We've all been there. It's time to work out, but you can't get the energy to pick yourself up off the couch, much less hop on an assault bike and pedal until your legs fall off.
Fortunately, this is exactly what pre-workout supplements are designed for - to get you off the couch and into your workout. But after you drink your pre-workout, you start to feel...itchy?
So why does pre-workout make you itch? I'll explain why in the guide below.
What In Pre-Workout Makes You Itchy?
Pre-workout makes you feel more alert and attentive, have more energy, and focus more on the task at hand. A good pre-workout formula can make you feel ready to conquer the world, but it can also make you feel skin tingles.
Your pre-workout isn't necessarily supposed to make you feel itchy. Some people who use pre-workout will never experience the itchy skin, and some people will experience it much more than others.
The itch is due to an ingredient called beta-alanine. The infamous beta alanine itch can be annoying to some, but the tingling skin is not harmful to your body, nor is it some form of allergic reactions.
In fact, supplementing with beta-alanine is safe and effective. It's a great supplement to consider if you're looking to improve your workout with supplementation.
What Exactly Is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that enhances performance by increasing exercise capacity and decreasing muscle fatigue by buffering lactic acid build-up. It is one of the most common pre-workout ingredients, which, through increasing carnosine levels, supposedly also has antioxidant, immune-enhancing, and anti-aging properties.
Many pre-workout products have beta-alanine because it improves athletic performance by reducing neuromuscular fatigue, increasing endurance, improving blood flow, and boosting performance in high-intensity exercise, which could ultimately help you build lean muscle mass.
Why Does It Cause Tingles?
When the beta-alanine supplement is found in pre-workouts in doses higher than 2g per serving, most likely it will cause tingles.
This is due to the beta-alanine causing acute paresthesia. Paresthesia will be felt as a tingling sensation, itchiness, numbness, or a slight burning sensation, due to beta-alanine's effects on the peripheral nervous system (not the central nervous system, as many would believe).
Even though these pre-workout tingles might be annoying, beta-alanine supplementation is considered a safe and effective supplement to boost exercise performance. Also, some folks prefer pre-workouts that make you itch, as that motivates them.
Related Article - What To Look For In Pre-Workout?
How Long Does Pre-Workout Itch Last?
The beta-alanine itch typically lasts between 15 minutes to an hour after ingestion of the supplement. The duration and intensity of the itching can vary from person to person and depends on the dosage taken, but it will usually kick in 15 minutes after the ingestion.
30 to 45 minutes after drinking your pre-workout drink, you can expect the positive beta-alanine supplement effects to kick in, and they will typically reach their peak in about an hour.
Due to beta-alanine's (and most other ingredients) kick-in and peak timing, most people take pre-workouts 30 minutes before they begin their workout to ensure the beta-alanine benefits last throughout their training.
Related Article - How Long Does Pre-Workout Last In Your Body?
How To Stop Beta-Alanine From Making You Itch?
There is a very straightforward way to stop beta-alanine itch from bothering you, and it involves lowering your beta-alanine intake to a proper beta-alanine dosage. Taking beta-alanine supplements in dosages lower than 2 grams reduces the likelihood of skin-tingling sensation by a significant amount.
So, what you can do is split up your doses.
For example, try taking 1.6 g of beta-alanine four times throughout the day instead of taking one large, 6.4 gram bolus dose before exercising. This typically offsets or greatly reduces the beta-alanine tingle.
Now, this won't work for "pre-workout itchiness", as splitting the pre-workout supplement dose throughout the day just to mitigate beta-alanine tingles will result in an ineffective supplement, as there are other ingredients in that formula you need to be wary of.
Another thing some people use is a sustained-release version of beta-alanine to stop the itching.
A sustained-release delivery system for beta-alanine allows you to ingest higher levels of beta-alanine comfortably with extended absorption and is shown to lower the chance of paresthesia.
Are There Any Pre-Workouts That Will Not Make You Itchy?
There are just as many pre-workout supplements that will not make you itchy as there are those that will make you itch.
As the itching sensation comes from beta-alanine, a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements, all that's necessary is to find a beta-alanine-free alternative.
Products, such as
This supplement and those like it include other amino acids and ingredients essential for boosting energy, enhancing skeletal muscle growth, increasing exercise capacity, and reducing muscular fatigue without causing itchiness or tingles.
Frequently Asked Beta-Alanine Itch Questions
Beta-alanine does not make everyone itch. Everyone's experience with beta-alanine will be different. Some will feel the itch for just a few minutes, and others might have it for an hour. And some people will never experience it at all.
You shouldn't be worried if you do not get pre-workout tingles. As we've already mentioned, everyone experiences supplements and pre-workouts differently. Therefore, there is no cause for concern if you do not feel tingly after using a pre-workout.
For best results, you should take 6.4 grams of beta-alanine every day, for 28 days, in order to get the best possible results. This would likely lead to increased endurance and muscle performance in the long run.
Right now, there is no safety data on the long-term use of beta-alanine when training. However, because of the non-essential nature of this amino acid, the likelihood of safety concerns are low.
Beta-alanine is good for runners because it can reduce exercise fatigue, allowing the athletes to run longer. Studies show that after ingesting beta-alanine, runners improved their running time, increased muscle carnosine, and experienced benefits in their overall athletic performance.
Drinking pre-workout makes you itchy because the formula contains beta-alanine.
However, despite the fact that the itching sensation after taking your pre-workout is due to beta-alanine, that still doesn't take away from this amino acid's benefits for endurance athletes.
The itch is a natural pre-workout side effect and should not deter you from enjoying it.