If you're a fitness enthusiast looking to get the most out of your workouts, you can benefit from an intra-workout supplement.
In this evidence-based article, you'll discover what an intra-workout supplement is. Plus, you'll find out how such a product can help you achieve your goals. So let’s dive in!
What is an Intra-Workout Supplement?
An intra-workout supplement is a product, usually a powdered drink mix, that boosts the effectiveness of your workouts.
Such products are designed to enhance athletic performance, improve muscle mass, support fat burning, reduce muscle soreness, and speed up recovery between workouts.
To deliver these benefits, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the key ingredient in intra-workout supplements. The term ‘BCAAs’ refers to three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Alongside BCAAs, intra-workout supplements often also contain other beneficial compounds, like citrulline malate and electrolytes.
While the benefits of an intra-workout supplement depend on the ingredients it contains, what follows are the three main benefits you’ll enjoy when you upgrade your diet plan with an intra-workout product.
Benefit #1: Improved Athletic Performance
Research shows that consuming a supplement containing BCAAs boosts athletic performance by reducing mental and physical fatigue.
In one study, for instance, participants who consumed BCAAs before and during their workout could cycle, on average, for 12% longer than those who were given a placebo.(1)
And another study found that subjects who supplemented with BCAAs were 17% better resistant to exercise-induced fatigue compared to those who took a placebo.(2)
The main reason BCAAs aid performance is that during exercise, your muscles use BCAAs for energy. That causes blood plasma levels of BCAAs to drop, which results in elevated tryptophan levels in your brain.(3)
Now, if you consume a BCAA-enriched intra-workout supplement, blood plasma BCAA levels won’t drop. As a result, you’ll feel more energized and can train at peak-performance for longer.
What’s more, many intra-workout supplements also contain other ingredients that enhance performance, such as electrolytes and citrulline malate.
Electrolytes are minerals that have an electric charge in your body. These substances are essential for exercise performance. And not having enough of them can hurt exercise performance and even health.(7)(8)
Benefit #2: Increased Muscle Growth
If you want to build muscle, consuming a BCAA-enriched intra-workout supplement can speed up your results.
That’s because such products reduce levels of exercise-induced muscle damage, which means you’ll feel less sore from your workouts and you’ll recover faster between sessions.(17)
What’s more, research also shows that BCAAs increase protein synthesis after a workout, leading to more muscle growth.(18)
In fact, placebo-controlled research found that when resistance-trained athletes took 14 grams of BCAAs per day for eight weeks, they gained, on average, 4 kg more muscle than those who consumed a placebo.(19)
When it comes to BCAA timing, it’s especially beneficial to consume them during your workouts. That’s because it reduces muscle breakdown during your training. Plus, it helps you take full advantage of the anabolic window.
Benefit #3: Enhanced Fat Loss
BCAAs, and leucine in particular, can help you lose weight and fat.
One placebo-controlled study, for instance, found that competitive wrestlers lost more body fat when they supplemented with branched-chain amino acids on a low-calorie diet.(20)
But why can a BCAA-enriched intra-workout supplement help you lose fat? One reason is that BCAAs help to regulate satiety and increase levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full.(23)
Besides, isoleucine also helps to activate PPARs receptors, which increase the activity of genes that enhance fat burning while decreasing those that encourage fat storage.(24)
Here’s What We Recommend You to Do
If you want to get the most out of your workouts, improve your gym performance, build more muscle, recover faster between sessions, and lose more fat, then consume an intra-workout supplement.
However, before you run to the local supplement store, hold on for a second. It’s crucial to note that not all intra-workout supplements are created equal.
When you select a product, go for one that contains at least five grams of BCAAs per serving, plus make sure that the BCAA ratio is 3:1:1 (leucine to isoleucine to valine). That’ll help you reap the most benefits.
Now, since it can be a struggle to find such a product, we’ve created one ourselves.
Not only does the product offer you the optimal amount of BCAA per serving according to the 3:1:1 ratio, but it also contains electrolytes and citrulline malate to enhance your performance further.