Looking for a boost to feel more motivated to work out? Or maybe you’re interested in better muscle recovery and stamina to elevate your intense workouts? Then pre-workout may be just the supplement you need to get through your fitness routines.
This trending product boosts energy and improves muscle functioning and recovery. Containing various ingredients for specific purposes, such as caffeine and creatine, there are, however, reports of an interesting side effect to these supplements—itching. Below we’ll talk about these itchy ingredients and how to stop pre-workout itch if it does occur.
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Common Ingredients in Pre-Workout Supplements
Famous with wellness aficionados, pre-exercise gives your body the additional lift it requires to augment your instructional courses. The benefits of pre-workouts include better endurance, improved focus, more energy, and faster recovery. Pre-workout supplements are designed to be consumed prior to starting any workout to help support athletic performance to the max.
Typically coming in a powdered form, these ready-to-drink supplements should be consumed at least 20-30 minutes before hitting the gym. While the ingredients in pre-workout supplements are not harmful, there have been many individuals who have had unpleasant side effects. The most common reaction is temporary itching or tingling sensations in the hands, face, or neck.
Each pre-workout contains a unique combination of specific ingredients, with each serving to support physical performance in different ways. The most common ingredients in pre-workout supplements that support the body under activity are:
How a person responds to the usage of pre-workout is entirely individualized, and not everyone may benefit from or tolerate each ingredient in the same way. It’s always advised to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming any dietary supplement. Do not exceed recommended dosing to ensure pre-workout remains safe and effective.
3 Ingredients in Pre-Workout That Can Make You Itch
While these pre-workout supplements are intentionally crafted to maximize results, the itchiness experienced by individuals raises curiosity as to the cause of such sensations.
Of the above most common ingredients found in pre-workout supplements, the following are the ingredients that have been linked to an itchy side effect.
The main culprit for causing the pre-workout-itches is beta-alanine. While the effects are temporary and harmless, this non-essential amino acid is added to many pre-workout formulas to increase carnosine production. This substance helps cushion the lactic acid produced during exercise, boosting muscle endurance. Itchiness typically occurs in the extremities, neck, and face due to beta-alanine’s interaction with nerve receptors and should subside within an hour.
A naturally occurring non-essential amino acid, beta-alanine is added to pre-workout supplements to support prolonged and intense physical activities. Our bodies break down proteins from our food into separate amino acids, such as beta-alanine. This amino acid, however, doesn’t synthesize protein, it combines with histidine found in muscle cells to form a dipeptide called carnosine. Carnosine is the compound responsible for buffering against lactic acid, the byproduct of intense gym sessions.
Niacin or Vitamin B3
Known as vitamin B3, niacin is used in pre-workouts due to the role it plays in energy metabolism. It converts food into energy and helps dilate blood vessels, which enhances blood flow. This widening of blood vessels in high doses increases blood flow to the skin, causing redness and itching. It’s commonly referred to as the niacin flush.
Niacin is important for many of the body’s physiological processes and is necessary for overall well-being. It’s found naturally in whole foods such as meat and fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, green leafy vegetables, and dairy products. There are two main forms of niacin:
- Nicotinic Acid: commonly associated with niacin flush.
- Nicotinamide (Niacinamide): does not cause flushing side effects.
Niacin helps the metabolism convert carbohydrates, protein, and fat into usable energy by producing adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It’s also used for its lowering of bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and increasing good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Niacin also synthesizes ceramides, the lipid that helps skin retain its moisture and helps promote a healthy complexion. Vital for the nervous system, niacin also synthesizes certain neurotransmitters essential for the functioning of nerve cells.
A central nervous system stimulant, caffeine is a naturally occurring compound known as xanthine. Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world and is added to pre-workout supplements to increase energy and focus during exercise. While many individuals can tolerate various levels of caffeine intake, some may experience mild itching or tingling sensations from consuming too much.
Caffeine can temporarily block the neurotransmitter adenosine, which promotes drowsiness and rest. By blocking this, it increases dopamine and norepinephrine, increasing energy and stimulating alertness. Some common benefits and effects of caffeine consumption may include reduced fatigue, improved concentration and alertness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as causing a diuretic effect.
Minimizing Itching from Pre-Workout Supplements
Minimizing itching from pre-workout supplements ensures a more comfortable and productive workout experience. Here are some practical tips to help you achieve just that:
- Patch Test: A patch test can help determine how a supplement may or may not affect you and is best when adding a new pre-workout to your routine. Test the product on a small area of the skin and observe any allergic reactions. If no itch occurs, then this supplement may be safe for use.
- Gradual Dosing: If you feel you may be sensitive to pre-workouts, it’s best to start with a lower dose to gauge any reactions. This slower approach helps you assess your body’s response and determine tolerance levels. If no discomfort occurs, gradually increase until achieving the suggested dosing.
- Hydration: Drinking enough water is overall one of the best ways to remain healthiest. Proper hydration helps process pre-workout supplements more efficiently while mitigating any side effects that may occur. Also, if you’re dehydrated, itching sensations may be worsened by the common ingredients in pre-workouts.
- Read Ingredient Labels: Taking the time to read nutrient and ingredient labels can go a long way in avoiding ingredients that may trigger an itchy or allergic reaction. Look for pre-workouts with lower doses or the exclusion of beta-alanine, caffeine, or niacin. By being informed, you can opt for supplements more suitable to your needs and goals.
What to Know About Pre-Workout Supplements
Pre-workout supplements are shown to enhance physical performance and focus when it comes to intense or prolonged workouts. Understanding how each ingredient in pre-workouts plays a part in performance and potential symptoms such as itchiness can help you make better decisions all around about supplementing. Prioritize individual tolerances to pre-workout supplements to achieve your fitness goals safely and effectively.