In this article, I will explain what makes you tingle in a pre-workout and how you can stop this tingling.
Some pre-workout ingredients like beta-alanine trigger specialized receptors in skin tissues, causing a prickling effect. This pins-and-needle effect is usually harmless and can be minimized by modifying your serving size or trying pre-workouts that do not contain these itch-causing components.
But why do most pre-workouts contain ingredients that provoke an itch? The possible answer is the performance-boosting efficacy of these ingredients.
So, why would I suggest opting for the products that don’t contain these highly effective ingredients then? Wouldn’t it make you miss out on the key benefits?
In the following sections, I have covered the solution to this tingling question with scientific evidence.
So, keep reading to find out the right guide to prevent pre-workout tingling.
What Causes The Tingling Feeling In Pre-workout?
Pre-workout ingredients often bind with protein receptors in body cells, triggering specific responses like pump and vascularity, protein synthesis, recovery, and thermogenesis.
These responses are mostly helpful for performance and lean growth, but sometimes immune receptors are triggered, causing skin reactions like itch and redness.
If you are concerned thinking why pre-workout gives me pins and needles, the culprit behind is probably one of the most beneficial pre-workout ingredients.
Actually, two of them!
In most cases, beta-alanine is what makes you tingle after taking a pre-workout shake. However, some people also experience an itch due to niacin. Here is why these compounds cause a tingling effect according to scientific research;
Itch from beta-alanine is actually an immune response from skin sensory receptors. This amino acid activates skin mechano-heat receptors. Resultantly, you feel an itch, as you would feel after standing for a while in scorching sunlight.
The Journal of Neuroscience states that skin neurons are equally sensitive to beta-alanine as they are to heat or mechanical stress.
Usually, this mild paresthesia occurs from doses higher than 1.6 grams. This effect is most significant when you first start beta-alanine supplementation, but gradually skin sensitivity is reduced, and the itching sensation becomes mild.
Niacin is a vitamin B complex that helps increase muscle endurance and lean growth. However, like beta-alanine, this compound also triggers sensory neurons in epidermal (skin) layers.
D-coupled protein receptors in the skin are sensitive to niacin and cause itching, warmth, and redness as an autoimmune response if the niacin level gets high in your blood.
This niacin flush is just an indication that your skin’s immune system is working well. That is why this characteristic is also used as a diagnostic tool for immune diseases.
However, this response only occurs with high niacin doses, and pre-workouts usually have a minor quantity of niacin or related vitamins.
So, mostly, you feel a tingle after taking a pre-workout due to beta-alanine.
Whether from beta-alanine or niacin, this tingle is not a symptom to worry about the safety of your pre-workout.
If you can ignore the mild irritation, there is nothing else harmful about pre-workout itch. But in case the tingling is too irritating and disrupts your focus a lot during the workout session, it is better to look for a “beta-alanine free” pre-workout. (check out my suggestions in the section below)
How To Get Rid Of The Tingling Feeling From Pre-workout?
One way to prevent tingling after pre-workout ingestion is to take smaller servings. You can divide your current serving into two or three shakes depending upon the amount of beta-alanine in your supplement.
In this way, the reduced beta-alanine dose would not be able to provoke sensory cells in the skin. However, you would need to experiment a bit to figure out the right serving for yourself that doesn’t make you itchy.
Another way to reduce the itching effect of beta-alanine or niacinamide supplements is to choose a sustained-release product.
But this hack is of little use as it is only possible with pre-workout capsules, while the majority of pre-workouts are powdered blends taken in the form of shakes. Hence, their ingredients are absorbed almost instantly.
This brings us to the ultimate solution for the pre-workout itch, which is switching to a pre-workout that does not contains beta-alanine or niacin.
Therefore, in the next section, I’ve briefly reviewed three pre-workout picks that offer similar benefits as β-alanine supplements but without making you itchy.
Pre-Workout Without Beta-Alanine – 3 Options To Choose From
Pump Surge is a stimulant-free performance booster from the well-known fitness brand Jacked Factory.
Its key components are L-citrulline, taurine, Betaine Anhydrous, Alpha GPC, Astragin, and Huperzine A.
This pre-workout offers impressive pumps, boosts stamina, and improves mental focus, and the best thing is you get all this without getting a tingle.
As Pump Surge does not contain Beta-alanine or niacin, you can use it concern-free if the pre-workout itch is too disturbing for you.
Plus, you find Betaine Anhydrous on the ingredient list, making it a great alternative for beta-alanine products.
A 2009 research conducted in New Jersey proves that Betaine improves power outputs and delays muscle fatigue.
The participants who were supplemented with this amino acid were able to perform more sets and scored better for muscle endurance.
This pre-workout gets its name due to L-citrulline, the compound that is responsible for giving you an intensive pump and making your vessels show up prominently.
Ingredients like Taurine and Huperzine A help you focus properly during the training session.
Also, Herbal root extracts in the form of Astragin ensure that all ingredients of the supplement get absorbed quickly and become bioavailable to muscles as you work out.
You can choose from its six fruity flavors for $29.99 per tub.
2. Gorilla Mode
Gorilla Mode is another beta-alanine-free pre-workout that offers great endurance and performance boost even without β-alanine.
It has components like L-citrulline, Creatine Monohydrate, Glycerol Powder, Betaine, Malic acid, and Tyrosine on its ingredients list.
As all these ingredients are inert for skin sensory neurons so, you will get a performance uplift without any itchiness after taking this shake.
L-citrulline is the main ingredient in its formula. This amino acid increases nitric oxide production. When NO level is high in the blood, blood vessels dilate, eventually leading to vascularity.
Not only do gym-goers report pump and vascularity after using L-citrulline products, but this effect is also confirmed by research.
Creatine Monohydrate makes this pre-workout multi-beneficial. It leads to increased protein synthesis in muscles, making them grow faster.
Besides that, creatine is a component of the body’s energy-providing molecule ATP. Hence, its supplementation compensates for energy lost during exercise.
Also, this product contains many herbal extracts, which enhance the absorption and bioavailability of other ingredients and also influence the secretion of anabolic hormones in the body.
It is available in a variety of flavors for $49.99 from its official website.
My third favorite itch-proof pre-workout is PUMP from Transparent Labs. Coming from a reputable brand, it gives a massive upthrust to your gym performance.
Like the other two shakes on this list, this pre-workout also offers great endurance and growth-enhancing results without tingle-causing β-alanine and niacin.
Betaine anhydrous accounts for its ability to increase muscle endurance and fatigue resistance, while Citruline improves muscle outputs and pumping.
L-tyrosine further adds to the stamina-building capability of this formulation. It is scientifically proven to increase endurance in heat.
Besides that, it helps in staying focused throughout the training and maintaining a high muscle output even when you train for long hours.
Another key constituent is L-Glutathione which helps significantly with gaining when used consistently.
Also, the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that its combined supplementation with Citrulline is highly effective for athletes in terms of fatigue resistance and muscle growth.
TL Pump comes in only two flavors at the price of $49.99 for a tub of 30 servings. You can also get discounts with subscription and bundle purchases.
Why does C4 make me tingle?
C4 causes a tingle because it contains beta-alanine and niacin, which trigger sensory neurons in the skin. However, this pins and needles effect produces no harm other than irritation and temporary redness of the skin.
How long does the tingling from pre-workout last?
Mostly pre-workout tingle mostly starts a few minutes after taking the shake and lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Is Beta Alanine tingling dangerous?
No, Beta Alanine tingle is a normal skin reaction, and there is nothing to worry about this itch.
Final Thoughts – How to deal with pre-workout tingling?
Pre-workout itch is commonly experienced by many gym-goers. It turns out that beta-alanine and niacin are the culprits behind this irritating skin reaction.
While this tingle is not associated with a severe health issue, it can make you pretty uncomfortable and disrupted during workouts.
One way to avoid pre-workout itch is to split the serving into multiple smaller servings. So that the irritating ingredients’ level never becomes high enough to trigger the itching.
However, the surefire solution is to switch to a product that does not contain beta-alanine or niacin.
It is best to go for pre-workouts that instead contain Betaine anhydrous, L-Glutathione, and creatine because these ingredients produce similar effects as beta-alanine. In this way, you won’t miss on the fitness benefits of beta-alanine but escape its itching effect very intelligently.