Powdered dietary supplements? Be careful | Health beat
Shoveling dry is a trending topic on social media these days.
What is it? A person swallows a pre-workout powder – protein, caffeine, creatine, or other ingredients – without adding any liquid.
But don’t do it.
Medical experts have pelted the trend with cold water, warning that it can be dangerous and lead to an increase in blood pressure or heart rate, which can lead to irregular heartbeat.
While some people can ingest the dry powder without experiencing an adverse reaction, others can be at significant risk – and the potential unknowns are particularly worrying.
Additionally, research suggests that dry powder alone won’t increase your athletic ability.
Dietary supplements are supposed to help your performance and allow you to work out longer and better, so Matthew Axtman, DO, Specialist in sports medicine with Spectrum Health Medical Group Orthopedics.
“A lot of problems with pre-workout substances in general are that they’re not (FDA cleared) and you don’t know what’s in them,” said Dr. Axman.
Caffeine is probably one of the most important ingredients in a powder. It adds a caffeine boost that can increase awareness and performance.
But you have to be careful, said Dr. Axman.
“The problem with some of the pre-workout substances is that they contain high levels of caffeine, which can be dangerous, especially for people who don’t drink a lot of caffeine,” he said. “That can correspond to up to four cups of coffee.”
High caffeine levels can cause chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, palpitations, and tingling sensations in your arms and legs, said Dr. Axman.
“There have actually been some stories of people in their twenties who had a heart attack because their heart rate and blood pressure increased from exercise combined with caffeine,” he said.
Know before you try
When you choose a pre-workout powder, you know what’s in it and what you’re doing.
It’s not something to be taken lightly – you have to understand what you’re taking, said Dr. Axman.
The powder should be swallowed with water, as it leads to the risk of suffocation if taken dry. The substance could get into your lungs and cause pneumonia.
Consumers have a variety of protein powders to choose from, including some plant-based or animal-based, said Holly Dykstra, a cardiovascular nutritionist with Spectrum Health who specializes in preventive cardiology and rehab.
You also need to be careful as many of these powders contain excessive amounts of sugar and sodium that may not meet your nutritional goals, Dykstra said.
“Some people can benefit from adding powdered protein to their diet if they don’t have meals or snacks to meet their individual protein needs,” she said. “But many Americans are getting more protein than they need, so it may not be necessary to consume a pre-workout powder. It is a good idea to speak to your doctor or nutritionist to be sure. “
Not worth the risk
One tip to consider: avoid pre-workout powders entirely.
That is the advice of Phillip Adler, PhD, a licensed sports trainer and operations manager for Spectrum Health Orthopedic Outreach.
“From a sports coach’s point of view, I’ve always advised against dietary supplements, especially those with caffeine,” said Dr. Eagle.
The risks can outweigh the benefits.
“You artificially raise your heart rate before engaging in any activity that normally increases that rate,” said Dr. Eagle.
To prepare before training, you should drink enough water and do appropriate stretching exercises.
“I would strongly advise against dry shoveling because of the potential risks and limited benefits if any,” he said.
Dr. Axtman also urges people to play it safe.
“Nothing in research has shown that pre-exercise supplements have any direct muscle gain benefit, even when taken with water, but can increase endurance during exercise,” said Dr. Axman. “If you are concerned about your pre-workout, you can have some coffee, cheese or meat for protein before your workout and get the same effectiveness.
“You get the same essential ingredients without spending hundreds of dollars on expensive supplements.”
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