Intra workouts are one of the newest categories of supplements on the market, and have become very popular in a short amount of time, particularly amongst elite trainers who have found that with a mid-workout boost they are able to push through to the next level.
These supplements contain ingredients that help during a workout, increasing endurance, slowing the onset of fatigue, supporting hydration and electrolyte balance, and preventing muscle breakdown.
One of the advantages that intra-workouts have is that they are virtually free of side effects. The ingredients used in these supplements are on the whole established, safe and well received. Nonetheless, some people may react to ingredients within these formulations. Let's take a look at some of the most common ingredients in intra-workout supplements and their potential effects.
BCAAs Intra Workout Side Effects
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are the classic intra-workout ingredient. These three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are considered to be the most important amino acids for muscle growth and repair, and providing the body with these during a workout is thought to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise. These amino acids are consumed as part of the protein content in our food, and for the vast majority of people, BCAAs can be used without any adverse effects. Of the rare reported side effects, the list is topped by mild gastric complains, such as diarrhoea and nausea. There are some myths about BCAA supplementation, which are explored here, but a healthy person should be able to consume BCAAs at the levels they are present in a serving of an intra-workout product with no ill effects.
Intra Workout Side Effects Whey Protein
Due to its rapid absorption and high amino acid quality, whey protein, particularly super fast acting hydrolysed whey, is often included in Intra Workout formulations.
Some people have been known to experience side effects from whey protein – these generally involve gastric disturbances – but in many cases, these effects are a function of the amount of protein that is consumed. If an intra workout contains whey protein, it is generally present in low amounts. Unless a person has a specific or severe allergy or intolerance, there is very little chance that whey protein present at the levels it appears in an intra-workout will cause ill effects for a healthy person.
Intra Workout Side Effects Creatine
Creatine is one of the best known and most effective ergogenic substances on the market, and it occasionally makes an appearance in intra-workout formulations. Like so many other ingredients, creatine did not escape the scrutiny of those with concerns about side effects, and a great deal of time and effort has been devoted to establishing the safety of creatine. Creatine is widely accepted as safe for both short and long term use. Creatine has been known to cause stomach upset in some people. Although this is largely a dose dependent phenomenon restricted to people taking more than 5g at one time, some people who are particularly sensitive to creatine may feel minor discomfort.
Intra Workout Side Effects Electrolytes
Electrolytes are the salts that our body requires in balanced ratios to function at its best, and the word typically refer to ions such as sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and bicarbonate. Electrolytes are lost along with fluid during exercise and replacing these can aid hydration. Electrolytes in intra workout solutions are typically balanced and dosed according to the amount of fluid present. People with normal kidney function are not going to experience any side effects from the consumption of electrolytes in fluid.
Intra Workout Side Effects Citrulline
Citrulline is a common ingredient in intra workout formulations because it is very effective at increasing arginine levels within the body. Arginine then generates nitric oxide, which is a powerful vasodilator. Vasodilation improves blood flow to the muscles, more effectively delivering nutrients, removing waste, and providing the engorged, pumped look that many men seek. Citrulline has also been shown to improve muscle strength, endurance and to delay the onset of fatigue. There is no evidence to suggest citrulline causes any side effects or interactions in the doses at which is present in intra-workout formulations.
Intra Workout Side Effects Taurine
Taurine is an ingredient that is often seen in intra workout formulas because it has a number of properties that can enhance exercise performance. This amino acid has been shown to increase the volume of the cell, generating an environment that encourages protein synthesis. Taurine has been shown to have a positive effect on muscle strength, it is a powerful antioxidant which can help in the repair of muscle damage, and it can increase the body's sensitivity to insulin.
When used in the moderate amounts that are found in intra-workout supplements, taurine is very unlikely to cause side effects, although mild stomach upset has been noted by people with sensitive digestion and peptic ulcers. Taurine can interfere with a number of medications, most notably lithium and medication for diabetes. People with pre-existing conditions should consult their doctor before beginning any supplement regime, including products containing taurine.
This list covers some of the more common inclusions in intra-workout formulations, but this is a wide category, and many intra-workout formulations will contain ingredients that have not been covered. Anyone with concerns, or who is experiencing side effects from their intra-workout, is advised to consult their doctor.