If you use pre-workout for your training sessions, you know the drill. You mix up a scoop of that energizing powder with some water and chug it before hitting the gym. A recent trend on social media has offered an alternate option: dry scooping.
Dry scooping refers to putting a scoop of pre-workout powder into your mouth and chasing it with a little water. There are other ways to dry scoop, but this is the dominant way to do it. If you’re reminded of the infamous cinnamon challenge, you’re not wrong.
But why would you drink powder dry, and is it even safe? Let’s dive into the deal with dry scooping — and figure out how best to take your pre-workout.
- What Is Pre-Workout?
- What Is Dry Scooping?
- Why Do People Dry Scoop Pre-Workout?
- The Risks of Dry-Scooping Pre-Workout
Editor’s Note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. When starting a new training regimen and/or diet, it is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical professional. We are not a medical resource. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. They are not substitutes for consulting a qualified medical professional.
Pre-workout is a powdered supplement — typically mixed with water — that you can take before training to help boost your athletic performance.
While the ingredients may vary from different brands, the goal of pre-workout is to give you a feeling of increased energy and decreased fatigue. With the extra boost of focus and attention, you may be able to push harder in your session and improve your performance.
Pre-workouts often contain BCAAs, amino acids, and other ingredients meant to boost energy levels and recovery. Reading ingredient labels will help you make an informed decision about what you’d like to put into your body for optimal training results.
If you want more natural ingredients in your pre-workout, look out for more food-based sources of energy. You can also fuel up for your session without supplements, using nutrients from whole foods in these alternatives to pre-workout.
How to Take Pre-Workout
About 20 to 30 minutes before your workout, mix a scoop of pre-workout into the prescribed amount of water (generally eight ounces). Use a shaker bottle for best results so you don’t wind up with a whole bunch of clumps — they’re unappetizing, to say the least.
If you tend to drink a shake before your workout, you can also take your pre-workout with that. Some athletes might prefer the taste and texture of pre-workout with water, while others prefer to down it with their shake.
“Dry scooping” pre-workout refers to putting an undiluted scoop of powder in your mouth, followed by a few sips of water or liquid. (2) Videos of users under the age of 18 dry scooping pre-workout have gone viral on TikTok, making this a popular method for young people.
One study has analyzed the top videos with the most likes in the #preworkout hashtag on TikTok. The study shows that dry scooping is the top trend, with other less-than-adviseable methods following closely afterwards. (2)
Here, you’ll find the latest social media trends dealing with pre-workout.
- Dry scooping — dumping a scoop of powder in your mouth followed by a little bit of liquid — is the most popular method of taking pre-workout on TikTok.
- The next most popular method is defined as “improper drink,” where users are mixing a scoop of pre-workout with energy drinks and coffee.
- Third is the proper use of pre-workout: the correct serving size mixed with water. (2)
- Other methods listed include improperly eating pre-workout, shotgunning, snorting, packing, and even mixing with alcohol. (2)
Pre-workout is generally recommended to be mixed with water, and consumed 20 to 30 minutes before a session. Dry scooping pre-workout has been spreading on social media for the last few years. There are a few main reasons that people report doing it.
Possible Faster Effects
People that dry scoop pre-workout believe the ingredients will go directly to their bloodstream, and the effects will hit them more quickly. If they don’t have enough time to eat or drink before their session, they may choose to do this to reap the benefits right away.
Possible Increased Athletic Performance
If the pre-workout hits sooner, it follows that you may be able to increase your athletic performance in your session. You may feel like you’re able to lift heavier or train for longer, with more endurance and less fatigue. If someone is really trying to break through a plateau or achieve a goal, they may dry scoop to give them an extra push.
Social Media Popularity
In the study of TikTok users posting dry scooping videos, the top videos received over eight million likes. It also spread as a viral challenge. TikTok users would film videos of themselves dry scooping specifically to post, in hopes of amassing likes and followers on the platform. (2)
The National Capital Poison Center states that dry scooping pre-workout can actually be life-threatening. (3) So before you go straight from jar to mouth, you might want to read up on the big risks that come with this method.
Potential Caffeine Overdose
It may seem beneficial to get all your pre-workout ingredients to hit instantly. But this may not be safe for your body. Ingesting the combination of ingredients without diluting them with water is dangerous and can cause toxicity. (3)
One of the top ingredients that can become toxic when dry scooping pre-workout supplements is caffeine. (4) When caffeine is taken in excess or consumed too quickly, it can have cardiac side effects, including increased heart rate, chest pain, heart problems, and tremors. (3)
If you regularly have coffee or another caffeinated beverage, and then dry scoop your pre-workout, there is the potential to overdose on caffeine. Ingesting ten or more grams of caffeine is considered a lethal caffeine overdose. (5) Dry scooping pre-workout has the potential to unintentionally reach that limit.
The cardiac risks of dry scooping aren’t insignificant. In June 2021, 20-year-old Briatney Portillo had a heart attack after dry scooping pre-workout. She saw bodybuilders doing it on TikTok, and decided to try it out before her workout. (6)
After swallowing the dry scoop, she reported a lot of coughing and choking, a dry throat, and burning gums. She experienced full-body itching, profuse sweating, and nausea. A few hours after her workout, her chest felt tight and heavy, she was sweating, and the left side of her body was in pain. (6)
Briatney was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with an NSTEMI heart attack, caused by the caffeine overdose. She recovered and was able to leave the hospital the next day, but she stated she regretted following a social media trend and was very scared by her traumatic experience. (6)
Even if a person doesn’t have a reaction as extreme and immediate as a heart attack, other cardiac risks persist.
Once you swallow your scoop, the mix of ingredients will take effect almost instantly. While this saves time before your session, a number of ingredients — especially caffeine — may have other cardiac risks. It can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to spike. It can cause heart palpitations, and in the case of Portillo, even a heart attack.
Here are some of the cardiac risks associated with dry scooping:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Heart palpitations
- Heart attack
Dry scooping may be more dangerous for folks with undiagnosed cardiac conditions. (7) It’s possible to have coronary heart disease or congenital heart disease without being aware of it. That may place you at a higher risk for complications when your heart rate is increased too quickly. (7)
The physical act of dry scooping and swallowing has risks before it even hits your bloodstream. The dry, chalky substance is difficult to swallow without diluting it with water into a drinkable beverage. Most brands suggest mixing your scoop into eight ounces of water and giving it 30 minutes to take effect before starting your workout.
Swallowing dry powder may be dangerous to your throat and lungs. It can result in choking and breathing difficulty. (3) Properly mixing pre-workout with water helps your body to swallow and process it safely.
Some of the respiratory risks associated with dry scooping are:
- Choking on powder
- Accidental inhalation
- Possible lung damage
The risks of dry scooping are not limited to specific cardiac and respiratory risks. Other potential risks include:
It’s important to remember that supplements are not Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated, and all pre-workouts are different. Dry scooping may cause you to unintentionally overconsume the ingredients. According to health professionals, it may even lead to other injury or death. (3) However, there do not seem to be any deaths reported that were caused by dry scooping as of this publication.
Something to Avoid
Dry scooping pre-workout may save time in your workout prep and send a rush through your body. People who dry scoop may like to let all the ingredients hit their bloodstream at once and get into their workout quicker. But the evidence points to this being an unsafe practice — there are plenty of risks involved.
There’s a chance of taking in too much caffeine too quickly, which can cause cardiac side effects. Swallowing dry powder is also tough for your throat and lungs. There has been one reported case of a young person having a heart attack. Instead of dry scooping, it seems that the traditional shaker bottle and mixing with at least eight ounces of water reigns supreme.
- Jagim AR, Harty PS, Camic CL. Common Ingredient Profiles of Multi-Ingredient Pre-Workout Supplements. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 24;11(2):254.
- Allison Lin, Nelson Chow, Mary O’Connor, Setu Mehta, Reta Behnam, Duy Pham, Claudia Hatef, Hannah E. Rosenthal, Ruth Milanaik; Dry Scooping and Other Dangerous Pre-workout Consumption Methods: A Quantitative Analysis. Pediatrics February 2022; 149 (1 Meeting Abstracts February 2022): 204.
- Johnson-Arbor, K. Dry Scooping Can Be Life-Threatening. Poison Control: National Capital Poison Center. Retrieved from https://www.poison.org/articles/dry-scooping-can-be-life-threatening
- Desbrow B, Hall S, O’Connor H, Slater G, Barnes K, Grant G. Caffeine content of pre-workout supplements commonly used by Australian consumers. Drug Test Anal. 2019 Mar;11(3):523-529.
- Murray A, Traylor J. Caffeine Toxicity. 2022 Aug 14. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–.
- Hirwani, P. (2021, June 7). OnlyFans star, 20, says she suffered heart attack taking part in ‘dry scooping’ viral TikTok challenge. Independent UK.
- Pettus, G. (2021, July 1). Latest Internet workout fad could have serious health consequences. The University of Mississippi Medical Center. Retrieved from https://www.umc.edu/news/CONSULT/2021/07/CON07012021C.html
Featured Image: Vergani Fotografia / Shutterstock