23 May Intra Workout Supplements: RNT ‘Whey’ Up The Facts
If you’ve been training for a while, then chances are you’ve heard of BCAAs (Branch Chained Amino Acids) and maybe even used them. But what if there are better options out there?
Intra workout supplements can help increase the effectiveness of your workout, bringing much better and faster results but at different levels (and costs!). Some are worth the investment, others not so much.
We are going to breakdown the, well, protein breakdown for you, to assist you in choosing the right intra workout supplement for your workout.
How Amino Acids Work
Before exploring other options, let’s first quickly understand the purpose of BCAAs and other amino acids designed to be used around the workout.
Our bodies transition between two states of what is called ‘net protein balance’ throughout the day. These states are:
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS): A positive protein balance which means that you are in a state to synthesise (create) new muscle tissue.
Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB): A negative protein balance which means that you are in a state of breakdown.
When you are on your transformation journey, you want to be in a state of positive protein balance (MPS). This is the reason that you train, consume high protein meals, and aim to get multiple ‘feedings’ throughout the day.
This can also be stimulated via nutritional interventions, and this is where intra workout supplements come in.
Why Should I Take Intra Workout Supplements?
Weight training is actually a muscle breakdown process. This is because the act of weight training is causing micro-trauma (damage) to our muscle tissue. Also, during this time, stress hormones such as cortisol are increased temporarily. One of cortisol’s primary roles in the body is to specifically breakdown tissues to make nutrients more readily available in certain circumstances.
But you can help swing the negative protein balance back to a positive balance by using certain intra workout supplements whilst training.
Are Intra Workout Supplements Right For You?
Many think intra workout supplements are a short-cut to see immediate results, but they don’t work like magic, nor are they an easier way to achieve results by bypassing the other basic elements that lead to a successful, long-term transformation.
Intra workout supplements should only be taken to complement a holistic training solution. This means you should have your transformation checklist protocols in place first and foremost – this means training, nutrition, steps, hydration and sleep. If just one of these transformation ingredients is missing, intra workout supplements won’t affectively fill its void.
Many great transformations have taken place without the aid of intra workout supplements, as many RNT’ers enjoying the Reward Phase of their transformation journey will tell you. Intra workout supplements won’t help you reach your destination alone, but under the right circumstances, they can benefit your journey.
Before considering intra workout supplements, you must first as yourself:
- Is your training consistent?
- Are you training with intensity?
- Are you striving to progress every workout?
- Is your diet on point?
- Are you consistent with your diet?
If you tick all the boxes and have the money to invest in intra workout supplements, then the next step is picking the best type of supplement.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
Put simply, these are three of the nine essential (not produced by the body) amino acids: Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine.
BCAAs effect on muscle building and preventing protein breakdown is down to the amino acid leucine’s ability to trigger the positive process of Muscle Protein Synthesis.
These are most commonly found in a 2:1:1 ratio, though some brands go as high as 8:1:1, claiming multiple health and lifestyle benefits. However, there are arguments against these 8:1:1 versions actually being less effective due to the three amino acids ‘competing’ for absorption.
Also, it’s suggested that we have a ‘ceiling’ of around 3000mg of leucine for being beneficial at stimulating MPS. Much more above that is largely unnecessary to facilitate muscle growth during your transformation journey.
Typically 12g of a BCAA product will give you 3g (3000mg) of leucine, so our advice for the most effective option is to stick within this range.
Essential Amino Acids (EAA’S)
Due to the huge rise in popularity for BCAA products when they first arrived on the scene, EAA products were, quite literally, pushed off the shelf.
Prioritising market trends above effectiveness, most supplement companies have turned their back on the research demonstrating that actually, EAAs appear to be more effective at stimulating MPS.
One study (Moberg, Apro, Ekblom, Van Hall, Holmberg, & Blomstrand, 2016) demonstrates an almost 20% increase in MPS in muscle biopsies when comparing BCAAs vs EAAs intake following weights sessions.
More than leucine is at play here, generating greater results than BCAAs.
Whey Protein – it’s a classic. Whey protein has been consumed within the bodybuilding circles for decades, and it’s a formula that produces results.
The reason? BCAAs and EAAs are both quite short lived – the effects are relatively short, sharp peaks.
Whey protein however, not only elevates protein synthesis to the same degree, it’s also able to sustain this elevation for noticeably longer for greater results. And if there’s one lesson we teach at RNT, it’s the value of longevity!
The downside of whey protein? The consistency.
Anyone who has taken whey protein before will have experienced its thick, milkshake-like texture which, during a workout session, does not go down easy.
As if getting it down wasn’t hard enough, trying not to bring that back up in the middle an intense workout is a challenge in itself.
This is due to a natural process called vaso-dilation, in which blood leaves your non-essential organs during a workout and instead travels to your working muscles. Amongst these non-essential organs is the digestive system, thus making it a lot more difficult to digest a milkshake-like liquid than usual.
There is a relatively new intra workout supplement called Hydrolysed Casein (also known as Pepto-Pro) that is a ‘complete’ protein, much the same as whey.
But what makes Hydrolysed Casein different from whey? It’s pre-digested and broken down into smaller di and tri peptides, meaning it is much thinner in consistency. Essentially, it contains the same nutritional benefits of whey protein, but goes down a whole lot easier – and you can actually keep it down whilst training!
The only downside is it can be a tough taste to mask and is very expensive when compared with EAAs.
To Sum Up
Right now you’re probably thinking, ‘just tell me what intra workout supplement is the best!’ Well that, my friend, is down to you.
BCAAs and EAAs are easily diluted, so go down well, but don’t last long.
Whey is a classic for a reason: it’s packed full of the proteins you need to stimulate MPS and get the most out of your workout for longer. The only issue is it puts up a fight going down.
The best in our opinion is Hydrolysed Casein, which takes the winning formulas from the latter two intra workout supplements to create a hybrid, superior supplement that is both effective, long-lasting, and easy to consume. The issue? There’s a price you pay for perfection!
The RNT Verdict?
Intra workout supplement intake doesn’t have to be one or the other, providing you know what you are doing.
Below we have listed three options that we’ve found work well together:
Option 1 – 20g Hydrolysed Casein.
Whilst on paper it appears to tick all the boxes, if training multiple times per week the cost can add up. Is the carry-over to muscle gain worth the financial trade-off for you personally?
Option 2 – 15g EAA’s with 10-15g Whey Isolate.
We have the benefit here of the EAA’s entering the bloodstream very quickly, as well as the whey providing the ‘complete’ protein side of things. And, due to combining them, use less whey – so much easier on stomach during a workout than a full serving of whey protein.
Option 3 – 20g EAA’s.
EAAs are far more effective than BCAAs at stimulating MPS. Perhaps not quite as well as a complete protein, but if you’re hitting 30-40g protein at each meal, your protein intake should be covered. This is the most cost effective and easiest of the supplements to drink as it causes no intestinal distress.
Fuelling The Physical Vehicle
Intra workout supplements have been known to harness benefits beyond the physical aspect of training and are used to focus your mentality, enabling you to effectively get in the ‘zone’ while training.
RNT’s Founder, Akash, uses his intra-workout amino acids for all the benefits above, but also for psychological reasons. The use of intra workout supplements helps Akash to focus, enhance his mindset and drive his physical performance to really get the most out of his training time. What’s interesting is it can act as a precursor to be ‘locked in’ for the session ahead
What’s The Best ‘Whey’ Of Consumption?
For any of the above chosen intra workout supplements at the dosages advised with around 700-1000ml of water, drink 1/3 of the mixture on your way to the gym starting around 15mins before. Once you get there, drink the remaining 2/3 in between sets whilst you train, and aim to finish it by the end of the workout.
Katsanos, C., Chinkes, D., Paddon-Jones, D., Zhang, X.-J., Aarsland, A., & Wolfe, R. (2009). Whey protein ingestion in elderly results in greater muscle protein acrrual than ingestion of its consistuent essential amino acid content. Nutrition Research , 651-658.
Moberg, M., Apro, W., Ekblom, B., Van Hall, G., Holmberg, H., & Blomstrand, E. (2016). Activation of MTORC1 by leucine is potentiated by branched-chain amino acids and even more so by essential amino acids following resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology , 874-884.
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