Pre-workout supplements have become very popular in recent years. For some gym users, they’ve become a regular part of a heavy gym session - however, so has the associated tingly, itchy feeling that often comes after using a pre-workout supplement.
For those who’ve never used a pre-workout supplement before, this can often be worrying - in fact, this itchy feeling can also cause concern to experienced users! This feeling is perfectly normal for users of pre-workout supplements - but it’s not always welcome!
What exactly is this feeling, and what causes it? Is it normal, or is it something to worry about? This article will give you some more information on why pre-workout makes you itch!
What Is Pre-workout?
Pre-workout supplements typically come in powdered form, although pills and gels are also available. They are typically used by gym users before a workout, as the name implies.
They contain certain formulae of chemicals intended to help with workout. Common to pretty much all pre-workout supplements are the chemicals caffeine and beta-alanine.
Caffeine is an essential part of these supplements - and indeed, is a normal part of many people’s lives anyway, due to the popularity of tea, coffee, and caffeinated soft drinks.
Even gym users who don’t take specifically designed pre-workout supplements will often drink a cup of coffee or espresso before starting a workout!
Beta-alanine is the other essential component in most pre-workout supplements. Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps with workouts.
Its use in pre-workout supplements is intended to let gym users workout for longer without getting fatigued as easily, by buffering against the buildup of hydrogen ions.
Both of these ingredients are commonly found in most pre-workout supplements. Of course, there are many other ingredients that are often also used in pre-workout supplements. Creatine is a popular one! However, the most common are definitely beta-alanine and caffeine.
Essentially, these supplements are taken to help users get more out of their workouts. Users take them to get more energy from the caffeine, and for the beta-alanine to help prevent muscle fatigue. These combined are meant to help users get a longer, harder workout.
What Is It That Makes Me Itch?
The sensation is called paresthesia - a term which refers to any sort of prickly, tingly, itchy, or burning feeling felt in the body. We’ve all probably felt some form of paresthesia before.
For example, when you sit on your leg a bit funny for too long, and end up giving yourself the sensation we call pins and needles.
That’s a type of paresthesia! It’s a perfectly normal sensation - although in the case of pins and needles, not entirely pleasant, and not something you want to have all the time!
But, what is in pre-workout that causes this feeling? Simply, it’s the beta-alanine! Although the itchiness isn’t the effect that’s intended, it’s a normal side-effect. It’s actually not known precisely why beta-alanine gives this sensation, but it’s a normally accepted part of taking beta-alanine.
We do know that beta-alanine binds to receptors in your skin, which transmit signals through the nervous system. Essentially, beta-alanine kinda tickles these receptors a bit - enough to cause your skin to itch and tingle!
This is normal - it just isn’t the main intended effect of beta-alanine. It’s just something that you have to put up with, unfortunately! Remember, the best thing to do if you’re uncomfortable is to stop taking the thing that’s making you uncomfortable!
While many users may report benefits of using pre-workout supplements, they’re not essential, and can never replace hard work anyway!
Is It Normal To Itch?
After taking a pre-workout supplement, it’s actually perfectly normal to feel an itchy, tingly sensation. Most users will report their skin feeling itchy, and will often especially notice the sensation around their face.
It’s also common, and often expected, to feel this tingliness in the hands and feet too. Usually, this doesn’t provide much discomfort.
Many say that the tingliness and itchiness go away once the workout really kicks in. It’s normal to feel itchy and tingly for anything between a few minutes and an hour.
So, for most, the feeling is benign - it goes away once you start working, and it’s nothing to worry about. Some even enjoy the feeling, and may associate it with the start of a good workout.
Of course, you should never take more than a recommended safe dose of beta-alanine, or any supplement that contains it - users have reported the sensation worsening with larger doses.
Therefore, yes - the itching is normal. It’s not the intended effect of beta-alanine - after all, it’s meant to help out! But the feeling is just a side effect that yuo have to deal with, unfortunately. Get pumping and the feeling should subside.
And remember, it’s only a temporary feeling anyway. There’s no need to worry about it!
If it’s uncomfortable for you, then the best thing to do is to stop using any pre-workout supplement that contains beta-alanine. The itching itself isn’t any cause for concern to your health, however.
It won’t have any effect on your body, and will wear off after not too long passes. It’s up to you and your personal comfort levels whether you mind the sensation or not!
Only you know your body’s thresholds well enough to decide. If you’re not comfortable with the feeling, stop taking beta-alanine!
How Can I Prevent Itching?
There are a few ways that you can help prevent and manage the itchy feeling that you may get with beta-alanine.
You can try changing how you use your doses of beta-alanine. It’s very common for users to take a dose of a supplement containing beta-alanine shortly before a workout session.
If doing this makes the itching sensation more than you want to deal with, it’s possible to try taking smaller doses spread out across the day instead. Doing it this way instead of taking a large load of beta-alanine at once might go some way to helping prevent the itching sensation!
Another simple way is to use less beta-alanine! If you’re uncomfortable with the strength of the feeling, but still feel that you’re getting benefit from using the pre-workout supplements, then using a smaller dosage could be a great way to manage the itchy feeling.
Doing this combined with spreading the dose out during the day could well help you to reduce the discomfort you feel at the itchy sensation.
You may even be able to alleviate the feeling altogether! Experiment with lowering your doses and spreading them out to find a way that works for you.
Of course, the best and simplest way to prevent the itchy feeling associated with pre-workout supplements is to not use them at all. If you really don’t like the itchy feeling that you get from beta-alanine, the best thing that you can do is to excise it from your routine altogether.
Remember, it’s just a potential tool to help you out - not an essential part of your workout! There are alternatives you can try - for instance, just having a cup of coffee before you start your workout will give you plenty of caffeine to get you through your pump!
Beta-alanine based pre-workout supplements are extremely popular amongst gym users. However, beta-alanine definitely makes users itchy and tingly. While some can put up with this sensation, and may even like it - others dislike it.
That’s fine - and perfectly normal. If you don’t like the sensation, the best thing that you can do is to stop taking anything that contains beta-alanine!