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5 Common Questions About Paresthesia Answered (the Tingling Caused by Beta-Alanine)

Beta-alanine is a supplement many athletes use to improve their muscle endurance and delay the onset of muscle fatigue, allowing them to train at higher intensities for longer. 

It’s a common ingredient you might know from pre-workout products, though most typically don’t contain enough to achieve the maximum performance benefit, making the case for a pure beta-alanine product like our Beta Alanine

But despite its performance-enhancing effects, beta-alanine can have a side effect—a tingling sensation called paresthesia. 

In this article, we’ll answer 5 common questions about paresthesia, including:

  • What does paresthesia feel like?
  • Why does paresthesia happen?
  • Why does paresthesia affect some people but not others?
  • Can paresthesia affect performance?
  • How can you mitigate paresthesia?


What Does Paresthesia Feel Like?

Paresthesia is often described as tingling, prickling or itchiness that can occur in various parts of the body, but most commonly in the face, neck, hands and feet. While paresthesia can result from a few different factors, including nerve damage or certain medical conditions, it’s also a benign side effect of beta-alanine supplementation.


Why Does Paresthesia Happen?

When you ingest beta-alanine, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and eventually reaches nerve endings in your skin. These nerve endings are responsible for sending signals to your brain about touch and other sensations. Beta-alanine can stimulate these nerve endings in a way that feels similar to pins and needles, or a very mild (and harmless) electric shock.

Beta-alanine can bind to specific receptors on nerve cells, known as GABA-A (gamma-aminobutyric acid type A) receptors. These receptors usually help calm nerve activity, but when beta-alanine binds to them, it can cause the nerve cells to fire off rapidly, leading to the tingling sensation known as paresthesia. 

The intensity of this tingling can vary based on how much beta-alanine you take and how sensitive you are to it, but generally, taking a larger dose can make the sensation more noticeable.


Why Does Paresthesia Affect Some People but Not Others?

Paresthesia from beta-alanine varies among individuals due to differences in metabolism, sensitivity, dosage, genetic factors and usage frequency. Here’s how each of these factors can play a role:

  • Metabolism: Some people metabolize beta-alanine faster, leading to more intense tingling sensations, while others with slower metabolisms may barely notice it. 
  • Sensitivity: The concentration and responsiveness of your nerve endings can affect the likelihood of experiencing paresthesia, and individuals with more sensitive nerve endings can often experience a stronger sensation. 
  • Dosage: Larger doses of beta-alanine typically trigger stronger sensations, while smaller, spread-out doses can minimize this effect—read on to learn more about this strategy. 
  • Genetic factors: Genetics contribute to how your body processes beta-alanine and reacts to it. Some people may have genetic variations that make their nerve receptors more or less sensitive, influencing their likelihood of experiencing paresthesia. 
  • Usage frequency: Habituation over time can reduce the intensity of the tingling sensation as your body adapts to regular beta-alanine intake. If you take beta-alanine daily, you’ll develop a tolerance to paresthesia more quickly than someone who takes it inconsistently.

Understanding these factors can help you manage and prepare for paresthesia while still benefiting from beta-alanine's performance-enhancing effects.


Can Paresthesia Affect Your Performance?

Interestingly, the sensation of paresthesia itself does not directly impact physical performance. In fact, many athletes report that the tingling sensation is more of an indication that the supplement is starting to work.

Paresthesia does not inhibit performance; rather, the effects of beta-alanine, like greater muscle endurance and reduced muscle fatigue, can enhance your performance during high-intensity activities.

The tingling sensation can be uncomfortable and distracting, especially for those new to beta-alanine supplementation. However, it’s only temporary and usually subsides within an hour after ingestion. So, while paresthesia might feel unusual at first, it doesn’t interfere with your ability to perform. Some athletes even find it motivating, as it serves as a reminder that their muscles are being prepared for more strenuous activity.

Despite the harmless nature of paresthesia, you should always monitor any new sensations when starting a supplement and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.


How to Mitigate Paresthesia

To reduce the likelihood or intensity of paresthesia, or even eliminate it altogether, consider the following strategies:

  1. Lower your dosage: Start with a smaller dose of beta-alanine, around 3g or less, and gradually increase the amount you take as your body adjusts. This can help your body get used to the supplement without overwhelming your sensory nerves. 
  2. Split your doses: Instead of taking a large dose all at once, split your daily intake into 2–3 smaller doses throughout the day. This strategy, recommended by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, helps you maintain a steady level of beta-alanine in your bloodstream and reduces the likelihood of experiencing strong tingling sensations. We designed our Beta Alanine according to this strategy to help you achieve the maximum performance benefit.
  3. Opt for a sustained-release formula: Some beta-alanine supplements are designed to release the amino acid more slowly into the bloodstream, reducing the risk of paresthesia. These formulas provide a more gradual supply of beta-alanine, which can help minimize the tingling effect.


Key Takeaways

Despite the chance of experiencing paresthesia, beta-alanine remains a valuable supplement for athletes looking to improve their performance with supplementation. The tingling sensation, while potentially uncomfortable at first, is a temporary and harmless side effect that will not impede your physical capabilities. 

Beta-alanine's benefits, such as improved muscle endurance and delayed onset of fatigue, far outweigh the potential for mild discomfort from paresthesia for most users. By increasing the carnosine levels in your muscles, beta-alanine helps you train harder for longer, making it a strong supplement choice for intense training—read more about this in our article discussing why beta-alanine is a game changer for high-intensity sports.   

Understanding how to manage paresthesia through controlled dosing and supplementation strategies will allow you to reap the significant performance benefits of beta-alanine with minimal disruption to your training.


If you learned something new from this article and are curious to know more, head to the Blonyx Blog or our growing list of weekly research summaries where we help you further improve your athletic performance by keeping you up to date on the latest findings from the world of sports nutrition.


— That’s all for now, train hard!


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