What are some things I need to know before purchasing an intra-workout supplement?

Before you choose a product at random just by the pretty label or over hyped advertisements, you should consider a few things beyond the basic knowledge supplement companies provide about their intra-workout supplement. Knowing what the ingredients do and how they can help you progress in your workouts will be the most important. Having this knowledge will allow you to take better advantage of your supplement. Aside from the formula, make sure to look into a good tasting product that has excellent mixability. If you’re someone new to intra-workout supplements or looking to purchase another one, you might be surprised at what you do need in a product and what ingredients you can do without. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects of buying an intra-workout supplement so you can be happy with your choice.

Ingredients

Branched Chain Amino Acids. BCAAs include the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Called branched-chain amino acids due to their molecular structure. If you have a balanced diet, then you will get these nutrients through protein, foods like eggs and meat have high doses of bcaas. Supplementation of them isn’t necessary if you’re getting enough protein through your diet, but if taken at certain periods, like during your workout, they have potential to greatly benefit your body.

Leucine is one of the three bcaas, also the most valuable of the three. Typically you will find that leucine is dosed higher than its counterparts. This amino acid plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis, which can help you build more lean mass over an extended period of use. Isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells, but also plays a role in protein synthesis that isn’t as effective as leucine is. Valine is the third bcaa and further research needs to be conducted to figure out what role valine has in bcaa supplementation. Bcaas will provide much-needed fuel that your body needs during workouts, be sure to find an intra-workout that has a high ratio of leucine, usually 2:1:1 is a good ratio to aim for.

L-citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid that is very similar to arginine, but it has a higher absorption rate, making it much more effective. Citrulline has many health benefits and is a well research supplement. When formulated into an intra-workout supplement, it can help promote endurance, and reduce fatigue. These benefits can be used for both aerobic and anaerobic, which makes it great for prolonged exercise such as cardio.

Glutamine. An essential amino acid which only benefits the body when you deplated your body of it during prolonged exercise, or deficient (vegans, vegetarians with low dairy intake). If you workout fasted, or for long periods of time, glutamine may provide a good fuel source for your body. Also shown to reduce sugar cravings, which can help stay focused while dieting. Glutamine isn’t needed but it may be better to find a product with it.

L-Taurine. This semi-essential amino acid can go a long way when paired with different ingredients. It provides a wide range of health benefits but most commonly used for its anti-cramping properties. If you have a sensitive stomach or are taking fat burners, having a supplement with taurine may be worth considering.

Beta-Alanine. Known to be the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps to buffer acid in muscles, increasing physical performance during prolonged exercise. Beta-alanine can help promote physical endurance that can help you build lean muscle mass. The only down-side of having beta-alanine in your intra-workout is that it comes with a side effect that causes a tingling sensation. This side-effect is perfectly safe, but some users may find it annoying and rather do without it.

Taste and Mixability

Having a good tasting intra-workout supplement will add that extra peace of mind that you’ll actually enjoy your product. Taste goes a long way with an intra-workout supplement, you will be sipping on this during the duration of your workout, so having a tasty drink may be essential. This will allow you to continue supplementation, that way you aren’t wasting money and are gaining all the potential benefits.

Mixability is also crucial, most products we reviewed dissolve fully, this is a good feature to have if you dislike grainy drinks. Intra-workouts should be used as tool, drinking your product shouldn’t have to be a chore, it should be enjoyable. If this is something you can live without then it won’t be that big of a deal, but for those who rather have a good tasting product it is something to consider further.

Updated:
February 18, 2015