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Why Does Pre workout Make You Itch?

Why does pre workout make you itch?

Have you ever sipped on a pre-workout right before hitting the gym and ten minutes later felt an itch or tingle all over your body? That’s not your Pantene tea tree oil shampoo, the culprit is Beta Alanine and it’s in almost every pre-workout worth its weight. Let's get into the meat of why does pre workout make you itch and why Beta Alanine should be in whatever you're putting in your body prior to hitting the gym.

What is Beta Alanine?

Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that aids in the production of carnosine which is a protein building block in the body.  It delays fatigue and increases endurance to allow you to do more volume.  More volume means you’re pushing your muscles longer and harder which in turn helps you build strength faster.  The concept is called progressive overload and it’s what moves the needle in increasing tone and muscle strength.  If you do the same workouts each day with the same load, same number of sets, and same rep count, you’ll get the same mediocre results.  What you want is to push your muscles a little more each week by adding reps, sets, or weight to bring the target muscle closer to failure.  Beta Alanine can help speed this process up by allowing your body to go a bit further each workout.  

If you’re able to do more it makes your normal workout easier, which is a goal in and of itself.  

What Studies are Saying About Its Benefits

If it sounds like fluff, a recent study in Pub Med* sited by renowned sports doctor, Andy Galpin, found that Beta Alanine supplementation increased physical performance AND executive function following endurance exercise in middle-aged individuals. That’s science I can get behind.  We could all use some physical and cognitive help whether we’re at the gym or not, so adding Beta Alanine to our daily routine is a no-brainer.

It's been shown to reduce fatigue throughout a workout which helps you go harder, longer. 

Is There a Dosing Threshold?

Now let's scratch that itch. Why does pre workout make you itch? Most studies show that people start to feel the itch with a dose over 1.5g, but everyone is a little different so thresholds for what gets your body tingling may differ.  Upper Limit’s pre-workouts are designed with this threshold in mind to keep the Beta Alanine induced itch to a minimum or eliminate it altogether while maximizing the effects of this wonderful little substance.  So get the most out of your workout and get the results you want by adding Beta Alanine to your regimen as a stand alone, or, better yet, incorporated at the right dose for you inside a pre-workout.  

Anecdotally many people claim to build up a tolerance to the itch and no longer experience it when supplementing. It's important to note that everyone is different, but many people experience minimal or mild effects at the 1.5g dosage while still maximizing the benefits of the product. 

So sadly there's no one-size-fits-all dose, but it's best to opt for a pre workout that has a milder dose and see how it feels. Many people decide to take half of a scoop to start and gradually build up to a full scoop and higher Beta Alanine dosages. So if you're new to pre workouts or trying to find one that works, this is a great rule of thumb to point you in the right direction.

The Science of the Tingle

If you really wanna know the science, let's nerd out. A robust study found in the National Library of Medicine suggests:

β-alanine, a popular supplement for muscle building, induces itch and tingling after consumption, but the underlying molecular and neural mechanisms are obscure. Here we show that, in mice, β-alanine elicited itch-associated behavior that requires MrgprD, a G-protein-coupled receptor expressed by a subpopulation of primary sensory neurons. These neurons exclusively innervate the skin, respond to β-alanine, heat, and mechanical noxious stimuli but do not respond to histamine. In humans, intradermally injected β-alanine induced itch but neither wheal nor flare, suggesting that the itch was not mediated by histamine. Thus, the primary sensory neurons responsive to β-alanine are likely part of a histamine-independent itch neural circuit and a target for treating clinical itch that is unrelieved by anti-histamines."

That's about as technical as you can get and it might be more than you wanted to know regarding why does pre workout make you itch, but for the pre-med students out there looking for extra credit, now you know. 


Some people like the tingle.  It's a signal that your pre workout has kicked in, but for those who find it uncomfortable can take solace in the fact that you can typically find a dose that works for you without the itch. 

A pre workout that contains Beta Alanine will help you get the most out of your workouts, but great pre workouts also add additional nutrients, vitamins, and more to help you stay motivated and feel your best throughout a tough session in the gym. Enjoying your session is an ingredient that most people don't talk about. If you dread the gym, you're going to find excuses to avoid it, but if you can make working out easier, you'll find it more enjoyable, and stay consistent, and consistency is the key to lasting change. 

So find a flavor you love that makes you crave it regardless of how you feel. When you wake up groggy and you're ready to hit snooze, take a sip and get the boost you need to hop out of bed and be the gym rat you want to be.

Looks like Beta Alanine and pre-workouts are an itch worth scratching.

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