid, or rather, its conjugate base β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyrate.
It is a naturally occurring substance present in all humans. It is metabolized from L-Leucine; around 5% of all the Leucine you consume is converted to HMB within a few hours of entering the blood stream.
The exact role of HMB in the body is not completely understood. However, what we do know is that HMB seems to be intimately involved in muscle mass maintenance and growth.
It has long been known that L-Leucine is a key driver of muscle tissue growth; many in the fitness world refer to L-Leucine as an “anabolic trigger” because it seems to act as a signal for muscle tissue repair and growth. As a metabolite of L-Leucine, it makes sense that HMB would have a significant effect on muscle mass maintenance.
This is certainly what we see when we look at the clinical trials investigating HMB. Dozens of studies have shown that HMB supplementation is able to actively prevent the loss of muscle mass.
While the exact mechanism of action isn’t known with 100% certainty, it is likely that HMB primarily works by preventing the breakdown of proteins (proteolysis) in muscle tissues. Bodies called proteasomes are usually responsible for breaking down damaged, old or unneeded proteins and removing them from the body.
While this is a necessary process for maintaining good overall health, it is not good for maximizing muscle mass retention!
By preventing proteasomes from doing their job, HMB effectively stops the breakdown of muscle tissue for energy, which happens a lot if you’re training in a calorie restricted or fasted state (as all athletes do while cutting).
This gives HMB some unique benefits as a sports performance supplement.
Benefits of HMB
The benefits of HMB are quite spectacular if you bear in mind that this is a completely natural supplement that appears to have zero side effect or long-term health risks!
All of the benefits of HMB stem from its ability to prevent muscle protein breakdown. This property makes HMB extremely useful for people who are trying to keep their gains while cutting body fat.
Typically, if you’re restricting calories or fasting entirely while maintaining an intensive training regime, then your body is going to turn to your energy reserves to keep you going. And even though you might still have fat stores to get through, your body will rely on both stored fat and lean muscle tissue to get through what it interprets as a period of starvation.
Amino acids are involved in just about every bodily process. So in a state of starvation, your body needs to get fresh amino acids from somewhere just to carry out basic body maintenance and survival. For these amino acids, it turns to your muscle tissue.
But HMB largely stops this from happening.
This means HMB allows you to train in a completely fasted or severely calorie-restricted state and not worry about muscle mass catabolism.
This makes HMB extremely beneficial for athletes who cannot risk compromising on their training intensity while undergoing rapid weight loss.
It also makes HMB the perfect supplement for bodybuilders, for whom the ultimate goal is always to maximize the ratio of lean muscle mass to body fat.
But what is the best way to take HMB?
When is the best time to take HMB for maximum benefits?
When should you take HMB; before or after training?
When to take HMB
So when is the best time to take HMB?
The effects of HMB last for several hours after you take it. That means a single dose of HMB will be protecting your muscle tissue from catabolism hours later. It therefore doesn’t matter a great deal when you take HMB.
What matters most is that you take HMB every single day, ideally at roughly the same time, for the duration of a cut.
This will keep your muscle tissue protected for a huge chunk of time throughout your cut, which will in turn significantly reduce the amount of muscle mass you lose while cutting.
By contrast, using HMB sporadically will only give you protection from muscle loss sporadically; over the course of an entire 6-12 week cut, the difference between these two scenarios can be pounds of lean muscle tissue.
That said, when you take HMB in the day will affect the results you get from the supplement over the course of a 6-12 week cut.
HMB is most effective when muscle catabolism is at its most aggressive. This means you will see the best results from HMB when taken prior to working out.
For the best results, we recommend taking HMB supplements around an hour before your workout. This ensures all the HMB is digested and working before you train. However, you can take HMB at any time of day and still enjoy its benefits, as preventing muscle catabolism will help you retain muscle mass over the long-term.
This is why we recommend using Burn Lab Pro either before or alongside your chosen pre-workout. Taking Burn Lab Pro an hour before training will give the HMB a chance to do its job!
If you really want to take your training to the next level and keep your strength during a cut, you may want to consider stakcing HMB and creatine. Creatine is the perfect accompaniment to HMB supplements; it promotes strength and power while HMB protects your gains.