Reviewing supplements (or anything with performance based claims) is always a sticky wicket. Humans make for terrible scientific study populations, we are poorly controlled, with hundreds of variables going on, suspect to skepticism and ridiculous placebo bias, its a miracle anyone ever even studies us. When Rowan at Blonyx asked me to try one of their products for 30 days and write an honest review – I agreed, knowing all of the above would cast doubt on whatever I write. That being said – I like the product, the science is sound and its a very no-frills approach to supplementation; which I found refreshing when everyone else is trying to sell you “10 lbs of muscle in 10 days.” So let’s get into it shall we?
Blonyx HMB + is comprised primarily of two ‘active’ ingredients, HMB and Creatine. For the purpose of this review, I’m ignoring the creatine, in my world that is a control; I’ve taken Creatine everyday of my life for the last 2+ years, I’m sure whatever effect it had or was going to have or is having has already been accounted for. That just leaves the HMB.
HMB is a metabolite of Luecine. Leucine, is a popular branch chained amino acid, of which I consume roughly 30-40g every training day. As that nice Wikipedia link demonstrates, Leucine is the only amino acid credited with stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, as well as slowing the degradation of muscle tissue. While all three branch chained amino acids shared this credit, new research has shown that Leucine is the primary driver of this signaling, and the other two are more or less just along for the ride as substrate. Roughly 5% of all dietary Leucine is metabolized into HMB, so of the 15g or so I get from my BCAA, roughly 3/4 of a gram are converted to HMB. That’s not a lot. In clinical studies, minimum effective daily doses were in the 3 gram range. Meaning supplementation is probably a must to see the benefits.
The benefits of HMB include;
- Increased muscle cell membrane integrity
- Enhanced protein synthesis via mTOR
- Depressed protein degredation
If you’re living in a the world where more muscle is better – these are all good things. The end result is more strength, greater mass, and increased performance.
Summary’s of both Leucine and HMB as well as references can be found at examine.com.
The label says to take HMB+ twice a day to get the effective dose of roughly 3g HMB. I decided due to the protein degradation benefits that these doses would be best used first thing in the morning, and right before training. As those were the areas of time when I was least anabolic, or most prone to breaking down muscle. The first thing I noticed was a distinct chemically taste. Blonyx doesn’t have any sucralose, dyes, or flavorings – which I love and would take chemical taste over any day. But if you’re expecting an enjoyable tasty drink, you’ll get a kick in the face. Outside of that – it mixed easily with water, and really was unremarkable in every other way.
May 10 – June 10
Snatch 185 x 1 (+25)
Push Press 225 x 4 (+10)
Back Squat 375 x 1 (350 x 2) (+25)
Bench Press 265 x 3 (+10)
Scale Weight May 10 – 214.7
Scale Weight June 10 – 215.4
Let’s look at some numbers now, because I love numbers. One tub of HMB+ lasts 30 days, I started around May 10th and finished this Monday, June 10th. In that time I set 4 PR’s totaling 65 pounds, in that same time I only added about seven tenths of a pound in scale weight.
So should you spend your money on it?
I touched on this a couple times, but this is really the crux of the issue, in an ideal world, I would have two 30 day periods where I trained the same, ate the same, rested the same, really did everything the same with the only difference being the Blonyx HMB+. But we’re humans, that just isn’t going to happen. The best I can do is train similarly, eat similarly, and hope to draw some conclusions. In the period before this April-May I was setting a few PR’s, certainly nothing on the scale that I’ve set in the last week. I cannot deny that as fact. The cause and effect relationship is a harder line to draw, but for the purpose of this post – I’m going to say that the Blonyx is a likely contributor to these successes.
Similarly – something I haven’t touched on. A large portion of May was dedicated to testing. Much of that testing revolved around muscular endurance rather than raw output of power or strength. I improved in almost every test over my same results in late March. Again – I can’t say certainly that I wouldn’t have done just as well without the HMB, but going through a week of testing workouts, I can say that I felt better than I expected to going into the next day. I didn’t measure the breakdown of muscle protein as I did 220 kettlebell swings, or 170 jumping lunges but again, I also cannot deny that the HMB likely helped get me through that week.
I hinted at this in the intro – but full disclosure here – I did not buy this product. I was offered it to try and review. So the easy answer is that for free I’d take this every day – no questions asked. But that is not the question, the question is at $60/month, or $2/day – is it worth the cost? Unfortunately, for me at this point the answer is no. It’s a simple matter of economics.
The main ingredient in HMB and HMB+ is Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyrate (the long form of HMB). In Blonyx products it is bound to Calcium for better absorption. For just this, 180 capsules or a 30 day supply it is $55 or $1.83 a day. A quick search at my favorite online supplement retailer (GetRippedNutrition) reveals that 90 capsules of 1g each of Optimum Nutrition HMB is only $31.29 – meaning that this is also a 30 day supply at 3g/day for about $1.04/day of the exact same active ingredient.
It really pains me to write that paragraph because Rowan and the team at Blonyx seem really great, they have a good product, backed by sound science, and a 100% no frills approach to everything they’re doing. If cost were no object and I could choose my supplements based solely on their integrity, I’d buy it from them every time. Unfortunately I’m 24, working my second job out of college, saving for grad school, buying a lion’s share of ground beef, and paying a coach every month. I simply don’t have the luxury of being able to make that work. Though if they’re looking to sponsor someone, I’d be on it like white on rice. I would however encourage anyone with the means looking to invest in an HMB supplement to strong consider the Blonyx products.
Grade w/o cost: 98/100 A+
Grade: 85/100 B
And a big thanks to Rowan and the Blonyx team for the opportunity.