Skip to content
‘Dry scooping’ challenge turns pre-workout powder into a dangerous TikTok trend

(Getty Images)

ITASCA, Ill. – From Tide PODS to surfboards, the internet has certainly seen its fair share of “challenges” over the past decade. Today, a new study is sounding the alarm about a disturbing new online trend involving pre-workout powdered drinks. Researchers say the “dry-scooping” challenge, which has racked up more than eight million views on TikTok alone, is potentially deadly.

Powdered pre-workout drinks with tons of caffeine and other additives are meant to be mixed with water then consumes. This dry spooning phenomenon challenges online users to place a spoonful of undiluted powder in their mouth, followed by a few sips of water. Considering that many pre-workout substances can be dangerous for teens, even when people prepare them properly, the idea that millions of teens see this challenge is particularly troubling to researchers.

“It can be difficult for doctors to identify new trends that may pose health risks to young people. Take for example the current pervasiveness of pre-workout and the dangerous methods of consuming it, ”says abstract author Nelson Chow, a student at Princeton University and a pediatric developmental and behavioral research intern at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in A press release. “Sometimes investigating unorthodox platforms like TikTok can yield valuable results.”

Many do not mix these powders with water

The study authors claim that anyone who takes part in this challenge is at serious risk of accidentally overconsuming or inhaling pre-workout powder. Worse yet, some of these challenge videos show users mixing pre-workouts with extra energy drinks or even alcohol.

Researchers selected 100 TikTok videos under the hashtag “#preworkout” and analyzed each one based on number of likes, shares, method of ingestion, number of servings, and any combination with other substances. Most of the videos involved men (64%), while women (30%) and ambiguous / both (6%) made up the rest. Only eight percent of the included videos actually depicted the correct way to prepare a pre-workout drink, and the most common added substances were alcohol, energy drinks, creatine, and protein powder.

The researchers presented their findings at the 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.