Dry Scooping: The New Tik Tok Trend Causing Brain Injuries

Jayanth Deshmukh, medtigo Medical News October 18, 2021

Medical specialists have been warning gym-goers about a potentially harmful pre-workout fad called “dry-scooping,” which involves protein powders. After video demonstrations on the social network TikTok received more than 8 million views, researchers in the United States decided to investigate the practice. Briatney Portillo, one of the users, claimed she tried it and had a heart attack as a result. Now, the trend has been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular distress in children, according to doctors. 

When someone eats a dry scoop of pre-workout powder without diluting it with water, they are said to be dry-scooping. Caffeine, amino acids, vitamin Bs, creatine, and beta-alanine are all common performance-enhancing compounds included in pre-workout powders. The chemicals are frequently present in high dosages and are designed to be diluted with 200ml of water before consumption to improve a person’s workout performance.  

The trend has been going on for a while, with Reddit discussions about it dating back five years. People have started eating the workout powder in its concentrated, undiluted powder form, ostensibly to improve its effects while exercising. However, the issue lies in the ingredients. When consumed undiluted in large quantities, protein powders can be deadly.  

Some pre-workout powders include as much as 500mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to more than five cups of coffee. Other artificial additives, such as sweeteners, colors, and emulsifiers may be present in significant concentrations. Consuming these chemicals in concentrated levels, according to experts, can raise blood pressure. Pre-workout powders often include more caffeine and other stimulants per serving than a cup of coffee or energy drink. 

Bernard Hsu, a doctor and YouTuber, makes educational videos, and in April, he shared a video about a patient who dry-scooped for a TikTok video and ended up in the hospital with a brain injury after taking eight scoops. In the video, Hsu explains that “The combination of huge amounts of caffeine and beta phenylethylamine in eight scoops of pre-workout swallowed all at once, with heavy lifting, all together could have increased [the patient’s] blood pressure so high that it caused his brain to start to stroke in the form of a bleed.” 

While there has been some research on caffeine and performance in trained athletes, researchers don’t know how these powders will affect the general public. One thing is for certain, it is obviously not required to take supplements before training, and those who do should make sure to follow the directions on the package for preparation. 

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