MuscleTech are shaking things up in the supplement world again. This time it’s with a muscle building product called Clear Muscle.
Our immediate impression, purely based on the aesthetics of the product, is that they have done a beautiful job with the design and marketing side of things.
Looking past the image, what looks even more promising is the clinical study they are using to promote it. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled university based clinical trials are pretty much the holy grail of supporting evidence for a supplement.
And Tampa Bay university apparently conducted the trial with ‘well-trained bodybuilders.’ – which is a more indicative test of product efficacy than using untrained guys because a group of people who don’t work out normally, and suddenly start to for the trial will produce inconsistent results.
Could this be the answer natural bodybuilders have been looking for?
Hang on a minute, though. MuscleTech have a history of hyping their products up, only to fall way short of expectations. And yes, they’ve even used top-dollar clinical studies in the past to add legitimacy to their claims.
Clinical trials might be a big positive if they prove significance but they are not infallible proof. So before we get wrapped up in all of that excitement again, let’s come back down to Earth and start with what Clear Muscle is exactly.
What is Clear Muscle Exactly?
The truth is, although we don’t know exactly what it is, we know what it is. It’s one of those patented formulations we see very often these days in the supplement industry. MuscleTech call it BetaTOR and go on to say it is a ‘cutting-edge free acid derivative of HMB and metabolite of Leucine.’
So, it’s HMB in free acid form.
In their video explanation, they say that it is much more powerful than standard HMB (powder form calcium salt) because of its free acid state. Now, what we can do is explain a little about HMB and go from there.
Standard Calcium Salt HMB is a metabolite of the branded chain amino acid Leucine, which means when leucine is oxidized, or broken down, HMB is one of the results. A small portion of dietary leucine, about 5%, is metabolized to HMB.
It’s important to note that HMB is much better than Leucine on a gram for gram basis at attenuating catabolism (muscle breakdown). HMB and indeed BCAAs like leucine actually slow the rate of catabolism.
An even more subtle difference is that Leucine is actually slightly better than HMB at inducing protein synthesis according to some research, though they are much closer to being equally effective at this. For someone wanting to preserve muscle, HMB may be the better option if money is not an issue.
Certainly for HMB to be more effective, taken 30 to 45 minutes prior to working out, a free acid form would be more desirable. This is most likely where MuscleTech saw an opening for Clear Muscle.
MuscleTech Claims for Clear Muscle
Okay, so they’ve come up with the free acid form, now what do they say it can do?
- Add 16.3 lbs of lean muscle against 4.6 lbs in the placebo group – this is throughout an intensive weight lifting regime over 12 weeks.
- Add sum of 170 lbs to the big 3 (squat, deadlift, bench) against 55.8 lbs in placebo group
- Ultra-concentrated anabolic power equiv. to 200 grams of whey – some research findings suggest HMB is up to 20 times stronger than leucine as an anti-catabolic. This maybe where they are getting the 200 grams of protein powder from considering the profile of leucine and other BCAAs in whey. However, as stated before, HMB is slightly less than equal that of Leucine for anabolic power and it’s difficult to see why a free-acid form would be any different, other than faster-acting. Leucine included in a full BCAA profile may be more effective for anabolic purposes, and would be cheaper.
Clear Muscle isn’t cheap, although at the start it may go through a promotional period. A month’s worth of the capsules are going for about $50 at the moment.
There’s no reason to expect any negative side effects from this free acid form of HMB. However, training supplements of any kind should not be taken by pregnant/nursing mothers, or people with existing medical conditions before checking with a doctor.
Our Thoughts and Recommendations
We started out with such hope for this supplement, but it’s difficult to keep a smile on your face when even the coveted clinical trial can be swayed in favour of the product.
The company that owns MuscleTech funded the study as well, they also wrote some of the report afterwards if you believe some reputable sources.
Can Clear Muscle help you build muscle? Maybe, if you are working out without any other supplements to help you.
Drinking a good pre-workout supplement is going to do more for you than HMB any day of the week.
Click on the link below to see which pre-workout we found to give the best results.