If you’ve taken pre-workout, you’ve likely experienced what some refer to as the beta-alanine itch. This is the itching of the neck, shoulders, and arms that begins about 15 minutes after ingesting pre-workout supplements, and usually continues for about 30 minutes. So what causes the itching? Is it dangerous, and how can it be prevented?
Why the Itch?
Beta-alanine is a supplement that is used by athletes and professionals to safely enhance the capacity to exercise and train, build lean muscle mass, and improve physical function. When introduced into the body, beta-alanine combines with histidine to produce carnosine, which offers a number of benefits, like helping to reduce fatigue and improving overall physical performance. However, it can also be responsible for the infamous beta-alanine itch.
Simply put, ingesting beta-alanine activates certain neurons responsible for initiating itching and tingling of the skin. This sensation is referred to as paresthesia. And while it may sometimes be uncomfortable, this is a common reaction to certain ingredients in pre-workouts and there is no need to be alarmed. (Keep in mind that the paresthesia threshold varies from person to person, so the level of itching experienced may also vary.)
The Beta-Alanine Itch — Cause for Concern?
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are no harmful effects associated with paresthesia that occurs after ingesting beta-alanine. (Niacin, another ingredient found in pre-workouts, is a water-soluble B vitamin that can also cause skin tingling and itching when taken at higher doses.)
In fact, contrary to being harmful, the International Society of Sports Nutrition has reached the conclusion that “beta-alanine supplementation currently appears to be safe in healthy populations at recommended doses.” Additionally, the ISSN has determined the following:
1. Daily Supplementation
Four to six grams of beta-alanine for at least two to four weeks has been shown to improve exercise performance, with more pronounced effects in open end-point tasks/time trials lasting one to four minutes in duration.
2. Neuromuscular Fatigue
Beta-alanine attenuates neuromuscular fatigue, particularly in older subjects, and preliminary evidence indicates that beta-alanine may improve tactical performance.
There are ways to reduce the likelihood and intensity of paresthesia. Consider taking multiple doses of beta-alanine throughout the day, or, better yet, using a sustained-release version of beta-alanine. For instance, SR CarnoSyn®’s sustained release formulation is designed to mitigate paresthesia-related sensations that are associated with instant-release beta-alanine. This sustained-release delivery system allows athletes to ingest higher levels of beta-alanine comfortably and with extended absorption, which converts to faster increases in muscle carnosine (and faster gains).
Keep in mind that sensitivity may vary depending upon the individual, the dosage amount, and food intake prior to supplementing with SR CarnoSyn®. Staying well-hydrated can also help minimize these side effects.
TWO WAYS TO GET RESULTS
CarnoSyn® beta-alanine is available in two different forms—instant release and sustained release—offering two ways to dose. SR CarnoSyn® offers the same benefits as instant release CarnoSyn®, but in an advanced delivery system that allows for increased dosing for better results. When used in tandem, the combination of instant release and sustained release gives athletes the ability to stack their dosing for higher quantities of beta-alanine and even more performance gains.