HICA is a bodybuilding supplement that has recently been gaining a lot of popularity recently due to its amazing benefits. When supplementing HICA, scientific evidence has shown to help increase lean muscle mass and recovery.
- Reduced Muscle Soreness
- Muscle Repair
- Reduce Fatigue
- Increase Lean Mass
What is HICA?
Alpha-Hydroxy-isocaproic acid (HICA) is one of the active ingredients in our intra + post workout supplement: Myocore and is produced when your body metabolizes leucine in tissues such as muscles and connective tissue. It is one of many natural compounds in your body that enhances human performance.
HICA is an essential raw ingredient of your muscle fibers. Your skeletal muscles is composed of two proteins called myosin and actin. Myosin and actin filaments are muscle fibers responsible for muscle contraction. They are made up of branched chain amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine. HICA is a product of leucine, one of these three essential branched chain amino acids.
Other names of HICA: 2-Hydroxy-4-methylpentanoic acid, 2-Hydroxy-4-methylvaleric acid, and leucic acid.
Benefits of HICA Supplementation
We decided to include HICA in Myocore for its many amazing benefits for your muscles that will in turn improve your athletic and workout experience.
1. Reduce Muscle Soreness
- HICA reduces acid buildup in muscles by binding to H+ (acid), which otherwise gets build up in your muscle cells as your activity exceeds aerobic thresholds.
2. Muscle Repair
- HICA can be re-animated and be manufactured into a pool leucine for post-workout recovery and hormonal qualities such as cell-signaling. This allows for muscle repair and potentially mTOR activation.
3. Reduce Fatigue
- HICA binds to ammonia (NH4+) and reduce its levels in your bloodstream. This extends the period of high-intensity activity before muscle cell fatigue. It also helps with preventing IMP-buildup + decreased acetyl-CoA levels.
4. Increase Lean Mass
- One study have seen an increase in lean mass (0.4kg over 4 week period) in soccer player legs.
- This study also noted a statistically significant increase in weight due to increased lean mass.
How Does HICA Work?
HICA is something considered as anabolic. The anabolic pathway promotes protein synthesis in the body. HICA builds proteins by aiding mTOR activation. mTOR is important because it directly and indirectly regulates the phosphorylation of 800+ proteins.
The other pathway is the catabolic pathway. It is responsible for breaking down existing tissues and proteins. HICA is mainly known for its anti-catabolic properties, which means it prevents muscle protein breakdown in your body!
Vigorous exercise causes micro-trauma to your muscles which causes its cells to break down (the catabolic pathway). You know you are experiencing this when you wake up the next morning with really sore muscles. HICA significantly decreases this catabolic or break down process. As a result, your body is able to build lean muscles much faster.
Why Should You Supplement HICA?
Leucine can be found in fermented foods such as certain cheeses, wines, soy sauce, and many meats. So you might be asking yourself, why do I need to supplement for HICA? To understand this we need to examine how it is made in your body.
The foods you eat is broken down into its proteins (i.e. leucine) in your gut. Leucine is then processed in the liver and degrades to KIC. KIC is the precursor to HICA.
From this process, you can tell that HICA is indirectly converted from leucine. Due to the indirect nature of leucine to HICA conversion, eating or supplementing for leucine does not affect the levels of HICA is your blood stream. Thus, HICA supplementation is necessary to achieve the benefits of HICA. You can find HICA in our intra + post workout supplement: Myocore
Should You Take HICA Supplements?
If you are looking to benefit from quicker recovery by suffering less from muscle soreness from the morning after and/or looking to increase lean body mass, HICA supplementation is a good option for you.
What Other Supplements Does HICA Work Well With?
HICA works synergistically with BCAAs.
Your skeletal muscles require leucine reserves. When your tissues go through catabolism, your contractile proteins are broken down into amino acids. BCAAs are high in contractile proteins, so BCAAs floods your muscle cells during this process. In order to take advantage of this synergistic effect, Myocore contains both BCAAs and HICA.
Scientific Review of HICA Supplementation 
By now we understand HICA and its properties! Let’s examine a study investigating the effects of HICA on body composition, DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness), and performance in athletes.
This is a one month, double blind study in Norway that examined the effects of HICA on 15 healthy male soccer players. Results shown a significantly increased whole lean body mass in these study subjects while their fat mass remained constant. Additionally, there is a correlation between HICA supplements and its effects of decreasing the delayed onset of muscle soreness compared to placebo pills supplements.
The hypothesis of the study determined that HICA would increase total lean soft tissue mass and this would result in improved physical performance. This study was designed to be double blind (both the study subjects and the experimenters don’t know which group is assigned to HICA vs placebo during the study), randomized, and contain a placebo control.
The participants are split into two groups through random selection. Group HICA contained 8 people that averaged 22.8 years, 178.9cm in height, and body fat of 14.1%. Group Placebo contained 7 people that averaged 21.3 years, 178.4cm in height, and body fat of 12.5%. There is negligible difference in the baseline parameters between group HICA and group Placebo. The same tests were performed on both groups prior to and following the one month loading period.
The HICA group was given HICA (~500mg) and the Placebo group was given maltodextrin (~650mg). Both supplements were in powder form and the subjects were instructed to consume it 3 times a day with meals spaced out evenly.
The subjects trained 5-7 sessions per week (3-4 soccer sessions, 1-2 resistance sessions, and 1 match session). Resistance training aimed to maximize strength and speed. Subjects recorded all their training exercises, training alertness, and their experience with delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). They were instructed to rate their experience on a scale from 1 to 5 (best alertness and most soreness).
Each player were instructed to continue with their normal sports nutrition program and encouraged to keep a diet diary.
Diet and exercise was kept consistent throughout the experiment period. The results showed no difference in the hemoglobin count.
Body weight for HICA group increased from 72.6 ± 9.1 kg to 72.9 ± 8.6 kg. For the Placebo group, it increased from 70.0 ± 5.2 kg to 70.1 ± 5.1 kg. The difference in body weight was statistically significant (p < 0.005) between HICA and Placebo. As for whole lean body mass, HICA group increased from 62.2 ± 6.7 to 62.5 ± 6.5 and for Placebo group, increased from 62.2 ± 4.9 and to 62.2 ± 4.6. Both fat mass and bone mass remained constant in both groups.
Overall, the 1 month supplementation of HICA increased whole lean body mass of study subjects. The increase (400g) was emphasized in the lower body. In addition, subjects in HICA group were less affected by DOMS than subjects in the Placebo group.
- Mero, A. A., Ojala, T., Hulmi, J. J., Puurtinen, R., Karila, T. A., & Seppälä, T. (2010, January 05). Effects of alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid on body composition, DOMS and performance in athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2818616/