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Creatine and HMB

Creatine and HMB

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The use of creatine and HMB together
The use of creatine and HMB together

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Published by: monica_porumbescu5867 on Jan 03, 2013
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04/01/2015

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Creatine and HMB:The Power Team!
by Alfredo Franco-Obregón, PhD
It is now widely accepted by the sports medicine community that creatine supplementationpromotes the production of lean muscle mass and enhances athletic performance in sportingevents encompassing explosive bursts of power
in the majority of athletes who supplement 
.Creatine principally acts by increasing the availability of 
A
denosine
T
ri
P
hosphate (
ATP
), thecell’s energy currency, to muscles during exhaustive exercise. The increase in exercise outputafforded by the prolonged longevity of muscle’s ATP reserves then serves as a greater trainingstimulus for subsequent muscle development. In addition, there are also strong indicationsthat the increase in muscle fluid content, a process known as muscle volumizing, thatcommonly accompanies creatine use, may also stimulate the production of new muscleproteins, or protein synthesis. Finally, there are also some indications that creatine buffersmuscle acidity (
delaying the onset of muscle fatigue
), improves insulin-sensitivity (
increasingcellular amino acid and carbohydrate storage
) and possesses antioxidants properties(
 protecting against oxidative stress
). Therefore, a large body of scientific evidenceoverwhelmingly supports a role for creatine in stimulating muscle growth and enhancingathletic performance. Because of its positive effect on muscle development, creatine isclassified as an anabolic (tissue building) agent. The mechanisms of action of other nutritionalsupplements are not as thoroughly studied and understood as that of creatine. Nonetheless,the lack of clear scientific support has not dissuaded many supplement manufactures fromflooding the market with utterly bogus nutritional supplements.
HMB
(beta-
H
ydroxy-beta-
M
ethyl
B
utyrate) is one nutritional supplement that has the promiseof being an authentic ergogenic supplement. Although the bulk of the scientific evidencedemonstrating an ergogenic effect of HMB, at least for the moment, is not as compelling as forcreatine, the future appears bright for this intriguing nutritional supplement. Interestingly,HMB appears to exert its particular ergogenic effect by making the muscle cell membranemore resistant to mechanical damage. HMB’s principal mechanism of action appears to bemediated via its ability to sustain cholesterol synthesis. Although cholesterol is a majorstructural component of all cellular membranes, it plays an especially important role instabilizing the membranes of cells undergoing constant mechanical stresses. Of importance tothe topic at hand, muscle membranes deficient in cholesterol will inevitably succumb tomechanical stress of exercise by tearing, thereby collapsing the essential barrier that protectsthe inside of the muscle cell from potentially damaging agents in the extracellular (outside thecell) space. Left unchecked, this leakage pathway could then initiate a proteolytic (
 proteindegrading
) enzymatic cascade within the muscle cell that will consume existing proteins andmake muscle growth nearly impossible. In fact, under conditions of cholesterol deficiency
 
surprisingly little mechanical stress is actually necessary to provoke muscle degeneration. Forexample, reducing the availability of cholesterol to the body augments the production of biochemical markers of muscle cell damage
even under normal levels of physical activity 
. HMBthus strengthens the muscle membrane by making cholesterol readily available forincorporation into the membrane. It is thus no wonder that HMB has been shown to attenuatethe degree of muscle cell breakdown in response to intense exercise. This is the reason thatHMB is widely considered an anti-catabolic (
 prevents the degradation of muscle proteins
)agent. These attributes of HMB were thoroughly discussed in
The Study
In this issue of the Creatine Newsletter we will discuss the results of a recent study thataddressed the issue of whether creatine and HMB exert their ergogenic benefits via commonor complementary cellular pathways. One of the authors of this study is Steve Nissen of IowaState University, a very influential person in the field of HMB research. Those of us followingthe field of HMB research are very familiar with his name.
Experimental Design
The study in question consisted of a double-blind design, meaning that neither theexperimenters nor the subjects had any knowledge of what supplementation group theypertained to. Such an experimental design has the advantage that it largely circumvents thepossibility of anyone (experimenter or subject) from introducing a personal bias into theresults of the study. Briefly, subjects were given one of four different supplement protocolswhile undergoing resistance training (free weights). The aim of the study was to elucidateinteractions between any of the supplement conditions and indices of exercise performanceand muscle growth. Forty experimental subjects were randomly assigned to one of fourdifferent supplement groups,
placebo
(rice flour and glucose),
creatine
(20 grams of creatineper day during a loading phase of 7 days followed by 10 grams of creatine per day for theremainder of the study),
HMB
(3 grams of HMB a day for the duration of the entire study),or
creatine plus HMB
(combining the creatine and HMB protocols).The subjects concomitantly performed a comprehensive whole-body workout three times aweek for the duration of the study (three weeks). The exercises examined included the benchpress, power clean, behind the neck military press, bicep curls, tricep extensions, squats andstomach crunches. Importantly, such a rigorous training schedule would place most individualsinto the realm of overtraining. That is, creating more damage than the muscle cell can repairand replace. The results of the study pertaining to athletic performance are given asaccumulative strength, which simply means that the individual increases in weight lifted foreach exercise category were summed together and plotted against the relevant supplementcondition.
 
Results
In all cases body weight and accumulative strength increased to greater degrees in subjectsadministered creatine and HMB, either alone or in combination, when compared to the placebogroup. Generally, creatine supplementation tended to increase body mass and promotecellular fluid retention to a greater degree than HMB (and certainly placebo). This effect of creatine is clearly demonstrated in panel A (top) of the figure below. This result was actuallyno surprise, since it agrees with previous studies examining the effects of creatine on bodycomposition.On the other hand, creatine and HMB exhibited roughly similar abilities to improve strength(panel B; middle), although both produced much greater gains in strength than the placebocondition. Greater amounts of weight lifted may be equated to increased amounts of mechanical stress placed upon the muscle cell.

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