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If you’re on #FitnessTok (also known as the health and wellness center of TikTok), then you’ve probably encountered a wide variety of pointers, tactics, and trends from fitness creators on the app. While there’s no denying that the platform can provide valuable information and even enjoyable new workouts to attempt — looking at you, “Cupid Shuffle” plank — some guidance is best left behind on your For You page.
For instance: Tiktokers are practicing dry scooping pre-workout (which involves ingesting a spoonful of pre-workout powder and quickly consuming it with water) to enhance their energy levels before exercising. While this trend has become immensely popular, it’s actually quite hazardous, as fitness experts suggest.
Moving forward, delve deeper into the purpose of pre-workout supplements, the dangers of dry scooping pre-workout, and how to safely obtain an energy boost before your gym session.
What exactly is pre-workout?
Pre-workout refers to a fitness supplement, typically available in gummy or powder form, that is designed to provide an energy surge prior to a workout. Formulations may differ among brands, but the most common components added for workout benefits include caffeine and amino acids like creatine and beta-alanine, as explained by Stevie Lyn Smith, R.D.N., C.S.S.D., C.D.N., a registered sports dietitian.
Does pre-workout actually yield results?
Research has revealed some potential advantages of using pre-workout. Pre-workout supplements may assist in facilitating increased energy, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capacity, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
The caffeine present in pre-workout supplements can help enhance focus, provide energy, and enhance overall performance, as described by Robert Parisien, M.D., an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mount Sinai Health System
Beta-alanine is meant to diminish weariness and boost recuperation during intense exercises, and creatine might offer increased vitality for muscle constriction.
What is dry scooping?
Commonly, pre-workout comes in a powder formulation that is meant to be diluted in several ounces of water to produce an energy drink. The objective of diluting pre-workout is to assist in regulating the absorption of the powder by the body, as stated by the Cleveland Clinic. Users should consume it approximately 30 minutes before exercising to obtain the advantages, clarifies Smith.
That being said, some TikTokers choose an alternative and admittedly riskier method. Dry scooping pre-workout involves ingesting a measure of the chalky powder and swiftly drinking water to facilitate swallowing. Why? Some individuals believe it aids in the rapid absorption of the powder into their system and, consequently, provides even greater advancements to their workout performance, describes Dr. Parisien.
Does dry scooping pre-workout work?
It is true that dry scooping pre-workout may augment energy levels by essentially inundating your system with caffeine in one gulp, according to the Cleveland Clinic. However, experts advise against it for numerous reasons (more on these risks below).
If you do decide to utilize a pre-workout, ensure to consume it as instructed on the packaging 30 to 60 minutes prior to a workout. “Exercise caution when using it, particularly if working out later in the day, as it could disrupt sleep,” states Smith. For reference, one serving of pre-workout typically contains anywhere between 150 to 300 mg of caffeine per serving, in contrast to less than 100 mg in a single cup of coffee.
Although there are safe methods of taking pre-workout, it may not even be necessary before a workout. “Most people do not necessitate a pre-workout supplement and will benefit from consuming an adequate amount of food to support their lifestyle, including carbohydrate-rich foods prior to and protein-rich foods after exercise,” says Smith. Dr. Parisien concurs. “The carbohydrates will provide the energy needed to carry out a workout, while the protein contains essential amino acids, which your body utilizes to repair and build muscle,” he states. (
Is dry scooping safe?
For the record, while pre-workout alone is not a cause for concern, experts debate its safety due to the fact that supplements are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. That being said, when it comes to the effectiveness and safety of dry scooping, the answer is much clearer
The dangers of dry scooping pre-workout include suffocation, difficulty breathing, and aspiration, i.e. when a substance, such as food or a liquid, enters a person’s lungs, states Smith. (While aspiration can occur with other substances, it’s more challenging to unintentionally inhale a powder.) “Aspiration happens when something, in this specific case, pre-workout powder, enters the airway. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia, which can have serious complications if not promptly addressed,” she explains.
In more severe instances, opting to dry scoop pre-workout can even trigger a heart attack, according to Dr. Parisien. “Excessive absorption of caffeine can cause an abnormally elevated heart rate, which may result in irregular heart rhythms,” he clarifies. In at least one instance, a TikToker confessed to being hospitalized due to a heart attack after attempting the dry scooping trend.
Regard this trend as a firm rejection, as the risks outweigh the potential advantages. Even TikTok seems to have acknowledged the potential hazards of dry scooping pre-workout since the trend became popular last year. Now, when you search for “dry scooping” on the app, you are directed to a page that explains how to make informed decisions before attempting online challenges.
If you still desire to incorporate pre-workout into your fitness routine, consult a doctor first and avoid dry scooping the powder.