Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: March 31, 2022

You just took a scoop of pre-workout, and you’re gearing up for a hard workout. Then, a few minutes later, you notice an itching sensation on your skin.

At first, the tingling feels kind of good. But sometimes, it can escalate and become a downright nuisance.

So why does pre-workout make you itch and tingle? Is it anything to worry about? And how do you prevent it?

Get answers to all those questions and more in this article.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch

Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

If you feel itchy after taking pre-workout, you’re not alone. Many pre-workout supplements can cause itching or tingling within minutes of ingestion. While the itch may occur pretty much anywhere on your body, it is reported most on the arms/hands, neck, and face.

However, this side effect of pre-workout varies between individuals. So the exact timing and severity of what you feel could depend on your gender and ethnicity.

For example, people of Asian descent may experience delayed symptoms compared to Caucasians. And males seem to be more bothered by symptoms than females1.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Onset

Caucasians are likely to feel the itching or tingling sooner than Asians. Adapted from MacPhee et. al.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Severity

Men seem to be more bothered by pre-workout itchiness than women. Adapted from MacPhee et. al.

The fact that you’re here means you’ve probably already experienced this prickling feeling in some way. So let’s get into why pre-workout makes you itch.

Why Does Pre-Workout Make You Itch?

The itching or tingling after taking pre-workout is caused by an ingredient called beta-alanine. Large doses of this amino acid have been shown to induce paresthesia – or a “pins and needles” feeling.

As for why pre-workout makes you itch, it is thought that beta-alanine activates sensory neurons in the skin. And higher doses result in a greater reaction.

According to studies, beta-alanine doses higher than 1.6 grams are most likely to cause side effects like itching2. And, on average, pre-workout supplements contain about 2.3 grams of beta-alanine.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Onset

The amount of beta-alanine in popular pre-workout brands. Remember, doses above 1.6 grams are more likely to cause itching or tingling.

How Do You Stop Itching from Pre-Workout?

If the itching effect caused by your pre-workout becomes too uncomfortable to bear, you have a couple of options.

First, you could try a different brand of pre-workout with less beta-alanine. Although if you go this route, you won’t get the benefits of this amino acid.

So another option is to make your own pre-workout supplement at home! This solution allows you to take a lower dose of beta-alanine and multiple times a day.

Pre-Workout That Doesn’t Make You Itch

Again, the easiest way to stop the tingling is using a pre-workout with 1.6 grams (1600 mg) or less beta-alanine per scoop. Most people should have no itching or minimal itching at this dosage.

All pre-workouts should have the amount of beta-alanine listed on the Supplement Facts label. However, some companies hide the actual amount within a “proprietary blend.” I recommend avoiding these supplements.

Alani Nu Pre-Workout is a brand I’ve used that is very transparent on the label. With 1.6 grams of beta-alanine, I usually don’t get any unpleasant side effects.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Alani Nu

Regardless, I still get some face tingling if I haven’t used pre-workout in a while or if I take it on an empty stomach. And you never really know how much beta-alanine is in one scoop due to settling over time.

So if you want to eliminate any chance of itching, there are a few pre-workout supplements that don’t have beta-alanine. These formulations are the only way to ensure you won’t experience the tingling side effects.

Cracked Pre-Workout is one brand I found that doesn’t have beta-alanine. However, I’ve never used it before, so I can’t provide my personal experience.

Pre Workout That Doesn't Make You Itch - No Beta Alanine
Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Beta Alanine

Unfortunately, reducing the beta-alanine dosage eliminates the potential performance-enhancing benefit! So let’s look at an option where you get the recommended dosage of beta-alanine without the itch.

DIY Pre-Workout Without the Itch

Studies suggest that a minimum of 4-6 grams of beta-alanine daily is needed to increase exercise performance. And the good news is you can split that up throughout the day to avoid itching.

Unfortunately, pretty much every commercial pre-workout has <3 grams of beta-alanine per serving. The reason is that their profit margin would disappear if they added effective doses of every ingredient.

Pre Workout That Doesn't Make You Itch - DIY

Therefore, the only way to get an adequate amount without tingling is to purchase beta-alanine separately and take small doses multiple times per day.

To do this, I recommend purchasing it in capsule form. The reason is that capsules make it easier to know how much you’re taking and divide it evenly throughout the day.

For example, NOW Sports Beta-Alanine has 750mg (0.75g) capsules. So two capsules give you 1.5 grams, which shouldn’t cause itching. And taking it three times daily gives you 4.5 grams total, which delivers the exercise-enhancing benefits.

Why Does Beta Alanine Make You Tingle

Another option is purchasing a sustained-release version of beta-alanine. The delayed absorption is supposed to minimize any itchy side effects.

For example, Thorne Research sells sustained-release beta-alanine in 800mg (0.8g) tablets. However, this version costs about 3x as much as regular beta-alanine. So it’s probably better to take a low dose throughout the day.

Why Does Pre Workout Make You Itch Sustained Release Beta Alanine

Once you dabble in handpicked beta-alanine, you’ll probably want to do the same with the other ingredients. And all you need is l-arginine (or l-citrulline), caffeine, and creatine (optional).

Click here to get my complete Homemade Pre-Workout Guide, where I show you five recipes that help you save money and get more active ingredients!

Pre-Workout Itch/Tingle FAQ

So far, I’ve answered the central question of “why does pre-workout make you itch?” But there are several other common questions surrounding this tingly phenomenon. So let me answer those as well.

Why does beta-alanine make you tingle?

Not entirely sure. Researchers are not yet certain of the exact mechanism by which beta-alanine causes acute paresthesia. But it has something to do with activating sensory neurons terminating in the skin.

Is beta-alanine tingle dangerous?

No. There is no indication that beta-alanine supplementation or the possible paresthesia is dangerous in healthy populations at the recommended doses.

How long doe pre-workout itching last?

60-90 minutes. Studies show that the itching/tingling sensation can begin within a few minutes1. Generally, this effect will disappear after 60-90 minutes2.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last?

Does pre-workout tingle mean it’s “working”?

No. The tingling after taking your pre-workout simply means you’ve taken a large dose of beta-alanine. Studies show it takes 2 to 4 weeks of supplementing with beta-alanine before you see improvements in performance2. So the tingling is just a side effect, not the benefit in action.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Take to Kick In?

Can pre-workout make your butt itch?

It’s possible! The most common places to feel the pre-workout itch are your face and arms. But some people feel a tingling sensation in their upper thighs. So it’s no stretch to think that you could feel this itch in your backside.

Speaking of butts – this next question deserves an entire article to answer.

Does Pre-Workout Make You Poop?

Now you know why pre-workout makes you itch. But have you ever felt the urge to go number 2 after taking your pre-workout?

If so, then you’re not alone. Urgent bowel movements are another commonly reported side effect of some pre-workout supplements.

Click below to learn why your pre-workout could be causing you to poop!

I hope this information will help you make more informed decisions when you purchase your supplements. For more helpful tips, be sure to check out my other great content below!

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