Sports Supplements The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly! Part 3

Based on the current research, it would seem that DHEA should be approached with caution. It is too early to tell the real benefits and dangers of using DHEA. In the future, we may have more information on which to make an informed decision. However, those wishing to take DHEA should have their own DHEA levels checked before taking this supplement. In addition, this supplement should only be utilized by those over 50 years of age.

Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate (HMB)
HMB is the new kid in town. HMB is essentially a metabolite of the amino acid leucine. It is produced by the body in small amounts and is also found in some fish (catfish), many citrus fruits and human breast milk. It is thought that HMB helps to regulate the enzymes responsible for protein catabolism (breakdown), and that high levels of HMB will reduce the catabolism after intense bouts of exercise. This would, if the theory were correct, help endurance athletes maintain muscle mass and help strength athletes to gain it.

Current research seems to suggest that supplementation with HMB may increase muscle mass and strength. In one study (5), 41 subjects were given HMB and lifted weights 3 times per week for 3 weeks. Those subjects that received HMB supplements showed significant improvements in muscle mass and strength, as well as a decrease in muscle breakdown products (catabolism) when compared with a placebo group. In a second study (5), 28 subjects were given supplemental HMB and lifted weights 6 days a week for 7 weeks. The results of this study also showed increased strength and muscle mass as well as a decrease in body fat.

Since this is a very new supplement, it is too early to tell the long-term effects of using HMB. However, there have not been any side effects reported from its use. As such, we cannot definitively state the potential risks of using this supplement. Having stated this, based on the current available research, I give this supplement two thumbs up! It looks very promising. In these studies researchers used 1.5 to 3 grams of HMB, just in case you wanted to know.

Well, there you have it. The good, the bad and the ugly! As I have stated in this and other articles, there are many very good nutritional supplements out there that have the potential to benefit athletic endeavors.

However, there are also many, many, many supplements that are worthless and many that may be outright dangerous. You are responsible for the supplements you take. So, research supplements before you start taking them and check back here at for the “real” scoop on new sports and nutritional supplements.