The Building Blocks of Life

human leg showing how HMB increases protein synthesis and decreases protein breakdown

After water, proteins are one of the largest components of the body and are sometimes called “the building blocks of life”.  Proteins are made up of many smaller units called amino acids. Some amino acids are termed “essential” amino acids because they cannot be produced by the human body.  Instead, they must be acquired through diet.  Our bodies don’t store individual amino acids, thus necessitating a daily consumption of amino acids via proteins.

Our bodies constantly metabolize proteins to replace those that have been damaged through normal function, age-related muscle loss, or by external stressors such as training, activity, illness, or injury.  To maintain healthy bodily function, we need a balance of protein synthesis (making new proteins) and protein breakdown (releasing amino acids from protein).  When muscle protein breaks down faster than new muscle protein is synthesized, we generally lose muscle mass.

To combat muscle loss, protein supplementation is the go-to answer for many, but more protein is not always the most efficient or effective solution.

The Protein Problem

While consuming protein offers support in the fight against muscle loss, it can be an uphill battle to consume the amount your body needs.  Underlying factors such as your age and protein quality can impair the body’s ability to utilize amino acids for protein synthesis.  Thus, protein intake is not the only factor regulating muscle mass.

The Institute of Medicine recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for adults is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day.1 Some researchers have hypothesized that the Institute of Medicine recommended RDA is not sufficient for all adults (for example, older adults or those with functional limitations), and that higher protein intake would promote muscle anabolism and confer additional muscle health benefits.

However, multiple clinical trials have failed to support this hypothesis, showing no benefit of consuming protein in excess of the RDA on muscle mass, strength, function in middle aged and older adults.2  In a well-controlled clinical trial of older men (over the age of 65) with functional limitations, protein intake well over the RDA (1.3 grams of protein per kg of body weight a day) did not increase lean mass, muscle performance, physical function, or well-being among men already consuming the RDA of protein.3  Similarly, adding 30 grams a day of supplemental protein did not improve the maintenance of muscle mass or physical function in healthy older women (70-80 years old) who were protein-replete, despite evidence of deterioration in muscle measurements in the upper limb.4  In a meta-analysis of 15 studies evaluating the effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on resistance exercise training outcomes in older adults (over the age of 60), showed no significant benefit of supplementation on muscle strength, muscle size, functional ability, or body composition.5  Similar results have been observed in middle-aged adults (40–64 years old)6; boosting protein intake above the RDA did not enhance exercise-induced improvements in strength, body composition, or health biomarkers.

Together, these studies highlight that extra protein alone is not the nutritional solution for improving muscle health (ie, muscle mass, physical function) in middle-aged or older adults.

Woman supplements exercise with HMB and flexes bicep

Muscle is a dynamic tissue, continually breaking down and rebuilding itself at a rate of 1-2% each day.  MyHMB helps protein perform more optimally by activating key protein synthesis pathways and protecting against excess protein breakdown.  Through this dual action, myHMB helps your body to utilize the protein and amino acids you consume to help maximize the benefits for overall muscle health.

HMB is produced naturally in our bodies during the metabolism of the essential amino acid leucine.  Leucine is found in virtually all protein, but consuming protein alone to achieve an effective amount of HMB is not feasible.  Only 5% of dietary leucine is converted into HMB in the body.  This means that, in theory, a person would need to consume 60 grams of leucine or approximately 600 grams of high-quality protein to get the proven-effective amount of HMB.  Directly consuming this amount of protein or leucine is a difficult, if not impossible, feat.

The simple solution – supplementing with myHMB.  Taking 3 grams of myHMB per day can help maintain and improve overall muscle health.

myHMB Helping Protein Perform Infographic

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  1. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.
  2. Mittendorfer B, Klein S, Fontana L. A word of caution against excessive protein intake. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2020;16(1):59-66. doi:10.1038/s41574-019-0274-7
  3. Bhasin S, Apovian CM, Travison TG, et al. Effect of Protein Intake on Lean Body Mass in Functionally Limited Older Men: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(4):530-541. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0008
  4. Zhu K, Kerr DA, Meng X, et al. Two-Year Whey Protein Supplementation Did Not Enhance Muscle Mass and Physical Function in Well-Nourished Healthy Older Postmenopausal Women. J Nutr. 2015;145(11):2520-2526. doi:10.3945/jn.115.218297
  5. Thomas DK, Quinn MA, Saunders DH, Greig CA. Protein Supplementation Does Not Significantly Augment the Effects of Resistance Exercise Training in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2016;17(10):959.e1-959.e9599. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2016.07.002
  6. McKenna CF, Salvador AF, Hughes RL, et al. Higher protein intake during resistance training does not potentiate strength, but modulates gut microbiota, in middle-aged adults: a randomized control trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2021;320(5):E900-E913. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00574.2020
  7. Rittig N, Bach E, Thomsen HH, et al. Anabolic effects of leucine-rich whey protein, carbohydrate, and soy protein with and without β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) during fasting-induced catabolism: A human randomized crossover trial. Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun;36(3):697-705. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2016.05.004.