A Guide to Intra-Workout Supplements
Intra-workout supplements are many gym enthusiast’s secret weapon when it comes to staying fueled during exercise routines. Composed of nutrients like amino acids, creatine, protein and electrolytes, intra-workout supplements can provide a variety of benefits to those looking to get the most out of their workout.
While athletes and those who work out multiple times a week tend to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to these fitness additions, you don’t have to be an avid gym-goer to enjoy the benefits of intra-workout supplements.
Whether you’re trying to build endurance or simply want to nourish stronger muscles, there are many great options to choose from to help get the most out of your workouts and feel your best.
What Are Intra-Workout Supplements?
It’s well known that pre-workout is a common staple in many workout regimens when it comes to energy, but intra-workout supplements make a fine addition when it comes to keeping your body fueled and energized during your routine.
These supplements are best taken during your fitness session in order to stay hydrated, fight muscle fatigue and sustain energy. For those focusing on gaining muscle and going up in weights, it’s recommended to take these nutrients during your sets, while those focusing on cardio and endurance are recommended to take them periodically before, during and after training.
Benefits of Intra-Workout Supplements
Depending on your goals and what you want to get out of your routine, finding the right intra-workout supplement can be a hassle since the market is quite saturated with plenty of options. While variety is the spice of life, we broke down some of the best intra-workout supplements and why they’re preferred by experts to make your search (and workouts) a little bit easier.
Types of Intra-Workout Supplements
We’ll be focusing on the top four types of intra-workout supplements: branched chain amino acids, glutamine, electrolytes and creatine. If you’re interested in protein and how that nutrient can help improve your muscle gain or even keep you satiated, we have an article that covers everything you need to know about protein along with some tips on pre-workout combos as well.
Branched chain amino acids, (or BCAAs) are the essential amino acids known as valine, leucine and isoleucine that can be beneficial for both endurance and muscle building exercises alike. BCAAs have been studied to be beneficial during exercise by metabolizing and supplying energy to muscles to help fight fatigue and aid with recovery.1 This added energy can help you keep going during your exercise so you can pack in that extra set or mile and push yourself further. This along with the post-workout benefits that can help you recover more quickly makes these three essential nutrients quite the powerhouse for intra-workout supplements.
Another amino acid, but with more of a focus on muscle growth and recovery. L-glutamine is the most versatile amino acid in the body, making it a top contender for those looking to improve their fitness results. By helping reduce creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels in the body, our muscles are able to grow with easier recovery after they’ve been worked.2
This can prove particularly beneficial for those looking to build muscle more quickly as it can help with muscle repair, which is how our muscles get larger over time. However, glutamine is still helpful for anyone looking to mitigate the less pleasant effects that our bodies take on after a good workout. Win-win all around.
Proper hydration is paramount regardless of physical activity but even more so when we exercise. This is because when we sweat, we lose fluid along with vitamins B and C. This loss can lead to feeling tired and can make it more difficult for our muscles to perform as well.
Sometime nature’s fuel needs a bit of a boost to help you stay hydrated and nourish your cells during workouts. Adding an electrolyte drink mixture during exercise is a quick and easy way to multiply the amount of hydration you get from regular water.
Hydration packs provide the tools to keep your body’s fluid balanced with electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and calcium and can sometimes even replenish vitamins lost to help us perform at peak again.3
Creatine monohydrate can be a little more of a ‘commitment’ when it comes to intra-workout supplements, but it comes with excellent perks. While not necessary, it can help to go through a loading phase with higher initial amounts of this supplement to encourage intramuscular storage of creatine and then maintaining a smaller dose for up to six weeks after.4
So why is creatine such a popular intra-workout go to?
Short term, this supplement can help maximize strength and sprint performance. Whereas long term, creatine can support higher gains in strength, better performance in high-intensity exercise and help with fat-free mass.5
In short, creatine provides some powerful benefits regardless of your goals, physical form or experience in the gym.
Tips for Using Intra-Workout Supplements
When it comes to taking intra-workout supplements, there are a few methods that can help you get the most out of them.
First, you’ll want to consider the form. How do you feel about stopping for a drink during your gym sessions? Would you rather grab a quick capsule when going through high intensity workouts or do you like to go for a longer period of time with something to sip on? There is no right or wrong choice here, just preference and how you feel.
Another factor is which supplement works best for you. Are you looking to build more muscle? Creatine might be your best bet. Maybe you want to do an extra set or stay energized on your run—BCAAs may be the way to go. Or maybe you want help with recovery all around—glutamine might be an excellent choice.
As for when to take them, intra-workout supplements just need to be taken as you work out. You can draw this out over time or go for a bit and take in the middle of your workout. Again, all on preference here. Whatever form, type or time you decide to take, try them out a couple ways and see what works best for you.
Do You Need an Intra-Workout Supplement?
Assessing your health and wellness needs should take priority when considering intra-workout supplements. If you exercise more than twice a week, have fitness goals such as building muscle or improving recovery, or want a little extra help fighting off fatigue so you can continue your workout, adding a supplement during your routine might be the edge you’re looking for.
Regardless, we hope you find what you’re looking for to take your fitness journey to the next level and find the results that leave you feeling happier and healthier.
Always serving our customers,
Your friends at Swanson
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- National Library of Medicine. Effects of BCAA Intake During Endurance Exercise. Date Accessed: 9/18/2023 Read Source
- National Library of Medicine. Glutamine as an Anti-Fatigue Amino Acid in Sports Nutrition. Date Accessed: 9/18/2023 Read Source.
- Journal of Sports Sciences. Fluid and electrolyte loss and replacement in exercise. Date Accessed: 9/29/2023 Read Source.
- Current Sports Medicine Reports. Creatine Supplementation. Date Accessed: 9/19/2023 Read Source.
- Mol Cell Biochem. Effects of creatine supplementation on performance and training adaptations. Date Accessed: 9/19/2023 Read Source..