HMB Vs HICA: Are Metabolism Leucine Benefits for Body Composition?

HICA and HMB are among the chemical compounds believed to be beneficial for muscles, beneficial for athletes' training processes, and even for the elderly.

Although their functions may seem similar, each compound has different properties and scientific evidence.

Let's explore HICA vs. HMB: Are Metabolism Leucine Benefits for Body Composition?


What is HICA, and What Are Its Benefits for Human Health?

what is hica

HICA, also known as Alpha-Hydroxy Isocaproic Acid, is a compound produced from the metabolism of Leucine, an essential amino acid in the body. It benefits muscle health and workout performance.

You can imagine your muscles as Lego blocks. When you exercise, these blocks are impacted, causing them to crack and break down bit by bit. Your body then needs to repair them to become stronger.

Leucine plays a crucial role in this repair process. However, your body also produces a byproduct of Leucine called HICA.

HICA acts as a "bonding agent" that helps prevent protein breakdown in muscles while promoting the repair and growth of muscles.

From these explanations and the example above, you can also understand the primary benefits of HICA for human health, which include stimulating protein synthesis to help muscles grow.

Additionally, it helps muscles minimize the soreness and damage after high-intensity workouts.

In a study, it was found that the group using HICA significantly increased their overall muscle mass compared to the group not supplementing with HICA.

The study also demonstrated that supplementing with HICA reduced symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) throughout the body. (4)

What is HMB, and What Are Its Benefits for Human Health?

hmb powder

HMB stands for beta-hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyrate, a chemical compound produced when the body breaks down Leucine. Leucine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in muscle building and repair.

Because it is related to the amino acid leucine, HMB also has benefits similar to HICA's.

  • It can help improve endurance performance for runners. (1)
  • Faster muscle recovery (2)
  • Can lose fat and maintain muscle mass consistently (3)

Discover everything about HMB's benefits, side effects and how to use it in this video:

Are HICA and HMB the Same?

HICA and HMB are not the same.

While both HICA and HMB are compounds related to the amino acid leucine and are sometimes mentioned for similar benefits, they have distinct origins and chemical structures, leading to potentially different benefits.

Let's explore how HICA and HMB differ in the content below.

What Are Differences Between HICA Vs. Hmb?

This table summarizes the differences between HICA and HMB to help you easily compare these Metabolism Leucine and make the best decision:




Chemical formula

Beta-Hydroxy Beta-Methylbutyrate

Alpha-Hydroxy Isocitric Acid


Can reduce muscle breakdown indirectly by increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol. - Potential in supporting muscle growth

Muscle building and protection

Scientific basis

Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of HMB for muscles. Especially in athletes

Fewer studies demonstrate


Easily found in various forms: powder, capsules,... as dietary supplements

Harder to find compared to HMB as dietary supplements


$16 - $56

$11 - $14

The comparison table of HMB vs HICA

Does HICA And HMB Work for Body Composition?

hmb effects of body composition

Currently, there is no scientific evidence showing that HICA and HMB have effects on body composition. However, some studies focused solely on HMB have shown its impact on body composition through a test conducted on athletes.

The body fat of male athletes decreased significantly, and lean body mass increased when supplemented with HMB regardless of their training status.

Similarly, another study involving both men and women aged 20 to 40 yielded similar results. (3)

The efficacy of HMB has also been extended to achievements in particular sports, especially cycling. HMB may improve athletic performance by increasing peak VO2 (maximum oxygen consumption).(3)

Another study by Dan and colleagues examined the effects of 3 grams of HMB on 16 runners covering 20 km for both men and women.

The results showed that levels of LDH (lactate dehydrogenase) and CK (creatine kinase) decreased in those who supplemented with HMB compared to those who did not.

LDH and CK are two enzymes commonly assessed by doctors to evaluate muscle tissue damage. (3)

HMB also has effects on older adults. Daily supplementation of HMB for 8 weeks in a group of 70-year-olds who exercised twice a week resulted in more significant fat loss and increased strength compared to baseline. (3)

Studies also indicate that HMB may reduce muscle wasting associated with conditions such as AIDS and cancer cachexia. (3)

Some animal studies have also demonstrated the benefits of HMB, including reducing body fat and cholesterol levels. (3)

As for HICA, there needs to be more scientific evidence. Supplementing with HICA may slightly increase lean mass while maintaining fat mass. Notably, lean mass in the lower body of the HICA group increased by 400g, while the non-HICA group decreased by 150g. (4)

Additionally, HICA helps reduce symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in the fourth week of the study. However, there were no significant differences in muscle strength and running speed between the HICA and non-HICA groups. (4)

How to Incorporate HICA and HMB into Your Diet to Gain Positive Results

ways to incorporate hmb and hica into your diet

For HMB, take 3 grams daily, preferably 30 minutes to 1 hour before starting your workout for optimal effectiveness.

Mix HMB powder into water, milk, or fruit juice for easier consumption. Alternatively, you can also purchase HMB supplements in pill form for convenience.

Regarding HICA, although there is no ideal dosage, based on experience, you can use 1.5 grams divided into multiple doses throughout the day or take it all at once, preferably before or after your workout.

Consuming HICA with water or fruit juice is best for the best results.

Furthermore, it's essential to maintain a balanced diet that suits your body type and exercise regimen.

Incorporate protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, fish, etc., as well as various nutrients, including carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Currently, no scientific evidence supports the simultaneous use of both HICA and HMB.


In summary, both HICA and HMB show potential in supporting muscle growth and recovery post-workout. However, individual responses to supplements may vary, so it's crucial to consult with a specialist before using any supplement.

Additionally, ensure you maintain a balanced diet and a scientific workout plan to maximize the benefits of HICA and HMB for your body.


[1] Holeček, M. (2017). Beta‐hydroxy‐beta‐methylbutyrate supplementation and skeletal muscle in healthy and muscle‐wasting conditions. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 8(4), 529–541.
[2] Silva, V. R., Belozo, F. L., Micheletti, T. O., Conrado, M., Stout, J. R., Pimentel, G. D., & Gonzalez, A. M. (2017). β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate free acid supplementation may improve recovery and muscle adaptations after resistance training: a systematic review. Nutrition Research, 45, 1–9.
[3] Wilson, G. J., Wilson, J. M., & Manninen, A. H. (2008). Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on exercise performance and body composition across varying levels of age, sex, and training experience: A review. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1).
[4] Mero, A. A., Ojala, T., Hulmi, J. J., Risto Puurtinen, Tuomo A. M. Karila, & Seppala, T. (2010). Effects of alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid on body composition, DOMS and performance in athletes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1).
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Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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