There is a plethora of information available about most supplements and what they do - especially when it comes to exercising. However, there is one workout supplement that not as many people are aware of: an intra-workout supplement.
As the name suggests, an intra-workout supplement is used during a workout to help with your performance. We will look into how this works a little later. Typically, you’ll find that it’s the real fitness aficionados that are aware of (and use) intra-workouts but as they hold so many benefits for your fitness, we believe that more people should know how they work!
What is an intra-workout supplement?
Intra-workout supplements are usually mixed with water into light drinks which are designed to be used during your workout. The premise is that they can enhance your ability, boost your energy (very helpful if you’re starting to feel fatigued), and offer a method of rehydration.
Hydration is a key part of any workout, and intra-workout supplements are designed with hydration in mind. Intra-workout supplements should contain an electrolyte blend, and some even contain coconut water for enhanced hydration. Coconut water is naturally high in electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, so its inclusion in intra-workouts can help to replace those lost through sweat during exercise.
The second key part of any intra-workout supplement is the inclusion of amino acids. In most intra-workout supplements, you’ll see Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) included. These are a group of amino acids which, when taken mid-workout, can help to enhance recovery and prevent muscle breakdown. This reduces the likelihood of muscle soreness after exercise and an increased recovery rate overall (Wolfe, 2006).
You’ll find BCAAs included in protein shakes as well as intra-workouts. Whilst BCAAs play a vital part in muscle protein synthesis, and their use in protein shakes is validated in scientific research, studies have shown that taking BCAAs during your workout can ensure they target the muscle groups being worked at that time, enhancing their protective and restorative capabilities even further (Wolfe, 2017).
However, if the supplement you’re using mid workout only contains BCAAs, then you might be missing a trick. You see, there are only three Branched Chain Amino Acids; leucine, isoleucine and valine. Whilst these are important, they are not the only amino acids which can have a positive impact on your performance. BCAAs belong to a group of nine Essential Amino Acids (EAAs), which the body needs, but cannot produce on its own. By looking for an intra-workout supplement which contains all nine EAAs, which have been shown to improve recovery and enhance performance more than BCAAs alone, you can (Segreto et. al, 2018).
How do I choose the best intra-workout for me?
As we’ve already mentioned, if you’re looking for the best all around intra-workout supplement, then you need to be looking for one which contains all nine Essential Amino Acids.
Unfortunately, as with many supplements, the intra-workouts you might find may not contain functional doses of BCAAs or EAAs. This means that you won’t see the same results as you would with a brand that offers a functional dose.
At Vivo Life, we think we’ve cracked the combination for intra-workout supplements with SUSTAIN. Our promise to always use the best, natural ingredients in our supplements is at the forefront of the products we create, which is why SUSTAIN contains more than just a functional dose of BCAAs.
Let’s take a look at what makes for a great intra-workout:
Essential Amino Acids: SUSTAIN contains 7.7g of plant-based EAAs per serving, which includes 4g of BCAAs. As we saw earlier, research shows that ingesting EAAs during a workout can lead to enhanced recovery, better performance and a burst of energy whilst exercising, and will prevent muscle soreness afterwards.
Electrolytes: All good intra-workout supplements should contain an electrolyte blend. Electrolytes play key roles in nerve signalling, pH balance, and muscle contractions, and need to be carefully balanced in the body. When we sweat excessively, such as during intense exercise, we lose electrolytes. SUSTAIN’s electrolyte blend is made from calcium, magnesium and Himalayan sea salt to ensure that what we lose through exercise is actively replenished (Isha Shrimanker and Sandeep Bhattarai, 2019).
Coconut Water: As we mentioned, hydration is a key part of an intra-workout supplement. Those that contain coconut water will enhance hydration, and coconut water is also a brilliant source of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. The freeze-dried coconut water in SUSTAIN is bursting with electrolytes for instant hydration.
Natural Ingredients: Many intra-workout supplements contain artificial ingredients, and the vast majority which include EAAs aren’t vegan as they are derived from fur, feathers, and hair. Not only are all the ingredients found in SUSTAIN natural, the flavours are too, with freeze-dried blueberries, organic juice powder and baobab fruit for a wonderful light flavour to enjoy during your workout. On top of that, it’s third-party tested just like all Vivo Life products, so you know that you’re giving your body only what it needs, with nothing hidden.
Wolfe, R.R. (2017). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, [online] 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9.
Negro, M., Segreto, V., Barbero, M., Cescon, C., Castelli, L., Calanni, L. and D’Antona, G. (2018). Essential Amino Acids (EAA) Mixture Supplementation: Effects of an Acute Administration Protocol on Myoelectric Manifestations of Fatigue in the Biceps Brachii After Resistance Exercise. Frontiers in Physiology, 9. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.01140.