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What is an intra-workout?

What’s in your bottle at the gym? Water or maybe some squash? For many of us, we’ve started using an intra-workout as a regular element of our training and would never go back!

It’ll come as no surprise that an intra-workout is designed to be used during your workout, but what’s in it? How do you use it? And what does it do?

In this article, we’ll explain what an intra-workout is, how it can benefit you when training and why so many people are turning to intra-workout to help them power through their training.

Available in a huge variety of flavours, intra-workouts are available as a powder that you mix with water or a ready-to-drink can or bottle. 

Often containing amino acids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates, the principle is pretty simple – by taking on these nutrients during training, you’ll be able to train for longer, maintain training intensity, buffer fatigue, and even kickstart recovery. Sounds good but what’s in them that makes them so special?

What should be in an intra-workout?

There is no standard formula for intra-workouts, but they should all contain the same core ingredients known to be highly effective in maximising your potential during your workout. 

Amino Acids

There are 20 different amino acids that make up the thousands of proteins in the human body. Out of these twenty, 9 are called essential amino acids. In simple terms, they are considered “essential” because the body cannot make them on its own, so you must get them from foods or supplements.

Still with us?

Three of the nine essential amino acids are known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). They are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Why are Amino Acids Important for Exercise?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, they help your body build muscle and repair muscle damage.

BCAAs can also slow the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise by serving as an energy source. 

They play an important role in the muscle-full effect, and a key role in decreasing the onset of muscle soreness, and some reports suggest they can even lessen fatigue during exercise. 

What about EAAs?

Essential amino acids (EAAs) are the amino acids that drive protein synthesis, a complex way of saying when your body uses protein to repair and rebuild muscle tissue damaged during exercise.

Together they form an effective team, BCAAs protect the muscles while EAAs do the muscle building.

Simple Carbohydrates 

Discussed here we see how important carbs are as a fuel.  As a quick recap, the carbs you consume are stored in your muscle as glycogen, simple carbs are absorbed quickly into your bloodstream and are a direct energy source for your body as you exercise.

Exercising uses this stored glycogen which needs to be replaced otherwise it will begin to break down muscle tissue to use as energy, a process known as muscle catabolism, the opposite of what people looking to build muscle want.

You'll keep your muscles fuelled by consuming simple carbs during your workout. Thankfully you don’t need to eat a bowl of pasta mid-workout and can get all of the simple carbs you need from an isotonic gel

Not a fan of gels? No problem, you can add an unflavoured carb supplement like Carb-X to any drink. 

Carb-X makes use of the patented Cluster Dextrin®, an enzymatically modified maltodextrin that acts as a nutrient pump, sustaining energy during exercise, improving your endurance levels and delaying the onset of fatigue. 

This is particularly beneficial for weightlifters and avid gym goers and require a consistent supply of carbohydrates to fuel their performance and intra-set recovery. 

Don’t forget about Electrolytes

Electrolytes and phosphates are a bit of a buzzword in sports drinks, but they have been around for a long time, and Applied Nutrition has been at the forefront of their inclusion in performance nutrition. They are vitally important and it’s worth knowing what they are and what they do.

Electrolytes are essential minerals like sodium, calcium, and potassium, important to many key functions in the body. Electrolyte drinks are specifically designed to help replenish the body’s electrolytes lost through sweat, and need to be replaced if you want to keep going. 

No one needs to tell you that hydration is vital during exercise, but people forget that replacing electrolytes is just as important. The amount needed to be replaced and the range of minerals and phosphates contained in a replacement electrolyte drink are also often forgotten and people will grab anything mentioning electrolytes and believe they are consuming something they need. This is wrong as the elemental value and bioavailability always need to be considered when you want to get the very best out of each sip.

Simply overloading the body with a single electrolyte to avoid dehydration doesn’t help much and can also be counterproductive, not to mention the potential health concerns.

As an example, Applied Nutrition’s Body Fuel™ contains 665mg of 5-key electrolytes, including magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and calcium, in levels that we believe to be the optimum ratio needed to aid muscle function, rehydration and support most consumers in the widest variety of activities.

What are the benefits of an intra-workout?

Quite a lot! Protect muscle breakdown (catabolism), support muscle repair (anabolism), optimum hydration, maintain training intensity, buffer fatigue, and even kickstart recovery.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll now know a well-formulated intra-workout like our BCAA Amino Hydrate, Amino Fuel, or a ready to drink option like Body Fuel™  can be a source of all of the amino acids, and electrolytes you need to power through your workout.

But what about carbs? As mentioned above, just add our best-selling Carb-X to any product such as our BCAA and EAA powders or our ready-to-drink Body Fuel™ for that added hit of highly soluble and easily absorbed carbs to keep you fuelled for your session and beyond.

Is an intra-workout right for you?

If you’re looking to maximise your performance in the gym, intra-workout supplements can be extremely beneficial to help provide your body with the fuel you need for your workout. 

By both protecting and building muscle, optimising hydration, and taking on additional carbohydrates, an intra-workout can put you in the right position to get the most from your sessions and give your body the nutrients it craves post-exercise as you recover.

Intra-workouts can be used alongside all other supplements such as pre-workouts, protein, and electrolyte drinks. 

Like what you hear and would like to try some intra-workout products?

For ready-to-drink intra-workouts, BodyFuel™ or our carbonated BCAA cans are both great products to try during your workout. 

If you’d prefer to mix your own, BCAA Amino Hydrate and EAA Amino Fuel are both fantastic supplements and when combined with Carb-X, they are hard to beat. If you’d rather capsules, be sure to check out our BCAA tablets.

Lastly, if you’d just like to try these supplements before you commit, we have BCAA Amino Hydrate samples here and EAA samples here.

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