What is the Intra-Workout?
The Intra-Workout refers to the time between the beginning of the workout and the end. Thus, it constitutes a part of the Peri-Workout or Peri-Training, which is integrated by:
Intra-workout only takes place on those days where we are training or taking part in an event or competition. By taking intra-workout supplements we are able to supply nutrients that are foccused on benefiting our athletic performance and recovery.
What is an intra-workout supplement?
It is that which efficiently provides nutrients during training or competition. These supplements must possess a number of properties so as to be readily usable at any given moment:
- Rapidly soluble
- Immediate availability
- Great taste. Refreshing
These features mean that whenever we are involved in a training session, we will be able to provide nutrients in the fastest manner possible and without any stomach upsets or having to chew them. Of course, an appealing flavour will also be quite important so as not cause any feeling of disgust which might indirectly but negatively impact on the activity itself.
Benefits of taking an intra-workout supplement
The main benefits we look for would concern two primary purposes:
Performance can be defined as an intrinsic quality associated with that person, depending on certain parameters, genetic factors and also on the level of training or fitness. An athlete who is in the best physical condition will exceed the performance of another that has discontinued their training, despite previously having been in an equal condition to the aforementioned athlete.
Adverse weather conditions will work against the interests of the athlete, producing a more rapid wearing or exhaustion, greater than in other circumstances.
In such situations, there are certain ingredients that can prolong the duration and intensity of the activity, thereby improving our performance.
A specific example: a marathon. There is a term known as 'The Wall', in which the organism finds itself close to exhausting its energy reserves after prolonged and demanding activity, which can force the athlete to stop before they run dry completely. In this situation the use of mineral salts can be critical.
The provision of energy through quick absorption carbohydrates is key in those long-duration activities, if we are to maintain our performance level.
In this section we will cover two types of recovery, depending on the system on which the supplements act:
- Energy recovery
- Muscle recovery
Energy pathways are the mechanisms our body turns to deal with a physical demand. There are 3 types:
- The phosphocreatine system
- The glucolisis system
- The oxidative system
The phosphocreatine system involves maximum- intensity activities of short duration. For example a sprint, or heavy lifting. This type of work drains the ATP reserves, making it neccessary to pause for a short period while it is resynthesised, otherwise we will be unable to perform a second effort of the same type. It is a "clean" system, which means it does not generate any type of metabolic waste product, which would be the case in the scenario covered below. Something to bear in mind when considering which supplements can excrete waste products most effectively.
The glucolysis system obtains its energy from glycogen, which is the form in which carbohydrates are stored in our body. There are two basic glycogen reservoirs: the liver and the muscles. The first is the primary source of blood glucose, using muscle glycogen during intense and prolonged effort. The conversion of glucose is first required in order to support the synthesis of ATP (anaerobic glycolysis) This operation produces lactate as a result. After passing a certain threshold, we work with the lactic anaerobic system only, which does not require the presence of oxygen.
What is lactate?
It is a byproduct of the chemical reaction through which the body obtains ATP from glycogen. Its effect is to acidify the blood, decreasing its pH. A high lactate accumulation leads to an immediate cessation of the activity, which works as a safety mechanism in our bodies. Lactate produces a loss of muscle contraction, reducing the capacity to generate myosin and actin fibril bridges, with a consequent reduction in strength. Specific training can help us to increase the lactate threshold and to be more effective in their subsequent reuse.
Examples of activities where glycosis is the main system involved would be: 400m, CrossFit or team sports.
If the activity causes a great loss in these energy reserves, the performance will decline proportionately.
The oxidative system is that which obtains its energy to carry out ATP synthesis from triglycerides. It requires oxygen to work, so we find it to be associated with those moderate-intensity activities that do not exceed the aerobic threshold. It is a very inefficient way to produce ATP, but it does have a very large capacity.
Examples of activities that emphasise the oxidative system are: swimming, marathons or anything of long duration and therefore moderate intensity.
The main products that are focussed on improving the Energy Recovery are the Carbohydrate supplements: Ready to use carbohydrates, or high glycaemic index carbohydrates.
Physical activity not only causes a depletion of energy reserves, but also the degradation 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 a resultant deterioration in the muscle structure. This then leads to a recovery phase, whereby new muscle fibre components are synthesised with a greater capacity to handle the prior stimulus. These tissues will develope themselves in one way or another, depending on the purpose of the training,
In the field of strength training and weight training there are two general goals when it comes to hypertrophy: sarcoplasm or sarcomere. Despite this division, both processes overlap, although the purpose of the training may be different. Hypertrophy is a process by which new muscle fibres are created.
Activities with a endurance 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 provision of the needed elements to participate in the reconstruction of the fibres in order to make the regeneration phase more effective. This benefits sportspeople and athletes in their training in that they are able to make the required adjustments more easily.
The main products that are focussed on improving the Muscle Recovery are amino acids or hydrolysed protein supplements, such as PeptoPro@ are the substances most responsible for muscular recovery.
What are hydrolised proteins?
They are a type of protein whose molecular structure has been modified to also include a large number of peptides. This refers to links between amino acids. Remember that proteins are composed of chains of amino acids which break down through the digestive process to eventually be absorbed by the intestine. Proteins with these characteristic are therefore able to be absorbed instantaneously because they are in the same state as they would be in the last part of the digestive process. This is of great interest from the point of view of intra-workout supplement drinks, as we already know that they should be easy to assimilate and ready to drink at any time.
Why take an intra-workout supplement?
Among the benefits of an intra-workout supplement for the sportsperson or athlete are:
In this case, the improvement in physical performance is equivalent to spending more time at the same intensity at which we are currently carrying out the physical activity. Maintaining the energy deposits and blood glucose levels, balancing the level of mineralisation in the body or reducing blood acidity, are all actions that can be done using these supplements and that can bring about a marked improvement in performance.
Prolonged physical activity
This is an example of a type of activity where without a supplement with these particular characteristics we would be unlikely to complete it with any great degree of success. Our body works very much like a machine, and as such one must avoid the emptying of the energy reservoir, in other words reducing the energy substrate which is supplying the organism to dangerously low levels. This would otherwise lead to the cessation of the exercise.
If we have aesthetic goals, one of our main objectives will be the increase of muscle mass. The intra-workout period provides an excellent opportunity to carry nutrients to the muscle fibres and thereby reduce protein degradation, taking advantage of blood hyperaemia and creating a hormonal environment which is more conducive to the synthesis of proteins.
"DOMS" stands for "Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness", also known as "muscle fever". This phenomenon occurs because of the stimulation that we apply during training, and will be more or less in proportion to the impact of the activity at the muscle fibre level. The emergence of these problems normally occurs 24 to 48 hours after the training session and their duration may even continue for several days. Using the latest advances in sports nutrition, we can consume preparations based on amino acids and peptides, where one of the most prominent effects will be precisely the reduction of this recovery period.
How to take an intra-workout supplement.
As the name implies, this supplement should only be taken during training. We can begin consuming this product while we are warming up or at the beginning of the main body of the planned exercise session.
We should generally add around 500ml of water to the serving of supplement, or as indicated by the manufacturer of the product. Depending on the duration of our training session as well as the need for hydration, we can consume additional servings, always in the correct proportions using the measure cup included.
Here are some products that are in accordance with the aforementioned data. Each category will be explained, and of of course we can also do combinations for each.
Proteins and Amino acids
As we have already explained, if we are looking for an instant supply of these nutrients, it will have to be done in such a way that our body is able to use them instantly after digestion, and the best approach in this case is by using hydrolysed protein and/or amino acids:
- Evopept is a protein hydrolysed from the raw ingredient PeptoPro @ (hydrolysed casein). We can buy it in a delicious and refreshing tropical flavour, which will give us a large quantity of peptides ready to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and the aforementioned taste that can be so pleasing at those critical moments in training or competition.
- EvoBCAAs are the branched-chain amino acids which are mainly concerned with providing the elements that make up almost a third of skeletal muscle, and which also suffer the highest rates of degradation from physical stress. For this reason, if we are looking to reduce loss of muscle mass, bringing this trio of amino acids into play will be a valuable action. In this case the formula is additionally reinforced by the amino acid L-glutamine.
- Glutamine peptides is the amino acid L-glutamine, but in a much more bioavailable form, and ideal for taking as an intra-workout supplement. It offers all the benefits we have mentioned here and in a very efficient manner.
- Leucine peptides is the amino acid L-Leucine in the form of a peptide using the patent PepForm Leucine®, which is a fast-absorption supplement, immediately available to the body after consumption. Leucine is part of the protein synthesis network, contributing to the activation of the system through stimulation of the mTOR path, which is a type of physiological signalling.
- Cyclodextrins are a type of next-generation carbohydrate, enzymatically modified to provide the highest rate of glycogen refill, without causing any type of stomach upset or heaviness. Thanks to its special properties, it moves rapidly through the stomach, has no influence on the absorption of fluids and therefore provides almost immediate energy with which to continue the physical activity. It does not produce a sudden rise in insulin, thus giving a balanced energy response.
- Evocarbs is a triple carbohydrate composition with added mineral salts. It consists of maltodextrin, dextrose and fructose, whose purpose is to progressively recharge muscle glycogen energy reserves which we continually use up (maltodextrine, dextrose), along with those contained in the liver (fructose). Its use is recommended for those activities that are not very long lasting but are of a demanding nature, high intensity and explosive.
- Gels are-ready-to-eat carbohydrates for use in the middle stages or towards the end of a training session or sporting event. Their usage lies mainly in the rapid administration of glucose, causing an insulin spike and charging our bodies up with energy. They are recommended for very high work demands, as well as for submaximal exercise or after a long period of exercise in which the energy reserves may be drained.
- Beta alanine is an ergogenic which seeks to prolong the duration of intense physical activity, acting as a lactic acid blocker, 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 provides a combination of minerals from sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Its use is highly recommended for activities 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 is bound to lead to certain types of injury such as cramps, and performance will also go downhill whenever we are dehydrated . An optimal way of taking electrolytes is half way through a training session and in small sips. However if conditions require it, loading up before we leave the home could be highly recommended.
These products are intended to produce a stimulating effect or result, as they act on the central nervous system. In general terms, their use is recommended for long-haul activities, given that another effect is to enhance concentration and focus, as well as to reduce the perception of fatigue, both physically and mentally. We can find them in powder or in a ready to take form, often with added glucose for increased energy.
Frequently Asked Questions on Intra-Workout supplements
Can they make me bloat or gain weight?
If we are looking for an improvement in our performance, we can add certain products, such as rapid-absorption carbohydrates for example, which will directly influence said improvement. However these will add calories, unless we only use them in precisely those moments. If we are looking to control weight, the correct action to take will be the implementation of an energy deficit diet, carefully tracking the ingestion of calories 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 helps maintain the intensity and duration of the activity, working with hydration, mineralisation, nervous system stimulation, among other things.
Can I combine pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout all in one session?
Yes, of course. In fact, whenever one eats a meal shortly before training and another one afterwards, we would be talking about pre and post training, although those are possibly not the most advisable times to consume solid foods.
We would always keep in mind our objective, the type of activity, when we are doing it and whether it is a competitive event.
Can carbohydrates cause high GI during training?
Not necessarily, since the activity is of a high-intensity, a series of hormones will come into play, such as catecholamines, which have a strong effect upon insuline. In this case, the use of glucose would be to maximise energy only during those moments.