How to optimise your intra-workout supplementation

Arguably the best time to ingest amino acids (for example, the BCAA’s and EAA’s) are during your strength and bodybuilding workouts. Sure, if you’re eating cheeseburgers and candy bars 24-7 then you might want to look at those first before concerning yourself with what amino acids to drink and when. But, if the rest of your day is in order and you’re truly looking to optimise your workout results then you’ll want to know what will truly give you the edge (and where you might be wasting your cash).

What happens when I lift weights?

To know how to optimize your intra-workout supplementation you need to first understand what actually happens when you pick up and put down those weights. Here, we’re mostly concerned with fuel utilization and protein balance.

Net protein balance is the difference between muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown. In order to gain muscle and promote recovery then protein balance must be positive. In other words protein synthesis (the formation of new muscle proteins) must be higher than protein breakdown.

It’s a common belief that when you lift weights that proteins and muscle fibres break down, afterwards repairing back larger and stronger than before. What actually happens is the following:

  • Before training: If nutrition and training are correct then your body will be in a positive net protein balance — synthesis will be greater than breakdown. What you ingest in the hours and final minutes leading up to your workouts plays a big part here.
  • During training: Your body will be in a negative net protein balance — while tissue breakdown actually remains the same, synthesis of new proteins drop. Breakdown eventually exceeds synthesis as the duration of training goes on. What you ingest just before and during your workouts can help manage this process, creating a more optimal environment to promote recovery and growth.
  • Post training: For a short while net protein balance will remain negative with breakdown slightly elevated. But, in the hours to come then protein synthesis rapidly rises to exceed breakdown, and to a level that exceeds pre-training.

This is when it’s absolutely essential that the body is provided with the right nutrients before, during and afterward in order to enhance your body’s natural recovery and adaptation process.

The best supplement for during your workouts

Supplying your body with right amino acids during and after your workouts is important for optimizing protein balance (as described above), and work in a two-pronged manner by both increasing muscle protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown.

For essential mechanisms to be activated you ideally want to supply your body with both an increased level of amino acid availability (termed, hyperaminoacidemia) and to spike insulin levels (termed, being in a state of hyperinsulinaemia).

Stop using basic BCAA and EAA powders!

Some mainstream brands advocate the use of intra-workout Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA)powders or Essential Amino Acid (EAA’s) powders in order to supply your body with more amino acids around this key time. The problem with this is that your body can accomplish a whole lot more when it’s supplied with all 21 amino acids, versus just the 9 Essential or 3 Branched Chain Amino Acids. This is just one of the reasons why here at MYOBAND we don’t sell just plain old BCAA’s or EAA’s as a standalone supplement. We see these ingredients more in a supportive role rather than a start player during and after your workouts.

The next level-up to optimising your amino acid utilization during workouts would be to use a more “complete” protein source. But, most sources are too slow to get in to your bloodstream and then be taken up by your muscles fast enough, and without upsetting your digestive system. Even a good quality whey protein can only be absorbed at a rate of about 10g per hour.

The power of hydrolyzed proteins

Hydrolyzed proteins consist of proteins that are predigested and partially hydrolyzed so they can be used by your body faster. MUCH faster. They’re a complete protein source meaning your muscles get exactly what they need and at the speed they need it, and a far better intra-workout option than just your standard EAA’s or BCAA drinks.

Now, under normal circumstances a whey protein is a “faster” protein compared to the much “slower” casein. And you’d be right. Casein is also a more expensive protein and in shorter supply than whey. But, when hydrolyzing casein then something special happens. Your body is able to metabolize a hydrolyzed casein faster than even a hydrolyzed whey. This means it can get to work even faster to help to cut cortisol, increase energy, and optimise muscle protein balance.

Casein hydrolysate represents the gold standard of intra-workout proteins. It’s the main driving force behind Oblivion, alongside some other research-backed ingredients for good measure. It might be a more costly protein source, but you’ll require less of it to get even better results than other inferior intra-workout protein juices.


Author: Gareth Sapstead