Dry Scooping Pre-Workout - What It Is & Why People Do It?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 10, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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I’m all for making the most of pre-workout supplements, but I must admit that dry scooping, one of the latest TikTok trends, made me uncomfortable.

Dry scooping is claimed to offer faster absorption, but it poses risks like choking.

I’ve partnered with a dietitian to find out. We’ve also researched what science says about this new trend.

Spoiler alert: it’s quite dangerous.

Quick Summary

  • Dry scooping pre-workout takes your supplement without mixing it with liquid like juice, water, or milk.
  • Long-term dry scooping of pre-workout supplements can cause cardiovascular or respiratory distress.
  • Pre-workout powders typically contain 150-300 mg of caffeine per scoop, with dry scooping potentially exacerbating the effects of such high caffeine content.
  • Personally, considering the risks and discomfort, sticking to traditional methods of mixing pre-workout supplements with liquid seems the safer and more enjoyable approach.

What Is Dry Scooping?

white powder filling a silver spoon

Dry scooping involves consuming pre-workout powder alone, popularized by TikTok.

From what we’ve seen in videos, some people simply swallow the dry pre-workout powder. Others would drink some water to chase the product down their throats.

Both methods are called dry scooping since the powder isn’t directly mixed with liquid.

Here’s how a certified physician explained why anyone would take pre-workout powder without mixing it with liquid [1]:

“The reason why gym buffs dry scoop is to absorb pre-workout energy powder faster. And to this effect, dry scooping does work. Eating the powder dry does get it into your system quicker, allowing the user to feel the effects more rapidly.”

- Benedict Ifedi, MD, Family & Sports Medicine Physician with Memorial Hermann Medical Group

I can’t say that the TikTok videos I’ve watched have confirmed these benefits. Most of the videos revolve around people taking the supplement and don’t show us the results after. But they do make one thing clear — taking pre-workout supplement powder without any liquid is not something you’ll enjoy.

What to Note About Dry Scooping

Dry scooping pre-workout powder can have potential drawbacks and adverse effects on your health. By bypassing mixing the powder with liquid, you may experience discomfort and irritation in your throat and esophagus. This can lead to inflammation and possible injury.

Moreover, a dry scoop may hinder your body's absorption and utilization of the concentrated pre-workout powder.

With proper dilution in a liquid medium, the nutrients in the supplement may be optimally absorbed, potentially reducing its effectiveness.

Additionally, inadequate hydration and imbalances in ingredient ratios can further contribute to the risks associated with dry scooping.

Still, that’s not the biggest reason for worry. Experts agree that dry scooping is anything but healthy.

The Dangers Of Dry Scooping

woman holding her chest in pain

I learned the hard way that dry scooping isn't the proper use of pre-workout supplements [2].

After a particularly rough experience that left me short of breath, I now stick to mixing it as recommended.

But I know that reading about possible health risks often isn’t enough. We don’t feel that these consequences are real.

That’s why I have to mention the case of a 20-year-old TikTok influencer who popularized dry scooping.

The woman has experienced a heart attack as a result of eating the powder dry [3].

The problem is that pre-workout powders contain high amounts of caffeine. While the exact amount will depend on the brand, the usual doses range between 150 - 300 mg of caffeine per scoop [4].

As we’ve said, taking pre-workout powder without liquid will result in faster absorption of the ingredients.

Because of that, the high amounts of caffeine could increase your blood pressure, cause palpitations, and even lead to a heart attack, according to a WebMD investigation [5, 6].

Besides cardiovascular issues, dry scooping can cause [7]:

  • Choking: Choking may occur if you accidentally inhale the pre-workout powder or if you don’t manage to swallow it.
  • Injury: The stimulants from pre-workout powders may give you too much boost, leading to damage.

In a nutshell, taking pre-workout powders dry isn’t worth it. It’s not worth risking injury, let alone suffering a heart attack.

Are Pre-Workout Powders Safe?

container of preworkout powder held by a shirtless man

Since we’ve concluded how dangerous dry scooping is, you might wonder whether pre-workout powders are safe — even when mixed with liquid.

Some pre-workout supplements contain not-so-healthy ingredients. Caffeine, which I mentioned before, is just one of them.

However, caffeine is only unhealthy if you’re sensitive to it or take it for a long time and in higher doses [8] [9].

But that doesn’t necessarily make a pre-workout supplement harmful. For example, caffeine shouldn’t cause palpitations if you mix the powder with liquid.

So, to be brutally honest, if you experience side effects because you dry scooped, that’s on you. That’s why you need to stick to the instructions for use.

With that said, it’s true that some supplements aren’t the healthiest for you.

To avoid investing in a risky supplement, follow these four rules:

  • Read the label: Make sure to check the ingCheckying a supplement. Some supplements contain herbs, like guarana, which can cause allergic reactions [10].
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners: Many pre-workouts contain artificial sweeteners, which are bad for two reasons. Firstly, they can lead to digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, and gas [11]. Secondly, they make protein shakes taste like metal. It's not my favorite taste.
  • Use supplements tested by third parties: Unfortunately, the FDA lets manufacturers test their supplements. So, we can’t always rely on the findings to be 100% true. That’s why I suggest you choose only supplements that third parties have tested and have tested many such products.
  • Check the caffeine content: Yes, most pre-workouts contain caffeine. But you can still choose the ones with lower doses or even better - caffeine-free pre-workouts. For reference, an average adult should consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day [12].

FAQs

Is Pre-workout Bad for Your Heart?

Pre-workout may be bad for your heart because it usually contains high doses of caffeine. That’s why you must follow the instructions for use, choose powders with lower caffeine content, and maybe even cut your regular caffeine intake.

How Long Does It Take for Pre-workout to Kick In?

How long pre-workout kicks in depends on when its active ingredients — usually caffeine and arginine — kick in. In most cases, that takes between 60 and 90 minutes.


References:

  1. https://www.fatherly.com/health/dry-scooping-pre-workout-fitness-trend 
  2. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/930207 
  3. https://nypost.com/2021/06/03/onlyfans-star-has-heart-attack-from-dry-scooping-tiktok-trend/ 
  4. https://www.today.com/health/dry-scooping-what-know-about-dangerous-pre-workout-trend-t225473 
  5. https://www.premiercardiology.com/blog/could-your-racing-heart-be-caused-by-caffeine 
  6. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/understanding-heart-disease-symptoms
  7. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dry-scooping-tiktok-trend/ 
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/caffeine-sensitivity 
  9. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-979/caffeine
  10. https://farrp.unl.edu/informallspicesherbs
  11. https://www.livestrong.com/article/510270-can-artificial-sweetners-upset-your-stomach/ 
  12. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-2004567
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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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