TikTokers Are Dry Scooping Pre-Workout, and Experts Say It's Dangerous

·3 min read
Close-up of white protein powder in jar with measuring spoon.
Close-up of white protein powder in jar with measuring spoon.

I work in the fitness industry and I'm all about feeling good in your own skin, so you can imagine that my TikTok feed is full of fellow fit enthusiasts sharing motivational tips, inspiration, and occasionally, workout or nutrition suggestions. But when it comes to the latter, I'm always careful to check the person's credentials and background: if they're not a certified personal trainer or registered dietitian, I usually take their advice with a grain of salt. After all, anyone can appear to be an expert on social media, and while giving voice to the voiceless is one of the benefits of the platform, that concept doesn't apply to unqualified people giving faux-expert advice.

That's the frame of scrutiny with which I explored a recent TikTok trend: that of dry scooping pre-workout supplements or even basic protein powder. Dry scooping simply means dumping a scoop of dry powder directly into your mouth, rather than mixing it with water or milk in a shake. It may sound reminiscent of the infamous cinnamon challenge, and I promise you, it's just as messy and has just as few benefits. In fact, the dietitians I spoke with warned that it can even be dangerous.

Why Is It Unsafe to Dry Scoop Pre-Workout or Protein Powder?

Ayat Sleymann, RD, explained that pre-workout powder can contain massive amounts of caffeine, which can be dangerous when consumed this quickly. "A sudden dose of excessive caffeine can trigger fast and irregular heartbeats, which could lead to sudden cardiac arrest and even death," Sleymann told POPSUGAR. Diluting pre-workout with liquid slows the absorption, instead of dumping it all into your system at once. "There have been reported cases of stroke, heart attacks, hepatitis, and death from not following diluting instructions," Sleymann explained.

Sarah Grace Meckelberg, MS, RD, added that when you dry scoop powder - whether it's pre-workout, protein powder, or the aforementioned cinnamon - you run the risk of accidentally inhaling it and having it enter your lungs and sinuses. "You've probably seen it happen: someone puts the scoop in their mouth, only to breathe in and have a ton of powder come out everywhere," Meckelberg said. Not only does it make a huge mess, but inhaling powder can cause infection.

Dry scooping can also wreak havoc on your teeth. "Many pre-workouts have citric acid in them, and putting this harsh acid directly on your teeth can chew away at your enamel in a way that permanently damages them," Meckelberg told POPSUGAR.

Beyond the risks of dry scooping alone, Sleymann pointed out that supplements such as protein powders and pre-workout are minimally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so they're often brought to market without being tested for efficacy or safety. In other words, you don't really know what you're putting in your body.

That's why the experts I spoke with recommend eating whole, nutrient-rich foods before and after a workout. Rachel Paul, PhD, RD, explained that some of her favorite high-protein snacks include two hard-boiled eggs and a single-serve guacamole packet, two ounces of jerky, a cheese stick with an apple, or a banana and peanut butter. But if you do decide to go the pre-workout route, make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow those, instead of a trend you saw on TikTok.