One of the most common questions we get about our pre-workout products Prolific & High Volume is, "Will these make my skin tingle/itch"?
The short answer? NO. Read below if you want to know why some products on the market make your skin tingle and why none of our formulas cause the uncomfortable feeling. Pre-Workout skin itching and tingling may not be what you think!
Paraesthesia is the medical term for "skin tingling", and it can happen for all sorts of reasons. But in the pre-workout world it comes from either beta-alanine or niacin.
Many people falsely assume that their skin is tingling due to some type of stimulant they are taking, or by the overall stimulation from the product. However that is not the case (sorry to burst everyone's stim bubble). Companies want you to think this and continue to formulate products with ingredients that will cause paraesthesia.
Beta-alanine is the biggest culprit, as it is found in many pre-workout products despite it having no purpose in a pre-workout formula in our opinion (more on that below). Doses as low as 1g of beta-alanine can cause your skin to itch and tingle. Some will even notice it right on their lips as they are drinking a product with beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine is a medium to expensive ingredient to formulate with, so some companies go the extra cheap route and use a high dose of niacin instead. Niacin will give the same type of feeling at high enough doses, or sometimes an even worse feeling known as a niacin-flush. Like beta-alanine, niacin has zero purpose in a pre-workout powder (in our opinion, of course). So if you see it there at a crazy daily value %, know that its probably there only to make your skin itch and tingle. Niacin levels in the 200% DV or below will not cause this feeling.
Why We Avoid Beta-Alanine & Niacin
For starters, we aren't in the business of trying to trick our customers into thinking a product is so powerful that it makes your skin tingle. That's not a thing. Second, these ingredients don't make any sense to us at all in a pre-workout product. We'd rather use more ingredients that actually do something to improve the workout you are about to go do.
Niacin is a B-vitamin, and yea, it is good to get enough B-vitamins every day. But taking a bunch of niacin before your workout isn't going to improve your workout in any way. You are just making your skin itch and tingle for no reason.
Beta-alanine became popular because of all of its human research, but not many people have stopped to actually read what the data says. Let us help you out.
First, the clinical dose in the majority of the beta-alanine studies is 3.2 grams, which very few pre-workouts even provide. So if you are taking less than 3.2 grams, I would ask yourself why you are even bothering consuming it at all. Do you go to the gym to do half a workout every day?
Second, all of the strongest research on beta-alanine is in chronic use, meaning it is taken every single day for many weeks at a time, and then the positive results are seen over time. So if you are only taking beta-alanine on workout days only, again, I would ask yourself why you are taking it at all. Do you only stick to your diet on workout days only? (We hope not)
Since the results are seen over chronic use over a long period of time, what is the point of taking it before your workout? It does not have an acute effect, and the entire reason you take a pre-workout is to maximize your workout window. Beta-alanine does not do that at all.
Last but not least, beta-alanine's strongest research shows improvements in endurance. Not muscle mass or strength. Nothing with immediate performance increases. We don't know how many people are taking their pre-workouts before a marathon every day, but we expect not many.
Is beta-alanine a good ingredients?
Sure, if you are training for marathons or other endurance sports, and you are taking 3.2g per day, every day, and you know the timing of when you take it does not matter, and you know that the benefits will not show up in your marathons until you have taken it for many weeks in a row.
Does beta-alanine or niacin make sense in a pre-workout?