Another day, another TikTok 'health trend' that, to be frank, is pretty silly – this time around it seems social media users are trying 'dry scooping'. Never heard of it? We hadn't either, until videos showing gym goers swallowing pre-workout energy powder down, then chasing it with water, as opposed to using it properly and mixing with liquid beforehand.
Such powders typically contain caffeine, to kickstart and energise the fitness fan ahead of their workout, as well as helping with focus, mental clarity and assist with muscle growth.
Generally, those who've tried the trend walk away unharmed, but doctors are now speaking out against dry scooping a pre or post-workout protein powder, especially as two TikTok users have posted follow-up videos saying it had a drastic impact on their health.
One user, who has the handle @brivtny, shared a video of herself with a clown filter on from a hospital bed, claiming that she had a heart attack after trying the trend:
Obviously we don't know if the heart attack was medically linked to dry scooping, but regardless, Dr Reyan Saghir explains why he most definitely would not recommend giving it a go. Speaking to Hearst UK, Dr Saghir breaks down what dry scooping actually is, and why it's not the brightest idea.
What is dry scooping?
'The thought behind this trend was that ingesting the dry powder alone can provide an increased and more concentrated pre-workout boost to overall enhance your strength, stamina and endurance when undertaking a strenuous and active session,' he says.
Dr Saghir adds, 'However, dry scooping can be very dangerous and unhealthy for numerous reasons... [Having a heart attack] is an extreme effect of dry scooping but explainable, as with many pre-workout powders the key ingredient to provide that "extra kick" is caffeine. In one scoop, you could be ingesting the equivalent to three cups of coffee.'
Why is dry scooping dangerous?
Following on, Dr Saghir then says that instead of having the caffeine paced over even a few minutes or an hour, by dry scooping you're ingesting this high dose within seconds. 'This then triggers an "adrenaline" like effect on the body with the amount and intensity of contractions on the heart increasing significantly, placing it under much strain. This, even for a normal healthy heart, is dangerous, but for somebody with a previous heart condition? It could be fatal.'
Mixing the pre-workout powder with water, however, would mean you’re more likely to spread this high dose over your workout reducing the burden on the heart.
'With heart attacks being the most significant side-effect of a high dose of caffeine, other more common symptoms people might experience include dizziness, headaches, dehydration, nausea and palpitations,' he adds – which again, doesn't exactly sound pleasant. 'Dry scooping also poses a major choking risk, by ingesting a whole powder with only the minimal saliva in the mouth the powder can clump and is very likely to enter the airways. Once there it could restrict breathing and what once seemed like a "fun challenge" suddenly becomes very serious.'
Do you need pre-workout powders?
It's also worth noting that such pre-workout powders or supplements are not considered necessary by experts, even when consumed according to the instructions. According to registered nutritionist Katherine Kimber: 'Although they may play a role in enhancing the performance of well-trained athletes, for most people, a well-balanced diet – especially one which is timed appropriately – should be enough. At the end of the day, a deficient eating pattern cannot be out trained – or out supplemented.'
'For most people, even the high-performance athletes I work with, I’ve never recommended a pre-workout,' explains Renee McGregor, sports and eating disorder specialist dietitian and author of Orthorexia, Training Food and Fast Fuel. 'Instead, we look at the timing of caffeine, protein and carbs consumed before a workout.' (Many pre-workout supplements are essentially a combination of protein and carbs, with some added caffeine for a boost of energy.)
If your diet isn’t in a good place, then spending money on pre-workout supplements isn’t going to be a quick fix. 'Pre-workout supplements are for someone who already has their daily nutrition intake sorted and they are now striving to seek those small extra gains where they can,' says Rebecca Dent, high-performance dietitian.
Noted, noted, and, yes, noted.
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