Fueling muscle with optimum nutrition is one of the main aspects of achieving superior athletic performance. Most of the serious bodybuilders and lifters are already taking their pre-workout and post-workout meals too seriously but even those lifters are in the dilemma of taking or not-taking intra-workout supplementation.
What are the benefits of intra-workout nutrition? It will not only help in elevating the training performance but will also assist in improving muscle protein synthesis, reducing the post workout muscle soreness, accelerated recovery and hydration. A good intra-workout supplement will contain all the basic ingredients to support intense training session.
Intra workout nutrition is something many people are confused about and this article is going to debunk each and every question about the intra workout nutrition.
What are intra workout supplements?
In simple words, Intra workout supplements are designed to fuel your workout for improved performance. These supplements are designed to provide you all the nutrients and energy to help you crush your workout session.
Many people take BCAA’s as an intra workout supplement, but that’s certainly not the best choice. It’s fine to take BCAA’s while workout but specialized intra workouts can take your workout on a totally different game.
A most important function of intra workout supplements is to:
- Prevent muscle breakdown
- Replenish glycogen reserves
- Support fast recovery
- Reduction in soreness
Intra workout nutrition doesn’t comprise only of BCAA’s, instead, it contains a blend of ingredients to elevate your athletic performance. To understand the importance of intra workout supplementation, It’s essential to understand the common ingredients of intra-workout. Here is a list of ingredients:
- Essential Aminos: Aminos are the building block of protein that supports muscle strength and hypertrophy. Supplementing essential aminos while intense training sessions can effectively elevate performance.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are the primary and quickest source of fuel and one can’t really endure a great workout without sufficient carbs. Long training sessions or insufficient pre-workout meal can deplete the glycogen reserves, taking intra workout carbs can certainly help.
- Caffeine: Intra-workouts doesn’t contain a big dose of caffeine, but its enough to fuel your brain for superior performance.
- Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that acts as a precursor of carnosine. Beta-alanine is that same ingredient present in pre-workout that gives you a tingling effect. Beta-alanine has been proven very beneficial in eliminating lactic buildup (1), improving muscle endurance (2) and improving body composition (3).
- Taurine: Taurine is one of the most common ingredients of energy drinks that directly improve athletic performance (4).
- L-citrulline: L-Citrulline is an amino acid that is derived from watermelon. Citrulline aid in the production of nitric oxide that results in vasodilation, improved blood flow leads to a better supply of oxygenated blood and superior energy levels.
- Coconut water complex: Best natural hydration solution. Coconut water contains all the vital minerals that your body needs for intense training.
Every company offers a unique cocktail of ingredients and there is no uniform list in ingredients. You can choose the best brand in accordance with your personal preference towards ingredients.
Study on effectiveness of Intra workout nutrition
Let’s have a look at a very legitimate study conducted by Stephen P. Bird at School of Human Movement Studies, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, NSW 2795, Australia. The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the influence of liquid carbohydrate (CHO) and essential amino acid (EAA) ingestion during resistance exercise and modification of the immediate hormonal response on myofibrillar protein degradation as assessed by 3-methylhistidine (3-MH) excretion. 32 volunteers took part in the study, researchers divided them into 4 groups:
- Group 1: Were given a placebo (Artificially sweetened water)
- Group 2: Were given a carbohydrate drink
- Group 3: Were given EAA’s
- Group 4: Were given EAA’s and the carb drink.
All groups were asked to train for 12 weeks while following a controlled diet.
The EAA and Carb drink group doubled the lean mass gains of the next group, increasing skeletal muscle tissue by an impressive 4.1kg! In terms of adding muscle, that’s pretty magnificent.
Frankly speaking, this study has convinced me to start taking my intra workout nutrition more seriously.
Those who are worried about the spike in insulin due to carbohydrates, researchers found a spike in insulin levels of groups 2 and group 4 who were given carbohydrates. But those carbohydrates also regulated the Cortisol levels and led to lowering muscle protein breakdown.
Are intra workouts worth it?
So, let’s come to one of the most controversial questions “are intra workout worth it?”, The answer is Yes and No, both.
Actually, the necessity of the intra workout supplementation depends on many factors, that’s the reason some serious lifters love it and some consider it a waste of money.
Every lifter has his own perspective, some just hate any kind of supplementation and others just rely on it. The necessity of intra workout supplementation depends on the type of training and your body’s nutritional requirements.
The necessity of the intra workout nutrition depends on the following factors:
- Beginner lifter: You don’t really need to focus on the intra workout supplementation, a good pre-workout meal 90 min prior to your workout will help you with the workout. As a beginner, you should be more focused on training with the right form and technique.
- Intermediate lifter: Start with proper pre-workout nutrition first, if you still get out of energy then you can plan to include some intra workout. Most of the pre-workout supplementations contain caffeine, beta-alanine, BCAA’s to fuel your workout and should be enough for your needs.
- Serious lifter: if you are someone who spends a lot of time at the gym doing high-intensity workout then you might feel the need for intra workout nutrition. Intra-workout supplements are designed to keep you fueled and motivated for long training sessions.
- Do you experience low energy while training? You should try a good intra-workout to fuel your workout.
- If you are consuming enough carbs throughout the day then you might not require intra workout for moderate training sessions. But if you are on a low carb diet then planning your carbs around your workout is definitly a practical approach.
- Against pre-workouts? It’s legitimate to take intra workout to supply the required fuel to muscle and brain.
- Believe in early morning workout? Majority of people workout empty stomachs while morning workout (because of lack of time to prepare and ingest pre-workout meal), supplementing an intra-workout in a training routine is an answer to achieve way better performance.
Still not sure whether you should take it or not? Buy it for once, try it for a month and experience the effects.
Guys, I am not a paid promoter of any kind of workout supplementation, my suggestions are based on my personal experience.
I recently had a client with a high metabolism and he was facing difficulties to preserve muscle mass. So I recommended him an intra-workout to protect his hard-earned muscle from catabolization.
Reasons to include Intra workout
Intra workout supplements are loaded with essential nutrients that are proven to elevate athletic performance through different means. Here are the reasons to include intra-workout supplementation within your workout.
1- Muscle synthesis:
Intra workout nutrition contain a serving of BCAA, Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise (9).
BCAA’s also assisted in reducing the muscle catabolization which leads to added benefits.
2- Recover faster and lower soreness:
Intra-workouts are designed to provide active protection against muscle soreness or DOMS.
BCAA has been clinically proven to improve muscle recovery and lower soreness (10, 11). Fast-acting carbs not only make you feel more energized but also lower the post-workout soreness. Look for highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD), this type of carbs passes through the stomach quickly to provide quick energy. HBCD won’t spike your insulin either, instead, it will charge you will sustainable energy for a longer duration.
Citrulline malate and Beta-alanine are also known to clear lactic buildup which eventually leads to reduced soreness and faster recovery.
3- Reduce fatigue:
BCAA not only helps in improving muscle synthesis and fighting fatigue but also proven helpful in reducing fatigue and improving focus(12).
Carbohydrates present in intra workout nutrition actively works to replenish the glycogen stores.
Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. Intra-workout supplements contain amino acids and electrolytes that enhance cellular rehydration rates to a greater extent (13).
BCAA’s vs EAA’s for intra workout
Some of the intra-workout supplements contain BCAA’s and other contains EAA’s, what’s best?
Essential amino acids are the protein that can not be produced within the body in adequate quantity. There is a total of 9 types of essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
So even if you take BCAA’s, there are other six essential aminos that need to be supplied.
I personally suggest taking a blend of essential amino acid instead of taking BCAA’s only.
Watch the video before publishing and add more information.
Can you take creatine intra workout
Taking creating with your intra workout doesn’t really make sense.
Creatine can be either taken with a pre-workout meal or with a post-workout protein shake. Creatine is not a stimulant that responds as soon as you consume it.
Many clinical researches have been conducted on the best time of taking creatine and there is still a lack of concrete evidenced on the best timing. Creatine will positively affect the body as long as you are taking it, as simple as that.
- A study (6) conducted at the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, 3532 S on the effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Researches found, taking creating immediately after the workout can be more beneficial.
- Another study (7) conducted on the Strategic creatine supplementation and resistance training in healthy older adults found no differences in the body composition if taken before or after training.
- A study (8) conducted by the researchers at the School of Biomedical Sciences, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia provides for good data. Researchers found lifters who were supplemented with creatine, carbs, and protein found to have getter gains in comparison to volunteers who were supplemented with creatine in the morning and evening (not close to exercise).
Conclusion: Adding creatine in your post-workout shake can be the best way to experience greater gains.
Intra workout nutrition can help you see the difference in your workout quality and quantity, but if your macro-nutrients are already up to the mark and believe in a moderate workout then this might not be your thing.
Intra-workouts are probably the best thing for people who train really hard, fasted morning workouts, a busy bee who hardly gets sufficient time for pre-workout nutrition.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always.