2022's 10 Best
Updated: August 14, 2019
There’s plenty of discussion about the best supplements to take before a workout to give you energy and the best supplement to take after each workout to maximize your results and improve your recovery time. But one topic that doesn’t get as much notoriety is the supplements that you should take during your workouts. These products are known as intra-workout supplements.
How Intra-Workout Supplements Work
When you put your body through a workout, you are constantly depleting your energy stores in order to power your body through each set and repetition. For the body to continue performing at a high level, new energy sources need to be continuously produced.
Some of this energy is generated by breaking down muscle tissue. While the body can regenerate and grow extra muscle tissue following workouts, having some of the muscles broken down during workouts can limit overall results.
Intra-workout supplements help to prevent muscles from being broken down to produce energy by supplying the body with additional energy in the form of amino acids. Intra-workout supplements contain ingredients that can directly impact energy levels. The same amino acids that help to produce energy can also help with the tissue healing process afterward to speed up recovery.
These supplements are also designed to be consumed all throughout the workout. This gives your body a constant source of energy, nutrients, and more that it can use to power through any exercise or routine.
The Health Benefits of Intra-Workout Supplements
Intra-workout supplements can benefit many areas of your exercise routine. They can improve your performance during your workout and enhance the results that you see afterwards.
FASTER MUSCLE GROWTH
Intra-workout supplements are packed full of protein and amino acids, which are necessary for building new muscle fibers. This can be a great benefit for those looking to put on muscle mass quickly. The body produces some amino acids on its own, but there are other important amino acids that need to be consumed through some supplemental means. These are known as essential amino acids. Branched-chain amino acids are prime examples.
IMPROVED MUSCLE RECOVERY TIME
After a workout, muscle soreness is quite common and can last for a few days. This is caused by the muscles being broken down and damaged. Having sore muscles can make it difficult to perform certain actions and can make it harder to find the motivation to get back to the gym.
Intra-workout supplements can help to lessen muscle soreness by decreasing the muscle fibers that are being broken down. This makes it easier for the body to repair the damaged muscles and allows it to do so more efficiently.
INCREASED PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE
Difficult workouts can be physically draining on the body, and it can be tough to maintain high levels of intensity for the duration of a session. Intra-workout products can help to increase energy levels to give you the extra boost you need to get through your routine.
HIGHER ENERGY LEVELS
Many gym goers take pre-workout supplements to give them some extra energy and a mental boost to start their workout. However, these products can begin to wear off partway through your workout, leaving you feeling lethargic and making the rest of your workout less effective.
Because intra-workout supplements are consumed throughout your workout, your body receives a constant influx of energy so that you can maintain that much needed intensity. This prevents you from crashing as well, allowing you to sustain motivation for your entire workout.
What to Look for When Buying Intra-Workout Supplements
Intra-workout supplements can vary significantly in their exact composition, but there are a few main ingredients that are often used in these products. Each of them serves a specific purpose to benefit you during your workouts.
BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS
Branched chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, make up some of the most critical essential amino acids in regard to muscle building and workout recovery. The three amino acids used in BCAA and intra-workout supplements are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These three amino acids make up around 40 percent of all of the amino acids found in the body and play critical roles in the muscles. Leucine is important for the creation of new proteins and muscle tissues. It also helps to prevent muscles from being broken down as quickly during workouts, making it easier for the body to repair itself.
Isoleucine also plays a role in building new muscle tissues, but it has other important functions as well. It helps to produce new hemoglobin cells, which are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body. Oxygen helps to replenish energy stores and speed up the muscle rebuilding process. Isoleucine also helps to regulate blood sugar and create energy for the muscles to use.
Valine does not play a role in creating new tissues. Instead, it is primarily used as a fuel source. Valine can be broken down into glycogen, which can be utilized by the body to directly generate ATP. ATP can be used by the muscles as energy.
CAFFEINE AND GREEN TEA EXTRACT
Caffeine and green tea extract are both stimulants that are commonly used in workout supplements. These ingredients help to raise energy levels and increase alertness. This can be highly beneficial in regard to maintaining workout intensity or keeping motivation levels high.
These two stimulants also play major roles in regulating the metabolism, especially fat metabolism. This can stimulate fat loss, which is another common goal for individuals who go to the gym often.
Citrulline malate can be used directly by the body. When it is consumed, it is turned into L-citrulline, which is used to create new proteins and cells. L-citrulline can then be converted into L-arginine and further into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to play a major role in increasing blood flow throughout the body.
Increased blood flow can have many benefits when it comes to exercise. It can help to carry more oxygen to the muscles during exercise, improving performance, and decreasing muscle breakdown. More blood flow can also make it easier on your heart, increasing its longevity and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Taurine is an amino acid that can be made by the body, and it has important role when it comes to creating new proteins and tissues. The majority of the taurine in the body is stored in platelets in the blood, but other stores can be found in the brain, heart, and eyes. Taking a supplement is a good way to ensure that you have enough taurine in the body for proper functioning.
Some studies have shown that taurine can help to reduce blood pressure levels and improve the body’s ability to deal with stressful situations. It also shows potential for improving physical performance, especially for endurance exercises.
There are a few main electrolytes found in the body, and two of the most important are sodium and potassium. These two elements play critical roles in cells throughout the body, especially when it comes to cellular communication and muscle contraction and relaxation.
Electrolytes also play a role in how much water is held in the body, how acidic your blood is, and more. These elements are easily lost when the body sweats and when you go to the bathroom, so it is necessary to restore these levels so that body functioning can continue at a high level.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that the body turns into carnosine. Carnosine plays an important role in regulating levels of lactic acid. Lactic acid builds up in the muscles during workouts as a result of energy production via fermentation. Digesting and reducing levels of lactic acid can help to improve muscle functioning and overall endurance.
The Proper Dosage for Intra-Workout Supplements
The specific dosing level for each supplement varies because of the different ingredients that can be included. However, it is common to see supplements with around five grams of BCAAs, making up the bulk of the active ingredients.
The other ingredients commonly used are often incorporated in their proper daily dosages. Some of the general guidelines you can look for are:
- Caffeine: Between 100 and 800 milligrams
- Citrulline Malate: Between 1000 and 3000 milligrams
- Beta-Alanine: 2000 to 5000 milligrams
- Glutamine: 4000 milligrams
Intra-workout supplements should be used throughout your workouts. They usually come in powder form and are easily dissolved in water so that they can be consumed throughout your workout. You should attempt to time the speed of your drinking with the progress of your workout so that you can receive a constant supply of energy throughout.
Possible Side Effects of Intra-Workout Supplements
Like most supplements, intra-workout products can be associated with some minor side effects. Much of the time, side effects that occur are related to the digestive tract. Some of these problems can include bloating, diarrhea, or nausea.
Further complications can arise if you currently suffer from having high blood sugar or have been diagnosed with diabetes. Taking intra-workout supplements may have a direct impact on how well medications work that are designed to lower your blood sugar. These supplements could actually cause your blood sugar to drop too low, leading to further health issues.
Intra-workout supplements can also alter the effectiveness of other medications. Some of these can include corticosteroids for reducing inflammation, thyroid hormone medications, and Diazoxide for hypoglycemia.
If you choose to take an intra-workout supplement that contains caffeine or other stimulants (not all do) make sure that your total daily intake doesn’t exceed recommended levels. Taking too many stimulants can cause nervousness, jitters, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and more.
In addition, intra-workout supplements should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. These products are not regulated by the FDA, so there could be some potential interactions or complications with the child’s or mother’s health.
Best Intra-Workout Supplements
Our top 10 list of intra-workout supplements is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high-quality intra-workout supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping. This ensures that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final dose.
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