Have you ever taken a pre-workout, and then all of a sudden you start itching all over the place? Well, that is actually normal, and it is caused by this thing called beta-alanine. In this article, I will explain to you everything you need to know about why pre-workout makes you itch, so if you have ever had the question, “Why does pre-workout make you itch?” I would suggest you read further.
What you will learn in this article:
- What is pre-workout?
- What causes you to itch?
- Can you alleviate the itching?
What is Pre-Workout?
Let’s start with the basics: What is a pre-workout supplement?
When I first delved into the fitness world, I had this very question. In simple terms, a pre-workout is a supplement meant to give you an energy boost, improve focus, and enhance your performance during exercise. Think of it as your secret weapon to power through tough workouts.
Pre-workouts usually come in powder or pill form and contain a mix of ingredients chosen to help you excel in your workouts. These ingredients can vary, but they often include caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s important to note that there are also low or no caffeine pre-workout options available, catering to individuals with varying caffeine sensitivities.
What causes the itching?
If you’ve ever taken pre-workout, you’re probably familiar with that sudden hot, flushed feeling and the tingling sensation on your skin, especially in the neck and ears.
But what’s behind this itching sensation in pre-workout? The culprit is an ingredient called beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid commonly added to pre-workout supplements for its ability to reduce fatigue and enhance muscle performance.
The Benefits of Beta-Alanine
Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplements can increase the levels of carnosine in your muscles. Carnosine plays a crucial role in reducing lactic acid buildup and exercise-induced fatigue. Over time, beta-alanine supplementation can boost carnosine levels by an impressive 80%, leading to improved sports performance and endurance, especially during high-intensity workouts.
In fact, a small study even discovered enhanced lean body mass after six weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) combined with beta-alanine supplementation.
Furthermore, carnosine acts as a calcium regulator, supporting muscle contraction and overall performance.
Understanding Beta-Alanine’s Side Effects
The primary side effect of beta-alanine is known as acute paresthesia—a temporary numbness, tingling, or burning sensation typically experienced when pressure is applied to a nerve, akin to pins and needles.
The Science Behind Beta-Alanine-Induced Itching But what’s the science behind why beta-alanine in pre-workout causes itching?
Research suggests that beta-alanine may activate G-protein-coupled receptors, particularly sensory neurons. These receptors transmit signals through your central nervous system and can trigger sensations on the skin.
Now that we’ve explored the science, let’s delve into whether there are ways to alleviate pre-workout tingling.
Can You Alleviate Beta Alanine Itching?
The good news is that pre-workout itching is usually a short-lived inconvenience and not particularly harmful, but let’s be honest, it can be pretty annoying. So, what can you do about it?
Here are some ways to get rid of beta-alanine itching:
Opt for Pre-Workouts with Alternative Active Ingredients:
Check the labels of popular brands for their dosage and other active ingredients. Keep in mind that reducing the dosage of beta-alanine may also diminish its benefits. Many brands offer pre-workout options that include caffeine and other stimulating ingredients without the itch, and some pre-workouts exclude beta-alanine altogether.
Pair Your Pre-Workout with a Meal:
It’s common for pre-workout tingles to occur on an empty stomach due to faster ingredient absorption and the absence of a “buffer” between stimulants and digestion. Consider having a small meal with your pre-workout to see if it helps. This can also help stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce jitters.
Explore Different Brands:
Shopping around for a brand that suits you may take some time, but it’s worth the effort if it means avoiding the pre-workout itch. Not all brands are created equal, so be sure to choose ones that clearly state their ingredient dosages.
Reduce Your Beta-Alanine Dosage:
Studies indicate that dosages exceeding 1.6 grams per serving are more likely to trigger pre-workout itching. If you plan to use a scoop, consider reducing the amount you take or spreading smaller doses throughout the day.
For those using a pre-workout supplement blend that contains beta-alanine alongside other ingredients, controlling the beta-alanine dosage may be challenging. However, if you’re using beta-alanine as a standalone supplement, you have the flexibility to adjust the dosage and take it separately from other pre-workout ingredients like creatine or caffeine. As a guideline, research suggests a daily intake of 4-6 grams, divided as you prefer.
In conclusion, while pre-workout itching can be an unexpected side effect, it’s often temporary and manageable. Beta-alanine is usually the culprit, but you have options. You can choose pre-workouts with different ingredients, eat a small meal before, explore different brands, or adjust your dosage. Your body is unique, so finding the best solution may take some trial and error.
Remember, pre-workouts are meant to enhance your workouts. If itching persists or bothers you, consult a healthcare professional or consider beta-alanine-free supplements. In your fitness journey, finding the right pre-workout balance is key to maximizing benefits while minimizing discomfort.