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Quick Pre Workout Side Effects Summary Points

  • Complaints such as headaches & sleeplessness commonly stem from the caffeine content in pre workouts
  • Tingling sensation is due to beta-alanine content and can be reduced by dividing doses
  • Pre workout crash was most commonly due to presence of DMAA and as such is not regularly reported with existing pre workouts that are largely free of DMAA

Pre workout supplements are known to be some of the most complex products in the supplement industry. As such, the market is very saturated with hundreds of different products, each trying to out-do each other by providing more energy, more pump, and more intensity. However, with stronger and stronger products, you have an increased potential of running into side effects.

Pre Workout Crash

Once upon a time, pre workout crashes would be relatively common with many products. This was largely due to the now banned stimulant DMAA. One of DMAA’s characteristic effects was that it hit you hard, but also left you staring at the wall after an hour or so. This is a phenomenon that rarely occurs with modern pre workouts due to the use of stimulants that tend to taper off gradually, as opposed to suddenly.

Pre Workout Headaches

Pre workout headaches are relatively common for those new to the pre workout category, especially those who are sensitive to stimulants such as caffeine. Considering that a full dose of some pre workouts can provide up to 300 mg caffeine, or the equivalent of three cups of coffee, a headache for the intolerant can be expected together with other side effects such as jitteriness and a rapid heartbeat. The best way to prevent this is to start with a partial dose if you’re using a new pre workout. Assess your tolerance before starting off with the full dose. Needless to say, if headaches persist, we recommend discontinuing use of the particular product. Some products are simply not compatible with some people.

Pre Workout Keeping Me up at Night

Because of the high amounts of stimulants in pre workouts, sleep disruption is possible if pre workouts at used at night, or even in the late afternoon. As mentioned above, because modern pre workouts tend to have an effect that tapers off as opposed to suddenly, their stimulant effects could last well into bed time. It is therefore recommended that pre workout use should be restricted to the mid afternoon at the latest. If you train later, you should consider switching to a stim-free pre workout. These are far less likely to cause sleep disruption.

Pre Workout Tingles & Itch

Probably the most common side effect with pre workouts is that 15 minutes after taking it, users often experience a tingling or itching in their skin, which resolves in around 10 to 15 minutes. Usually it manifests on the hands and face, but may be on other parts too. This is due to the use of beta-alanine, a very common ingredient in pre workouts for its ability to buffer against lactic acid and improve endurance. Beta-alanine stimulates the nerve endings, causing the characteristic tingling. This side effect is completely safe, transient, and does become less common with continued use.

Pre Workout Rash

Rashes from pre workouts are relatively less common compared to the other symptoms described above. However, when this occurs, it usually is a result of a mild allergic reaction. Because pre workouts vary greatly in their ingredients, some of which are herbal, and others that are synthetic. Any of these could be the cause for a rash with certain groups of people. If you find that a certain pre workout gives you a rash, it is a good idea to opt for something completely different.

Another possible cause for pre workout rashes is through high doses of vitamin B3 (or niacin). This vitamin can cause a flushing sensation as a result of its ability to dilate blood vessels. Though strictly speaking this is not a rash.

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