The fitness industry is no stranger to the occasional controversy, and one of the more bizarre recent fads is dry scooping. Ever been short on time and desperate to get into the gym? To save time, some gym-goers have been throwing back a scoop of pre-workout with no water whatsoever.
Sounds horrible, right? Well, it is. Unfortunately, this dangerous trend has spread like wildfire across/ GymTok, with people excitedly necking pre-workout before a sweaty sesh. But the fad carries some serious risks — some potentially fatal. The good news is Richie Kirwan is here to take us through them all in the latest Nutritionist Explains video, setting the record straight on dry scooping. Here’s why you shouldn’t keep your powder dry.
“Benefits” of dry scooping
Richie uses the term “benefits” very loosely here. He’s done some YouTube digging into dry scooping, and found some of the baffling reasons why people choose to ditch water in their pre-workout. None are in any way convincing.
“It saves time”
Dry scooping could save you about 90 seconds while you wait for the tap to run and shake up your pre-workout. Is 90 seconds really worth the potential consequences?
You just can’t be bothered getting your shaker out, running the tap and shaking it up. C’mon, if you’re heading into the gym to deadlift, you can find the motivation to mix your pre-workout. No cutting corners.
Faster Caffeine Absorption
Some ardent dry-scoopers argue that they benefit from a faster caffeine absorption rate when dry scooping, and Richie says there is a “shred” of truth to this claim. This is because some substances can be directly absorbed from the blood vessels in your mouth.
However, as Richie points out, you’ll only have the pre-workout in your mouth for a few seconds at most, which gives it next to no time to be absorbed that way.
Dry scooping means more supplements. Fact check: it does not!
The most shocking claim Richie found in his YouTube research was the argument that dry scooping “allows you to use more of a supplement, because you’re not filling your stomach with water.” . This has huge potential to be dangerous — filling your stomach with highly bioactive powder is definitely not a good idea.
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Why you shouldn’t dry scoop
So, now that Richie’s debunked the “benefits” of dry scooping, let’s get into all the reasons you shouldn’t do it. There are many.
There’s a lot of it
The scoops in pre-workout might be smaller, but that small scoop is still a lot of powder to swallow. And without water, that’s pretty difficult. You may end up breathing it in and coughing it all out. Or as Richie puts it: “you might inhale some into your lungs, which means you’ll be coughing out a neon cloud of noxious fumes, and you’ll end up looking like the **** that you actually are.” It’s fair to say it’s not worth putting that theory to the test.
You’re putting your teeth at risk
Pre-workout is extremely acidic, and when you dry scoop, you’re putting those acidic ingredients in direct contact with your teeth. Richie says: “I don’t care how good the workout is, I don’t want to lose my teeth chasing the perfect pump.”
Water is essential for absorption
Dry-scoopers also seem to forget the importance and value of water when it comes to a great workout. He explains: “water is essential for absorption of the pre-workout ingredients from your digestive system into your bloodstream.” On top of that, pre-workouts are designed to be used with the correct amount of water to optimise absorption.
Water is essential for key ingredients
Sticking on the topic of water, it’s also essential for the function of certain key ingredients in pre-workout. For example, citrulline malate — the ingredient that increases blood flow to the muscles, requiring greater blood volume. Here’s how Richie explains it…
“The whole point of pump enhancers is to take advantage of blood volume, which is mostly made up of water, to make your muscles swell during a workout.” So, why are we skipping water again?
Water is a performance enhancer
Richie isn’t done with water yet — it’s also a performance enhancer all by itself. He explains that research has shown that as you get more dehydrated, your muscular strength decreases. So, in Richie’s words, “why could you possibly think that it’s a bad idea to have some water before a training session.”
“Pre-workouts just tastes horrendous undiluted”
Ever drunk undiluted squash? Yeah, not nice. Dry scooping pre-workout is like that but even worse because it’s not even liquid. Pre-workout is made to be diluted with water, so the flavours will be way too potent if they’re not diluted.
Again, Richie puts it best…
“They’re full of flavours and sweeteners that taste great when diluted to the correct amount. But if you take them concentrated, it’s like the party in your mouth you never wanted to go to.”
Can cause stomach upsets
Not only can dry scooping cause some upset tastebuds, it can also cause stomach upsets. This is mainly due to the high levels of caffeine and creatine in lots of pre-workouts. And as Richie says: “the last thing you want going into a heavy training session is to feel like your stomach is being ripped apart from the inside.” Yeah, we’ll pass.
Diluting the pre-workout with water helps your stomach tolerate the caffeine and creatine, giving you loads of energy for your workout, but without the upset tummy.
Dry-scooping could be fatal
The final and most important reason you shouldn’t dry scoop is the potentially serious health consequences. Some people have ended up in hospital with suspected heart attacks after dry scooping. That is not worth the dry scoop.
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Take home message
Richie certainly does not advocate dry scooping your pre-workout. The list of negatives is long, and there’s a very short and tenuous list of potential “benefits”. Richie does reveal that sometimes he dry scoops his creatine in the morning out of laziness (shame on you, Richie), however he always chases it with water and absolutely does not recommend it — even if you’re following it up with water straight away.
Richie’s final say is: “do not dry scoop your pre-workout. It is just plain stupid.”