GAIN MUSCLE

The 3 Best BCAA Without Artificial Sweeteners [Updated 2023]

by Nader Qudimat
Updated July 20, 2023

Forget the artificial stuff...

You want BCAA's but without fake flavoring like sucralose and aspartame.

We've gone through many BCAA intra-workouts and have picked the best out of the bunch without artificial sweeteners. 

Intra by Transparent Labs is the best pick, but if you want something with BCAA's and glutamine, there's also BCAA Glutamine

If you're still looking for other options, check out what we have below...

RECOMMENDED
CoreSeries Intra Workout by Transparent Labs

Intra by Transparent Labs contains a nice balance of amino acids, including EAAs, and 150mg ElevATP.

Highlights:
  • Increases energy with elevATP
  • Optimizes hydration
  • Reduces soreness
Ingredients: 6.7g EAAs, 2g Citrulline Malate, 2g Taurine, 1.25g Betaine Anhydrous, 1g Tyrosine, 1g Coconut Water, 150mg ElevATP, 25mg Astragin
Discount code: FITFREK
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GREAT FOR RECOVERY
CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs

CoreSeries BCAA is a BCAA workout with amino acids, coconut water, and glutamine for maximum recovery and hydration.

Highlights:
  • Enhances recovery
  • Increases muscle growth
  • Contains coconut for hydration
Ingredients: 8g BCAA, 5g Glutamine, 1g Coconut Water Powder
Discount code: FITFREK
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With BCAA supplements, you're ensuring your body is in the best state possible.

Now you may benefit more if you're in a fasted state…

You'll find what BCAA /  amino acid supplements you can use during training to make the most gains and out of your workouts.

Most intra-supplements are a waste of money.

And they are normally full of artificial sweeteners.

And you probably don't need BCAA's if you aren't in a caloric deficit and trying to prevent muscle breakdown. 

If you are cutting, then you'll benefit from using an intra as it can help prevent muscle breakdown.

Let's dig right into it…

Best Naturally Sweetened BCAA Intra-Workout Supplements

GREAT FOR RECOVERY

BCAA by Transparent Labs

GREAT FOR RECOVERY
CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs

CoreSeries BCAA is a BCAA workout with amino acids, coconut water, and glutamine for maximum recovery and hydration.

Highlights:
  • Enhances recovery
  • Increases muscle growth
  • Contains coconut for hydration
Ingredients: 8g BCAA, 5g Glutamine, 1g Coconut Water Powder
Discount code: FITFREK
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Transparent Labs has made a well-deserved reputation for itself as a top company with 100% label transparency.

In fact, they rival NutraBio when it comes to disclosing virtually everything that’s on their label.

Of course, their products are more than just a label, they make very high-quality products that are clinically dosed.

BCAA Glutamine is the perfect example.

It’s a simple formula that’s dosed well and gets  the job done.

There are only 5 ingredients – you won’t find anything exotic here, but it has what you need to get the results you want.

This is a basic, no frills BCAA formula – 4 full grams of leucine (there’s no underdosing here!) with 2 grams each of isoleucine and valine for a total of 8 grams and it’s in the proven 2:1:1 ratio.

There’s a solid 5 grams of glutamine, and 1 gram of coconut water for hydration.

Simple – but dosed right!

You’re getting 30 servings for a slightly above-average price, but with quality this good, you can’t go wrong.

If you’re looking for something more exotic, this isn’t it, but if what you need is a basic BCAA, you can’t beat Transparent Labs.

Or if you want their Intra, which has EAA's citrulline malate, ElevATP, then check it out here.

Take advantage our discount code FITFREK.

RECOVERY & STRENGTH

Intra by Transparent Labs

RECOMMENDED
CoreSeries Intra Workout by Transparent Labs

Intra by Transparent Labs contains a nice balance of amino acids, including EAAs, and 150mg ElevATP.

Highlights:
  • Increases energy with elevATP
  • Optimizes hydration
  • Reduces soreness
Ingredients: 6.7g EAAs, 2g Citrulline Malate, 2g Taurine, 1.25g Betaine Anhydrous, 1g Tyrosine, 1g Coconut Water, 150mg ElevATP, 25mg Astragin
Discount code: FITFREK
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Transparent Labs has been creating fully disclosed supplements for more than a decade now. 

You can't go wrong with them. 

Intra features ingredients for recovery, hydration, and pumps

It has a high dose of EAA's, including BCAAs along with other ergogenic aids for the ultimate anabolic intra-drink. 

As you've noticed, glutamine has a love/hate relationship with the supplement industry. 

On one hand, it is necessary to have enough glutamine as your levels decrease when you work out, but on the other hand, it's easy to get it from foods and absorption is a common issue with it. 

The combination of pure minerals, and coconut water is going to help hydration from all fronts. 

If you're an elite athlete, you need to break records or you're simply trying to take it to the next level, then you'll appreciate consuming Intra Blast in your workouts for its pure and use of patented ingredients at mega doses. 

Read our review on Intra by Transparent Labs here.

BUDGET PICK

BCAA 2:1:1

Efficient
BCAA 2:1:1 by Bulksupplements

Bulk Supplements BCAA is a pure, unflavored BCAA supplement designed to support muscle recovery and growth. It's a versatile and straightforward solution for your amino acid needs.

Highlights:
  • Pure BCAA with no additional ingredients
  • Supports muscle recovery and growth
  • Versatile and easy to mix
Ingredients: 3g Leucine, 1.5g L-Isoleucine, 1.5g L-Valine
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Bulk Supplements BCAA is a high-quality branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement to support muscle growth and recovery.

It contains a 2:1:1 ratio of the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are essential amino acids the body can't produce independently.

One of the key features of Bulk Supplements BCAA is its simplicity.

The product contains no additional ingredients, artificial sweeteners, or flavors, making it a great choice for those who prefer unflavored supplements or want to avoid artificial additives.

It's also a versatile supplement easily be mixed with your favorite beverage or protein shake.

In terms of performance, BCAAs are known to promote muscle protein synthesis, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance endurance performance.

By taking Bulk Supplements BCAA, you can ensure your body has the amino acids to repair and build muscle effectively.

VEGAN BCAAS

Genius BCAA by Genius Brand

Genius BCAA by Genius Brand
$34.99 ($3.42 / Ounce)

The Genius Brand is one of the best companies to come out over the past few years as they create some of the most unique formulas for athletes.

Highlights:
  • Increases energy and focus
  • Enhances hydration and recovery
  • Great tasting
Ingredients: 3g Glutamine, 2.5g Leucine, 1.25g Isoleucine, 1.25g Valine, 1g Citrulline Malate, 1g Taurine, 250mg Citicoline, 200mg Rhodiola Rosea, 100mg Caffeine
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09/23/2023 02:15 pm GMT

The Genius Brand is one of the most reliable companies for athletes. 

They create some great supplements, not only for muscle building but also for professional athletes. 

Since their supplements are naturally flavored, you can use any of them and expect great results when it's combined with a great program and diet. 

Genius BCAA contains BCAA's, glutamine as well as nootropics to keep you focused during your workouts. 

So it's not only great for reducing catabolism, but it's also going to help with focus and energy. 

It does also have 100mg of caffeine which will keep your energy up during exercise. 

What Are BCAA's?

BCAA’s are considered branch amino acids because each one of them has a structure that looks like a branch.

Being unique for how they look isn’t the only thing that they’ve got going on.

These amino’s also increase energy, assist with fat loss but they are more commonly known for increasing muscle growth.

Hence why you hear that they are such a “anabolic” supplement to take.

Leucine is known to be the leading champion among the 3 amino acids so you should make sure that there’s always more leucine in the ratio.

Being the key to turning on the “anabolic” state that every bodybuilder thrives for, leucine is the key as it activates mTOR, a complex which increases muscle protein synthesis which then leads to more muscle growth.

Seeing that leucine is so important in the BCAA mix, some supplements recommend taking it on it’s own but that’s where shit goes wrong.

Don’t take our word for it; one study tested leucine on its own vs all 3 BCAA’s in a 2:1:1 ratio.

Men in their early 20’s were given either leucine, a 2:1:1 BCAA supplement or a placebo.

Those who took leucine sure did increase muscle protein synthesis much more than the placebo, but they found that the BCAA’s increased protein synthesis even further than both groups. 

Taking BCAA’s in a 2:1:1 ratio will result in increased energy and endurance while decreasing fatigue.

And also, without valine, you won’t be able to push as many reps, and maintain strength and endurance as much as you would, especially when it comes to the last half of your workout.

Isoleucine also plays an important role in BCAA’s as it helps with fat loss and decreases the activities that lead to fat storage.

Here you can learn what the difference is between BCAAs and pre-workouts. 

​Why Take BCAA Supplements?

What if you could improve recovery and train harder than ever while remaining in a anabolic state?

You'd probably feel like you've got an “S” on your chest.

BCAA’s have become one of the biggest game changers for both bodybuilders and athletic purposes.

Whether you’ve used BCAA’s or not, you should know by now that they are made out of 3 amino acids.

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

Different supplements contain different ratios so it gets kind of confusing on which one to go with and not all BCAA supplements are all that great since some may come with carbohydrates and nitric oxide ingredients while others are just plain amino acids.

Get BCAA’s in the 2:1:1 ratio. 

Avoid the ratios that include “500mg of both valine and isoleucine” because that’s not nearly enough to keep you going in your workouts.

Don't buy into the big claims like increase your weight by 20lbs in 30 days, etc. 

All of the benefits is all the more reason to start using BCAA’s before and during your workouts.

But don’t go consuming protein shakes during your workouts because that takes energy to digest and you’ll feel bloated.

BCAA Side Effects

Apart from muscle gains and fat loss, there are none.

Unlike other supplements, BCAA’s are one of the supplements that have no side effects and are safe to take on a regular basis.

The only thing you should be worried about are the artificial stuff (flavors, colors, ingredients, sources of BCAA’s) that are put into them.

Artificial Sweetener Side Effects

There are reasons why people may want to avoid artifical sweeteners. 

While they contain zero calories, they may have side effects that concern people who are health-conscious. 

The FDA considers them to be safe in small amounts, but when it comes to larger doses, studies have found them to have negative effects on health. 

Not only can they affect the brain but they can also increase the risk for several health complications. 

Here are the types of artifical sweeteners in BCAA intra-workouts:

  • Aspartame
  • Saccharine
  • Sucralose
  • Stevia

While stevia is considered to be natural, it can processed and this causes it to have negative effects on health.

Aspartame

Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener that's approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar.

It's used in various food and drink products as a sugar substitute. However, despite its widespread use, aspartame has been linked to several health concerns.

Some people may experience headaches, dizziness, and digestive issues after consuming aspartame. In rare cases, individuals with a genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU) must avoid aspartame as their bodies cannot metabolize one of its components, phenylalanine, which can lead to brain damage.

Saccharine

Saccharine, one of the oldest artificial sweeteners, is 300 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.

It's often used in diet drinks and low-calorie products. While it was once linked to cancer in rats, subsequent research has found no clear evidence of similar risk in humans.

However, some people may experience allergic reactions to saccharine, including headaches, breathing difficulties, skin eruptions, and diarrhea.

Sucralose

Sucralose, marketed under the brand name Splenda, is a zero-calorie artificial sweetener that's 600 times sweeter than sugar.

It's commonly used in baking because it doesn't lose its sweetness when heated.

Some studies suggest that sucralose may affect the balance of intestinal bacteria, potentially leading to weight gain and impaired insulin response. However, more research is needed to understand these effects fully.

Stevia

Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

It's up to 300 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories. While generally considered safe, some people may experience bloating, nausea, or a feeling of fullness after consuming stevia.

In high doses, stevia could potentially cause low blood pressure, which could be problematic for individuals with low blood pressure or those taking blood pressure medications.

Natural Sweeteners in Naturally Flavored Supplements

Natural sweeteners are often used in naturally flavored supplements as a healthier alternative to artificial sweeteners.

They provide the desired sweetness while also offering some nutritional benefits. Here are some commonly used natural sweeteners in supplements:

Stevia

Stevia is a zero-calorie natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

It's up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, making it a popular choice for low-calorie and sugar-free products. Stevia is also heat-stable, making it suitable for various applications, including baking and cooking.

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo, is a small melon native to Southeast Asia.

The sweetener derived from monk fruit is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar but contains no calories or carbohydrates. This makes it a popular choice for people following low-carb or ketogenic diets.

Erythritol

Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol that's naturally found in some fruits and fermented foods.

It's about 70% as sweet as sugar but contains only 5% of the calories. Erythritol doesn't raise blood sugar or insulin levels, making it a good option for people with diabetes and those following low-carb diets.

Xylitol

Xylitol is another sugar alcohol that's found in many fruits and vegetables.

It's similar in sweetness to sugar but contains 40% fewer calories. Xylitol is often used in sugar-free products like chewing gum, mints, and oral health products due to its ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth.

Honey

Honey is a natural sweetener that's produced by bees from the nectar of flowers.

It's sweeter than sugar and contains trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, honey is high in calories and should be used sparingly.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar, or agave syrup, is a sweetener produced from the agave plant.

It's sweeter than sugar and has a lower glycemic index, meaning it has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. However, agave nectar is high in fructose, which can contribute to insulin resistance and other health problems if consumed in large amounts.

When choosing a naturally flavored supplement, it's important to read the label carefully. Some products may use a combination of natural and artificial sweeteners, or they may contain other additives or ingredients that you're trying to avoid. As always, moderation is key when it comes to sweeteners, even natural ones.

The Complete Intra BCAA Workout Supplement Guide

You know about pre and post workout supplements…

But what about intra-workouts?

Over the last decade, there’s been a huge focus on what you need to put into your body before and after your workout.

As a result, most trainers are pretty clued up about their pre and post workout supplementation needs.

But what about during the workout?

If you’re simply slurping from your water bottle between sets, it’s about time you got up to speed on the subject of intra workout supplementation.

It could just be the missing link to catapulting your physique to the next level.​

What is Intra Workout Nutrition?

You know about pre and post workout supplements…

But what about intra-workouts?

Over the last decade, there’s been a huge focus on what you need to put into your body before and after your workout.

As a result, most trainers are pretty clued up about their pre and post workout supplementation needs.

But what about during the workout?

If you’re simply slurping from your water bottle between sets, it’s about time you got up to speed on the subject of intra workout supplementation.

It could just be the missing link to catapulting your physique to the next level.​

Why You Need an Intra Workout Supplement

When you begin working out, you cause your body to change the way it reacts to nutrients.

A number of years ago, researchers began to focus on whether adding nutrients to the body while working out would enhance performance.

What they discovered was that they key to performance was timing.

In other words, if your goal is to build muscle, lose body fat, get stronger and recover better, when you consume your nutrients is just as important as what you consume.

The energy used for weight training comes from the ATP system.

However, the ATP in your muscles is very quickly depleted when you start pushing the iron.

If that energy is not replaced your workout performance is going to drop off.

Working out also uses up fluids and electrolytes, which hamper your performance.

That’s why it’s vital to hydrate while training.

ATP is fueled by glycogen.

Now, you’re probably getting glycogen into your system through your pre workout formulation.​

The problem is that your training robs you of glycogen very quickly. In fact, after just three sets on the bench press, your glycogen levels will be down by about 35%.

If you’re not replacing that energy during your workout, your performance is going to lag.

Another key performance factor during your workout relates to insulin.

Your pre-workout will provide quality protein to your system. But, insulin is needed to transport that protein to the muscle.

Unless you are fortifying your insulin levels during the workout, all of that pre workout protein is going to be sitting around doing nothing.​

Yet, it gets even worse.

In the absence of insulin, we see the rise of insulin’s antagonist – glucagon. Glucagon is catabolic, stealing amino acids fro your cells.

Along with glucagon, you’ll see a rise in two other catabolic hormones – epinephrine and cortisol, both of which lower your glycogen levels.

To build muscle and lose body fat, your body needs to be in an anabolic state.

However, working out is catabolic.

It breaks down your muscles.​

And, as we’ve just seen, catabolic hormones are promoted when you work out in the absence of glycogen and insulin.

Intra workout nutrition in the form of carbohydrates will counter this catabolic effect, pushing you back to the anabolic state that you need to be in.

Your body also has a need for protein during the workout.

From the moment you begin pumping iron, your body starts eating up protein, especially in the form of branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s).

If you’re training intensely, BCAA’s will provide about 20% of your muscle’s energy needs.

In other words, your body is cannibalizing itself by eating up branch chain amino acids. When your take in BCAAs during the workout, you greatly offset this process.​

So, why do you need an intra workout supplement?

Taking protein and carbs into your body while you are training will offset the catabolic effect of working out, allowing you to maintain high levels of ATP, insulin, glycogen and BCAAs.

The result is that you’ll be stronger for longer and your body will be primed for anabolic growth and recovery.​

What Intra Workout Supplements Should I Take?

Now you know that intra workout supplements are a good idea, what should you take?

The answer depends on what you are trying to achieve from your workouts.

If you are primarily focused on fat loss, your ultra supplementation will be different from the guy who is primarily concerned with packing on muscle mass.

Regardless of your specific training goal, you should still be drinking plenty of water during your workout.

Dehydrated muscles will soon lose power regardless of what nutrients you supply them with.

Over the course of a 75-minute workout, you should be chugging down between one and two liters of water.​

Powders, Tablets Or Capsules?

Powders are popular due to having the ability to sip on BCAA’s for however long they need to be sipped on.

It’s best to look at your lifestyle and pick according to what suits you best.

However, it takes a lot of capsules to gain the benefits of BCAA’s.

Ultimately, it’s important to look at the company and know who you’re buying from.

Since supplements are pretty much self-regulated (if at all), reputation and quality should always be a big deciding factor.

Some BCAA supplements use human hair or disgusting sources for BCAA’s so they can make their products cheap.

 

Fat Loss Intra Workout Supplementation

If you are training primarily for fat loss, you will want to limit the amount of calories you take into your system during your workout.

After all, in order to shed body-fat you are training to burn off more calories than you’re consuming each day.

So, the last thing you want to do is to chug down extra calories.

Another consideration is your insulin level.

While a guy who is training for max muscle mass will want to elevate insulin levels while training to transport protein to the muscle cell, you don’t​ want to boost insulin because it will interfere with the process of freeing up stored body fat for energy.

That’s why you really don’t want carbs in your intra workout formulation.

The exception would be if you are following a keto or intermittent fasting diet program.

In those cases, you will want to take in fats acting carbs to fuel you through your workout.

What you need to focus on is amino acids which will counter the catabolic effect and promote protein synthesis.

The big three, of course, are the three branch chain amino acids – valine, leucine and iso-leucine.

In addition, you will benefit from glutamine, citrulline malate and glycine.​

Look for an intra workout that contains the following aminos at the levels indicated:​

  • BCAAs – 5g
  • L-Glutamine – 5g
  • L-Glycine – 3g
  • Citrulline Malate – 3g

Best Intra Ingredients for Muscle Gains

When it comes to packing on muscle mass, carbohydrates are going to benefit you.

Of course, you don’t want to store those carbs as fat.

When you’re working out, however, you are very unlikely to store carbs as fat, so this is the ideal time to take that energy into your system.

You’ll want to take in fast acting carbs that are quickly absorbed into your system.

Taking in carbs during your workout will also lead to an insulin spike.

As we’ve already learned, insulin helps to transport protein to your muscle cells.​

Of course, you’ll also want to take in some key amino acids while training.

Leucine, one of the branch chin amino acids, is a key stimulator of your growth pathway, speeding up protein synthesis.

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and the one that is most cannibalized through working out.

Taking 5 grams of glutamine during your session will go a long way to putting you into an anabolic state.​

Look for an intra workout that contains the following ingredients at the levels indicated:​

  • 25-50 grams of fast digesting crabs
  • BCAAs – 5g
  • L-Glutamine – 5g
  • L-Glycine – 3g
  • Citrulline Malate – 3g

Breaking Down the Ingredients

So, now that you’ve got an overview of what should be in your intra workout, let’s take a closer look at the most common intra workout ingredients.

BCAAs

The three branch chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine.

These are by far the most important aminos for muscle growth.

They also fight fatigue and are used by the muscles as a source of fuel.

BCAA’s are unique in the amino acid world because they bypass the liver and go directly to your small intestine.

Here they are soaked up to go directly into the bloodstream and your muscles to build more muscle.

BCAA’s also work to blunt the catabolic effects of cortisol, which is heightened during the stress of training.

Among other things, cortisol lowers your levels of testosterone, interfering with your body’s ability to drive new muscle growth.

BCAA’s will bring your cortisol levels back down, allowing for the muscle building mechanism to kick in.

Of the three BCAA’s, leucine is the most important.

That’s why the clinically recommended dose is to have twice as much leucine as iso-leucine and valine ( a 2:1:1 ratio in favor of leucine).

Some intra workout formulas will only include leucine. That’s ok, because it is powerful enough to instigate protein synthesis by itself.​

When you take amino acids, such as BCAAs into your body while you are placing stress on your muscles through training, it is absorbed into your cells much faster than at any other time.

That’s why timing is critical.

Getting BCAA’s while you’re working out will halt the catabolic process and restart the rebuild of your muscle cells immediately.

BCAAs come in various forms. You can buy them as capsules, tablets or in powdered form.

They also come in drink mixes, which is probably the smartest way to take them intra workout.

They are micronized and instantized and all you have to do is stir them up with some water and then sip them into your system.​

 

Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body.

It is a non-essential amino acid, meaning that your body can produce it by itself.

61% of your skeletal muscle is composed of glutamine. Glutamine is a key transporter of nitrogen throughout the body.

It is, in fact, the main way that nitrogen gets into your muscle cells. Nitrogen is the driver of muscle growth.

Being in a state of positive nitrogen balance will determine whether your body is in an anabolic (muscle building) or a catabolic (muscle depleting) state.

When you work out, you lose a lot of glutamine.

Heavy, frequent, intense training will actually remove the majority of this amino acid from your system.

After your workout, your body is in a glutamine depleted state. It will take up to 6 days for your glutamine levels to return to normal after just one heavy workout.

Therefore, if you are training intensely several times a week, you will be in a constant state of glutamine depletion.

Yet this amino acid is the most important substance that you need for recovery.

That is why you need to take a quality glutamine supplement while you are working out.

Supplementing with glutamine intra workout will significantly reduce the amount of glutamine that you lose as a result of your training.

Creatine

Creatine is made up of the three amino acids arginine, glycerine and methionine.

This makes it an amino acid supplement, rather than an individual amino acid.

It will boost creatine phosphate levels, which boosts ATP levels, delivering more training power and endurance.

Beta Alanine

Beta alanine is produced by the human body.

Despite this it has come to regarded as an essential non-essential micro-nutrient.

It’s main claim to fame is its ability to stimulate carnosine production.

So what?

Well, carnosine helps you to train a lot harder.

When you work out hard with weights, your body increases production of hydrogen ions.

These ions work against your muscle building efforts because they lower the levels of pH in the cell, causing muscular fatigue.

As a result, beta alanine is great for beating the effects of fatigue during the workout and stimulating recovery after the workout.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline malate, a compound based upon the non-essential amino acid l-citrulline, has the ability to lower body fat levels and induce the body to increase its production of human growth hormone.

It’s popularity as a bodybuilding supplement that really works stems from it’s ability to decrease body fat and promote the release of human growth hormone, thus leading to enhanced muscle mass.

Citrulline also has the ability to maintain muscle mass strength while preventing muscle catabolism.

Citrulline has the added ability to convert Arginine to Nitric Oxide (NO).

NO has the ability to dilate your blood vessels.

This, in turns, increases blood volume to the working muscle, enhancing the pump effect while you’re training.

Dextrose

Dextrose is simply glucose, which is the simplest form of carbohydrate.

Being in such a simple form, your body doesn’t have to go through the process of breaking the carbs down before using them.

That makes it the ideal carb for intra-workout supplementation.

Dextrose is a monosaccharide, which is about 70-80% as sweet as table sugar.

The glycemic index rating of dextrose is 100, which makes it extremely bioavailable.

Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate.

The most common source material is corn and potato starch.

Unlike most complex carbs, maltodextrin is able to break down rapidly.

That means that it is easily digestible and is able to be readily absorbed for energy.

The GI rating of maltodextrin is higher than dextrose, at 105.​

Vitargo

Vitargo is a patented complex carb that has become a popular ingredient in intra workout formulas.

The molecules that comprise Vitargo are much heavier than in most carbs, but it has a very low osmolality.

This means that is can pass through the stomach about 80% faster than dextrose.

This makes it a great workout choice, but be aware that it may bring on some stomach discomfort.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are tiny chemicals that have an electric charge that stimulate certain bodily actions.

Such electrolytes as magnesium and potassium are used to assist hydration.

They will assist in keeping you hydrated during the workout, and so are useful additions to your intra workout formula.

What About Side Effects?

The last thing you want during your workout is to experience stomach distress or flatulence.

Fortunately, there are very few side effects related to intra workout supplements.

Of course, we’re all individuals who react differently to what we put into our system. However, the two most commonly experienced side effects are . . .

Tingling of the Outer Extremeties

A tingling sensation on the lips and outer extremeties is a common effect of beta alanine supplementation.

This is a completely normal and harmless reaction.

In fact, it is a sign that your supplement has been adequately dosed with beta alanine. Once your body gets used to beta alanine, the sensation will subside.

Bloating

Stomach bloating, flatulence or burping is a reaction that you may experience from creatine supplementation.

The effect is due to creatine’s ability to pull water into the muscle cell (that’s a good thing).

This can lead to a bloated water weight feeling among some people.

How Should You Take Your Intra Workout?

Obviously, these supplements are designed to be taken during your workout.

For that reason, you should mix your formulation with water in a shaker bottle before heading to the gym.

That will allow you to give it a quick shake periodically throughout the workout.

How you take your drink will depend on the length of your workout.

If your training will be all done within an hour, you can drink the whole thing down as you’re doing your warm up set.

This will allow the ingredients to take effect immediately.

If your workout duration is between one and two hours, you should take your intra workout about 30 minutes in.

This will infuse the ingredients in just as the catabolic process steps up. It will also provide enough time for all of the ingredients to kick into action.

Key Purchasing Considerations

Ingredient Profile – check the label against the list of ingredients above to determine if it’s got the goods.

Taste – Check online reviews to see what the consensus is. It doesn’t matter how great the ingredient profile is if you can’t stand the taste.

Mix – Online reviews will tell you how well it mixes. The last thing you want is to have down a clumpy mess during your workout.

Price – Rather than overall price, do the math to calculate the cost per serving. The ideal range is between $0.75-$1.50 per serve.

Key Points Summary:

  • Intra workout nutrition will extend training energy and endurance
  • Intra workout nutrition switches you from a catabolic to an anabolic state
  • Intra workout nutrition will allow you to maintain high levels of ATP, insulin, glycogen and BCAAs
  • BCAAs are a key ingredient
  • Fast acting carbs will provide instant training energy
  • Drink 1-2 liters of water during the workout
  • If your workout is less than an hour, take your intra workout at the start
  • If your workout is 1-2 hours long, take it after 30 minutes
  • You should pay between $0.75-$1.50 per serve

FAQs

  • What are BCAAs? Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are essential because the body cannot produce them, so they must be obtained from the diet.

  • Why should I choose a BCAA supplement without artificial sweeteners? Some people prefer BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners to avoid potential side effects associated with these sweeteners, such as headaches, digestive issues, or changes in gut bacteria. Others may simply prefer the taste of natural sweeteners.

  • What are some natural sweeteners used in BCAA supplements? Natural sweeteners used in BCAA supplements can include stevia, monk fruit extract, honey, agave nectar, and erythritol.

  • Are BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners as effective as those with them? Yes, the presence or absence of artificial sweeteners does not affect the effectiveness of the BCAAs themselves. The choice between the two comes down to personal preference and dietary needs.

  • Can I use a BCAA supplement without artificial sweeteners if I'm on a ketogenic diet? Yes, BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners are generally suitable for a ketogenic diet as they typically contain zero or very low carbohydrates.

  • What are the benefits of taking BCAA supplements? BCAAs can help promote muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness, decrease muscle fatigue, and support overall workout performance.

  • How often should I take a BCAA supplement? This can depend on your individual goals and the specific supplement's instructions. Some people take BCAAs before, during, or after workouts, while others may take them between meals.

  • Can BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners cause any side effects? BCAA supplements are generally safe for most people when used as directed. However, excessive intake can potentially cause side effects such as nausea, pain, or headaches.

  • Can I take BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners if I have diabetes? Yes, BCAA supplements without artificial sweeteners are typically safe for individuals with diabetes as they don't impact blood sugar levels like some artificial sweeteners can. However, it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

  • What should I look for when choosing a BCAA supplement without artificial sweeteners? Look for a product that contains a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which is the most researched ratio. Also, consider the product's taste, mixability, and any additional ingredients like electrolytes or other amino acids.

  •  
Sources

Cribb, Paul J, Hayes, Alan, “Effects of Supplement-Timing and Resistance Exercise on Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(11). Pp. 1918-1925. ISSN 0195-9131, 1530-0315.

Haff, et al, “The effects of supplemental carbohydrate ingestion on intermittent isokinetic leg exercise, J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 2001, Jun:41(2): 216-22.

Ivy, John, and Portman, Robert, Nutrient Timing, The Future of Sports Nutrition, Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach, 2004.

Tipton, et al, “Timing of amino-acid carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise.” American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 1 August 2001, Vol, 281 no.2, E197-E206 DOI:

by Nader Qudimat

Forged by iron and cold steel, I'm Nader, a mid-30s natural bodybuilder. Once a 100lb skinny guy, I've transformed into a 200lb muscular athlete with over 15 years of lifting experience. Today, I leverage my transformation and extensive experience to guide countless individuals on their fitness journeys.

Click here to check out my 12 year transformation: Natural 12 Year Transformation

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