Social media has brought society many things besides cute cat photos and disinformation. One trend just starting to emerge from the shadows is "dry scooping" – the practice of wolfing down protein powder without mixing it with liquid.
It's a practice most popular among young men and adolescent males, many of whom have what's called muscle dysmorphia, a mental health condition characterized as the "pathological pursuit of muscularity." They think they need bigger muscles, in other words.
Protein powders of various kinds have been around for decades. They often contain illegal supplements including steroids and other hazardous substances. They're not necessary for most healthy people but dedicated gym-goers are convinced they help pile on muscle when combined with weight-lifting.
Sure enough, we moused around a little and found that there's even apparel for dry scooping addicts.
Don't drink it dry
Swallowing the stuff dry is crossing the line, says a University of Toronto professor involved in a recent study.
"Dry scooping can have serious health effects, including issues with inhalation, cardiac abnormalities, and digestive issues,” said Kyle T. Ganson, PhD, MSW, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.
A new study, published in the academic journal Eating Behaviors, has found that over one in five adolescent boys and young adult men have engaged in dry scooping.
Analyzing data from over 2,700 Canadian adolescents and young adults from the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors, the researchers found that 17% of participants reported dry scooping at least one time in the previous year, and an average of 50 times over that time period. The researchers also found that participants who engaged in weight training and spent greater time on social media were more likely to report dry scooping.
“Our data shows that novel dietary phenomena that become popularized on social media and within gym culture can lead to a greater likelihood of engagement,” Ganson said. “We need to be thinking of these risk factors as potential areas of prevention and intervention.”
“We need health care and mental health care providers to be knowledgeable of these unique dietary practices aimed at increasing performance and musculature, such as dry scooping,” says Ganson.
The researchers called for more investigation, as well as prevention and intervention efforts, such as educating young people on the potential harms and lack of evidence of dry scooping.