There are a lot of different opinions about intra-workout supplements and the benefits/non-benefits they provide. I decided to sift through all of the different arguments and put together a post on what you can expect to gain or not gain from taking this type of supplement. I’m doing the research to see if I should add this type of supplement to my regiment and why. Here’s what I found out. Hopefully this will help clarify all the chatter and give you a clear idea if they are useful and if you should drop some dollars to add them to your regiment.
What they do?
Intra-workout supplements are marketed to provide an additional push during a hard workout. They are said to give you a mid-workout boost that allows you to kick things up a notch. In combination with a powerful pre-workout, you can complete a workout with high focus and energy. But, if you are taking other supplements is it really worth it? Do you really need all of this extra energy or should you just drink water or Gatorade during a workout to stay hydrated and energized?
What’s in an Intra-Workout Supplement?
To quickly understand the benefits, lets look at the different ingredients found in this type of supplement. Each supplement in the category has a unique blend, but there are a few common ingredients that are found in pretty much every product. We’ll focus on the main most potent ingredients, which are active due to their content level. These include BCAAs, Dextrose, Glutamine, and a few others.
Here’s what each of these will provide you:
L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-Valine are all types of BCAAs that are commonly found in intra-workout supplements. Each of these is effective for promoting protein synthesis. L-Leucine is the most potent and is found in just about every intra-workout drink. Each of the BCAAs can also help to eliminate fatigue under certain circumstances. They are also important to improved immune system function, reduce levels of exercise-induced muscle damage and increase levels of post-exercise muscle growth.
While all BCAAs are effective, you only need to make sure your intra-workout contains leucine. It will provide the greatest results when it comes to muscle growth synthesis. But what you’ll notice is that ingredients such as leucine are many times stacked in a protein supplement. So if your regiment includes a protein shake before your workout then this supplement might be overkill.
On the other hand if you are looking to bulking up, cut weight, build mass or just doing cardio then this might be what you are looking for. We’ll talk about each of these benefits in detail later in the post.
Learn more about the Benefits of BCAAs
During a bulk phase, dextrose is an effective ingredient to have in your intra-workout supplement. This ensures you have quick access to fast-burning sugars during a workout. If you are cutting you should avoid including dextrose in your intra-workout drink, unless your training style is uniquely intense. It can also offer some benefits if you do marathon-style training sessions.
The other powerhouse ingredient found in most intra-workout supplements is glutamine. This ingredient is recommended if you are looking for an intra-workout product during a cutting phase. In the middle of a workout, glutamine is able to stay in its anabolic state, regardless of your workout intensity and duration. It also helps to strengthen your immune system.
There are other ingredients that are commonly found in intra-workouts. Some alternative common ingredients include essential amino acids, beta-alanine, and electrolytes. Each of these has some benefit, but none are particularly powerful on their own. Also, many of them are also found in a pre-workout or post-workout supplement.
The Benefits of Using Intra-Workout Supplements
So, now that you have the background you can see intra-workout supplements can be a worthwhile investment if you have serious goals when hitting the gym and lifting weights. If you are driven to make significant changes to your body then this type of supplement will provide a competitive edge both in and out of the gym. Here are a few ways they can push you to the next level.
If you are on a serious diet to cut weight then and intra-workout supplement is important. It will provide your body with important nutrients and the amino acids, which will help prevent muscle breakdown and possible damage when working out with low nutrients during a cutting phase. Missing these key essential nutrients that your body needs, could set you back in your long-term goals. Look for a supplement that includes BCAAs especially leucine along with glutamine.
If you are training during a fasted state then taking this type of supplement is also important. Your body will enter a fasted state 6 hours after your last meal. All of the nutrients from the food will be absorbed into the body and insulin levels return to their normal levels.
When you exercise in this state, fat loss is accelerated, which is great. But, muscle breakdown is also dramatically increased, which is bad because too much breakdown slows down muscle growth. To prevent this you can take an intra-workout supplement that includes leucine.
An intra-workout supplement great for reaching new levels of performance during high intensity cardio training. You will most likely not drink a protein shake after a cardio workout so an intra-workout will help you recover faster so you will not be as tired the next day. This will get you back in the gym sooner so you can amplify your performance much faster. A simple blend of BCAAs, and beta-alanine will do the trick.
Intra-workout supplements can also help with mass building. If you are looking to add additional weight and muscle mass then the right supplement will help you reach these goals. Look for a product that includes all of the BCAAs we talked about along with dextrose and avoid something with glutamine. Without the correct ingredients you won’t see the goals you are looking for.
Finally, intra-workout supplements can also be great for bulking up. This is better known as putting on weight purposely. The right intra-workout will provide a few key elements and increase protein synthesis to give you that extra edge during your bulk. Look for a supplement with a big dose of BCAAs and citrulline to help aid in building more mass.
The Drawbacks of Using Intra-Workout Supplements
The main downfall with this type of supplement is that they are not always necessary. Weight loss and muscle gain can both be accomplished without the use of an intra-workout drink. However, it becomes more beneficial if your dieting, bulking up or training style is intensive. If you are just a simple gym-goer, with no major goals in sight, then skipping on the intra-workout would make sense. If your workouts are shorter, then you might get away with just using a pre-workout drink. A post-workout recovery supplement may also be a better secondary workout supplement, supposing your workouts are basic or limited.
Further, the difference in results may be minimal enough that the cost of the supplement isn’t justifiable. If you won’t see any real muscle gain difference, then what’s the point? You may notice a bit more energy in the middle of your workout, but the effects of the drink will gradually wear off. It’s one piece of the puzzle for maximum gains, but it’s not the golden ticket; no single supplement can guarantee you a big increase in fitness results. It’s really up to up to stick to your workout plan and diet to make maximum gains.
Is Intra-Workout Worth it?
At the end of the day, when lifting weights or perform resistance training, your body will quickly get exhausted from the strenuous exercise. After a while, your muscles will be fatigued when this happens muscle loss can occur. Using an intra-workout will provide the body additional carbs and amino acids, which will reduce this risk of muscle breakdown that can slow down muscle growth.
If you are like me, and have a goal of cutting a little weight then one of these products is worth it’s weight in gold for the next few months. But if you are not looking to take your workout to the next level then this type of supplement might not be right for you right now.
Thanks for reading along. I hope this gave you a good idea of what an Intra-workout supplement will do for you. I’m working on researching specific supplements to see which is best for cutting, bulking up or improving cardio, so stayed tuned and Keep Pushing!