Because not everyone has the same body, and not everyone reacts to stimuli the same way, there’s been an ongoing debate in the industry about whether you should supplement your body with nutrition, before, after, or during a workout.
Just a pre-workout and a post-workout isn’t cutting it anymore; a lot of athletes are swearing by the effectiveness of consuming intra-workout nutrition, claiming it helps them achieve massive amounts of gains compared to just having a pre-workout.
This leads a lot of people to attempt to supplement their workouts with carbs or caffeine. These people often end up either gaining fat or having no apparent change in their exercises, which leads to the main question.
Is having intra-workout nutrition really important, or is it just a hoax? The true answer is that, yes, having an intra-workout shake could help you make more gains. However, it truly does depend on a number of factors.
Previously, in our “What Should You Have in Your Pre-Workout” video, we spoke about all the essential ingredients you should have before a 30-45 minute training session to increase anabolism and give you the best pump you can have.
The ingredients for the best pre-workout cocktail were:
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
- Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)
- HMB (Beta-Hydroxy-Beta-Methylbutyrate)
Essentially, if you’re only planning on doing an intense workout for 30-45 minutes after taking that shake, you don’t need any intra-workout supplementation. That’s because your nutrients will be highly elevated for at least an hour.
So when does intra-workout nutrition come into play?
Typically, you want to look into intra-workout supplementation if you’re doing a marathon workout. If you’re working out for 2 hours or more and are very lean with a low body fat percentage, an intra-workout shake can not just keep your body supplied with nutrients, but also protect it from catabolism.
Note that just because studies don’t talk about intra-workout supplementation–or even if they speak against it, saying it doesn’t make a difference–that doesn’t mean that they’re right. In fact, these statements are incredibly misleading.
A lot of these so-called “highly trained” individuals that are subjects of these studies are people who just made it out of highschool or are in their early 20s and who only train twice a week at most.
Compare that person to someone like Ben Pakulski, an influential figure with multiple bodybuilding contest rankings under his belt (not to mention being a massive beast of a man weighing 280 pounds)–you’d never make that comparison with a straight face.
Ben would take an equivalent of 5-10 servings of BCAAs during his workouts. That’s because his body doesn’t actually want to hold all that weight. He takes these servings during a workout in order to prevent the breakdown of muscles and avoid dropping in amino acids.
This is why we recommend having a second cocktail 45-60 mins in only if you’re going to workout for over an hour. Keep in mind that you should remove caffeine from that second shake, as it’ll still be in effect at that time.
The Necessity of Carbohydrates
Keep in mind that if you’re going hard on leg sets–let’s say you do 20 sets of legs on any given day–that would only deplete your carbohydrate stores in your legs by 20%-30% tops!
That’s why consuming carbs during your workout typically won’t make any difference, since 70% of carbohydrate stores are still left in your muscle. Unlike endurance athletes, who constantly deplete their carbohydrate stores, a bodybuilder typically only trains their legs once in a weekly cycle!
However, you might use carbs as a reward system, to keep you awake and motivated during your workout. Sipping 5g-10g of carbohydrates during your workouts would give you that reward sensation.
Recommendations for Intra-Workout Nutrition
Now that you hopefully understand when and when not to take your intra-workout shake, let’s take a look at how you’d actually go about making it. Your ingredients should look something like this:
- 10g-20g of EAAs
- 3g-6g of HMB
- 5g-10g of carbohydrates
Add to that an ingredient called glutamine. It’ll help you go further in your workouts and it will keep your immune system ramped up. You could also add creatine, as studies show that it helps accelerate the blood flow into the muscle, especially if you already have an elevated blood flow during your workout.
We hope you got all the answers to your questions about intra-workout protein shakes! We’ll see you again the next time you need any advice.