Get that mid-workout boost with intra-workout supplements
We all know about the importance of a post-exercise whey protein or mass-builder shake to repair damaged muscle tissue and kickstart the muscle-building process after a hard workout.
But what if we limited some of the damage and started the repair process sooner? That’s the rationale behind intra-workout supplements.
Research shows that consuming amino acids during a workout, which are easily and rapidly absorbed, offers various benefits, including a muscle sparing effect and enhanced recovery.
Easier digestion, faster absorption
The reason why amino acids are preferred over complete proteins in intra-workouts is the need to solve the limitations around digestion during intense training.
Mechanical digestion requires sufficient blood flow to your gut, but when you’re smashing out heavy reps or grinding out sled sprints, your working muscles tend to monopolise your blood supply. That means there is less blood available to support the digestion process.
Attempting to split these demands could result in some digestive discomfort (or cause more urgent trouble). It could also affect workout performance by diverting blood volume away from working muscles.
For these reasons, most intra-workout products contain highly bioavailable essential amino acids (EAAs) and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are rapidly absorbed and limit the potential for gastrointestinal issues.
Certain manufacturers also include a blend of free-form and peptide-form amino acids to improve absorption rates and ease the burden on the gut as they use different digestion pathways.
Spare muscle & limit damage
While not specific to intra-workout supplementation, a study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that BCAAs taken before and after damaging weight training reduced muscle damage and accelerated recovery. Researchers also found significant reductions in muscle soreness and an increase in maximum muscle power output.
There is also a strong scientific case for including carbs in intra-workouts to amplify these benefits. It appears that ingesting carbs during your workout can boost the anabolic response – that means more muscle and greater strength – and may also blunt the natural exercise-induced cortisol response, which can also help to limit muscle loss or limit fat storage.
Elevate your performance
And almost all intra-workout supplement formulations today aim to maximise your performance during training. This is usually achieved with substances commonly found in pre-workout supplements, like nitric oxide to boost vasodilation and deliver more nutrients to working muscles, fast-acting carbohydrates, glutamine, beta-alanine, stimulants to boost your energy and efficiency, creatine and electrolytes.
For that reason, it’s important to read the label on your pre-workout and intra-workout if you use both to ensure there is not overlap in formulations to avoid double-dosing on active ingredients.As such, if you already take a comprehensive pre-workout, Stick to a simple amino acid blend for your intra-workout supplement.