Out of 10
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Out of 10
Read 94 Reviews


Supports Increases in Protein Synthesis!*
A Powerful Non-Hormonal Muscle Growth Stimulator!*
Supported Goal: Post-Workout Recovery
Main Ingredient: HICA
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Product Overview

A Powerful Non-Hormonal Muscle Growth Support!*

HICA-MAX™ is a powerful non-hormonal, natural support for ­muscle growth.* HICA-MAX™ chewables contain 100% high grade leucic acid, also known as alpha-hydroxy-isocaproic acid (HICA), a natural metabolite of the branched chain amino acid, leucine.

HICA-MAX™ works by supporting protein synthesis (anabolism), and promoting decreased muscle protein breakdown (catabolism.)* Its mechanism of action has been suggested to support the signaling for muscle protein synthesis. * Leucic acid also supports the inhibiting of caspase-8.

Hica-MaxAs a hard training athlete, HICA-MAX™ can help you:

  • Support gains in muscle and strength .*
  • Promote recovery from workouts, so you can train more often.*
  • May help reduce muscle soreness, allowing you to train harder.1*

HICA-MAX™ supports ­anabolic and anti-catabolic pathways without directly affecting your body's hormonal balance.* HICA-MAX™ supports muscle growth without negative side effects!* You don't have to cycle off HICA-MAX™.

Just three HICA-MAX™ tablets is an efficacious daily amount of this powerful non-hormonal muscle growth support!* HICA-MAX? comes in 4 delicious, sugar-free flavors. HICA-MAX™ offers a cost-effective solution to help promote muscle gains in the gym while also reducing muscle soreness from super-charged workouts!*

Additional Information:

HICA-Max™ is one of the newest additions to the Labrada Nutrition line, and presents a new pathway to supporting muscle growth for everyone, male and female, pushing muscle to the point of breakdown during vigorous weight lifting session or power workouts.* HICA-Max™ is designed to work in a catabolic environment. Recreational lifters easing through a simple circuit or group fitness class are unlikely to find benefit. Heavy lifters may benefit from this ingredient.*

The active ingredient in HICA-Max™ is L-α-hydroxyisocaproic acid, abbreviated to HICA. Chemical nomenclature, (the system that defines proper naming of chemicals) recognizes other names for HICA, including 2-Hydroxy-4-methylpentanoic acid, 2-Hydroxy-4-methylvaleric acid, and leucic acid. HICA is a metabolite, or degradation product of leucine, the essential branched chain amino acid. The conversion rate of leucine to HICA is very small, so taking lots of leucine will not provide effective levels of HICA.*

To review, proteins, including skeletal muscle contractile protein, are composed of chains of amino acids. In skeletal muscle, there are two proteins that are involved with the actual contraction and relaxation that you know best as "flexing." These are actin and myosin. In these proteins, branched chain amino acids are present in much higher concentration than other proteins. Branched chain amino acids include: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Normally, leucine is not present in the muscle cell in its "free" form. Rather, it is rapidly incorporated into proteins. Certain other amino acids – namely glutamine, alanine, and taurine, are present in concentrations that are much higher. Free leucine is present in significant quantities during two conditions, after eating and during muscle breakdown, (also called proteolysis). Proteolysis is a consequence of the mechanical stresses of exercise, and changes in the acidity of the cell. The "anabolic" effect of leucine appears to peak out at 0.135 g/kg/day. Large amounts may add additional benefits, but it appears to require about 20 grams in a single serving.

Knowing that, it should be no surprise that the metabolites of leucine have a physiologic effect as well. Metabolites are new chemicals created as leucine is degraded. Leucine trades off the NH2 (amine group) to replenish the muscle´s pool of glutamine and alanine, becoming α-ketoisocaproic acid (KIC). KIC can be further metabolized to form HMB, a supplement which can be quite beneficial to aging adults by supporting lean mass retention, but has not shown convincing evidence of efficacy in young adult athletes.*

A different pathway in the leucine degradation pathway produces the hydroxy-analog of KIC, L-α-hydroxyisocaproic acid (HICA). HICA has not been studied to the extent that KIC has, let alone leucine. Therefore, much of its promise is predicated upon research that is not directly related to muscle growth or body composition support.

It is known that leucine consumed orally, either in a meal or as a supplement, passes through the liver with little loss to the BCAT enzyme that degrades it to KIC. As KIC is the precursor to HICA, therefore leucine supplementation is not a direct method of providing HICA.

The primary leucine pool is in skeletal muscle. This tissue is one that can functionally undergo catabolism, as opposed to other tissue which are generally homeostatic (in a balance, neither growing nor breaking down). During starvation, stress, or extreme exercise, the contractile proteins can breakdown and release amino acids. As the BCAAs are in high percentage in contractile protein, this "floods" the muscle cell with free BCAAs, especially leucine. Here is where the majority of KIC and HICA and produced. KIC can be shuttled to the mitochondria of the muscle for energy (ATP) production, but not to a major degree. Instead, it is degraded down to acetoacetate, a ketone body. Think of the ketogenic diets, this is what is released to induce ketosis (from several amino acids, not just leucine). KIC can also be a donor carbon base to regenerate glutamine and alanine which are needed to promote other cell functions.*

KIC has a double bonded oxygen (=O) in place of the amine group (NH2), which is tightly bound to the rest of the molecule. HICA instead has a hydroxyl group (OH) which can be more easily removed. HICA is not just another form of KIC or leucine.

HICA may be effective in binding the waste buildup that occurs during proteolysis (protein breakdown) during catabolic events, like exercise and starvation.* Most people are familiar with lactic acid. It is produced when the muscle outworks the oxygen supply. Normally pyruvate (pyruvic acid) is shuttled to the mitochondria to be burned for additional calories. However, when oxygen is low relative to the work being done, pyruvate is turned into lactate (lactic acid). This is the fatiguing burn felt during longer sprints or higher rep sets. HICA may help reduce muscle soreness, allowing you to train harder.*

Remember, HICA is leucine that has had the NH2 replaced with an OH. Thankfully, that is not an irreversible process. Transaminase and reaminase enzymes can attach an NH2 in place of the OH, creating leucine. Thus, HICA can also serve as a leucine precursor.* During catabolic breakdown, the loss of leucine can be more quickly replaced.*

There are questions about where HICA performs its actions. It is taken up by the MCT transporter, so it should be bioavailable orally.* Type 2 muscle fibers, or slow-twitch fibers, may take in HICA more readily.* This is due to their greater aerobic capacity. Type 2 fibers are packed with mitochondria which use oxygen to create energy. Type 1 or fast-twitch fibers are explosive and burn up pre-made ATP, fatigue, and then create more quickly.

As to how HICA may support lean mass, it appears to be a function of maintaining the muscle cell in a functioning state by possibly neutralizing the waste products created during high-intensity exercise, and keeping cellular energetic mechanisms functioning during recovery.* Also, providing a reserve pool of leucine is always beneficial. HICA is likely short-lived in the body, so it may be best taken 20 minutes prior to a workout.*


HICA is a metabolite of leucine, via KIC. Therefore, HICA supplementation is necessary to achieve efficacious levels in muscles.*

HICA binds H+ (acid) which builds up in the muscle cell as work exceeds the aerobic threshold (e.g. high-intensity lifting, sprinting).*

HICA can be reaminated, providing a pool of leucine for post-workout recovery and cell-signaling.*

1 Antti A Mero, et. al. Effects of alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid on body composition, DOMS, and performance in athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010, 5, 7(1):1.

Ratings & Reviews

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90 Chewable Tablets $23.99
90 Servings | $0.27 Per Serving
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What's in Labrada HICA-Max

90 Chewable Tablets
Supplement Facts
Serving Size:1Chewable
Servings Per Container:90
Amount Per Serving % Daily Value*
HICA (Leucic Acid) 500mg *
Calories 3 *
Total Carbohydrate 1.5g *
Sugar Alcohol (As Xylitol) 1.5g *
* Daily Value not established.
Other Ingredients:
Xylitol, Natural & Artificial Flavoring, Malic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Stearic Acid, Citric Acid, Silicon, Sucralose, FD&C Red #40 Lake, FD&C Blue #2 Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Lake.

Directions For HICA-Max:

Take 1 chewable tablet, 3 times daily on an empty stomach. Take one dose immediately after exercise.


Consult with a physician before using this or any dietary supplement. Pregnant or nursing women, children, and people with known or suspected allergies to shellfish should consult a physician before using this dietary supplement. Keep out of reach of children.

Individual results may vary. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Learn more about HICA.