Your intra workout supplements may fuel the latter half of your workout and improve recovery, but they’ve also got hidden benefits that go the extra mile for your health. Here’s how to get more than you paid for.


The intra workout BCAA – Leucine

Leucine is the big daddy of amino acids because it’s the ringmaster for protein synthesis, aka muscle growth. That’s not to say that the other amino acids don’t have a role to play, it’s just that leucine does its job significantly better than the rest.

“Leucine has approximately a tenfold greater impact on protein synthesis than any other amino acids,” explains Layne Norton, a doctor of nutritional sciences.

With that much power, it makes sense that this branched-chain amino acid is a multi- talented beast, and research at the Human Nutrition Research Centre, France, found leucine actually prevents muscle loss linked with ageing. So if you want to hang onto your gains as you get older, this is your safest bet for staying youthful.

However, its benefits don’t stop there because it also takes care of your internal functions. Research published in PLOS ONE found that in animal studies leucine reduced blood sugars and lessened the fat in livers.

These are promising effects that humans could be taking advantage of, so make sure you’re loading up with this amino at every possible turn.

Isoleucine and valine, the other two thirds of the synthetic branched-chain amino acid trio, are not without their strong points because they’re a dab hand at improving appetite control. Research by the American Society for Microbiology found that when people’s diets had more isoleucine and valine, their bodies produced higher levels of the appetite-suppressing gut hormone, peptide YY. So they could help curb your cravings for the rest of the day if you’re supplementing with them during your workouts.

Failing that, if you haven’t had a solid dose of protein in your pre-workout meal, moving your post-workout whey protein shake to intra-workout will contain all of the amino acids and provide these same benefits both intra and post-workout.


Repaying the cost of sweat

Potassium is included in several intra-workout drinks that are often aimed at endurance athletes. That’s because research, including a study in Experimental Physiology, found that exercisers lost this element during long bouts of strenuous exercise.

It could also be a lifesaving part of your supplementation regime if you have a weakness for salty foods. A high sodium (salt) diet, especially when teamed with a low potassium diet, increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Several studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine also indicated that a higher sodium-potassium ratio was associated with significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality in the general population. The study authors said public health recommendations should emphasise a simultaneous reduction in sodium intake and an increase in potassium intake to help safeguard the population’s health.

So taking something to help you power through more miles when you’re out for a long ride is likely to help to give you more miles in life as well.


Intra-workout supplements to energize your final sets

Taurine and caffeine are big players in most energy drinks’ kick. While this combination is often demonised as bad for your health, that’s mostly because these ingredients roll with a bad crowd, namely high calories and sugars.

However, when they’re taken on their own, they have some very powerful health properties. In fact, research by the European Society of Cardiology found these two ingredients have a huge benefit to your myocardial performance by helping the valves in your heart open and close more easily, and a stronger heart means a stronger body.

Intra workout supplements tend to get overlooked in favour of pre and post-workout supplementation but if you’ve missed your pre-workout meal or you’re not going to have time to eat post-workout for a few hours, then intra-workout supplementation could be a saviour for you.