Pre-workout potions: Where does the itchy feeling come from?
The cause of this jittery feeling is a component that is in some pre-workouts, we are talking about Beta-Alanine. Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that can be produced by your body. But why is it in pre-workout?
Beta-Alanine together with histidine and the peptide gives you carnosine. Carnosine is a substance that helps to buffer hydrogen ions in the muscle cells. Hydrogen ions are released during physical exertion and increase the acidity in your muscle fibers. Are you still with us? Fantastic.
High concentrations of carnosine help counteract acidification and can thus promote your performance. In the gym, this means that you can do those 1 or 2 extra repetitions. For example, research done by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has shown that a daily supplement of 4 to 6 grams of Beta-Alanine improves training performance for at least 2 to 4 weeks.
The itching, however, is caused by nerve endings being stimulated under the skin and giving more signals than normal. This again results in the itchy feeling under your skin.
Is it harmful?
According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the itchy feeling is not dangerous at all. For example, no research has shown that the itchy feeling is harmful in any way. The itchy sensation you can usually feel in the face, neck or back of the hands. Although not everyone will experience itching, it depends on the dosage. A higher dose results in more side effects. Fortunately for everyone, the itchy feeling usually disappears after 60 to 90 minutes.