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Published: January 31, 2012

UT Receives Grant to Help Determine Efficacy of Athletic Supplement

Researchers in The University of Tampa’s Department of Health Sciences and Human Performance have received a $50,000 grant to study the effects of the HMB athletic supplement on human strength, power and muscle mass.

HMB (β-Hydroxy β-methylbutyric acid) is a metabolite of the essential amino acid leucine and is synthesized in the human body. It plays a part in protein synthesis and purportedly may have an effect on increasing muscle size and strength, and reduce muscle decay in demanding situations.

The study, funded by Metabolic Technologies Inc. (MTI), will investigate the effects of 12 weeks of HMB supplementation in a rare population of elite resistance trained athletes during a prescribed training program. The study uses state of the art technology to evaluate the supplements’ effects on ultrasound-determined muscle thickness, dual X-ray absorptiometry-determined body composition, computerized Wingate assessments of power and changes in an array of hormones (testosterone and cortisol).

The secondary purpose of the investigation will be to determine if HMB can prevent the typical muscle decay often seen in performance following a purposeful short term (two week) overtraining regimen. High tech blood and urinary analysis of muscle damage, along with muscle soreness, strength and power will be measured to assess for signs of overtraining.

According to the website WebMD, HMB is used for increasing the benefits from weight training and exercise; and for treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The website adds that “HMB might promote muscle growth. It seems to reduce the destructive breakdown of muscle in people with AIDS.”

Jacob Wilson, UT assistant professor of health sciences and human performance and the study’s lead researcher, said the controversial nature of supplements in general makes this a very important study, and one in which UT can utilize an array of technologically advanced techniques.

“After studying HMB at the cellular and molecular level the past several years, I believe it is conceivable that this supplement may revolutionize human performance,” Wilson said.

Wilson added that the research includes a number of UT student researchers.

“These by far are the most brilliant students I have had the privilege to conduct research with.”