Supplement Science - Intra-Workout



A guy in my gym sips on 'intra-workout' during his training sessions.. Maybe  I should do the same..


Intra workout mixes, sometimes referred to as 'energy mix' or 'isotonics' are essentially carbohydrate plus a combination of other components (most commonly electrolytes and BCAAs which we’ll cover separately).


Carbohydrates are a great tool for extending/maintaining sporting performance within the right context. Indeed, the requirement to use carbohydrates intra-competition/exercise is limited to mainly aerobic events (Eg: A marathon) and high intensity events performed in quick succession (Eg: A CrossFit competition or a field sport which requires repeated sprint ability).


For those who engage in these activities, a combination of simple sugars (glucose and fructose) is recommended as this has been shown to maximise carbohydrate absorption (Thanks to the use of multiple carbohydrate receptors being used as opposed to just one - Eg: Drinking just pure glucose limits carbohydrate uptake to around 60g/hour whilst a combination of both glucose and fructose can increase this by up to, and even in some cases exceeding, 150%).


While intra-workout carbohydrates have a place in long endurance type training sessions, or high intensity interval type training sessions lasting >1 hours, a ready supply of carbohydrates for sessions which are shorter than this may be unwarranted.


Meanwhile, if your primary goal is to improve body composition, and you are therefore in a calorie deficit, or close to maintenance calories, we would advise against intra-workout carbohydrates, since drinking calories in liquid form does not result in the same satiation cues (ie: Our gut and brain working in tandem to let us know that we are full) when compared to food. This means that it is easier to over consume calories later in the day. If body composition is the primary goal, we advise to focus on the post workout meal in whole food form, with a combination of carbohydrate and protein, to replenish glycogen (carbohydrate) stores, facilitation recovery of damaged muscle tissue and ensure you’re fuelled for the subsequent training session.


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