Last week, my sister and I decided to go to the gym together. When she got to my house, I offered her some pre-workout powder before we headed to the gym.
To my horror, my sister took a scoop of pre-workout, put it directly in her mouth, swallowed and then took a sip of water. I don’t use pre-workout supplements often, but when I do, it’s mixed into the recommended amount of water before I swallow it.
I told her never to do that again because it was dangerous, but she said it wasn’t, that she does it all the time and that “everyone does it.” When she asked me why it was dangerous, I had no solid answer. I didn’t know. Like her, I had seen something on social media about dry scooping being bad and believed it.
So, is dry scooping really dangerous or not?
I downloaded TikTok to see how much dry scooping was trending. When I searched the topic, I was immediately directed to TikTok’s “Online challenges support,” which explained that TikTok wanted me to “stop, think, decide and then act” before making a decision to perform the online challenge.
The app wouldn't even let me see the content of people dry scooping no matter what I tried.
Why do people dry scoop?
Pre-workout supplements, which come in powder or pill form, help give extra energy for your workout. Most products contain from 150 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per serving, according to WebMD.
It is advised that you mix pre-workout powder with water and drink it 30 minutes to an hour before exercising so that it has time to take effect. But some believe dry scooping — that is, swallowing the powder on its own — makes the power of pre-workout powder even stronger.
“Fans of dry scooping believe that consumption of the supplement (in this manner) can deliver a large dose of the supplement into the body all at once, thereby making the product more effective in maximizing exercise endurance,” Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicologist and the co-medical director for the National Capital Poison Center, told Everyday Health.
She added that “There is no published evidence that dry scooping actually results in improved performance.”
Dangers of dry scooping
Most people who try dry scooping, whether because they saw a challenge about it on social media or because they heard about it from friends, end up with no issues. However, the potential dangers of dry scooping may not be worth the risk of trying it.
According to Health, two people posted on social media that they had a frightening experience with the trend: “One shared that they had a heart attack, and another couldn’t breathe and needed their inhaler.”
“The ingredients in pre-workout supplements can be dangerous and cause toxicity, especially when used in ways not recommended by the manufacturer. Swallowing a large amount of powder can result in choking and breathing difficulties,” per Poison Control. “Also, consuming a full scoop of pre-workout powder without diluting it in water first, results in the delivery of a large dose of the ingredients all at once.”
Poison control shared other potential health risks that can occur from dry scooping:
- Rapid heart rate.
- Chest pain.
- Heart problems.
Health summarized experts recommendations in this way: “The bottom line regarding dry scooping pre-workout powder, according to experts: Skip it. ... Instead, fuel up for your workout by hydrating, eating healthy carbohydrates and steering clear of saturated fats and too much protein.”