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

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 9, 2022

I’m all for making the most out of pre-workout supplements, but I have to admit that dry scooping, one of the latest TikTok trends, made me uncomfortable.

Watching people almost choke on dry supplements isn’t my idea of fun. But I wanted to see if dry scooping has some extra benefits compared to taking powders with liquid.

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 refers to taking pre-workout powder without liquid, which may cause the positive effects of powder to kick in more rapidly.
  • Pre-workouts aren’t harmful when taken correctly, but dry scooping doesn’t fall under correct usage.
  • Always follow the instructions for use while taking a supplement.

What Is Dry Scooping?

white powder filling a silver spoon

Dry scooping is taking pre-workout powder without mixing it with liquid, like milk or water.

TikTok made dry scooping popular and pushed many people to try it, from teenagers to adults.

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 referred to as dry scooping since the powder isn’t directly mixed with liquid in either case.

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, a family and 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.

Still, that’s not the biggest reason for worry. Experts agree that dry scooping is anything but healthy. So, let’s take a look at its possible side effects.

The Dangers Of Dry Scooping

woman holding her chest in pain

In general, improper use of pre-workout supplements is known to cause respiratory or cardiovascular distress [2].

Dry scooping would definitely fall under the category of improper use since pre-workout supplements are intended to be mixed with water or milk.

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 [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 a bit of too much boost, which can lead to injury.

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 just how dangerous dry scooping is, you might wonder whether pre-workout powders are safe — even when mixed with liquid.

The answer is complicated.

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 [8], or if you take it for a long time and in higher doses [9].

But that doesn’t necessarily make a pre-workout supplement harmful.  Usually, the ingredients won’t cause any issues if the powder is taken correctly.

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 ingredients before buying 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. Definitely 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 have been tested by third parties. You should be able to find 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 [13]. That’s why you need to 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 it takes for pre-workout to kick in depends on when its active ingredients — usually caffeine and arginine — kick in. In most cases, that takes between 60 and 90 minutes [14].

Should You Try Dry Scooping?

I wouldn’t recommend you try dry scooping. It seems to be a dangerous wellness trend that has already caused severe damage.

Besides, there’s no reason to believe that dry scooping makes the effects of pre-workouts more intense. It simply forces the effects to kick in more rapidly.

If you need one more reason not to try this trend, check out some videos showing dry scooping in action to see how unpleasant the experience really is.


References:

  1. https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/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/news/20060815/coffee-may-trigger-heart-attack
  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-20045678
  13. https://www.medstarhealth.org/blog/how-workout-supplements-may-harm-the-heart-and-why-natural-nutrition-is-best 
  14. https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/how-long-does-pre-workout-last

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