Health & Fit ‘Dry Scooping’ Pre-Workout Powder Is the Latest Dangerous Trend to Hit TikTok
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A bizarre newcalled “dry scooping” is making the rounds on TikTok. It’s also making some people severely sick—and seriously worrying health professionals.
Dry scooping refers to putting a scoop of pre-workout powder (or sometimes) in your mouth, instead of mixing the powder with water or another liquid and drinking it as intended. People typically take powdered in the hopes of getting a boost in physical energy and mental focus before hitting the gym, , M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and assistant director of performance nutrition for UC Berkeley Athletics, tells SELF. The idea behind dry scooping, Ansari says, is to amp up those effects even more.
A complete guide on pre-workout - the energy-boosting supplement used by exercise enthusiasts and gym rats
Pre-workout supplements may boost your athletic performance and energy, but for the average gym-goer, a cup of coffee will do the trick.Pre-workout supplements - often shortened to pre-workout - have dominated the world of sports and bodybuilding since the eighties and have recently gained a resurgence in popularity among exercise enthusiasts.
But according to several TikTok videos and news reports, the practice can endanger people’s health. For instance, one 20-year-old woman went to the hospital with a heart attack after dry scooping,reported. And reported on a fitness influencer who chased four dry scoops with another four scoops mixed with water and went to the ER with dangerously high blood pressure and brain swelling. Another woman appeared to have trouble breathing after dry scooping, according to Newsweek.
The health risks are real, and experts are concerned.
“There's a couple of very significant concerns that I have about this challenge,” emergency medicine physician and toxicologist Kelly Johnson-Arbor, M.D., co-medical director at the, tells SELF. The dry scooping trend is reminiscent of the cinnamon challenge from years ago that Poison Control got many calls about—and anticipates more people having health scares if more people try dry scooping, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. “I think people should be really careful with this."
‘I’m a Cardiologist, and This Is Why You Need To Stop Dry Scooping Your Pre-Workout Powder’
There are safer ways to get energy."Protein products can be dangerous to heart health for many reasons. First, we often don't know what they are truly made of—no dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA to make sure they are safe. Additionally, there is no requirement to label the contents of the protein powder," says Megan Kamath, MD, cardiologist and assistant clinical director of medicine at UCLA Health. "Reading and following the consumption instructions is important when using a product that has instructions for dilution. Doing something differently may cause harm to one's health.
Let’s start with the potential dangers of what is actually in these powders—at least, according to the label. (More on that in a minute.) Pre-workout supplements commonly contain ingredients such as carbs,, amino acids, creatine monohydrate, green tea extract, and B vitamins, Ansari says. Research suggests some of these ingredients may help for some people, while many of their supposed benefits are unproven.
These individual ingredients can be safe in healthy people when taken as directed, meaning they're taken in the recommended serving and preparation, Ansari says. But everyone’s body is a little different, and when you’re consuming a concentrated blend of multiple ingredients you can’t know what to expect. “Not everyone will react the same to pre-workout products when they’re properly mixed with fluids, so imagine taking concentrated forms of the supplement,” Ansari explains. And since many products contain proprietary blends, it can be hard to know exactly how much of these various ingredients you're consuming, Ansari says. “How do you know if the concentrated blend of ingredients you’re consuming at once isn’t going to negatively affect you? It may not be one single ingredient but rather the mix.”
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Even relatively benign and well-studied ingredients can be risky too. Pre-workout powders can contain high concentrations (100mg or more per serving) of, Anari says, which is about the same as a ). That can definitely cause symptoms like jitteriness, an upset stomach, and an elevated heart rate, especially when taken undiluted and/or in greater amounts than directed, Ansari says. In severe excess, “caffeine can definitely be very toxic and very dangerous,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor says.
A caffeine overdose, which causes symptoms such as, chest pain, trouble breathing, and dizziness, can land you in the hospital, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. Life-threatening caffeine overdoses are more likely to occur and be life threatening in individuals who have , take medications that cause similar effects, have a low caffeine tolerance, or are also drinking other caffeinated beverages at the same time, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says.
The bigger concern about pre-workout powders, though, might be what you don't know is in them.
“These workout supplements are not considered foods or drugs. They're considered dietary supplements, and that industry is highly unregulated in the United States,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor explains. The(FDA) does not test before they go to market, and what is written on the package is not always what's in them. “Just because something is available over-the-counter or online does not necessarily mean that it's safe,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. “[Pre-workout powders] are not entirely benign.”
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Supplementary powders can contain more or less of the ingredients than stated—or contain substances not listed at all, whether due toor contamination. When it comes to pre-workout powders marketed as energy boosters, “They might just contain B vitamins or something innocuous like that, but there are supplements that contain drugs that can cause you to become very, very much revved up,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. A number of stimulants and similar compounds have been banned in the U.S. over safety concerns, but poison control centers and hospitals still see individuals who have been exposed to these substances, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says, meaning people are ingesting them from mislabeled or illegal products. Researchers have found labeled under misleading names, for instance.
These risks apply toacross the board (including pre-workout powders taken as directed), and taking a powder without diluting it with water would only increase the danger. Plus, people may be particularly inclined to use pre-workout powders in excess, Dr. Johnson-Arbor points out. “People think that if they get a little more energy from a single scoop, maybe taking five scoops will give them five times the energy and that'll be okay."
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The last major hazard of swallowing a large amount of dry powder is the potential for choking or having. While many people will be able to get rid of the uncomfortable sensation with some coughing and sputtering, individuals with underlying medical conditions, like , can have serious consequences. People who have might have an asthma attack, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. For people who have , aspirating powder into their lungs can potentiate those symptoms and cause serious harm, Dr. Johnson-Arbor says. (That group of people is larger than usual right now, Dr. Johnson-Arbor points out, given the potential that can follow a .)
For most folks, the potential risks of dry scooping outweigh the supposed benefits—by a ton.
“Pre-workout supplements are generally not needed for most active individuals,” says Ansari, adding that food is the best (and safest) way for most people to get the nutrients they need for a great workout. If you do want to try enhancing your performance with a supplement, Ansari recommends connecting with a physician or sports registered dietitian first, always taking the supplement as directed (meaning in the recommended dosage and mixed with fluids), and going with a brand that has been certified by a third-party testing body likeor (which help ensure ).
In the scenario you or someone you know does end up in a scary situation, Dr. Johnson-Arbor encourages people to feel comfortable contacting. “If they feel ill in any way after trying this challenge or any other social media challenge, people should know that Poison Control is available 24/7,” she says. “It's always free to the public, and we're here to help.”
A Woman Had A Heart Attack After Trying The Viral'Dry Scooping' TikTok Trend .
Experts say you should never eat pre-workout powder dry."Dry-scooping" has been making the rounds on Reddit for a few months, but seems to have taken off on the short-form video platform. "Dry-scooping" videos suggest eating a scoop of pre-workout energy powder without diluting it with water, in order to maximize the effects of the amino acids, B vitamins, caffeine, and creatine in the supplement.