A bizarre new social media challenge known as “dry scooping” is making its way through the internet, thanks to the popular video-sharing app TikTok. Furthermore, it is causing some persons to get severely unwell, which is raising some worry among medical professionals.
Dry scooping refers to the practice of putting a scoop of pre-workout powder (or protein powder, in certain situations) in your mouth rather than combining the powder with water or another beverage and drinking it as instructed. In order to gain an increase in physical energy and mental concentration before going to the gym, pre-workout vitamins are taken, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Pre-workout vitamins are often powdered and are taken in the hopes of gaining an increase in physical energy and mental concentration. Yasi Ansari, MS, R.D., C.S.S.D., a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics based in Los Angeles, has been appointed as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Media Spokesperson. She speaks with SELF about her professional background. Dry scooping, according to Ansari, is intended to enhance the results of other treatments by a factor of two or three.
Although a lot of TikTok videos and news pieces have suggested that the practice is hazardous to people’s physical and mental health, this has not been proven. Some examples include a 20-year-old woman being sent to the hospital after she had heart failure while dry scooping, according to Buzzfeed. Following four dry scoops with another four scoops mixed with water, according to Newsweek, resulted in dangerously elevated blood pressure and cerebral edema, which needed emergency care treatment. Newsweek reported that another woman seemed to be having difficulties breathing after dry scooping.
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The hazards to one’s health are real, and medical experts are concerned about the situation
“There are a couple of very significant concerns that I have about this challenge,” says Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, co-medical director of the National Capital Poison Center and an emergency care physician and toxicologist, in an interview with SELF.
He feels that the dry scooping craze is similar to the cinnamon challenge that occurred a few years ago and resulted in a huge number of calls to Poison Control. Her prediction is that, as more people try dry scooping, the number of people who suffer from health problems will rise significantly. People should exercise extraordinary care in this scenario, according to me,” says the author.
First and first, it is necessary to consider the potential dangers of what is really included inside these powders—at least according to the label. It will be detailed in more detail shortly.) In general, pre-workout supplements include a variety of ingredients, including carbs, caffeine, amino acids, creatine monohydrate, green tea extract, and B vitamins, among other things, according to Ansari. According to studies, many of these compounds may be able to aid certain persons in improving their athletic performance, although many of their claimed benefits have yet to be proven in clinical trials.
According to Ansari, when these individual components are taken as prescribed, which means they are ingested in the manner and quantity recommended by the manufacturer, they may be regarded safe in otherwise healthy individuals. Each person’s body is different, and it is hard to anticipate how your body will respond when you take a concentrated mix of diverse components.
For example, “Not everyone will react the same way to pre-workout products when they are properly mixed with fluids, so imagine taking concentrated forms of the supplement.” according to Ansari. In addition, Ansari points out that since many products include unique blends, it may be impossible to establish exactly how much of each of the multiple ingredients you are ingesting.
It is difficult to determine whether or not consuming a concentrated mix of substances at the same time would have a negative influence on your health. The possibility exists that it is not a single element, but rather a mixture of elements.
The presence of even drugs that seem to be relatively safe and well-studied might be a danger. A large amount of caffeine (100mg or more per serving), according to Anari, may be found in pre-workout powders depending on the brand. This is about equivalent to the amount found in a cup of coffee.
According to Ansari, it is possible to have symptoms such as jitteriness, upset stomach, and an elevated heart rate when taking this medicine undiluted and/or in larger amounts than suggested. In his opinion, caffeine may be “extremely toxic and dangerous” when used in big amounts, according to Doctor Johnson-Arbor.
According to Dr. Johnson-Arbor, a caffeine overdose may cause symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain, trouble breathing, and confusion, which may need inpatient treatment at a hospital. The Arbor’s individuals who have underlying heart problems are taking medications that have similar effects, are caffeine sensitive, or who are consuming other caffeinated beverages at the same time are more likely to suffer from and die from a life-threatening caffeine overdose, according to Dr. Johnson’s opinion.
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The fact that you do not know what is in pre-workout powders until after you have ingested them is perhaps the most troubling part of using them
In the United States, these workout supplements are not considered meals or drugs, since they are not considered to constitute food or medication.
As Dr. Johnson-Arbor points out, they are classified as dietary supplements in the United States, and the supplement industry is tightly supervised. In the United States, dietary supplements are not examined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being put on the market, and what is advertised on the label does not always correspond to what is contained within the container. In addition, Doctor Johnson-Arbor points out that just because something is available over-the-counter or online does not always suggest that it is safe. The usage of [pre-workout pills] does not come without its dangers, though.
In certain situations, supplementary powders may include much more or fewer of the components listed on the label—or even compounds that are not specified at all—as a result of deceptive or erroneous labeling, contaminant contamination, or a combination of the above, among other factors.
Pre-workout supplements, according to Dr. Johnson-Arbor, are a great way to get an energy boost before your workout. According to him, “They might just contain B vitamins or something innocuous like that, but there are supplements that contain drugs that can cause you to become extremely, extremely revved up,” he continues.
Even though a number of stimulants and similar compounds have been banned in the United States due to safety concerns, poison control centers and hospitals continue to receive calls from people who have been exposed to these substances, implying that people are ingesting them through mislabeled or illegal products, says Dr. Johnson-Arbor. Products like fitness and weight-loss tablets that were promoted with fraudulent labeling have been found to contain illegal stimulants, according to authorities.
Ingesting a powder without diluting it with water would only increase the risk of toxicity. These concerns apply to all supplements (even pre-workout powders when taken as directed). Furthermore, Dr. Johnson-Arbor points out that certain people may be particularly prone to overusing pre-workout supplements. Most individuals hold the belief that, if they get somewhat more energy from a single scoop, ingesting five scoops will provide them five times the energy, and that this is acceptable.
Choking and trouble breathing are two more serious risks associated with consuming a significant amount of dry powder. However, although many individuals will be able to get rid of the uncomfortable sensation with a little coughing and sputtering, those who have underlying medical conditions, such as respiratory issues, may have major side effects from the coughing and spitting.
In the opinion of Dr. Johnson-Arbor, persons who suffer from asthma are in danger of experiencing an attack. According to Dr. Johnson-Arbor, inhaling powder into the lungs of those who already have lung difficulties may worsen their symptoms and perhaps cause catastrophic harm. Dr. Johnson-Arbor points out that this group of people is larger than usual at the moment because of the danger of long-term lung problems from a COVID-19 infection.
The potential dangers of dry scooping outweigh the supposed benefits by a ratio of one hundred and twenty for the great majority of individuals.
“pre-workout supplements are generally not required for the majority of physically active individuals,” according to Ansari, who also believes that “food is the best (and safest) way for the majority of people to obtain the nutrients they require for a great workout.”
A good rule of thumb is to seek advice from a doctor or sports registered dietitian first, to take the supplement as directed (that is, in the recommended dosage and mixed with fluids), and to choose a brand that has been certified by an independent testing organization such as the National Sanitation Foundation or the Informed-Choice Foundation (which help ensure supplement safety and quality).
Individuals should contact Poison Control if they or someone they know finds themselves in a terrifying situation, according to Dr. Johnson-Arbor. Individuals should be aware that Poison Control is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the event that they get ill as a consequence of participating in this challenge or any other social media challenge. For the general public, it is always free, and we are pleased to provide them with assistance when they need it.
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Is There Any Advantage to Dry Scooping Before a Workout?
In order to get the most out of their pre-workout energy powder, many gym-goers choose to dry-scoop it. Dry scooping, on the other hand, is effective in this regard. Benedict Ifedi, MD, a family, and sports medicine specialist at Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Texas, explains that eating the powder dry allows the consumer to experience the results more quickly.
Fast absorption, on the other hand, is not always a positive thing. Pre-workout powder’s components may be harmful if they are absorbed too quickly (more on this in a moment), but they also do not provide the advantages that its proponents say they offer.
Pre-workout energy powder, which often includes caffeine, has been shown to provide an anaerobic energy increase in several studies. In other words, you will have increased stamina for short, intense workout sessions. However, you will not notice much of an improvement in your overall strength, especially in the upper and lower body.
Pre-workout supplements, on the other hand, lack long-term data on both effectiveness and safety. As a result, there is no way to know what is in them. Some of them may even include illegal chemicals like anabolic steroids (1,3-dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, which can lead to heart attacks, is one of the most widely publicized).
Before and after an exercise, the effects of protein supplementation are the same. So you do not have to dry scoop in a hurry before working out. You can get the same results with a post-workout protein smoothie.
What Makes Dry Scooping Before a Workout Bad?
Dry scooping has two major drawbacks. Dry powder may induce aspiration pneumonia if ingested or inhaled, according to Ifedi. Inhaling powder may cause this condition, which is why supplement labels advise diluting the powder with a drink before ingestion.
Inhaling the powder is not a guarantee of health, even if you avoid it. As a result of their high caffeine content, pre-workout supplements are also harmful. Ifedi explains that “caffeine naturally [increases] mental alertness, mood, and performance,” he adds. The caffeine content in an 8-ounce cup of coffee is around 95 milligrams. A dry scoop of pre-workout has the caffeine equivalent of five cups of coffee, according to some studies.
Ifedi points out that quick use of this much caffeine may lead to:
- increases in blood pressure,
- increases in heart rate,
- dangerous changes in heart rhythm,
- heart attack,
- and even death.
When used properly, are pre-workout powders safe?
For pre-workout supplements, there is not enough information to tell for sure if they are safe or effective.
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) released a study in August 2018 that studied the effects of multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements on exercise performance and subsequent training. Supplements may improve exercise performance in the short term, according to the study, but researchers said the evidence is preliminary and there are no data to determine whether such supplements are safe over the long run. The majority of supplement usage trials lasted no more than eight to twelve weeks.
Pre-workout supplements might differ widely from one another, even among those promoted for the same purpose.
Most pre-workout supplement components include beta-alanine, caffeine, citrulline, tyrosine, taurine, and creatine, according to a research in the journal Nutrients that was published January 2019. Nearly half (44.3 percent) of all substances are incorporated in a “proprietary blend” with secret proportions of each constituent, yet the composition changes “substantially” across formulations.
Dietary supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, are mostly studied in tiny, short-term trials involving exclusively males.