Dry Scooping Can Be Life-Threatening

dry scooping man working out

The Bottom Line

Pre-workout supplements can contain caffeine and other ingredients which can be poisonous when taken in large amounts. Dry scooping, or consumption of undiluted pre-workout powder, can be life-threatening.

dry scooping preworkout supplements

The Full Story

Pre-workout supplements are marketed as products that can improve exercise performance; their use has increased in popularity in recent years. These supplements often contain multiple ingredients including caffeine, amino acids, and beta-alanine.

Many pre-workout supplements are sold in powder formulations. The recommendations for use include instructions to mix a certain amount (generally a scoop) of powder with water, for consumption 30-60 minutes prior to engaging in exercise activities.

Recently, a new trend called “dry scooping” has emerged on the social media platform TikTok. Dry scooping involves eating pre-workout supplement powder directly from its container, without mixing it in water. Fans of dry scooping believe that it increases the effects of the supplement, but some users have experienced significant unwanted effects including heart problems, trouble breathing, and choking after using the product in this manner. The reasons for this are simple: 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. 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. Caffeine is a common ingredient in these supplements; when used in excess or consumed too rapidly, caffeine can cause anxiety, rapid heart rate, chest pain, heart problems, dizziness, and tremors. Some pre-workout products contain high doses of caffeine (2-3 times the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee) as well as other similarly “energizing” ingredients. This can result in significant toxicity when the powder is consumed without diluting it first. People who have underlying health conditions, including heart or lung disease, are especially at risk for developing these undesirable effects after dry scooping.

Finally, remember that pre-workout supplements are poorly regulated in the United States, and may contain toxic ingredients that are not on the label. Since the exact composition of these products may be unclear, it is possible that the toxicity of some of the unknown ingredients can be worsened by dry scooping.

If you experience unwanted symptoms after using a pre-workout supplement, use the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool or call 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free for the public, and available 24 hours a day.

Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD
Medical Toxicology Physician

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • To use pre-workout supplements correctly, always read the label first to have a better understanding of what the ingredients are.
  • Take only the recommended dose, in the manner recommended on the package label.
  • If you have heart disease, lung problems, or other medical conditions, please consult your doctor before starting a pre-workout supplement regimen.

This Really Happened

A 20-year-old woman experienced chest pain, coughing, and sweating after dry scooping a pre-workout powder. She was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with a mild heart attack. The cause of the heart attack was believed to be the caffeine which was present in the pre-workout powder she ingested. She was admitted to a hospital and treated with blood thinners. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.


For More Information

Davies D. People on TikTok Are Dry Scooping Pre Workout. You Really Shouldn't Do That. Men's Health. 2021 May 12.


References

Jagim AR, Camic CL, Harty PS. Common Habits, Adverse Events, and Opinions Regarding Pre-Workout Supplement Use Among Regular Consumers. Nutrients. 2019 Apr 16;11(4):855. 

Harty PS, Zabriskie HA, Erickson JL, Molling PE, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR. Multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, safety implications, and performance outcomes: a brief review. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Aug 8;15(1):41. 

Grace A. OnlyFans star, 20, suffers heart attack from “dry scooping” TikTok challenge. New York Post. 2021 June 8.

Rodrigues A. Dry Scooping Pre-Workout Is a Terrible Idea. Vice. 2021 June 8.

Poisoned?

Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

  • To use pre-workout supplements correctly, always read the label first to have a better understanding of what the ingredients are.
  • Take only the recommended dose, in the manner recommended on the package label.
  • If you have heart disease, lung problems, or other medical conditions, please consult your doctor before starting a pre-workout supplement regimen.

This Really Happened

A 20-year-old woman experienced chest pain, coughing, and sweating after dry scooping a pre-workout powder. She was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with a mild heart attack. The cause of the heart attack was believed to be the caffeine which was present in the pre-workout powder she ingested. She was admitted to a hospital and treated with blood thinners. Fortunately, she made a full recovery.