Is dry scooping dangerous? Get the facts

Published September 2, 2021

Published

picture of a scoop of pre-workout

A young woman is in the hospital for a heart attack after following a trend on TikTok called dry scooping.

Dry scooping is the act of ingesting a pre-workout supplement without diluting the powder with water. This leads to feeling a giant burst of energy as a person consumes a large amount of caffeine, creatine, amino acids, vitamin B, etc. in one sitting. 

A single scoop of a pre-workout can contain anywhere from 100 to 500 mg of caffeine. This equates to a large cup of coffee with several shots of espresso. 

"When using this much caffeine it's akin to adrenaline to your heart," describes Nebraska Medicine cardiologist John Higgins, MD. "The big risk in this is causing heart arrhythmia issues."  When combined with activity already stressing the heart, this environment creates an imbalance that can lead to serious risks like a heart attack.

Although these instances are rare, the risk of dry scooping far outweighs the benefits.

Caffeine vs. the heart

Caffeine can cause blood vessels to become a little tighter. But this isn't much of a concern as a normal dose of caffeine, such as a cup of black coffee, does not carry a huge risk. In other substances, like a pre-workout, the amount of caffeine you are taking is not controlled well. You may be consuming more caffeine than your body is used to and there is potential for harm.

The purpose of a pre-workout is to provide a big burst of energy to help you exercise. Using a pre-workout is not without risk even when used as directed.  

Variables of risk

Dry scooping can impact a person based on aspects such as age, blood pressure and a family's medical history. 

If a person is in their late 30s or older, this type of danger is magnified. The risk of a more traditional heart attack increases and becomes more susceptible to heart rhythm syndromes. A combination of dry scooping and a heavy workout can equate to a dangerous position. 

Younger folks may have the ability to handle these large doses of caffeine a lot better.

Red flags after dry scooping

Now, we can't tell you how to live your life and are aware people will still do this, however, the following signs are an indication something is wrong: 

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • High heart rate 

If you start to feel a bit out of yourself, Dr. Higgins suggests sitting down, take a break and check your pulse. If your heart beat per minute (bpm) is sustaining at 120 bpm or more after resting for 5 minutes, that's a big red flag. At this point seek out medical help especially if your heart rate continues to creep up.

Try to avoid the temptation to push through or sweat it out. Exerting the heart more while it is under a high amount of stress increases the risk of damage. Your body will continue to metabolize the supplement and make sure to stay hydrated.

Is dry scooping dangerous?

Short answer: yes. There are risks with consuming a large amount of caffeine in addition to the choking hazard (cinnamon challenge, anyone?). To avoid those risks, use as directed and consult your doctor before taking.