If you haven’t heard of dry scooping yet, it’s probably a good thing. The trend, which has been made popular on social media app TikTok, involves ingesting a mouthful of pre-workout powder without mixing it in a liquid right before your workout to boost the effects ingredients like amino acids, caffeine, creatine and B vitamins often found in these types of supplements.
Sounds disgusting, right? Well, it’s not just gross, it’s also been linked to some dangerous side effects, including some users reporting trouble breathing and even heart attack symptoms.
Many users rely on pre-workout supplements to get an energy boost before a workout or to increase blood flow to the muscles. “A pre-workout can also help buffer waste products such as lactic acid for less muscle soreness during and after a workout, increasing glycogen and water availability to the muscles—aka the ‘pump’—and increasing production of our stress and energy hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine,” explains nutritionist Jennifer Hanway.
“With this in consideration, it’s important have an understanding of what other effects this can cause in the body, such as raising heart rate, blood pressure, causing an imbalance in electrolytes or vitamins and minerals and contributing to a cortisol and stress hormone ‘overload’,” adds Hanaway.
Because dry scooping is trending, many people are reporting that pre-workout mixes are not regulated by the FDA, but Hanway says that isn’t true, but it’s more important to know what ingredients personally work for you. “Whilst it’s a myth that dietary supplements—pre-workout is typically considered a dietary supplement—are not subject to FDA regulation, they have been since the DSHEA Act of 1994, but that does not mean that every supplement or pre-workout is suitable for everybody,” Hanway says.
After dry-scooping her pre-workout, 20-year-old TikToker Briatney Portillo says she was rushed to the hospital for heart-attack symptoms. While the active ingredients in her pre-workout are not known, a common ingredient is caffeine, which when consumed in large quantities can act on enzymes in the heart that stimulate the intensity of the heart’s contractions.
“By dry scooping you are effectively increasing the potency of the supplement as you are not diluting it with water, which means it’s going to work more quickly and more efficiently, which is not a good thing when not taken as directed,” adds Hanway.
Instead of dry scooping, holistic health practitioner and cofounder of WTHN Dr. Shari Auth says to skip the pre-workout all together. “Skip the ‘fake’ energy-like caffeine and sugar before a workout. These will give you a quick boost followed by an energy crash and long-term can burn out your adrenals and contribute to chronic fatigue,” says Auth.
Auth recommends instead an herbal supplement, like WTHN’s Fully Charged. “Organic Schisandra helps to protect the adrenals and strengthen the mitochondria, so you will not only have more energy during your workout, but it is also great for sustained energy after a workout—the opposite of a crash.”
Hanway says always check with your doctor before taking a pre-workout, even when taken the correct way, and mixed with liquid. “I always recommend to my clients to check with their doctor before taking any new supplements, including a pre-workout and extra caution should be taken with someone with a pre-existing condition or family history of heart issues. With heart disease on the rise in younger women, I urge extra caution when it comes to supplements such as pre-workout powders or capsules.”