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Dry scooping is the term for eating pre-workout powder without water. It is currently a social media trend, but it may be linked to heart attacks. It can also cause choking and breathing problems.

When people take powdered pre-workout supplements without diluting them with water, they receive a concentrated dose of the ingredients in a short space of time. In large amounts, these ingredients — which typically include caffeine, creatine, and beta-alanine — may affect the heart.

Consuming large doses of caffeine can cause chest pain, a fast heart rate, and other harmful effects.

Keep reading to learn about the link between dry scooping and heart attacks, the other risks of this practice, and more.

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Dry scooping is a recent trend that has grown in popularity on the social media platform TikTok.

Ordinarily, people take pre-workout supplements by mixing a scoop of the powder with water. Dry scooping involves swallowing a scoop of powder without mixing it with water.

This delivers a large dose of the supplement in just a few seconds, which proponents of the practice claim can give faster and better effects. However, it can actually be highly dangerous.

Manufacturers of the supplements advise mixing the powder with water and taking it 30–60 minutes before exercising. Therefore, dry scooping is an inappropriate use of the supplements.

Dry scooping has the potential to cause heart attacks. According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), some people who have engaged in the practice have experienced significant adverse effects that include heart problems.

Pre-workout supplements aim to give a person a burst of energy before exercise, and they usually contain large doses of caffeine. Delivering such a concentrated dose of caffeine may result in chest pain, increased heart rate, and other heart problems.

A study that the authors presented at the 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition supports the NCPC’s statements about dry scooping’s dangers. The researchers note “the potential for accidental overconsumption, inhalation, and injury.”

According to a 2018 study, drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day was associated with higher rates of heart attacks in males. This amount of coffee equates to about 276 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, and a recent study found that various commercial pre-workout powders contain 91–387 mg of caffeine. For example, one popular supplement powder contains 300 mg per scoop.

Pre-workout supplements carry risks when people dry scoop them alone. However, the dangers increase when they dry scoop them with other substances.

Taking any supplement — even according to package instructions — can come with risks.

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

Dry scooping alone

The risks of dry scooping include:

  • choking
  • accidental inhalation
  • injury

Additionally, the NCPC notes that some pre-workout products have two to three times the amount of caffeine that is in a cup of coffee.

A caffeine overdose can cause:

If a person has underlying heart disease or lung disease, they are especially at risk of these effects. They may not be aware that they have an underlying condition until they experience a cardiac event.

Dry scooping with other substances

Sometimes, people combine the pre-workout powder with other substances, such as energy drinks or alcohol. This practice adds to the risks.

Energy drinks often contain large doses of caffeine. Taking them with pre-workout supplements, which also contain caffeine, increases the likelihood of a caffeine overdose.

Combining the powder with alcohol involves different risks. Caffeine from the pre-workout supplement can mask alcohol’s depressant effects, causing a person to consume more. This could put a person at risk of alcohol-induced impairments.

Pre-workout supplements without dry scooping

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not closely regulate dietary supplements.

Consequently, many of them may have potentially harmful unlisted ingredients. According to a 2017 study, many ingredients have not undergone testing for safety and effectiveness.

Pre-workout supplements pose a danger to health even if a person does not dry scoop them, warn the study authors. There have been reports of stroke, heart attack, hepatitis, and death after taking such supplements.

The dangers stem from several common ingredients. Aside from caffeine, these include beta-phenethylamine and creatine-monophosphate.

These substances can cause:

Consuming too much caffeine at once can result in various side effects, such as:

  • anxiety
  • dizziness
  • nervousness
  • irritability
  • nausea

If the dose of caffeine is large enough, it can produce very serious effects, such as:

  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • disorders in heart rhythm
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

Before taking a pre-workout or other dietary supplement, a person should contact a doctor. This is especially important if the person has an underlying health condition, particularly if it affects the heart or lungs.

Some supplements interfere with medications. Others may contain ingredients that are not advisable for people with certain conditions to take, even in small dosages.

If a doctor approves a pre-workout supplement, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when taking it. People should never dilute it with less water or take a larger dosage than the recommended amount.

The NCPC clearly states that dry scooping can be dangerous and may cause heart attacks. Research has linked supplements to serious health events even when a person does not dry scoop them, and this practice increases their effects.

Anyone who experiences any of the more serious effects of dry scooping, such as chest pain or seizures, should seek immediate medical treatment.

According to the NCPC, there is a connection between dry scooping pre-workout supplements and heart attacks.

As caffeine is a common ingredient, a person may ingest too much of it at once when they take the supplement without diluting it in water. Large dosages of caffeine cause adverse effects that may lead to a heart attack, seizures, and respiratory failure.

Given the serious nature of the dangers, it is best to refrain from dry scooping.