The trends and advice that you’ll find on TikTok can sometimes be ineffective or even dangerous. This past year, “dry scooping” made its way to the platform and quickly became a pre-workout trend.
Dry scooping is the practice of taking a scoop of dry pre-workout powder and chasing it with water–instead of taking it the intended way of mixing the powder with water and drinking it. It’s not a new thing, but it became popular on the social media app in 2021 as more and more users shared that they were dry scooping before hitting the gym.
Twenty-year-old Briatney Portillo discovered the dry scooping trend on TikTok and decided to give it a try, but she quickly regretted her decision. In a video about her experience with the workout trend, she revealed that dry scooping caused her to have a heart attack.
“Taking a dry pre-workout scoop [because] I saw it trending on TikTok,” she wrote over a photo with a rainbow clown face filter. “Ending up in the hospital because I had a heart attack.”
Portillo told BuzzFeed that after she tried dry scooping, she had a “heavy feeling” in her chest and “slight pain” that “wasn’t too bad.” At first, she ignored it and went to her job as an exotic dancer. Despite wearing a bikini, Portillo said she “started sweating a lot” and her chest pain became more intense.
She said the pain “went to my back and to my left arm and my left arm went slightly limp.” Knowing these were symptoms of a heart attack, Portillo called 911.
In her TikTok comments, Portillo shared that she suffered from a non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). According to the Cleveland Clinic, an NSTEMI is a partial or temporary blockage of blood flow to the heart.
“I have no heart conditions and I still got messed up,” she said.
The idea behind dry scooping a pre-workout powder is that it gives a concentrated hit of energy before exercise—allowing you to work out longer and harder. But, the practice comes with a few risks.
Dr. Kathryn Boling—a primary care physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center—told Health there’s an obvious risk of choking. She warned that there is also the risk of dehydration, which works against the dry scooping goal. There’s even the risk of aspiration pneumonia if you accidentally inhale some of the powder.
But the biggest possible issue is the concentrated hit of caffeine. If you dry scoop a powder that has a ton of caffeine, Dr. Boling said it’s not good for your heart.
Other physicians agreed that “mainlining a ton of caffeine” is a practice you want to avoid. Cardiologist Dr. Nicole Harkin told Health that dry scooping a highly caffeinated pre-workout powder “could certainly be detrimental to the body by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure acutely.”
The bottom line? “Don’t do this,” Dr. Boling said.