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New Ensure drink touts improved muscle health

October 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The original Ensure is a drink supplement designed to help the sick and elderly gain weight. The company is now touting a new shake for those over 40 who are concerned about muscle loss as they age.

Ensure Muscle Health is among the newer Ensure shakes on store shelves. On the bottle and in advertisements, it promises to "help rebuild muscle and strength naturally lost over time" with a trademarked formula called "Revigor."

According to a commercial, Revigor is "the amino acid metabolite HMB." HMB, which stands for hydroxyl methylbutyric acid, is said to promote muscle growth in some studies.

Consumer Reports wanted to know if this shake can really ensure against muscle loss.

"Some studies suggest that HMB can help you gain more lean muscle from strength training, especially if you're not that fit to begin with. But other studies haven't shown a benefit, and none of the studies that we've seen lasted long enough to be conclusive," said Jamie Hirsh with Consumer Reports.

The bright purple label recommends drinking two bottles a day, but with 250 calories in each 8-ounce bottle, that could be a problem, too.

"That's 500 extra calories that most people don't need in a day," said Hirsh.

Also, there are at least 22 grams of sugar in every bottle.

Muscle mass does decline as people age, and regular strength training can help. However, Consumer Reports said more research is needed to prove that the Revigor in Ensure Muscle Health provides any additional benefit.

"Unless you need the extra calories, you're probably better off skipping the shakes and focusing on regular exercise and a well-balanced diet instead," Hirsh said.

The shakes are also a bit pricey with a four pack at local markets costing $7.69.

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