Body composition in 70-year-old adults responds to dietary beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate similarly to that of young adults

J Nutr. 2001 Jul;131(7):2049-52. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.7.2049.


Studies in young adults have demonstrated that beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) can increase gains in strength and fat-free mass during a progressive resistance-training program. The purpose of this study was to determine whether HMB would similarly benefit 70-y-old adults undergoing a 5 d/wk exercise program. Thirty-one men (n = 15) and women (n = 16) (70 +/- 1 y) were randomly assigned in a double-blind study to receive either capsules containing a placebo or Ca-HMB (3 g/d) for the 8-wk study. Skin fold estimations of body composition as well as computerized tomography (CT) and dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans were measured before the study and immediately after the 8-wk training program. HMB supplementation tended to increase fat-free mass gain (HMB, 0.8 +/- 0.4 kg; placebo, -0.2 +/- 0.3 kg; treatment x time, P = 0.08). Furthermore, HMB supplementation increased the percentage of body fat loss (skin fold: HMB, -0.66 +/- 0.23%; placebo, -0.03 +/- 0.21%; P = 0.05) compared with the placebo group. CT scans also indicated a greater decrease in the percentage of body fat with HMB supplementation (P < 0.05). In conclusion, changes in body composition can be accomplished in 70-y-old adults participating in a strength training program, as previously demonstrated in young adults, when HMB is supplemented daily.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Placebos
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Valerates / pharmacology*
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Placebos
  • Valerates
  • beta-hydroxyisovaleric acid