7 Pre Workout Allergic Reactions: How Can You Avoid Them?

7 Pre Workout Allergic Reactions: How Can You Avoid Them?

Last Updated on November, 2022

Pre-workout supplements are a great way to get yourself pumped up for your next session in the gym. They help increase your performance and make it much easier to achieve specific goals. But, their consumption doesn’t always go as planned.

Many people have had the misfortune of experiencing pre-workout allergic reactions. Reactions like these are bad, but they’re incredibly annoying when you get them before a workout. That’s because they ruin your whole tempo and mood, making it impossible to exercise like you usually would.

To avoid a pre-workout allergic reaction, you’ll have to learn more about what they are and what causes them. So, let’s jump right into the details of this topic.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

a women scratching her hand

Everyone knows why an allergic reaction is terrible and what it might entail. But what exactly is an allergic reaction, and what causes it? In easy words, you can define it as an immune system’s adverse reaction to something usually harmless. (1)

Some people have an immune system that gets too “excited” when contacting potential allergens. During this excited state, the immune system releases certain substances which cause swelling, pain, bloating and other possible issues inside the body.

How serious this whole phenomenon is, depends on the person in question. It might be a minor rash and a tiny bit of discomfort for some people. For others, it might be a full-blown case of tissue damage, severe pain, horrible swelling, etc., which can lead to serious complications.

Common causes of allergic reactions among people include certain fruits, nuts, eggs, milk, certain plants, and more. It would be best to remember that a pre-workout supplement might consist of many of these things. That’s why people often get an allergic reaction because of them.

7 Common Pre Workout Allergic Reactions

Speaking of these reactions, let’s go through some of the most common ones people face and how you can deal with them. If you’ve ever had a bad response to a pre-workout supplement, it likely was one of these:

1. Itching

a girl scratching her back

Itching is the most common allergic reaction to pre-workouts and most allergens in general. If you think a “little itch” isn’t all that bad or something to be worried about, it’s obvious you’ve never gotten one from a pre-workout supplement.

It’s one of the most uncomfortable feelings anyone could have. The itches are always sharp, constant, and get in the way of anything you try to do because they’re so annoying. Most people get these on their back, neck, arms, or face.

If you’re looking for someone to blame, the offender behind this horrid feeling is none other than beta-alanine. It’s an amino-acid customized to help with physical performance, especially among elders. It’s also great to get extra energy during workouts and boost results. (2)

That’s why many supplements feature this ingredient. It’s a good, generally healthy shortcut to better gains and performances. But, you ultimately have to ask yourself whether or not it’s worth the horrible itching.

How to Avoid This?

While beta-alanine is quite helpful, you’ll want to cut it out of your pre-workout to get the itching to stop. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon all hope, though. Plenty of other ingredients can get the same job done for you!

For this purpose, we recommend creatine. It’s capable of helping with everything that beta-alanine helps with, and it’s even better because you won’t feel itchy after consuming it! It also offers increased testosterone and significantly boosts performance with less risk.

So, avoiding itching from pre-workout supplements is as simple as buying a product that doesn’t feature beta-alanine. Instead, you can try something more helpful, safe, and advantageous with creatine.

2. Rashes and Hives

Rashes and Hives on human body

Lots of supplements include niacin (vitamin B3). This is a beneficial component that helps change carbs into needed energy and helps you during workouts. However, like any other component, it’s only helpful if you consume it in controlled amounts. (3)

This is where the problem comes in, as pre-workout supplements usually contain way more niacin than the recommended daily amount. This makes your blood vessels hyperactive, leading to a “niacin flush” phenomenon.

The main symptom of niacin flush is red skin, rashes, hives, and other unpleasant conditions on the skin, which can be pretty annoying. Affected areas usually become noticeably warmer than other body parts and develop a different color, typically reddish/pink.

How to Avoid This?

You’ll want to tone it down on the niacin intake if you want to stop getting rashes and hives each time you’re getting ready for a workout. We recommend that you look for supplements that don’t feature this vitamin.

Many manufacturers market extra vitamins as good, but that’s not necessarily the case. As you can see, it leads to potential issues such as this and can make things uncomfortable for you. So, get your daily intake of niacin from poultry, nuts, or other healthy ingredients, which are easy to moderate.

As for the pre-workout supplement, look for something that doesn’t have niacin. That way, you can prevent overconsumption each time you’re about to exercise.

3. Headaches

a man holding his head

We don’t have to go into detail regarding why headaches are bad. Even if you’ve never had an allergic reaction, you surely know how bad a raging headache feels. Unfortunately for those taking pre-workouts, headaches are among the more common reactions.

These supplements can cause a lot of pain in the head, ranging from minor headaches to flat-out migraines. The reason is always one thing; artificial ingredients. These have become way too popular in recent years as a “healthy” alternative to sugar. 

While it’s true that they help with your teeth and managing weight, anything artificial is far from being healthy. There’s no denying that they’re pretty harmful. From sucralose to acesulfame, workout supplements might feature any artificial sweetener to help with weight loss. 

You can find them in regular soda cans, coffee shops, nutritional supplements, and any form of “dietary food.” Among the many side effects of these ingredients, one of the more annoying ones is a bad headache, making them the reason for this specific reaction.

How to Avoid it?

If you haven’t guessed it already by now, the best way to avoid such a side effect is to kick out artificial sweeteners from your supplements. We recommend that you stop consuming any artificial ingredients altogether.

Even if you don’t get headaches, you’ll likely have to face some other horrible pre workout side effects because of the regular consumption of these ingredients. They’ve been linked to seriously terrible problems like kidney stones and cancer, so remove them from your daily diet.

There are plenty of supplements out there that use natural sweeteners, which are much safer. Consider giving those a try instead of drinking something that’ll almost definitely harm you in the long run.

4. Digestive Issues

a man holding his stomach

Many people face issues with their digestive system when they take pre-workouts. This includes many effects, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, etc. It’s one of the most annoying reactions of pre-workouts, mainly because of how sensitive the stomach region is.

That’s not the only reason this specific effect is so horrible. Another big problem is that narrowing down the exact cause is very difficult. That’s because digestive issues are exclusive to people based on their bodies. What causes them can differ depending on the person in question.

Some people might face digestive issues and upsets because of one ingredient, while others might face such cases due to other elements. If you’ve got a bad tummy ache or other problems related to your digestive system after drinking pre-workouts, here’s how to deal with it:

How to Avoid This?

In general, the best way to avoid stomach and digestive issues would be to add more water. This refers to adding more water to the supplement and more water to your diet. (4)

Even if an ingredient is in there causing problems like this, adding around 10 ounces of water into the mix should help you alleviate adverse effects. On top of that, you should consider drinking lots of water throughout the day to help your body cope with this effect.

If water doesn’t work for you, try getting a new pre-workout supplement with different ingredients. Keep trying out new formulas like this, and you’re bound to find something that doesn’t cause problems with your stomach. Consulting a dietician for help with this is also recommended.

5. Body Odor

a girl touching her nose

This following effect isn’t particularly uncomfortable for you, but it can be terrible for anyone around you. Bad body odor is highly unpleasant and can make you feel super embarrassed. You don’t want to clear the gym every time you step in, right?

Unfortunately, pre-workouts are a common cause of bad body odor. Combine certain supplements with a sweaty, exhausting workout, and you get a smell that makes garbage trucks seem like a fine dining spot. Luckily, there are common culprits behind this that you can conveniently weed out.

These culprits are none other than choline and betaine. They’re essential nutrients that help during lipid metabolism. But, consuming too much of them through supplements can leave you in a “stinky situation,” and we don’t want that.

How to Avoid This?

Avoiding this is simple. Choline is an essential nutrient, so most supplements feature it, but betaine isn’t as common. Still, you should be able to find a pre-workout supplement that features both of these ingredients in a moderate amount instead of going overboard with the values.

You can also avoid consuming these nutrients through supplements altogether. Besides, choline and betaine are easy to drink through other ingredients. You’ll find the former in nuts and meat, while the latter is readily available in vegetables like beets.

6. Feeling Jittery

a girl holding her shoulders

Pre-workout supplements are there to help you with physical performance. So, it’s only natural that they contain a variety of stimulants that soothe the body and give it necessary energy. They’re great for anyone looking to boost the quality of their exercise.

But, not every stimulant out there is good for you, no matter if they seem tempting. There are plenty of stimulants banned from consumption by the FDA because of the harmful effects that they might pose. A typical example of this is ephedrine, which can cause serious issues.

Even good options which are highly popular and widely used, such as caffeine, aren’t good for you if you consume them in high amounts. The problem is that most workout supplements contain too many of these ingredients, which have horrible effects on the body.

Among these effects are shaking and jittering. This not only makes it much more difficult for you to work out but also acts as a sign that your body is starting to crash. We’re guessing that you don’t want that to happen.

How to Avoid This?

You’ll have to manage your intake seriously if you don’t want to feel jittery or shaky from supplements. Pretty much all accessories have stimulants in them, so avoiding these is near impossible. Instead, you must learn how to work with them, so there’s nothing negative.

7. High Blood Pressure

a man feeling heart pain

Making you feel jittery or shaky is the least some stimulants can do. A big reason why these ingredients can be potentially dangerous is that they’re known to make your blood pressure much higher than usual if you consume too many. It’s harmful to those with existing blood pressure issues.

Paired with stimulants, your usual workout might sometimes be too much for your body to handle. Your blood pressure might get too high, which can lead to many problems, including potentially fatal ones. This can happen through any stimulant, including too much caffeine.

How to Avoid This?

If you want to avoid issues with blood pressure, there’s not much to do other than consulting an expert about the whole situation. This is recommended if you already have problems related to blood pressure spikes or falls.

Taking pre-workout supplements is too big of a risk because of their components if you have a history of such problems. If you consult a medical expert, they’ll be able to work with you to find a way you can avoid this. Sometimes, you might have to find an alternative to supplements altogether.

Without an expert’s help, you’ll have to do a lot of testing with different products to see what keeps your blood pressure stable. It would be preferable to avoid this, as too much trial and error can lead to unsolvable issues.

Related article: Are Pre-Workouts Bad for Your Heart?

Reasons Behind Pre Workout Allergic Reactions

a man preparing pre workout supplement

We’ve already covered the reasons for each issue. We’ve also covered ways to avoid any problem from occurring in the first place. To be safe, though, let’s review some of these reasons again, including a crucial reason we haven’t discussed.

You’ve Had Too Much, Buddy

The main reason for negative reactions from pre-workout supplements is having too much of them. This is a widespread mistake that people make, especially beginners. Many users consume too much of the supplement, thinking it’ll boost their performance even more than usual.

But that’s not how it works. “Too much of anything is bad for you.” People don’t say that just because it sounds cool. No, it’s a fact that everyone should live by. Following that saying, too many pre-workout supplements are bad for you.

It will definitely cause problems within the body. All of the issues mentioned above are a possibility that can come up from consuming too many supplements.

With just some proper diet planning and moderation, you should be able to avoid all of these problems. All it takes is following the instructions on your supplement’s packaging! It can tell you exactly how much you need to drink, and you’ll stay safe if you follow those instructions.

Your Supplement Contains Artificial Ingredients

As mentioned above, artificial additives are arguably the most significant issue in modern supplements. These artificial flavors, sweeteners, or other ingredients are incredibly harmful to the body if you have them regularly.

They can cause various side effects and reactions within multiple parts of the human body, including specific organs such as kidneys. We can’t stress enough how much you should avoid any pre-workout supplement or dietary product in general that includes these.

If you do that, we’re sure you’ll see for yourself how much healthier the shake feels. You’ll run into significantly fewer side effects if any at all. Plus, it’ll take less of a toll on your body after continued use which is an excellent thing for obvious reasons.

The Supplement Has Too Much Niacin

We’ve already covered why too much niacin is terrible for you and how it can cause niacin flush, which is harmful. The solution to this is self-explanatory.

Get something with less niacin in it, or get a supplement that doesn’t have the vitamin at all. You can easily get your daily recommended micronutrient intake through other foods, meaning you don’t have to worry about missing out.

Excess Amount of Stimulants

Lastly, too much of any stimulant is a horrible thing for the body. It leads to some seriously harmful effects, such as constant shaking, which can hugely impact your daily life, let alone your workouts. Additionally, it leads to continuous jittering too. 

A more significant concern is that stimulants consumed in high amounts lead to an increase in blood pressure. This can also cause spikes which could lead to potentially fatal issues like heart attacks, cardiac arrests, heart diseases, and other problems that could worsen your life.

Some Safe Pre Workout Ingredients

Smart Caffeine

caffeine and L-theanine

Stimulants are what make pre-workout supplements as good as they are. But, they’re usually also what makes them harmful for some people. This is where smart caffeine comes in. The product is a combination of both caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine. 

This amino acid removes all the adverse effects of caffeine and makes it much safer for regular consumption. It helps you feel much more energetic, letting you do better during exercise and helping you pay better attention. 

Smart caffeine can do all this while removing side effects like jittering or shaking, which we’ve already mentioned. It’s a highly recommended stimulant for anyone that wants to avoid significant side effects while being in top shape for each workout.

Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is one of the most critical nutrients in our daily diet. It’s essential as our body can’t turn carbs into needed energy without it. Without energy, we can’t function in our daily lives, and eventually, the human body shuts down. (5)

You need energy while working out, and creatine is a tried and tested source of energy conversion inside the body. So, what’s a better option than something we’ve been using for centuries?

Something important to keep in mind is that creatine comes in two forms. One of these is the HCL form which dissolves in water and often comes in supplements. The other, more natural version is creatine monohydrate, which has been used for much longer.

It’s a highly effective energy source that can get you pumped up during workouts while ensuring you don’t suffer from adverse side effects. Creatine monohydrate is also an excellent way to manage weight because it focuses on converting carbs and fat into energy.

Citrulline Malate

Fatigue is the biggest plague on anyone looking forward to a workout. You’re hyped up all day for the sweet release of working hard in the gym. But, by the time you’re there, work and other daily chores have exhausted you to the point where getting anything done seems impossible.

Well, citrulline malate is one of the best ingredients to deal with this. It’s exceptional for muscle pumps and removes ammonia from the body. On top of that, it gets rid of fatigue. It also gives you a natural burst of energy that gets you going before each workout.

Here’s a list of active ingredients in a pre workout.

General Precautions for Consuming Pre Workouts to Avoid Allergies

a girl having pre workout supplement

Here are a few general things you need to remember while consuming pre-workouts. Make sure to read the list below carefully and apply each tip to your daily life so you can avoid any allergies or harmful reactions from taking pre-workouts.

  • The main tip is that you should always look for the cleanest supplements. Always ensure that it has good ingredients inside and that there aren’t any harmful, artificial additives. Ensure that each component is pure and won’t harm you because of existing medical reasons or other causes.
  • Hydration is vital. We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to take your supplement with ten or so ounces of water. On top of that, you should drink lots of water at other times in the day too. It keeps your body going and helps a lot when it comes to avoiding certain negative effects such as these.
  • We’re all experts at our own thing. But don’t ever believe you know more than the people who made the supplement. Always follow the product packaging instructions and ensure you don’t consume too much a dose. Once you do that, you’re sure to avoid any problems.


Don’t worry about any pre-workout allergic reaction. With the tips we’ve shared above, you should be able to avoid any of them with ease! While it’s undoubtedly true that these reactions can be pretty annoying to deal with, it’s easy enough to prevent them from ever occurring in the first place.

We’ve discussed how exactly you can do that, and now it’s up to you to consider everything we’ve said. Above are the most common allergic reactions and how to deal with each one, and we’ve also covered how to avoid them altogether.

So, don’t worry about running into any harmful effects while taking your pre-workouts. Remember all the details shared here, and you’ll do just fine!

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Linda Walter
I’m a fitness trainer and a health coach. My GOAL is to empower everyone to live a healthier life even after passing their prime. You can find more about me here.

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