There are two popular timeframes when people take supplements— before and after their workout. And although getting in your proper nutrients both pre- and post-workout is critical, there is also another time when you can take nutrients that can help accelerate your workout and your results. It’s known as the “intra-workout,” the period of time during your workout. Many of the nutrients that you are already using during your pre- or post-workout can also be used during this timeframe.
Supplementing while training can help keep energy levels high, help keep the body hydrated and can also prevent muscle breakdown while training. In fact, by supplementing with an intra-workout supplement, you may find that you will be able to train at a higher intensity, have more fuel in the tank, and experience greater power, strength and endurance. There are a few intra-workout products available on the market today, but you may find a lot of these supplements are already contained in your pre- or post-workout product. Try reserving half of your pre-workout or post-workout product for during your workout. Curious about what’s in these products? Read below to understand the components of an intra-workout product.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate. This high-quality protein has been on the market for a while now and can be purchased in bulk similar to whey protein. WPH undergoes a high degree of hydrolysis to break down whey protein into small fragments called peptides, which get absorbed quickly and easily by the body. In fact, the peptides can bypass the slow digestive process that regular proteins undergo and pass directly into our muscles, keeping them in a positive protein balance and reducing muscle breakdown during training. Supplementing with WPH during your workout can help to keep muscles sustained with high-quality essential amino acids, allowing muscles to remain in a state of muscle building, avoiding muscle breakdown that can occur as a result of your workout.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids are a critical nutrient for reducing muscle catabolism during a workout. BCAAs are metabolized in the muscles; they can directly stimulate the pathways of protein synthesis. In fact, supplementing with BCAAs during exercise can help keep the muscle in a positive state of muscle protein balance, just like supplementing with a WPH. The most important BCAA when it comes to stimulating muscle building is leucine, which acts directly to activate several key pathways of muscle building. Evidence suggests that the ratio of BCAA is important for maximizing results. A ratio of 2:1:1 of leucine to isoleucine and valine is often used to stimulate protein synthesis efficiently. Many BCAA powders come in this ratio.
Beta Alanine. This non-essential amino acid increases anaerobic and aerobic threshold by increasing cellular levels of carnosine in the muscle. This influx of carnosine buffers hydrogen ions that are produced during training, which neutralizes acidic build-up in muscles and delays time to fatigue. The result is greater endurance, longer sets, and even more power and more strength.
Electrolytes. During exercise we lose electrolytes through perspiration, specifically sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and chloride. Even mild water losses can significantly impede performance. Electrolytes help assist in fluid and carbohydrate uptake in the gut and help keep our muscle cells hydrated and fully functioning, and assist in transmission of nerve impulses. Low electrolyte levels can cause muscle fatigue and burn-out! Getting in electrolytes during training can ensure you maintain water balance, prevent muscle cramping and fatigue, and keep energy levels sustained.
Carbohydrates. Fast-digesting carbohydrates can help keep energy levels high during training. By providing your body with a fast acting, and easily digested carbohydrate, your body can have readily available energy for use by the muscles during training. A common fast-digesting carbohydrate is waxy maize, which has a low osmolarity rate compared to dextrose or maltodextrin, meaning it can be absorbed quickly and directly by the intestines where it can immediately be assimilated into our muscles to replenish glycogen stores and energy. Waxy maize can also help shuttle all the other nutrients found in your intra-workout product into the muscles due to its absorption abilities. This can also result in a “pump feeling” while training!
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