Why does pre-workout make you itchy? As personal trainers and nutritionists, we get this question asked more than we'd like to admit. And in this article, we decided to answer it once and for all.
The itching you feel after taking pre-workout is caused by an ingredient called Beta-Alanine. This tingling sensation referred to as paresthesia is caused when Beta-Alanine elicits certain neurons responsible for itchiness and tingling. The reaction is common and harmless.
This is it in a nutshell. Keep reading to learn more about:
And more. Let's get started.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino-acid, meaning that it is produced naturally in the body.
As opposed to most other amino-acids, Beta-Alanine doesn't help with protein synthesis.
Instead, alongside histidine, it helps with production of carnosine, a type of molecule that is then stored in your muscles. Several studies have shown that carnosine improves muscle endurance by reducing the accumulation of lactic acid during exercise.
Unlike some popular supplements that don't actually work, Beta-Alanine has been thoroughly researched and its benefits have been proven again and again.
This is why it has become such a popular supplement in fitness and bodybuilding.
Why does pre-workout make you itchy?
It should be noted that only pre-workouts with Beta-Alanine as an ingredient make you itchy. And the reason for this is simple: Beta-Alanine elicits certain neurons responsible for the sensations of tingling and itchiness, resulting in said sensation.
Should you be concerned when pre-workout makes you itchy?
No, this is a common occurrence. However, the first time it happens, it can catch you off guard. Most of my clients who experience the tingling sensation start worrying about it.
They think that they are allergic to pre-workout (or Beta-Alanine if they take it as a standalone supplement), or they think their pre-workout has gone bad and start to freak out.
However, there is no reason to worry.
That being said, the intensity of the itch will vary from person to person.
So if you get really itchy, while your workout partner doesn't feel much, it must mean that you are more sensitive to Beta-Alanine than they are.
Does an itchy skin mean that your pre-workout is very stimulating?
No. I am sorry to be the one who breaks it to you, but if you get really itchy after ingesting pre-workout it doesn't mean that your supplement is very stimulating. Nor that you are going to have a killer workout, as it is oftentimes falsely assumed.
An itchy skin is indicative of one thing only: there is Beta-Alanine in your supplement.
If your pre-workout is stim-free, then there is another potential culprit.
Vitamin B is known to cause a tingling sensation too, if consumed in high enough doses. Sometimes, manufacturers who don't use Beta-Alanine will use a high dose of Vitamin B to elicit paresthesia.
How long do the effects of Beta-Alanine last?
Some people can take the pre-workout itchiness and even enjoy it (like me), while others can't wait to get rid of it. Instead of asking a question like how long does pre-workout last, which will have a different answer than the one you need, let's ask a better question:
How long does it take to get rid of the itchiness of Beta-Alanine?
According to a 2015 study, the half life of Beta-Alanine is 25 minutes, and the return to baseline 3 hours. That means it takes 25 minutes for a 50% reduction in peak concentration, and 3 hours before the levels of Beta-Alanine in your body return to normal.
Does that mean the tingling sensation of pre-workout can last up to 3 hours?
It takes around 30-45 minutes for Beta-Alanine to kick in. Once you drink your pre-workout, you will get the tingling sensation within 45 minutes. Since Beta-Alanine doses in pre-workout are pretty small, the itchiness will subside by the time Beta-Alanine reaches its half life, at the 25-minute mark.
So you should expect the itchiness to last for about 25 minutes after the supplement kicks in.
Now that you have the answer to why does pre-workout make you itchy, let's have a look at some of the most common questions related to this topic.
How do I stop itching from pre-workout?
The best way to stop the tingling sensation from pre-workout is to get a supplement that doesn't give you this sensation in the first place. Look for supplements without Beta-Alanine and Vitamin B.
If that is not an option, there are two other things you can do:
These are the only ways we have found to get rid of the itchiness from pre-workout.
How long does pre-workout itching last?
From the moment it kicks in, 45 minutes after ingestion, Beta-Alanine takes 25 minutes to reach 50% concentration levels in your blood. That is usually when the tingling stops.
If not, you should no longer feel it within 1 hour.
So, why does pre-workout make you itchy?
As we have seen, it's not pre-workout that makes you itchy per se, but one of its ingredients. If you don't enjoy the tingling sensation you get after drinking pre-workout, then you should look for a supplement that doesn't contain Beta-Alanine.
However, you may be doing a disservice to yourself.
This ingredient was proven to increase training performance, by reducing the fatigue accumulated in the muscles during training. Therefore, if you want to maximize your performance, we recommend you to push through the itchiness until your body builds a tolerance to it.
Over to you.