If you have ever taken pre-workout supplements before, there’s no doubt that you’ve experienced things like enhanced focus, boosted focus, and even increased endurance come to mind; however, if you’re like some people, there are other sensations that may come to mind: itching and tingling. Unfortunately, pre-workouts do cause these undesirable effects, and sadly, they cancel out the positives.
This itching or tingling is known as “paraesthesia”, and it’s been linked to an ingredient that is commonly used in pre-workout supplements: beta alanine. While it’s completely harmless and typically of beta-alanine supplementation, it only lasts for about 20 minutes at most, which can be distracting enough for some to avoid it.
Beta alanine boosts muscular endurance; hence why it’s used in so many pre-workout formulas, and if you’re someone who reacts to it, trying to avoid pre-workouts that contain beta alanine can be frustrating. Not to mention the fact that you wonder if beta alanine-free formulas are as effective as those that contain this itch- and tingling-inducing ingredient.
Thankfully, there actually are pre-workout supplements that do not contain beta alanine, and guess what? They’re just as effective as formulas that contain the ingredient. These beta alanine-free pre-workouts increase focus, boost performance, and provide mood enhancement, too. In other words, they’re pretty much the same, with one major difference: they don’t induce itching or tingling.
What are these supplements, you ask? Our editorial team took the time to do the research for you and found some pretty impressive options. Below, you’ll find a list of our top picks for the best beta alanine-free pre-workout supplements.
- ✔ INCREASE ENDURANCE, ENERGY, AND STRENGTH - Black Pepper Extract has been shown in human clinical trials to increase the absorption of L-Citrulline, a powerful blood flow enhancer. This combination will give you an unmatched pump and even more energy
- MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE – NutraBio PRE Extreme combines effective ingredients at therapeutic dosages to maximize strength, endurance, energy, and focus during your workout.
What is Beta Alanine?
Before we jump in and share our picks for the best pre-workout supplements without beta alanine, it’s first important to explain what this ingredient is and how it affects the body.
Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid. That means that most amino acids, which are considered essential, the human body doesn’t use beta alanine to synthesize proteins; rather, it works in combination with histidine, and produces carnosine, which is stored in the skeletal muscles. What is carnosine, you ask? It’s a compound that reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles while you’re physically active. This, in turn, boosts athletic performance.
How does Beta Alanine Work?
In most people, histidine levels in the muscles are high and beta alanine levels are low. This imbalance minimizes the body’s production of carnosine. Supplements that contain beta alanine have been found to increase the levels of carnosine stores in the muscles by as much as 80%, which is really quite impressive.
The following is an overview of how carnosine reacts when you’re working out:
- Glycolysis occurs: Glycolysis is a process that refers to the breakdown of glucose. During high-intensity physical activity, glucose is the primary source of energy.
- Lactate production occurs: When you’re exercising, the muscles break glucose down into lactic acid, and the lactic acid it then turned into lactate, and lactate produces hydrogen ions.
- Acidity levels in the muscles increase: Hydrogen ions minimize the pH levels in the muscles, which increases their acidity levels.
- Fatigue occurs: High acidity levels in the muscles prevent the breakdown of glucose and minimize the muscles’ ability to contract, which results in fatigue.
- Carnosine buffer occurs: Carnosine acts blocks out acid, which in turn, reduces the acidity levels in the muscles while you’re engaging in high-intensity physical activity.
Because beta alanine increase carnosine levels, it reduces the levels of acid in the muscles during exercise, which in turn reduces overall fatigue; hence why it is an ingredient that is commonly used in pre-workout supplements.
Why does Beta Alanine Cause Itching and Tingling?
So, what’s the deal with the itching and tingling sensation that you experience when you take beta alanine pre-workout supplements? Unfortunately, the etiology of the link between beta alanine and paresthesia isn’t well understood; however, several theories have been presented.
One theory states that the non-essential amino acid activates the sensory neurons, which sparks that tingling and itching, or pins-and-needles sensation in the skin. While the effect can be felt across the entire body, it does seem to be more intense in face and neck, as well as the back and the hands.
The good news is that there is no evidence to suggest that paraesthesia is harmful; however, just because it is generally believed to be harmless, that doesn’t mean it isn’t unsettling.
To the contrary, it can be quite uncomfortable. It does usually go away in about 15 to 20 minutes, so you can either tolerate it, or you can decrease the dosage size; it’s been found that taking about 800 mg at one time does seem to reduce the incidence of itching and tingling. Better yet, you can just take a beta alanine-free pre-workout supplement.
Why Pre-Workouts Without Beta Alanine Can Still Be Effective
Pre-workout supplements that are free of beta alanine usually replace the non-essential amino acid with other compounds that elicit a similar effect, yet those compounds do not cause pins-and-needles, like Nuerofactor for example. In reality, there’s no comparison or the effects of beta alanine; however, pre-workouts that lack the compound can be highly effective.
Best Beta Alanine-Free Pre-Workout Supplements
If you’re affected by beta alanine and you want to take advantage of the benefits that pre-workouts provide, but you don’t want to contend with the pins-and-needles sensation, you’re in luck! We rounded up some excellent beta alanine-free pre-workout supplements that offer outstanding benefits.
- MyoBlox Loco Pre-Workout contains vitamin B6 and B12, which boosts mood and performance, and it uses caffeine to increase energy levels; however, be forewarned that the caffeine content is high – 400 mg per serving.
- Ora Renewable Energy is specially formulated with natural organic ingredients that have been found to enhance focus and stamina. It’s free of artificial supplements and chemicals.
- PEScience Prolific contains l-carnitine and caffeine, as well as nootropics. These ingredients combined boost energy, performance, stamina, and mood.
It is possible to experience the benefits that pre-workout supplements provide without the tingling and itching sensation. The beta alanine-free formulas featured above are highly effective, yet they don’t cause that dreaded pins-and-needles sensation.
Personally, we are fortunate enough not to suffer from annoying tingling sensations when taking beta-alanine loaded PWOs. That said for serious weightlifters and bodybuilders much of the process is a mental game and having something distract you from that focus can no doubt be a hindrance.
If beta-alanine doesn’t agree with you and is throwing you off your game don’t worry, there are plenty of performance boosting supplements on the market that are catered to people just like you by not including beta alanine and thus create a preworkout that doesn’t make you tingle or itch.
Last update on 2022-03-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API