What is the Intra-Workout?
The Intra-Workout refers to the time between the beginning and the end of the workout. Thus, it is part of the Peri-Workout or Peri-Training, which is formed by:
Intra-workout only takes place on those days when we are training or taking part in an event or competition. By consuming intra-workout supplements we are able to supply nutrients that are focused on improving our athletic performance and recovery.
What is an Intra-Workout supplement?
It is the one that efficiently provides nutrients during the workout or competition. These supplements must have a series of properties to be used at this specific time:
- Quick dissolution
- Immediately available
- Great flavor. Refreshing
These features are necessary whenever we are involved in a workout session, in order to provide nutrients in the fastest way possible and without causing any digestive issue or chewing them. Of course, an appealing flavor will also be quite important, otherwise it might indirectly but negatively affect the activity.
Benefits of using an Intra-Workout supplement
The main benefits will involve two main factors:
Performance can be defined as an intrinsic quality that depends on certain parameters, genetic factors, and also on the workout level or physical condition. An athlete who is in a better physical condition will overcome the performance of another that has stopped training, even if he was previously in the same condition.
Adverse weather conditions will go against the athlete, producing more exhaustion than in other circumstances.
In such situations, there are certain ingredients that can prolong the duration and intensity of the activity, which will improve the performance.
A specific example would be a marathon. There is a term known as 'The Wall', when the organism is close to running out of its energy reserves after a long and demanding activity, which can force the athlete to stop completely. In this situation, the use of mineral salts can be crucial.
Providing energy through fast-absorption carbohydrates will be key for these kind of activities, especially if we want to maintain our performance.
In this section we will find two types of recovery, depending on the system that benefits from the supplements:
- Energy recovery
- Muscle recovery
The energy pathways are the mechanisms that our body uses to deal with physical demands. There are 3 types:
- The phosphocreatine system
- The glycolytic system
- The oxidative system
The phosphocreatine system involves short and maximum-intensity activities. For example a sprint, or heavy lifting. This type of work drains the ATP reserves, when we will need to pause for a short period of time while it is resynthesised, otherwise we would be unable to perform a second effort at the same level. It is a "clean" system, which means that it does not generate any type of metabolic waste, something that we should keep this in mind when considering which supplements can excrete waste products more efficiently.
The glycolytic system obtains its energy from glycogen, which is the way in which carbohydrates are stored in our body. There are two main glycogen reserves: the liver and the muscles. The first one is the primary source of glucose in the blood, while muscle glycogen will be used for intense and prolonged efforts. First of all, it will be necessary to transform glucose in order to support theATP (anaerobic glycolysis) synthesis. This task produces lactate. After passing a certain threshold, we work with the Lactic Anaerobic system only, which does not require oxygen.
What is lactate?
It is a byproduct of the chemical reaction through which the body obtains ATP from glycogen. It acidifies the blood, decreasing its pH. A high lactate accumulation leads to the immediate activation of a safety mechanism that interrupts the activity. Lactate produces a loss of muscle contraction, which reduces the capacity to generate myosin and actin fibril bridges, with a consequent decrease in strength. Specific training can help us to increase the lactate threshold and to be more successful in its subsequent reuse.
Some examples of activities where the main system involved is the glycolytic system would be: 400m, CrossFit, or collective sports.
If the activity causes a great loss of energy from these energy reserves, the performance will decline proportionately.
The oxidative system is the one that obtains its energy from triglycerides in order to carry out ATP synthesis. It requires oxygen to work, and it is associated to those moderate intensity activities that do not exceed the aerobic threshold. It is a very inefficient way of producing ATP, but it does have a huge capacity.
Some examples of activities that emphasize the use of the oxidative system are: swimming, marathons, or anything that is long with a moderate intensity.
Physical activity does not only cause the expenditure of energy reserves, but it also causes the breakdown and destruction of muscle fibres. This is linked to the fact that in order to generate new tissue, our body must receive a certain stimulus, with the resultant breakdown in the muscle structure. This then leads to a recovery phase, where new muscle fiber components are synthesized with a greater capacity to handle the prior stimulus. These tissues will develop in one way or another, depending on the purpose of the workout.
In the field of strength and weight workouts there are two general goals when it comes to hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic or sarcomere hypertrophy. Despite this distinction, both processes overlap, although the purpose of the workout may be different. Hypertrophy is a process through which new muscle fibres are created.
Activities with a resistance component will also stimulate this type of process, but to a much lesser degree, since the objective of the activity is not hypertrophy. What is certain is that there must be a supply to rebuild the fibers in order to make the regeneration phase more efficient. This will benefit sportspeople and athletes in their workouts because they will be able to adjust more easily.
What are hydrolyzed proteins?
They are a type of protein whose molecular structure has been modified to also include a large number of peptides, which are the links between amino acids. Remember that proteins are made of amino acids chains which break down through the digestive process to eventually be absorbed by the intestine. Proteins with these features are absorbed instantaneously because they are in the same state as if they were in the last stage of the digestive process. This is quite interesting from the point of view of intra-workout supplement drinks, since as we already know, they will be easy to absorb and they are ready to drink at any time.
Why consume an Intra-Workout supplement?
Among the benefits of an intra-workout supplement we can find:
In this case, the improvement in physical performance results in prolonging the physical activity at the same intensity. Maintaining the energy deposits and blood glucose levels full, balancing mineralization in the body, or reducing blood acidity, are actions that can be achieved through the use of these supplements and which results in a remarkable improvement in performance.
Prolonged physical activity
This is one of the features that we would not be able to achieve unless we use a supplement with these particular features. Our body works very much like a machine, and as such, we must avoid emptying the energy reserves completely or reducing the energy reserves to dangerously low levels. Otherwise, this would make us cease the physical activity.
If we have aesthetic goals in mind, one of our main objectives will be to increase muscle mass. The intra-workout period is an excellent opportunity to provide the muscle fibers with nutrients, which will decrease protein breakdown by taking advantage of blood hyperemia and creating a hormone environment which will stimulate the protein synthesis.
"DOMS" stands for "Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness", also known as "muscle fever". This phenomenon occurs due to the stimulation that we apply during training, and its levels will be more or less proportionate to the impact of the activity at the level of muscle fibers. The development of these problems normally happens 24 to 48 hours after the workout session and they usually last several days.
Using the latest advancements in sports nutrition, we can consume preparations based on amino acids and peptides, which will be shorten this recovery period.
How to use an Intra-Workout supplement
This supplement should only be consumed during the workout. We can begin to consume this product while we are warming up or at the beginning of the main body of the workout plan.
Generally, we should add around 500ml of water to the amount of supplement, or following the product's instructions. Depending on the length of the workout as well as the need for hydration, we will consume additional servings, always measuring the proper amounts with a scoop.
Here are some products with the features that have been previously described. Each category will be explained, and we will be able to do our own combinations.
Proteins and Amino acids
As we have already explained, if we are looking for an instant supply of these nutrients, our body will need to be able to instantly use them after the digestion process. So the best choice in this case is a hydrolyzed protein and/or amino acids:
- Evopept is a hydrolyzed protein from the PeptoPro@ raw ingredient (hydrolyzed casein). It is available in a delicious and refreshing tropical flavor, which will supply a lot of peptides that are ready to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Its pleasing flavor will be especially appreciated at those critical moments in our workouts or competitions.
- EvoBCAAs are branched-chain amino acids whose main task is to provide the elements that make up almost a third of skeletal muscle, and which also suffer the highest breakdown rates from physical stress. For this reason, if we are looking to reduce muscle mass loss, this amino acids trio will be a valuable support. In this case, the formula has been additionally reinforced with the L-glutamine amino acid.
- Glutamine peptides is the L-glutamine amino acid but in a much more bioavailable form, which is ideal to consume as an intra-workout supplement. It will provide all its benefits very efficiently.
- Leucine peptides are the L-Leucine amino acid in its peptide form, using the patent PepForm Leucine®, which is a fast-absorption supplement, immediately available to the body after its consumption. Leucine is involved in the protein synthesis process, and contributes to the activation of this system by stimulating the mTOR pathway, which is a type of physiological signal.
- Cyclodextrins are a last generation carbohydrate which has been enzymatically modified to provide the highest glycogen recharge rate, without causing any type of stomach upset or heaviness. Thanks to its especial properties, it moves quickly through the stomach and it does not affect the fluids absorption. Therefore, it provides almost immediate energy to continue the physical activity. It does not produce a sudden insulin peak, which results in a balanced energy response.
- Evocarbs is a three carbohydrates composition with added mineral salts. It consists on maltodextrin, dextrose, and fructose, whose purpose is to progressively recharge the muscle glycogen energy reserves which we continually spend (maltodextrin, dextrose), along with the liver glycogen (fructose). Its use is advised for those activities that are demanding, highly intense, and explosive, but not very long.
- Gels are ready-to-drink carbohydrates that can be used mid-workout/competition or towards their end. They provide a useful and quick administration of glucose, which causes an insulin peak and charges our bodies with energy. They are recommended for high work demands, as well as for submaximal exercise, or after a long exercise in which the energy reserves may be spent.
- Beta alanine is an ergogenic support that prolongs intense physical activity by inhibiting lactic acid, while contributing to its metabolism and subsequent reuse. It helps to reduce blood acidosis caused by the intensity of the activity and to excrete metabolic waste, which has an impact on maintaining tissue health.
- Electrolytes powder is a combination of minerals from sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Its use is highly recommended for activities that are carried out in adverse conditions, for example in the heat of the summer or because of the intense and prolonged nature of the activity. Remember that a mineral imbalance can lead to certain types of injury such as cramps, and performance will also decrease whenever we are dehydrated . The perfect time to consume electrolytes is mid-workout and in small sips. However, depending on the circumstances, it could be highly recommended to load up previously.
These products are designed to produce a stimulating effect, since they act on the central nervous system. Generally, their use is intended for lengthy activities, since it will also enhance concentration and focus, as well as reducing the perception of physical and mental fatigue. We can find them in powder or ready-to-eat, with added glucose to increase the energy.
Frequently Asked Questions about Intra-Workout supplements
Can they make me gain weight?
If we are looking to achieve an improved performance, we can add certain products like as fast-absorption carbohydrates, which will help us achieve said improvement. However, they will also supply calories, unless we only use them at these moments. If we are looking to control weight, you should follow a diet with an energy deficit and carefully track the calories consumption during the workout.
Will it help me to prolong my activity?
Certainly, since they provide elements that focus on producing a response in the organism that will help to maintain the intensity and duration of the activity, improving hydration, mineralization, or the nervous system stimulation, among others.
Can I combine a pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout in a single session?
Yes, of course. In fact, as long as we have eaten a meal before the workout and another one afterwards, we could use a pre and post-workout. Although it is possibly not the best time to consume solid foods.
We will always keep our objective in mind, the type of activity, when we are doing it, and whether it is a competitive event or not.
Can the carbohydrates GI affect the workout?
Not necessarily, if it is a high-intensity activity, a series of hormones will come into play, such as catecholamines, which have a strong effect on insulin. In this case, the administration of glucose would maximize the energy at these moments.