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Intra-workout nutrition: What to eat DURING a workout?

Intra-workout nutrition: What to eat DURING a workout?

In addition to the pre and post-workout meals, eating during strength training is a much-discussed topic. But does an intra-workout meal or a shake during a workout really provide any use?

This question depends on the workout's duration, the intra-workout shake composition and fluid intake.

  • The relationship between workout duration and nutrition during strength training
  • The importance of hydration during long workouts
  • The benefits of electrolytes
  • The ideal composition of an intra-workout shake
  • The optimal provision of energy during strength training

The duration of the workout

If you complete your workout within 60 to 90 minutes, it is not necessary to pay attention to nutrition during the workout. You won't need to add extra energy if you've eaten the right amount of complex carbohydrates and protein before the session.

However, ensuring you've consumed the necessary energy is recommended if you're planning on a longer workout. You consume energy from ATP and glucose during a long and intense workout.

Once these reserves are depleted, your body will enter the catabolic state. It then draws energy from the protein stored in the muscles.

Accordingly, your body will then start to break down your muscles. This must be avoided as you're looking to build muscle here.

The correct composition of the intra-workout shake

The diet for strength training should be simple and efficient. Easily digestible and simple carbohydrates are suitable for filling your energy reserves as quickly as possible. In addition, a quickly available protein with high biological value ensures the protection of muscles from the catabolic state.

Short-chain carbohydrates and proteins are best to be consumed as a drink. Maltodextrin and Whey protein (preferably Isolate) are excellent as they are very soluble in water and available quickly to the body.

Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate mixture of malt sugar and dextrose (glucose). It provides quickly available carbohydrates and replenishes glycogen stores.

Thus, an intra-workout shake ensures better performance during a long workout.

Fluid intake and electrolytes

During exercise, you release fluid by sweating. The longer the workout, the greater the risk of dehydration. So you should make sure that you drink enough water.

The German Nutrition Society recommends drinking at least 1.5 liters of water a day. However, athletes should aim for 2 to 3 liters.

When sweating, the body loses not only fluid but also important nutrients in the form of electrolytes.

Electrolytes are chemical compounds or particles that are electrically charged. They include minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, and trace elements and salts, such as sodium.

Electrolytes are responsible for a number of important processes in our body. They support both muscle and nerve functions and are, therefore, essential. The body cannot produce electrolytes on its own, so an external supply of mineral water or isotonic drinks is necessary.

Electrolyte supplements in a powder form or as effervescent tablets are best, especially in combination with fast carbohydrates; they give the body the nutrients it needs.


You don't need to focus on eating during a strength training workout if you are not training for an excessive amount of time. It's enough if you're ensuring you eat a good pre-workout meal two to three hours before exercising.

However, should you want to do a two-hour workout, it may be wise to look at an intra-meal during strength training.

Due to exertion, you expend a lot of energy, plus fluids and electrolytes, during a workout. Without them, your body function and performance will be negatively affected.

However, you can counteract this by topping up your energy with an intra-workout shake with sufficient nutrients. Nevertheless, eating during strength training is unnecessary for most athletes, as the workout duration is typically limited to 60 to 90 minutes.

You should rather focus on the basic aspects of the diet plan for muscle building. If you focus on the essentials, you will build muscle better and more efficiently.