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Are Intra Workout Supplements Worth It?

Daniel Brady | January 28, 2013 in Supplements
Intra Workout Supplement

There are a couple of different goals people have from their intra workout supplement: to improve endurance, or to improve muscle gains. In this article we will check the effectiveness of intra workout supplements on both of these goals, so read on to find out the results.

Intra Workout Supplements for Endurance / Energy

Studies show that maximum endurance is achieved when both pre-workout carbohydrates are consumedalong with an intra-workout carbohydrate feeding.[1] Take a look at the following table for a summary.

Feeding Time to Fatigue
No Carbs Baseline
Pre-Workout Carbs Baseline + 18%
Intra-Workout Carbs Baseline + 32%
Pre-Workout & Intra-Workout Carbs Baseline + 44%

As you can see, the common recommendation to intake carbs before exercising is somewhat effective, improving endurance by 18% compared to not consuming the carbs. However, the other results are the impressive ones. Intra-workout carbs proved more effective than pre-workout carbs, and consuming carbs both pre-workout and intra-workout provided the maximum endurance levels.

Here are a couple of suggestions for intra-workout supplements that are highly rated (9+/10). Click the picture for more details.

EFX Karbolyn MHP Dark Matter

Intra Workout Supplements for Muscle Gains

This study compared a placebo with Carb+Essential Amino Acid (EAA) liquid. Measurements were taken after exercise. The Carbs+EAA increased insulin levels (which is anabolic) while insulin remained steady in the placebo. The placebo group had an increase in cortisol (which is catabolic) while the Carbs+EAA group stayed the same. 3-methylhistidine, an indicator of protein breakdown, was up 52% in the placebo, while it was down 26% in the Carb+EAA group.[2]

To sum up, Carbs+EAA intra-workout reduces muscle breakdown and increases protein delivery. The study has one last finding, that change in muscle cross-sectional area after 48 hours was higher in the Carbs+EAA group than the placebo, which shows that the muscles grew more. So while most people usually connect muscle gain with protein, carbs and EAA play an important role by minimizing muscle breakdown.

If you’re looking for a good intra-workout supplement to maximize muscle gains, take a look at the following highly rated products.

MP MusclePharm Re-Con Gaspari Nutrition SizeOn


There is evidence for intra-workout supplements for both endurance and muscle gains. So if you are looking to improve your endurance or muscle gains, then you should consider an intra-workout drink or food, but the drink will probably go down easier.

  1. Carbohydrate feedings before, during, or in combination improve cycling endurance performance. D A Wright, W M Sherman, A R Dernbach []
  2. Independent and combined effects of liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion on hormonal and muscular adaptations following resistance training in untrained men. Bird SP, Tarpenning KM, Marino FE. []

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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