Dry Scooping: Is it better to take it without water?


I’ve been in the health and fitness space for over a decade but seeing people dry scooping their pre-workouts or protein powders is new information. So I’ve decided to pull up my sleeves and do extensive research about dry scooping, what is it, and is it better to dry scoop your supplements?

In general, dry scooping refers to taking a serving of supplement (powder) and put it straight into the mouth without water. Dry scooping supplement powders may seem more efficient, however, the presence of water is necessary to facilitate the effects of the ingredients.

In this article, I will show you why you would be better of to take your supplements with water and why companies give specific recommendations for their supplements.

What Is The Point of Dry Scooping?

The point of dry scooping is to take supplement powder directly into the mouth without water. Some people believe that dry scooping powder is better than taking it in the recommended way and it can somehow hit harder when the powder isn’t diluted with water.

On the surface, it may sound logical because some substances are actually better absorbed from the mouth thru something which is called sublingual mucosal absorption.

What is the difference between dry scooping and sublingual absorption?

Dry scoopingSublingual absorption
Taking the powder into the mouth and swallowing it in the absence of water.Sublingual literally means under the tongue, and its referred to absorbing the substances or tablets in the sublingual mucosal area (under the tongue).
Absorbed from the gastrointestinal tractAbsorbed from the floor of the mouth
Enters the liver before it moves into the general circulationBy-passes the liver and goes directly into the general circulation

In total, there are three areas in the mouth where absorption rate is enhanced and is directly related to the thickness of the membrane layers:

NamePositionMembrane thickness
Sublingual areasunder the tongue100 ‐ 200 micrometers
Buccal areas cheeks200 micrometers
Palata area the roof of the mouth500 – 600 micrometers

Research shows that from all of the three, sublingual absorption is the most rapid and 3 to 10 times greater than swallowing (source). However, at the same time, it is the most short-acting in duration.

Sublingually absorbed nutrients can be also beneficial for people who have swallowing difficulties, and GI problems.

What are the advantages of sublingual absorption?

  • A relatively faster absorption compared to the oral route
  • Substances are protected from degradation from the pH and digestive enzymes of the GI tract
  • Low dosage and rapid absorption give high efficacy.

Does Dry Scooping Pre Workout Work Better?

In general, dry scooping pre-workout doesn’t work better and it doesn’t improve the absorption rate of the ingredients. Eliminating water from pre-workout and rapidly ingesting it, instead of gently sipping it, can lead to digestion problems.

Going rouge and dry scooping powder that hasn’t been properly dissolved isn’t the best option. Remember that our mouth is lubricated, but it cannot really handle a mouthful of powder. Some of the serving sizes reach 30-40g.

Low levels of saliva can slow down the process of swallowing, make it more difficult, and increase the potential for powder to lodge in the throat. That’s why people choke on the TikTok videos.

Can you take pre-workout without water? Technically you can take a pre-workout without water. But just because you can it doesn’t mean you should. The only way that this powder can move down without difficulty into the throat and onto the digestive tract is when you spend some time and mix it together with water.

Also, adding water into the supplements allows for a nice and steady slow release of the ingredients. The same when you take supplement capsules.

The capsules are typically made of either gelatin, or for a plant-based customers, manufacturers use vegan rice paper or pine cellulose. These covers allow for slow and steady realize and minimize the bad reactions on the stomach.

The reason why the dry scooping trend is so popular is that people think is more effective and they think it looks cool.

In my opinion, the misconception that taking dry powder straight into the mouth and swallow it without water will give better results comes from the fact that people don’t seem to understand the difference between dry scooping and sublingual absorption.

The classic example of sublingual absorption is when we take a vitamin tab and place it under the tongue to dissolve. Because our oral area beneath the tongue is highly moistured and vascularized, those substances can reach the bloodstream directly through the floor of the mouth through something which is called passive diffusion.

From the mouth, after passing through several veins, the substance eventually ends up in the systemic (general) circulation, bypassing the GI tract, and first-pass metabolism in the liver (source).

This type of use is typically done to enhance the absorption of specific tablets. In fact, some vitamins and minerals, also called sublingual supplements, in the form of tablets, liquid drops, or even intranasal sprays, are manufactured and recommended to be placed under the tongue for best results.

But you need to understand that those tablets are manufactured in a way that is been specifically designed for sublingual absorption.

Here are the most common methods to prepare sublingual vitamins:

TypeFeatures
Direct compressionDirect compression means adding highly water‐soluble excipients and super disintegrants to allows rapid solving. This type of method is mainly used for tablets.
Solvent castingThe solvent casting method is typically used in the manufacture of orally dissolving film. Disintegration efficacy is strongly affected by film size and hardness.

Those methods are mainly used in the production of drugs and vitamins and are always done in strict laboratory settings at the international and national levels. This means all the ingredients have been heavily tested and studied for best absorption, they all follow manufacturing guidelines, laws, and regulations to ensure safety.

On the other side, the manufacturing process of pre-workouts has a lot of liberty and there are no regulations. Across the supplement industry, the blend of ingredients for pre-workout typically includes caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, niacin, taurine, betaine, and citrulline.

Some of those ingredients need a presence of certain electrolytes that comes from water to be fully facilitated.

CitrullineCitrulline uptake rate is reduced in the absence of sodium cation (present in the water)
NiacinNiacin is another name for water-soluble vitamin B3. It is only absorbed through the stomach and the upper small intestine in the presence of water and it cannot be absorbed in the mouth.
CreatineCreatine administered with water enhances the peak plasma levels by 30% more, comparing to solid forms (source)
BetaineEfficient and optimum betaine uptake occurs in the presence of sodium (in the water)

Only the caffeine shows that absorption rate is much greater through buccal mucosa (cheeks), comparing to directly digesting it by the mouth.

As you can see, to get the most power from your gym workouts, when you take pre-workout mix it with water. A lot of water.

Is Dry Scooping Effective?

Generally, dry scooping isn’t more effective than taking supplements with regular 14oz water. In fact, to get the optimum effect and leverage the pre-workout or creatine powder, you would be better of to take it with water as it’s recommended on the container.

I understand it may look novel and original to dry scoop down the pipe whole powder while doing a selfie and then record reactions.

I also understand when people are hitting the gym but they forgot to take water with them. But that’s a totally different conversation.

Conclusion

In summary, dry scooping pre-workout is not only less effective than mixing it with water but also it can cause digestion problems. That’s why it is advised on every pre-workout container to use recommended dose with a sufficient amount of water.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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