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Pre-workout supplements — the safety of which is debated among experts — are having a moment on TikTok. First, there were videos of people “dry scooping” powdered supplements (which, FTR, can be incredibly unsafe), and now, there’s a new pre-workout trend making the rounds: fitness enthusiasts are dipping fruit in the substances and then eating it. (Related: Your Guide to Pre- and Post-Workout Supplements)
A recent TikTok video shows user @taetjhi dipping a piece of watermelon into a cap of Beyond Raw Lit pre-workout powder, next to the words, “the only way to take pre in the summer.”
The reactions in the comments section of @taetjhi’s TikTok video ranged from impressed to confused to concerned. “U are a smart man,” said a commenter. “Bro what,” questioned another, while one user stated, “Pre needs water to activate the pump ingredients.”
Liam Swanson, a fellow TikTokker, also shared a June video of himself dumping pre-workout over a container of chopped watermelon — which, actually, does contain a lot of water — before eating it. “Dry scooping is a thing of the past,” he wrote in the caption, pointing out in the video that “it’s actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be.”
Much like the commenters of these posts, you probably have some questions about dipping fruit in pre-workout too — including whether or not this trend is even safe. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Pre-Workout, Again?
Pre-workout is a broad term used to describe supplements that people take before they exercise, often with the purpose of providing energy for the workout. It usually comes in powder form and can be used to make drinks and smoothies. Pre-workout supplements have a wide range of ingredients, depending on the exact brand and product. A 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients analyzed the 100 most popular pre-workout supplements and found that 44 percent “of all ingredients were included as part of a proprietary blend with undisclosed amounts of each ingredient.”
Based on what was actually on the labels, researchers discovered that the most popular ingredients were: Beta-alanine, an amino acid known to boost exercise performance; caffeine; citrulline, an amino acid that promotes blood flow; tyrosine, an amino acid some people believe helps with exercise; taurine, an amino acid found in many energy drinks; and creatine, a supplement used to build muscle mass.
Some pre-workouts also contain carbohydrates (which helps provide fuel for your muscles during exercise), while others are without. Basically, there’s a wide range of ingredients here, but all pre-workout is designed to do the same thing: Make your workout and its benefits even better.
Is It a Good Idea to Mix Pre-Workout with Fruit?
There are a few things to consider here, according to Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. One is that pre-workout is designed to be mixed with ~something~ and that’s usually liquid. Dry scooping trend aside, “no one typically in their right mind would want to eat it straight,” says Gans.
You’re also losing a little potential hydration when you mix pre-workout with fruit. Granted, “fruit is also hydrating,” says Gans. If you’re concerned about your hydration levels, she says drinking water alongside your pre-workout-infused fruit should help. (Related: The 16 Best Water Bottles for Workouts, Hiking, and Everyday Hydration)
Still, “there are definitely no benefits to having pre-workout this way,” says Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutrition, and ARENA. “It’s just a different way of consuming the pre-workout,” he says.
As for whether this is a good idea, Gans offers this up: “If you are presently using a pre-workout supplement that you enjoy, why not? If you aren’t presently using a pre-workout supplement, this is not a reason to start.”
If you need a little energy boost before you work out, consider coffee. It’s long been linked to health benefits — including boosted exercise performance — sans the potentially questionable ingredients of supplements.
OK, But Is It Safe to Have Pre-Workout with Fruit?
Whether you take your pre-workout with fruit or not, it’s important to note that this stuff — like all supplements — isn’t regulated for safety by the Food and Drug Administration before it hits the market. What the FDA can do, however, is pull supplements like pre-workout from shelves if there’s concern over safety, or enough people complain about a particular product.
As a result, it’s hard to know what’s actually in your pre-workout and in what amounts — and that’s concerning, says Jane Ziegler, D.C.N., associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers School of Health Professions.
In general, “if you’re following the recommended serving size of the supplement, it should be safe,” says Gans. Meaning, be mindful of how much pre-workout you’re putting on your fruit — don’t just dump a bunch on there and hope for the best. “Most pre-workouts contain caffeine or other stimulants, and you risk having too much if you don’t measure it out ahead of time,” says Matheny.
While some people have walked away unscathed from dry-scooping, two women filmed their adverse reactions to the TikTok trend, with one revealing that she had a heart attack, and the other saying she couldn’t breathe and needed her inhaler.
On that note, “any time you’re ingesting powder, you could choke on it,” says Matheny. “It’s meant to be mixed in water. No pre-workout company would advise you taking it this way.”
All in all, you’re better off just mixing your pre-workout with water — as is intended. Or, honestly, Ziegler says you can skip the pre-workout altogether and just have the fruit: “Intake of fruits alone without supplements is a healthy pre-workout snack.”