Updated: Jul-01-2020

Intra-Workout Supplements - Everything You Need To Know

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Learn more about the importance of intra-workout supplements and how they can help you maximize every workout session.
Intra-Workout Supplements
Intra workout supplements are designed to be consumed during a workout and play an important role in nutrition for performance. Shutterstock Images

When we talk about supplements, the first thing that comes to mind are pre-workout supplements and post-workout supplements. These two are the more popular forms of workout supplements, and they are indeed helpful in reaching one's fitness goals. But there exists another type - intra-workout supplements.

What are Intra-Workout Supplements?

Intra-workout supplements refer to dietary supplements that you take during your workout. Their main purpose is to boost energy levels and supply the body with the nutrients it needs to push through an intense workout.

By bringing back all the good stuff the body has lost during workouts, these supplements help maximize effort thereby allowing you to get the most out of every session. Intra-workout supplements are supplied as tablets, capsules, powder, or a sports drink.

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Why Should You Take Intra-Workout Supplements?

Intra-workout supplements are taken at any point during a workout, oftentimes when your resolve starts to lag and you need a boost to keep you going. They not only accelerate progress, but also promote faster recovery.

Key Ingredients to Look for in Intra-Workout Supplements

Different brands of intra-workout supplements feature different ingredients. But the most important ones include:

  • Carbohydrates - Added in specific ratios in workout supplements, their main purpose is to replenish energy stores. By providing the body with an instant energy source, the use of muscle glycogen is avoided.
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) - This group of amino acids includes leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are important in building muscles and maintaining muscle gains by preventing muscle protein breakdown. They also improve stamina and endurance, thereby allowing you to workout out intensely for longer periods. Furthermore, it promotes faster recovery.
  • Beta-Alanine - Not a popular ingredient of intra-workout supplement, but proven to be helpful when added. Its main function is to increase carnosine levels in the muscles, which is important in reducing fatigue. Carnosine prevents lactic acid buildup by controlling the muscle's pH levels. By reducing lactic acid, you'll be able to do more reps and sets.
  • L-citrulline - Improves performance aerobic and anaerobic exercises, owing to its ability to induce nitric oxide synthesis and metabolism (source). Nitric oxide is a compound that promotes vasodilation, resulting in lower blood pressure and increased blood flow throughout the body. Increased blood flow, in turn, allows for faster delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
  • Creatine - It aids the muscles in synthesizing and releasing adenosine triphosphate, which is needed for muscle contractions. It promotes immediate production of this energy molecule during exercise to help keep you going.
  • Electrolytes - Keeps you hydrated and restores the important ions lost through sweat. Deficiency in certain electrolytes lead to cramps and poor workout performance (source), hence the need to replenish them.

Do Intra-Workout Supplements Work?

Taking the right intra-workout supplement at the right times during your workout can help fuel both your body and brain. Uptake of nutrients from supplements tend to be much faster during workout due to increased blood flow. Supplying the body with the nutrients they need during this period allows them to get absorbed by the muscles faster, resulting in muscle growth that's also a lot faster (source).

How to Choose the Best Intra-Workout Supplements?

Picking the best intra-workout supplement depends on several factors such as the intensity of workout and your fitness goals. If you want to build more muscle, go for supplements that feature lots of protein and amino acids. If you want to boost your energy levels, go for ones that are formulated to increase blood flow and/or deliver carbohydrates fast.

The Bottom Line

Intra-workout supplementation is an important part of any workout routine that many people tend to overlook. Using an appropriate supplement will provide you with everything you need to push through your workouts and get the most out of it.

Are intra-workout supplements absolutely needed? Not really. After all, the term "supplement" says it all, although it has been proven time and again that they can be beneficial. It still depends on how committed you are to your workout program. Supplements only give that extra push, but it's still up to how you execute your workout plan.

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