What Is Dry Scooping?

Cropped Hand Holding Ground Protein In Scoop At Table

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Key Takeaways

  • Dry scooping is a fitness trend where people swallow pre-workout powder without mixing it in water.
  • People may believe that dry scooping will give them more energy for their workouts.
  • Dry scooping went viral in 2021, but a recent study found that it is still a common practice.
  • Experts warn that dry scooping may cause serious side effects, like heart palpations and difficulty breathing.

Dry scooping, the practice of consuming pre-workout powder without mixing it in water, went viral back in 2021 and health experts at the time quickly warned against the dangerous trend among teens. However, new research published in the journal Eating Behaviors suggests that some fitness enthusiasts still follow this trend in hopes of enhancing their workouts.

The researchers analyzed data from the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors and found that 1 in 5 boys and men reported dry scooping in the last 12 months.

"The biggest takeaway was just how common dry scooping was," Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSW, an assistant professor with the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, and co-author of the study, told Verywell in an email.

Pre-workout powders typically contain a blend of caffeine and amino acids like beta-alanine and citrulline. The powders are designed to be mixed with water and consumed before exercising to help users get the most out of their workouts.

“In theory, dry scooping the powders is supposed to amplify the benefits of pre-workout powders given that the contents of the powders (i.e., caffeine, creatine) are not diluted via water and are taken in one ‘shot’,” Ganson said.

However, there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims. Ganson's study is one of the first to even look at dry scooping. 

“Given the potential risks of this behavior, it truly indicates that we need to continue to research these novel behaviors,” he said.

Dry Scooping is Irritating

Swallowing dry powder, whether it's for the cinnamon challenge or dry scooping, can irritate your throat and lungs making it hard to breathe. This is especially concerning for people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or bronchitis, because experts say swallowing dry pre-workout powder could make symptoms worse. Mixing pre-workout powder with water and drinking it slowly can reduce the chance of accidentally swallowing it into your lungs.

Who Is Most Likely to Try Dry Scooping?

Ganson and the research team set out to investigate factors that contributed to young people trying this trend.

"The more time participants spent on social media, the more likely they were to engage in dry scooping," Ganson said.

Men, people who weight train, and people with muscle dysmorphia, a mental health disorder in which people fixate on the idea that they are not muscular enough, were also more likely to report that they tried dry scooping.

"This finding further emphasizes the potentially dangerous behaviors people with symptoms of muscle dysmorphia engage in," Ganson said.

Since Ganson's research was one of the first to look at dry scooping, the authors hope it can contribute to intervention and prevention efforts to support young people who may be susceptible to trying this practice.

Dry Scooping Can Be Toxic

Experts warn against dry scooping in part because pre-workout powders often contain high amounts of caffeine.

When someone consumes pre-workout powder as directed, their body would absorb the caffeine slowly. Dry scooping means someone could ingest as much as 2 to 3 times the amount of caffeine from a standard cup of coffee all at once.

"Caffeine is something that many of us consume every day in coffee or tea or soda. It is safe for many people in certain amounts, but at high amounts, such as that from ingesting large amounts of these workout supplements, that can result in toxicity and even death in some cases," Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, a medical toxicologist, co-medical director and interim executive director at the National Capital Poison Center in Washington DC, told Verywell.

Johnson-Arbor said that, after dry scooping, someone might have palpitations, dizziness, tremors, or difficulty breathing. A 20-year-old woman even had a heart attack in 2021 after dry scooping, as reported by Buzzfeed News.

Caffeine isn't the only ingredient in pre-workout powders to blame for these symptoms. However, experts say that since pre-workout powders are dietary supplements, the ingredient labels aren't strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and it can be difficult to know exactly what you are consuming.

"They may contain ingredients that are in a different concentration or amount than is listed on the product label, or even maybe something that's not listed on a product label," Johnson-Arbor said.

Some pre-workout powders list "proprietary blend" on the ingredients label to maintain a secret formula, but this also keeps the amounts of each ingredient hidden from people who need this information.

"As the toxicologist who gets called about these cases, I don't know what that proprietary blend necessarily means," she said. "You're consuming multiple ingredients that may or may not do the same thing and cause an additive clinical effect."

There's a chance this trend is on its way out. Dry scooping videos are hard to find on TikTok now, in part thanks to TikTok's most recent guidelines updated in October 2022. The guidance states that "content that promotes unhealthy eating behaviors or habits that are likely to cause adverse health outcomes is not allowed on the platform."

Any dry scooping TikToks that are still posted sometimes come with a warning label stating that "participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt."

What This Means For You

Dry scooping can lead to serious side effects and experts say it is dangerous to consume undiluted pre-workout powder. If you feel like your heart is skipping a beat after consuming pre-workout powder (dry or mixed with water) you can call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 to figure out if you should go to the hospital or seek out specialized medical attention.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chow N. Dry scooping and other dangerous pre-workout consumption methods: A quantitative analysis [abstract]. Abstract presented at: 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition. Oct 9, 2021; Lynbrook, NY,

  2. Ganson KT, Hallward L, Testa A, Jackson DB, Nagata JM. Prevalence and correlates of dry scooping: results from the Canadian study of adolescent health behaviors. Eating Behaviors. 2023;48:101705. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2023.101705

  3. Jagim A, Harty P, Camic C. Common ingredient profiles of multi-ingredient pre-workout supplementsNutrients. 2019;11(2):254. doi:10.3390/nu11020254

  4. Cerea S, Bottesi G, Pacelli QF, Paoli A, Ghisi M. Muscle dysmorphia and its associated psychological features in three groups of recreational athletesSci Rep. 2018;8(1):8877. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-27176-9

  5. Poison Control. Dry scooping can be life-threatening.