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Blog: Intra workout nutrition - Part One

Intra workout nutrition is one of the hotly debated subjects in sports nutrition. The idea of intra workout nutrition is to maximise performance, increase protein synthesis (muscle building) improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness. There are two camps with differing views on intra workout nutrition, both able to cite studies and research supporting their standpoint. The first camps say that nutrition during a workout has little effect on muscular adaptation, growth and recovery as long as total protein intake and calorie intake reaches specific targets by the end of the day, in other words. Nutrient timing doesn't matter. As a long as an adequate pre training meal containing protein and a mixture of either fat or carbohydrates dependant on your goals then the need for additional nutrition during a typical training session may not be needed. It is important to note that this can all change depending on the type and duration of the session, with longer sessions (i.e. over 60 minutes / endurance based) then showing a possible benefit of intra workout nutrition. The second camp says that well timed nutrition has the ability to influence the whole training process and that when you time nutrients is of great importance. During a session the body is thrown out of homoeostasis, with stress hormones increasing, muscle protein being damaged, metabolic by-products increasing and energy supplies become depleted. Intra workout nutrition has the potential to offset the possible negative effects that can occur, and turn them into a positive due to increased blood flow and nutrient delivery to the working muscles. [caption id="attachment_3101" align="aligncenter" width="475" class=" "]Intra workout nutrition - Taking a shake mid workout Intra workout nutrition - Taking a shake mid workout[/caption]

Intra workout nutrition supplements

BCAAs

These 3 amino acids (leucine / isoleucine and valine) have the ability to up regulate protein synthesis, reduce muscle breakdown, prevent significant increases in the stress hormone cortisol, reduce perception of effort and central fatigue by blocking the actions of the amino acid tryptophan which can cross the blood brain barrier and induce fatigue. The benefit BCAA's have over whey protein is that they are metabolised directly in the muscle rather than stomach, so digestion isn't not required. This means the amino acids you want to kick start the recovery and muscle building process are where you want them to be, and quickly. This is really useful if you do any form of fasted training, they provide some protection to your muscles from being broken down, while keeping you as close to a fasted state as possible.

Beta Alanine / Citrulline Malate / Sodium Bicarbonate

While some could argue about the need for BCAA's if in a fed state with a well-timed pre training meal for improved muscular adaptation to exercise, it’s much harder to disagree with the use of beta alanine, citraline malate and sodium bicarbonate as there role is more about performance enhancement then a specifically having a direct effect on gaining muscle (although they have an indirect effect as they allow you to train harder, causing a greater training stimulus to adapt to). These intra workout supplement (which can also be taken pre) work by reducing the build-up of metabolic by products, that when reach threshold levels can limit performance. This is something a pre training meal can't to.

Beta alanine

This increases intra muscular levels of carnosine, which is normally released into the blood stream when the p.H of our cells drops. This helps to prevent a build-up of hydrogen ions that our muscles to burn, allowing more reps or longer intervals being completed more fatigue sets in.

Citrulline Malate

This causes an increase in nitric oxide aiding vasodilation allowing more blood, and consequently more nutrients to be delivered to the working muscles. This causes a "muscle pump" which not only makes us look bigger and more vascular (vital for selfie Facebook profile picture), but increases the volume of a muscle cell which is a potent anabolic signal. Additionally, Citrulline malate also helps remove ammonia from our muscles, which if left to build up and interfere with muscular recruitment, hence limiting strength endurance.

Sodium Bicarbonate

This is a highly alkali compound that counters exercise related increases in acidity of our blood. When this occurs, exercise intensity has to be reduced so the body and try and clear the "acid" itself. Sodium Bicarbonate allows higher thresholds to be reached before the adverse effects of increased blood acidity hinder performance while helping reduce blood acidity quicker. This means higher intensity of exercise, short recovery time between sets and intervals and the potential to get more work done in less time.

Beetroot Nitrates

Contain nitrates which act as a signalling molecule that allows our arteries to dilate, boosting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to our working muscles, hence enhancing athletic performance. In addition it can improve performance in other ways to by helping muscle cells to use oxygen more efficiently during bursts of intensive exercise, making anaerobic metabolism more efficient. The benefit to all these supplements is that they are stimulant free making them perfect to use in the evening or if you are sensitive to caffeine. Read on for part two!
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