We all want to get the most out of our workouts, which means that supplements like pre-workout supplements are popular for amping you up before your training starts. However, a recent trend called “dry-scooping” has been making its rounds on social media that takes away from pre-workout’s intended usage — and presents some worrying health risks. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of dry-scooping pre-workout powder.
Pre-workout powders contain caffeine, beta-alanine, and other ingredients meant to increase energy for exercise and reduce recovery time, but these ingredients may present health risks, especially at high levels.
The “dry scooping pre-workout” trend means that many people, including adolescents, are consuming dangerously high levels of concentrated caffeine at very high doses. Dry scooping also increases the risk of choking, tooth damage, and gastrointestinal distress.
Dry scooping your pre-workout powder might save you a couple of seconds of mixing and deliver caffeine a little more quickly to your system. However, there isn’t any advantage of doing it versus mixing it with water, especially when you consider the risks of consuming high doses of caffeine and other ingredients quickly.
What is dry scooping?
“Dry scooping” is the act of swallowing dry supplements like pre-workout powders rather than mixing them with water, as manufacturers recommend.
Dry scooping has been around for a long time (likely as long as powdered sports supplements have been used, in fact), but it has most recently been popularized by fitness influencers and content creators on TikTok filming themselves dry scooping their pre-workout before hitting the gym.
Does dry scooping pre-workout work?
Some people believe that dry scooping their pre-workout powders allows active compounds like caffeine to enter your system quicker than if you mixed the supplement with water. However, this negligible “benefit” does not seem to outweigh the acute risks of consuming high dosages of caffeine in such a short time.
Unfortunately, swallowing dry powder can be inherently dangerous and present acute health concerns. In addition, the instantaneous dose of caffeine and other ergogenic ingredients can lead to longer-term detrimental health risks and an unhealthy relationship with caffeine.
What are pre-workout powders?
Pre-workout powders are ergogenic aids commonly used by athletes and gym-goers prior to a workout. Pre-workouts boost energy, which can help achieve a better workout (and better results). Many pre-workout powders also contain ingredients that are thought to help muscle recovery.
Common ingredients found in pre-workouts include:
- BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids);
Unfortunately, because pre-workout often contains caffeine (usually in extremely high dosages), it’s possible to consume too much pre-workout and even overdose on the stimulant.
Can pre-workouts be dangerous?
Pre-workout is not inherently dangerous for most healthy adults. However, many pre-workout supplements contain very high dosages of caffeine, a stimulant that can be dangerous if consumed in high doses. The average caffeine dose in pre-workout supplements tends to fall between 150–330 mg, which is the equivalent of up to three cups of coffee.
Furthermore, pre-workout powders and supplements are not heavily regulated in the United States, meaning some may contain undisclosed ingredients that may be toxic at high levels.
Finally, pre-workout powders are meant to be consumed by adults. There’s evidence that high levels of caffeine consumption in adolescents can be dangerous. This is especially concerning considering the dry scooping trend’s popularity on TikTok, an app that teens and adolescents especially frequent.
Risks and side effects of dry scooping
Because pre-workout can present health issues and especially at high doses, this means that dry scooping pre-workout versus mixing with water can come with myriad potential risks as all of those ergogenic ingredients flood the system. This begs the question, “Can you die from dry scooping pre-workout?” While there are no reported cases of death, there are several very serious risks reported of dry-scooping pre-workout, including:
- Choking and/or shortness of breath from ingesting the dry, chalky powder without water;
- Damage to the enamel of your teeth if your pre-workout contains citric acid that is left undiluted;
- Gastrointestinal distress from the high caffeine content.
Can dry scooping cause a heart attack?
One of the most serious consequences of caffeinated pre-workouts is the risks they can present to the heart. Too much caffeine at one time can present major heart complications like a rapid heart rate, chest pain, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, the results can be dangerous when paired with a workout shortly after. According to the National Capital Poison Center, dry scooping pre-workout powder has been linked to heart attacks.
How to consume pre-workout safely
Dry scooping and mixing dilutes the powder’s strong energy-boosting effects. Ultimately, using it with water can make pre-workout consumption safer.
How to use pre-workout:
- Measure the correct pre-workout dose into your water bottle (see your instruction label for more specific instructions). If this is the first time you’re using pre-workout, it may be safer to start with a half-dose/half-scoop until you can assess your tolerance.
- Add 8 oz. of cold water to your water bottle (blender bottles with mixing devices are useful for this).
- Shake your bottle or use a spoon to dissolve pre-workout into the water.
- Drink mixture.
- Wait 10–20 minutes before starting your workout for the best results.
Is dry scooping more effective than mixing?
Dry scooping may allow the high amounts of caffeine in pre-workout to enter your system faster than it would if consumed with water as intended. However, the potential health risks of dry scooping far outweigh the negligible benefits.
Can you take too much pre-workout?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on pre-workout due to the extremely high doses of caffeine present in many pre-workout powders. Always follow the directions listed by your supplement manufacturer and only up to the dose specified to avoid potential detrimental health risks.
Is dry scooping good for your health?
No, dry scooping presents dangers ranging from choking (asphyxiation) to potential overdoses. If you’re going to use pre-workout, mix it with water according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
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- Nutrients. Common Ingredient Profiles of Multi-Ingredient Pre-Workout Supplements.
- Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Review: Trends, Safety, and Recommendations for Caffeine Use in Children and Adolescents.
- Journal of the American Dental Association. Citric acid consumption and the human dentition.
- Pediatrics. Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults.
- Mayo Clinic. Caffeine: How does it affect blood pressure?