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Experts say ingesting dry protein powder before workouts can cause a variety of health issues. David Ferencik/Getty Images
  • Experts say the trend on TikTok and other social media platforms encouraging people to “dry scoop” fitness powder before exercising poses a number of health risks.
  • They say that trying to swallow these powders can cause coughing, shortness of breath, and other more serious health issues.
  • They recommend that you instead have a smoothie or a single cup of coffee before working out.

If you’re thinking of trying “dry scooping,” fitness experts advise you not to join this online trend.

The challenge, which is making the rounds on TikTok and other social media platforms, dares a person to fill their mouth with a dry fitness-related powder, sip a little liquid, and try to swallow.

Pre-workout powders are created to be blended with liquids such as water, milk, or juice.

Experts say consuming these products against the recommended guidelines poses unique and sometimes serious health risks.

Taking pre-workout powder without diluting it in water can increase the dangers of taking such dietary supplements, says Haley Perlus, PhD, a certified fitness professional and coach.

”Dietary supplements are highly unregulated in the United States and, therefore, banned stimulants and ingredients have been found in some powdered mixes,” Perlus told Healthline.

Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, FACP, FCCP, the chief medical officer at the American Lung Association, told Healthline there are several dangers associated with this type of challenge.

The risk of small particles from dry powder inadvertently being inhaled rather than swallowed can lead to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or even aspiration pneumonia, according to Rizzo.

“This would be particularly a concern in someone who may already have underlying lung diseases such as asthma,” Rizzo said.

“Everybody can react differently to dry scooping, and it can have some harmful side effects for some,” added Perlus. “Every single tub of the powdered mix is different in some ways. As with most contain proprietary blends, there is no way of knowing the exact measurements of its contents.”

Pre-workout mixes can have between 150 to 300 mg of caffeine (up to 3 cups of coffee). If you’ve already had coffee that day, this additional boost can affect your blood pressure and heart rate, explained Perlus.

Overloading on caffeine can lead to:

  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • trouble breathing

Pre-workout mixes are not necessary for most people, according to Perlus.

“Pre-workout is intended to help enhance your performance at the gym with energy-boosting ingredients, but it’s not essential to completing a workout,” she explained.

“Although some pre-workout supplements contain ingredients proven to increase sports performance, others are ineffective and potentially harmful to your health,” she added.

So, instead of dry powder mixes and TikTok challenges, you may want to consider going back to the basics. If you have specific nutrition and exercise questions, reach out to your local dietitian.

Perlus’ advice for preparing for a workout:

  • Food choices. Eat natural foods heavy in carbohydrates such as a banana or a slice of bread with peanut butter or eggs for protein.
  • Nutrients needed. Make sure you have a little bit of protein with a little fiber and fat to ensure your digestion isn’t slow.
  • Quick options. You can also make smoothies, as they are easy to digest and incorporate protein powder, fruit, and water for hydration.
  • Need a coffee? If caffeine is what you need for an energy boost, a cup of coffee about 30 minutes before your workout can give you that extra energy.
  • Warm up. You can also do some warm-up exercises to raise your body temperature and increase your range of motion while preparing yourself for your workout.

“A short 10-minute warm-up can also decrease your risk of injury as you ease into the exercises rather than diving into it directly from a resting state,” said Perlus.