Research has demonstrated that key ingredients such as essential amino acids (6g EAA), and simple carbohydrates (35g sucrose) ingested before and during resistance training induced the state of hyperaminoacidemia, as well as hyperemia. This effect decreased the net loss of muscle protein that typically takes place during and post-workout, and therefore sets the stage perfectly for muscle growth.
In fact, researchers performed muscle biopsies on the quadriceps of six healthy volunteers (three males, three females). They also underwent blood sampling to determine blood amino acid levels before the trial began. Three blood samples, separated by 10 minutes, were taken from the femoral artery and vein for the measurement of plasma arterial and venous amino acid enrichments and concentrations.
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether an essential amino acid (EAA) and carbohydrate (sucrose) beverage consumed immediately prior to resistance exercise or following resistance exercise would stimulate muscle protein anabolism the greatest. Approximately 42mg of EAA were taken up in the pre-exercise trial, whereas only 19mg of EAA were taken up during the post-exercise trial.
This study demonstrates that a relatively small amount of essential amino acids (6g) combined with simple carbohydrates (35g) ingested immediately pre-workout is superior to consuming the same drink post-workout. Net muscle protein synthesis peaks higher, sustains longer, and overall nutrient delivery to muscle cells is enhanced.
This particular study did not examine cortisol levels, but be assured that similar studies revealed pre-exercise carbs and amino acids blunted the cortisol response by 11%, whereas placebo displayed elevated cortisol by 42%.
MY "INTRA-DUCTION" TO INTRA-WORKOUT NUTRITION
In 2007, I remember vying to stay leaner in the off-season to gauge trial-and-error experiments I planned to put myself through. I knew that staying in lean condition (below 10% body fat) would allow me to accurately observe changes in my physique when implementing new supplementation protocols, dieting regimens, training schemes, etc.
I was always enamored with the abnormal muscle fullness and “pumps” you get immediately after a bodybuilding contest. The post-contest rebound was a fascinating and fulfilling grace period that would last a good 4–6 weeks after a show. After digging further into the reasons and mechanisms behind this short window of muscle-bursting pumps and skin-splitting training sessions, I decided that intra-workout nutrition would be my answer to potentially replicating this cosmetic and physiological phenomenon.
I experimented with carbohydrate sources—dextrose, maltodextrin, and waxy maize—with decent, but not great results. I also experimented with protein and amino acid ingredients — whey protein isolate, free-form branchedchain amino acids (BCAAs), and hydrolyzed whey protein—with decent, but not great results. I also added creatine, glutamine, arginine, extra leucine, and other ingredients to improve each new drink I formulated.
The above ingredients gave me decent results, as in increased blood fow and nitric oxide production from insulin secretion via carbohydrate ingestion, elevated blood amino acid levels from proteins and BCAAs used, and more training endurance for higher-volume workouts. However, the absorption and ability to digest all of this intra-workout nutrition was being compromised by less than optimally absorbed ingredients. This was when I experimented with amylopectin barley, also known as Vitargo. Unlike the glucose polymers I used that carry a low molecular weight—and have a high osmolality—amylopectin barley was pretty much the opposite.
Uncomfortable blood pooling in the stomach and side aches were nonexistent. I also ditched fully intact whey proteins, and used only free-form essential amino acids, which are predigested, alongside creatine and glutamine.
POST-CONTEST PUMPS RESURRECTED!
I was inducing the state of hyperemia, increasing blood fow to surrounding tissues in the body. After playing with diferent water dilution amounts and ingredient amounts, I pretty much streamlined my intra-workout drink to perfectly ft my goals of cellular swelling, enhanced recovery, increased nutrient delivery to working muscles, and muscle growth.
I used the following ingredient amounts, corresponding with precise water-dilution measurements: 100–150g amylopectin barley (Vitargo), 20–30g essential amino acids, 5g creatine monohydrate, and 3g glutamine diluted into 64–84* ounces of water, for better absorption, and gastric emptying.
* The amount of water added depended on the amount of carbohydrates added. More carbs equals more water.