The Best Intra Workout Supplements
People typically use sports supplements at various times throughout the day to support their nutrition and reach their fitness goals. Usually, the most important supplement is the post-workout supplement, as it’s critical to replenish and refuel your body after you work hard.
Many people enjoy using pre-workout supplements to help get them pumped up and have a better workout. There’s another type of supplement designed to support the body through the workout. These are intra-workout supplements, and they can offer superior hydration, energy, and nutrition to support your goals.
In this article, we will explore the best in-workout supplements and what they do. We’ll be tackling what they are, who should take them, and the different categories, including amino acids, carbohydrates, and hydration.
What are Intra-Workout Supplements?
While you exercise, whether you’re lifting weights or running on a treadmill, your body uses nutrients from your food to fuel your movement. It is also true that tiny tears occur in the muscle fibres as you strain them. These are normal processes that ultimately get you where you want to be—leaner, stronger, and faster.
However, muscle fibres and energy stores need to be replenished as soon as possible so that your body can switch into repair mode. If you neglect this essential refuel stage, your body stays in a catabolic phase longer, breaking down the muscles further and slowing down your progress. It can also lead to an increased risk of overuse and over-exercising injuries.
Intra-workout supplements are products designed to support your body as you work out. They provide fuel and nourishment to the cells and muscles so you can push your workout to the limit and switch into an anabolic or building phase immediately after.
What do Intra-Workout Drinks Do?
Intra-workout drinks and supplements are general terms for supplements or blends to be used while you exercise.
The different categories are:
- Amino Acid Supplements
- Carb Supplements
- Hydration Supplements
- Intra-Workout blends
Each category of intra-workout drinks serves a different purpose, but all support the body in major ways during exercise.
Why Use Intra-Workout Drinks?
We touched on what intra-workout supplements and drinks do, but why should you use them? There are many benefits of using this kind of supplement, and we will go into specifics for each category.
In general, the benefits of using intra-workout supplements are:
- increased energy and endurance
- better hydration
- less muscle catabolism
- more muscular gains
- feeling better even during maximum exertion
- a better overall workout
All these benefits translate to better, faster results. So, the better question is, why not use an intra-workout drink?
Who Should use Intra-Workout Drinks?
Anyone can benefit from the addition of in-workout supplements.
The following people should prioritize this type of supplement over anything else:
- individuals who are trying to gain weight or muscle
- individuals who are trying to lose weight or body fat
- individuals who are trying to improve endurance
- individuals who are trying to get stronger
Now that you know you should add them, you’re probably wondering what the best in-workout supplements are, right?
What Are the Best In-Workout Supplements?
We’ve taken the liberty of breaking down the best in-workout supplements by category. Here you will find recommendations for those interested in specifically tackling hydration, amino acids, or carbs. At the end of the list, we’ve also recommended what we believe to be the best in-workout supplement combination to give you all the benefits available and maximize your results.
Amino Acid Supplements
You’ve probably already heard about amino acid supplements. Maybe you even take them to support muscle growth and recovery. However, if you don’t, you will want to start, and we suggest taking them intra-workout.
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles. They help make everything in your body, including your organs. The body breaks down protein-rich foods into organic molecules that head to the liver to be reconfigured and put to work in whatever way the body needs.
Proteins are essential to our survival because our bodies are always healing minor and major injuries and regenerating cells and tissues. Our protein needs change day by day, and because our bodies don’t store proteins the way they store fat and carbs, we must consume enough protein every day to meet these needs.
The Three Kinds of Amino Acids:
- conditionally essential
Nonessential amino acids are those the body naturally makes from other amino acids. Conditionally essential amino acids are those the body makes enough of under normal circumstances. However, there are some conditions where the body requires more than it can produce. Essential amino acids are those the body cannot produce on its own but are vital to our everyday functioning, and therefore we must consume these amino acids daily. All amino acid supplements are made with essential amino acids, and they’re either BCAAs or EAAs.
BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) supplements are only three out of nine essential amino acids. The three are valine, leucine, and isoleucine. These three unique amino acids, named for their molecular structure, work primarily to synthesize new proteins, produce a usable energy source for the muscles, and carry out other metabolic functions.
Branched-chain amino acids are also unique in that upon consumption, they bypass the liver and head directly to the muscles via the bloodstream.
It’s for these reasons that BCAA supplements are popular intra-workout supplements. They provide a quickly available energy source as you work, and they help prevent excessive muscle breakdown and switch the body into muscle synthesizing faster.
Our recommendation for a quality intra-workout BCAA supplement is Aminocore. This supplement contains 8 grams of BCAAs in a 45:30:25 ratio designed to provide the most support to the muscles. It’s great-tasting and available in fruit punch, blue raspberry, watermelon, pink lemonade, white grape, pineapple mango, or sweet tea.
EAA (essential amino acid) supplements contain all nine essential amino acids, including the BCAAs. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. EAAs make great intra-workout supplements because, in addition to the benefits of BCAA supplements, EAA supplements provide all other amino acids your body needs daily to carry out the vital functions of proteins within the body.
EAA supplements provide energy, support muscle growth, reduce muscle breakdown, and improve your fat-burning potential. In most cases, we suggest choosing an EAA supplement over a BCAA supplement. The exception is if you are someone who typically reaches your protein goals regularly.
EAA-HD is a highly rated intra-workout EAA supplement that contains 5 grams of all nine essential amino acids and an optimized ratio of BCAAs. It is a pure, vegan product by a top Canadian supplement brand. EAA-HD is an unflavoured supplement.
Carb supplements are not something that the average person considers because there’s a widespread notion that carbs are the enemy. However, learning more about nutrition can quickly change your mind, and often when reading isn’t enough, experience is.
Upon consumption, the body breaks down carbs into a sugar called glucose. It then changes the glucose to glycogen and stores it in the muscles and liver. This glycogen is the first and most readily available form of energy for our bodies, whether we are sitting or moving. It’s also the fuel our brains use to function.
Glycogen is critical to exercise performance, but the body can only store a small amount. When glycogen stores are depleted, strenuous activity can no longer continue, and fatigue perception increases. For these reasons, endurance athletes and people who tend to work out for extended periods will greatly benefit from including an intra-workout carb supplement.
For those who are interested in a stand-alone carbohydrate supplement, we suggest Karbolyn. Karbolyn is a quick-digesting, pure glycogen replenisher. The carbs come from potatoes, rice, and corn and a serving contains 200 calories, 0 grams of fat, sugar, or protein, and 50 grams of carbohydrates. It’s as pure as it comes for nothing but glycogen restoration. Karbolyn is available in fruit punch, blue razz watermelon, orange, strawberry, kiwi strawberry, cherry limeade, and unflavoured.
Another piece of the intra-workout puzzle is hydration. As we work out, the body sweats to cool down and protect cells from overheating. As we sweat, our body purges fluids that are essential to normal function and optimal energy levels. Therefore, rehydrating is critical to health and performance.
Neglecting your hydration can mean:
- feeling excessively thirsty
- dry lips and skin
- in extreme cases, confusion and even death
Drinking water is the most popular and best way to stay hydrated, but water alone doesn’t replenish the electrolytes depleted through sweat. Electrolytes are chemicals that mix with water in the body to conduct energy.
This energy regulates nerve and muscle function, and if you sweat excessively and drink gallons upon gallons of water to rehydrate, your electrolyte levels could drop dangerously low. This is a condition known as water intoxication, and it can lead to life-threatening problems. It’s for these reasons that intra-workout hydration support supplements include electrolytes to replenish those levels.
Stand-alone electrolyte supplements are rare, but if you’re looking for hydration support and nothing more, choose Sport Electrolyte Hydrator by Vega. This intra-workout supplement contains potassium, phosphate, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and chloride with zero calories. This supplement is available in berry or lemon lime.
Intra-workout supplement blends are some combination of the in-workout categories mentioned above. They could contain hydration support, amino acids, and carbohydrates. For example, the following supplement is a blend that contains amino acids and hydration support.
This is another supplement by one of our favourite brands, HD Muscle. Intra-HD has 10 grams of EAAs to support muscle growth and provide the benefits of amino acid supplements. It also contains electrolytes and coconut water for superior hydration and a unique Spectra energy blend to fuel you until the end. Intra-HD is available in watermelon and raspberry lemonade.
The Best Intra-Workout Supplement Combination
Unfortunately, we haven’t found an intra-workout blend that contains carbs in addition to hydration support and amino acids. The closest thing is probably a weight gainer shake which will also include protein. If you are looking for a complete intra-workout stack, we recommend combining the following supplements.
Carb-HD is by our trusted friends at HD Muscle, and it offers sustainable, clean energy from carbs. The carbohydrates come from peas and Cluster Dextrin, a synthetically produced, stable, and highly soluble carbohydrate. It also contains coconut water with natural electrolytes to support hydration. Each serving contains 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, sugar, or protein, and 25 grams of carbohydrates. It is available in strawberry kiwi, peach mango, and unflavoured. Carb-HD provides the hydration and carb pieces of the intra-workout puzzle.
MusclEAA is another pure EAA supplement that provides 7 grams of essential amino acids and an optimized ratio of the branched-chain amino acids. MusclEAA is available in candy keys and blue shark flavours. We suggest combining one scoop of unflavoured Carb-HD and one scoop of MusclEAA in approximately 32 ounces of water. Shake or blend the supplements until smooth and enjoy throughout your workout.
Our loyal customers know that grueling workouts are only part of the health and fitness equation. Equally important are your nutrition, rest, and recovery. You can support your body through your workout by adding any of these intra-workout supplements.
With our selection of intra-workout supplements, you will not only have the best exercise of your life, but you can also replenish your glycogen stores, rehydrate, and support your muscles. Finding the right stack for you might take some trial and error, but we are certain that with the right combination of supports, you will feel the difference during both your workout and recovery time. Now that you’ve mastered the ins and outs of the best in-workout supplements, don’t forget your post-workout protein shake!