This is actually such a great question as I don’t believe people put much thought into it. But to answer the question, yes – protein powder does expire. I know there are many people out there who look for a great sale or promotion on protein powder and when they see it, they stock up. That’s actually smart as it can save you money, in the long run, assuming you’re going to use it fairly quickly. But if you’re purchasing the product from a retailer, it could be on sale because it’s close to expiration. So, buyer beware.
There are some things you should know about best protein powders before you go make a purchase and stock up your pantry with various tubs of every flavor under the sun. Some quick background, I worked for a large supplement manufacturer for nearly a decade before starting my business and these types of questions came up all the time in conversation. This one quickly became a common question as people didn’t understand if protein powder had an expiration and if so, is it safe to consume after? Should you throw it away? Is it still good for a few extra months? Will it hurt me? Etc.
How to Store Your Best Protein Powder
When you purchase your tubs or bags of Best Protein Powder, you never want to leave them open. Always be sure to put the lid back on tightly and if it’s a bag try to squeeze out all the air without pushing the powder out the top and then seal the opening. Additionally, you don’t want to leave the bag or tub open for too long as heat and moisture can get in and start damaging the contents.
The best place to keep your protein powder is in a cool, dry, and dark area such as a pantry or one of the cupboards in your kitchen where it is away from direct sunlight and moisture.
How Long Does Protein Powder Last Once Opened? Can Protein Powder Expire?
Again, YES. Is the straight answer to Does Protein Powder Expire? There is an actual expiration date stamped on the tub or bag or it may say “best used by” date. While best protein powder can last you well over a year, it all depends on the actual product you purchase. Protein can sit on the shelf of a retailer for months, even longer in some cases if it’s a slow-moving product. And that’s not even counting how long the product has sat in a warehouse prior to making its way to the retailer and then your home. Always look at the label of a protein powder you are considering purchasing to locate the expiration date and figure out if the date gives you enough time to consume the contents before it expires.
As a gauge, due to the nature of the protein powder being just that (a powder), its shelf life is much longer than many other items and should have a 12+ month shelf life when you purchase it. However, depending on the actual added ingredients, it could be less (especially if it has natural products in it without a bunch of preservatives) – that’s why it’s so important to check.
What Happens If the Protein Powder Expires?
If you look and the protein powder you have laying around the house has expired, all hope is not lost. Depending on if it’s a straight protein powder or if it has added ingredients, you can still use it past the expiration (but I’d say for only for a week or two – assuming there’s nothing wrong with it). A manufacturer I used to work for mentioned best protein powder can be consumed up to three months after the expiration date, but I like to err on the side of health and safety.
Now personally, once it hits the expiration, I toss it (but that’s how I am with everything that has an expiration date). But generally speaking, after time, a best protein powder will start to lose its efficacy which simply means the product will not work as well as when it was “fresh.” This could mean you aren’t getting the full amount of protein and amino acids you would normally from a freshly made tub of protein powder.
Going a little deeper, expired protein powder can start to actually have the protein react with the sugar present in the product (even if it’s only a little bit) which can breakdown the lysine (an amino acid) content in the product. In case you wanted to get geeky, this process is called Maillard browning.
Take note, there is a drastic difference between a protein powder expiring and a protein shake (RTD) expiring. I would 100% toss the expired RTD version once it hits expiration.
Does Putting Your Protein in Liquid Change Anything?
Touching on the RTD concept, many people mix their protein powder into a shake before heading to work or the gym and keep it in a refrigerator or bag until they are ready to consume it. Is there anything wrong with that? Is the protein stable in liquid for a long period of time? It is. However, not for long-term storage. If you mix your protein powder with your favorite liquid, you want to consume it within 48 hours. That being said, if you leave the shake out in a warm or hot environment, you are not going to want to drink the contents. At that point, dump it, wash the shaker bottle or container, and start over with a fresh protein shake.
The key takeaway of pre-mixing your protein shake and keeping it in a shaker bottle would be to ensure the shaker or container is properly sealed at all time before drinking the protein shake. Having it open and out there for the elements to do their evil deeds will surely turn things upside down fairly quickly.
And as a side note, when you’re done with your shaker bottle or container that held your protein shake, be sure to rinse it out at a minimum and wash it when you get home. The last thing you want to do is toss a used shaker bottle or container in your car on a hot summer day and think your car will ever be the same. At that point, you’re going to want to Febreze your car and toss your shaker bottle in the trash ASAP. It’s going to smell like an animal died in your car and has been there for quite a long time. It will leave you trying not to vomit (a little graphic but it’s the truth).
How Can You Tell If Your Best Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?
This can be even before the product reaches its expiration date, but you’re going to want to look at your protein powder. If you see any wet clumps when you look in, it means moisture got into the protein powder. At that point, I’d say it’s safe to say you want to chuck the protein powder and open a new tub.
Also, whey (milk) protein is a byproduct of cheese. Even as a dry powder, it can still go bad over time. If you open up the container of protein powder and it smells bad, toss it. The same can be said about egg and soy-based protein powder as well.
Note: Consume expired protein at your own risk. To play it safe, the best option would always be to throw your protein powder away once it hits the expiration date.