Why Are Teenagers Dry Scooping Pre-Workout Powder on TikTok?

Shocker, this is a godawful idea

A scoop of brown pre-workout powder
TikTok teens are back at it again.
Gabriel Vergani/EyeEm

TikTok has played host to some alarming viral trends over the years. People have eaten “bowls” of cereal out of friends’ mouths, purposely veered their cars into the left lane and put pennies into electrical circuits, all in the name of clicks and clout. One of the latest crazes intersects with the wellness sphere: Teens have recently taken to dry scooping shots of pre-workout powder.

The tag #preworkout currently has 818 million views on TikTok, and many of the top videos feature young men and women going bottoms up on a ladle of flavored pre-workout. They scoop the powder from candy-colored tubs called “Ghost” or “Bang Energy,” then document how difficult it is to swallow without any water (writing captions like “my throat literally closed up,” followed by a laughing face emoji), and claim they’re ready to go beast mode on a workout. Others don’t seem seem to even have plans to work out, they just want to get in on the action.

Shocker, this is a godawful idea. Some of these kids seem to think that taking pre-workout without a liquid is a more efficient way to get jacked up, but it’s actually pointless. As one trainer pointed out to Vice, “I don’t really know if people realize that water is literally what facilitates the effects — the mechanism of action — of many of the pump ingredients in these products.”

And if it is going to have an effect, it’s generally a dangerous one for the body. Pre-workout supplements have astronomical levels of caffeine, which raises blood pressure and taxes the heart. Last month, a 20-year-old had a legitimate heart attack and went to the hospital after dry scooping pre-workout.

To be sure, some pre-workout mixes contain reasonable amounts of caffeine, plus reliable, energy-boosting ingredients like beet juice, carbohydrates like maltodextrin, and various amino acids. But over 50% of pre-workout ingredients are proprietary blends, with impossible-to-pronounce names. Not to mention that the FDA has zero jurisdiction over the initial sale of pre-workout supplements — only once a supplement has been reported and determined to be harmful can the FDA remove it from shelves.

Which means — whether you’re dry scooping or mixing with water — you’re essentially a guinea pig for the product. You’re paying, at a rate of $50 a tub, for an opportunity to endanger yourself. Perhaps that’s what teens on TikTok want. It wouldn’t be the first time. But if you’re looking for a good workout, and hope to have many years of good workouts, stick to real food and real drinks. Eat bananas, have a slice of bread with jam. Or have a coffee up to an hour before your workout. Whatever you do, just don’t shovel “Raspberry Lemonade Blast” down your throat.

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