In a push to remain relevant by surrounding themselves in controversy, Tik Tokers and Youtubers alike have partaken in a dry scoop challenge similar to the cinnamon challenge nearly a decade prior. The trend involves taking powdered creatine, and sometimes protein, and directly ingesting it. Next, a related trend is called “shotgunning,” where pre-workout is combined with Bang creatine energy drinks for maximum effectiveness. Health and fitness professionals immediately attempted to dissuade fellow social media users from partaking in the challenge for fear of respiratory damage and the immediate ingestion of so much caffeine and other chemicals. However, this begs to question how safe this workout supplement is to take in the standard mixing method with water and drinking as the side effects can be just as potentially lethal.
Your average pre-workout included Branch Amino Acids, Creatine, Caffeine, Citrulline Malate, Taurine, Vitamin B12, and a host of electrolytes similar to Gatorade but most likely sodium derived. These chemicals help your average gym-goer or athlete stay focused, boost energy levels, promote lean muscle mass growth and retention, and quickens recovery. Most of these effects are proven to one degree or another in most scientific studies; though, they may cause internal damage in the case of frequent use.
Creatine is probably the second most used legal performance enhancer after protein supplements. Upon consumption, it can lead to overuse of one’s kidneys and liver to detoxify it from your body, with organ failure being the most extreme recorded scenario. It can ironically even put too much strain on the muscle as its energy-boosting makes the consumer less likely to let their muscles rest.
Caffeine is considered a safe nootropic in coffee. However, most pre-workouts contain large amounts that overwork the heart just as much as creatine does the kidneys. This altered, alert state may be helpful during exercise, but can cause anxiety and high blood pressure levels when outside the gym. For example, Kentaro Miura, the writer for the epic manga Berserk, recently passed due to aortic dissection, one of many heart conditions that can stem from high blood pressure.
The final, albeit relatively unspoken, symptoms of these pre-workout beverages are feelings of withdrawal when no longer used. This may suggest that the supplement may be at least slightly addictive, and you will see a crash in performance should you choose to cut it out of your diet after some time.
Most doctors suggest simply having a balanced, protein-rich diet while getting your creatine from natural sources like red beets.