Doctors warn against 'potentially deadly' TikTok trend that sees gym-goers 'dry-scooping' protein powder, amid concerns it could lead to choking, pneumonia or heart disturbances

 Doctors have warned against a popular but 'potentially deadly' TikTok challenge favored by gym-goers, which involves ingesting pre-workout protein powder without mixing it with liquid first.  

The challenge, called 'dry scooping', has been doing the rounds on the Chinese-owned social media app, despite potentially causing choking, pneumonia, heart disturbances and other conditions. 

A new study has found dry scooping video demonstrations on TikTok – which has millions of teen users – amassed more than 8.2 million likes.  

One 20-year-old social media influencer in Florida who tried dry scooping earlier this year claimed it gave her a heart attack. 

Another posted a video of her dry scooping with the caption: 'I stopped breathing.' 

Pictured, TikTok user @briannakaylynn tries 'dry scooping'. Ingesting the highly concentrated powder can lead to choking, accidental inhalation, overconsumption, injury and death, an expert warns

Pictured, TikTok user @briannakaylynn tries 'dry scooping'. Ingesting the highly concentrated powder can lead to choking, accidental inhalation, overconsumption, injury and death, an expert warns


When dry scooping, an individual puts a scoop of undiluted powder into their mouth, sometimes followed by a few sips of water or other liquids. Alternatively, they may just try to eat the scoop dry. 

Typically, pre-workout is sold in powder form and is intended to be combined with water and consumed as a drink. 

Concerningly, TikTok videos looked at in the study also feature the mixing of pre-workout with substances such as energy drinks and alcohol. 

And what's worse is TikTok allows children aged as low as 13 to open an account. Improper use of pre-workout supplements, which are only designed for adults, can result in 'respiratory or cardiovascular distress or death', the new study warns. 

The findings are set to be presented this weekend during the online-only American Academy of Pediatrics 2021 National Conference and Exhibition. 

'It can be difficult for physicians to identify novel trends that may pose health hazards among youth,' said abstract author Nelson Chow, a Princeton University student and research intern at Cohen Children's Medical Center, New York. 

'Take for instance the current pervasiveness of pre-workout and the dangerous methods of its consumption. 

'Sometimes investigating unorthodox platforms like TikTok can yield valuable results.'

@____tuna___

Never dry scooping again

♬ original sound - NOJO朗

For the study, Chow collected 100 TikTok videos under the hashtag '#preworkout' and analysed the following data – likes, method of ingestion, number of servings, and the powder's combination with other substances.   

Of the 100 videos analysed, the cumulative number of likes was 259,773,000 and ranged from 112,300 to 1,700,000 per video. 

In total, 31 of the videos featured dry scooping – clocking up a total of 8,201,900 likes.

Typically, pre-workout is sold in powder form (pictured) and intended to be combined with water and consumed as a drink

Another 11 of the videos featured users improperly concentrating or mixing pre-workout powders (totalling 2,399,400 likes), and 7 per cent featured users consuming pre-workout through other dangerous methods (1,721,200 likes).

In all, five videos showed the consumption of pre-workout supplements with energy drinks, and two with alcohol.

Worryingly, only eight of the videos depicted the correct use of workout powders.       

Despite being labelled for use by people 18 and over only, pre-workout has become increasingly popular among teens. 

Fans of pre-workout supplements, or 'pre-workouts' for short, claim they enhance workout performance, but some experts say they can be dangerous, especially if they are used incorrectly. 

@briannakaylynn

The highs & lows of dry scooping all in one video  #fyp #girlswholift

♬ busy doin hot girl ish - Chelsea
TikTok is a Chinese social media app where users can live stream, create short videos and music videos and Gifs with a host of functions (file photo)

TikTok is a Chinese social media app where users can live stream, create short videos and music videos and Gifs with a host of functions (file photo)


Pre-workout supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and while ingredients vary between brands, amino acids, B vitamins, caffeine, creatine and artificial sweeteners are typically included, according to Healthline

They often come in powder form and are to be mixed with water before consumption. 

However, the new dry scooping trend on TikTok has people pouring the performance-enhancing powder down their throats so it hits the bloodstream faster, which can have harmful side effects.  

'Pre-workout powders typically contain caffeine along with other ingredients such as creatine, amino acids and vitamins,' Nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation, who was not involved with the study, told the BBC

'The levels of caffeine in these products vary from the equivalent of about one to over three cups of filter coffee, if made up according to the manufacturer's instructions.

'So, there is a risk of over-consuming caffeine, especially if using more than once a day, or just consuming the powder, where you may consume more than the recommended amount.' 

Back in June, 20-year-old Briatney Portillo, an Only Fans star and stripper from Florida, revealed she was rushed to hospital after her left arm went limp – a sign of a heart attack – after trying dry scooping. 

TikTok user @gianna.brownn, pictured, tried dry scooping by pouring it down her throat - but couldn't stop it from coming back up

TikTok user @gianna.brownn, pictured, tried dry scooping by pouring it down her throat - but couldn't stop it from coming back up

'Taking a dry pre-workout scoop bc I saw it trending on TikTok,' she captioned a clip of herself in the hospital in April. 'Ending up in the hospital because I had a heart attack.'  

'After I took the pre-workout, I started to feel tingly and itchy all over my body, which wasn’t a good feeling, but I googled it and it said that was a normal side effect,' Portillo told BuzzFeed

Woman claims she suffered a HEART ATTACK following TikTok challenge
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Scary: Briatney Portillo, 20, claimed she had a heart attack after swallowing an undiluted scoop pre-workout powder in viral video filmed in the hospital
Scary: Briatney Portillo, 20, claimed she had a heart attack after swallowing an undiluted scoop pre-workout powder in viral video filmed in the hospital

Scary: Briatney Portillo, 20, claimed she had a heart attack after swallowing an undiluted scoop pre-workout powder in viral video filmed in the hospital 

The exotic dancer ignored the symptoms and continued with her workout, mistaking the tightness in her chest for anxiety. 

'I started to feel a heavy feeling in my chest and slight pain, but it wasn’t too bad,' she explained. 'I thought it was maybe anxiety or a bad panic attack, so I decided to just ignore it and push through my workout.'

When the chest pain subsided, Portillo started feeling nauseous and light-headed, before getting hot flushes.  

'I started sweating a lot and was drenched even though I was wearing a bikini. Then my chest pain came back and this time it was more intense,' she said. 

'The pain went to my back and to my left arm and my left arm went slightly limp, so I knew those were symptoms of a heart attack. I called 911 and the ambulance came.'

Doctors warn against 'potentially deadly' TikTok trend that sees gym-goers 'dry-scooping' protein powder, amid concerns it could lead to choking, pneumonia or heart disturbances Doctors warn against 'potentially deadly' TikTok trend that sees gym-goers 'dry-scooping' protein powder, amid concerns it could lead to choking, pneumonia or heart disturbances Reviewed by Your Destination on October 10, 2021 Rating: 5

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