Does Protein Powder Expire? Stop Throwing Away Good Products!

If you are looking for an answer to the question "Does protein powder expire?" you are in the right place.

Protein powder has a shelf life of 9 to 19 months. However, these supplements don't expire like meat, eggs and other produce. So you can consume protein powder over its expiration date, if it was stored in a cool and dry place, and it didn't change its smell, texture, color, and taste.

Keep reading for an in-depth answer concerning:

  • How long protein powder lasts
  • The true meaning of the expiration date labeled on supplements
  • How to tell if your protein has gone bad
  • Whether it is safe to consume expired protein powder
  • How to maximize the shelf life of your protein supplement

And more. Let's get started.

The basics about protein powder

Does protein powder expire

Protein powder is one of the most popular supplements out there.

It is mostly used to assist with muscle and strength building.

However, protein powder is actually recommended to and used by people with all sorts of goals and conditions: ranging from diabetics who want to enjoy healthy and tasty protein recipes, to gastric sleeve patients, teens, and performance athletes.

Protein powder's been known to help build muscle, aid with fat loss, stabilize blood sugar levels, increase bone health, control blood pressure, and more. (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)

Some of the most common types of protein powder are:

  • Whey-derived protein powder
  • Beef protein
  • Egg white protein
  • Pea protein
  • Soy protein
  • Vegan blend

Since it is so versatile and comes with so many different benefits, it's no wonder that protein powder is the most popular supplement on the market.

And if you purchased your own tub of protein supplements, you may be wondering…

Does protein powder expire?

And if so, what is its shelf life?

And lastly… is it safe to consume expired protein powder?

And below, you will find answers to each of these questions in part.

How long does protein powder last?

Picture of a protein shake with a cup of protein powder next to it

Nowadays there is a clear answer regarding the shelf life of protein powder, unlike years ago.

Studies have been conducted where researchers used accelerated shelf life tests to determine how long protein powder lasts.

It was found that protein powder has a shelf life ranging from 12 up to 19 months under normal storage conditions. These conditions are defined as 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) and 35% humidity. (6)

Mind you, the research was only conducted on protein powder derived from whey.

Whether the shelf life is similar between protein powders derived from different protein sources is unknown. However, under normal storing conditions, it is believed to be the same - 12 to 19 months.

But this is not quite accurate.

Most protein supplement manufacturers use food additives in their products.

Things like maltodextrin, lecithin, and salt, will make your protein powder expire later and last for up to 24 months.

Is expired protein powder safe?

Picture of protein powder in a tupperware

More often than not, expired protein powder is safe.

Protein powder doesn't expire like meat and other produce. It can be consumed over its expiration date if stored properly, and unless it has a funky smell, texture, or taste. The date stamped on the tub or bag is more indicative of quality rather than safety.

So how can you tell if your protein powder is still safe after its expiration date?

First of all, you must know that the FDA doesn't require supplement manufacturers to list an expiration date on their products. And even though most manufacturers list a date on the package, it may not mean what you think it means. Here is how to interpret those dates:

  • "Best by" date: refers to the date by which the manufacturer guarantees the best quality and flavor of the product. However, it doesn't have anything to do with safety.
  • "Sell by" date: refers to how long the product can be displayed for sale by the store. It has to do with inventory management. Once again, it doesn't have anything to do with safety.
  • "Use by" date: refers to the last date you should consume a product. After this date it is recommended to throw the product away. This has to do both with quality and safety.

If your expired protein powder doesn't have a funky smell, texture, color, or taste, it is still good.

But it may no longer be as effective!

Even though protein powder can be used over its expiration date, with time it may lose some of its muscle building properties. A study found that lysine, an essential amino acid, can start to break down over time. (7)

This is due to a reaction called the Maillard reaction, where carbohydrates react with protein, resulting in the breaking down of the amino acid lysine.

So, the more time you've had your supplement, the less effective it may prove to be.

How to tell if your protein powder has gone bad?

Tub of protein supplements extracted from pea

Unless your protein powder has "gone bad", it is safe to use even though expired.

But what does protein powder going bad look like, and how can you prevent it from happening?

Here are the signs that your supplement has gone bad:

  • Funky and rancid smell
  • Clumping in the container
  • Changes in color
  • Funny taste

If you notice any of these reactions, whether your protein powder has expired or not, it means that it went bad and you have to throw it away.

So how can you prevent this from happening?

Firstly, you have to understand why this happens.

All protein supplements have a bit of fat in their contents.

And even though the protein and carbohydrates can last for a long time, fats do spoil.

To avoid spoilage of your supplement, you have to store your protein powder properly - away from excessive heat, moisture, and air.

  1. 1
    Make sure that the lid of the tub is always tightly sealed.
  2. 2
    Avoid any type of liquid getting into the tub - whether it's water or a droplet of sweat.
  3. 3
    Keep your tub or bag of protein in a dry place, away from moisture and excessive heat. Kitchen pantries are a good option.

Easy, right?

How to maximize shelf life of protein powder?

Most of what maximizing the shelf life of protein powder is, boils down to sealing the container tightly. This prevents any air or moisture to enter and spoil the fats in your supplement.

However, that is only part of the steps you can take to prevent your supplement from going bad.

Here are our best tips on how to best preserve your protein powder:

  • Always use the original container. The opaque container the protein powder comes in protects it from light-induced spoilage.
  • Store in a cool, dry place. This can be the pantry, cupboard, or even a drawer. Storing your supplement in such a place will assure that there will be no spoilage due to heat or moisture.
  • Don't store it in the fridge or freezer. If you store protein powder in the fridge, it may absorb moisture. On the other hand, freezing and thawing it will lead to condensation in the container. And we already know that moisture is a protein powder killer.
  • Always use a dry scoop. Again, to prevent moisture. Make sure your scoop as well as your hand are dry when reaching inside the jug of muscle building goodness.
  • Don't store it on top of the fridge. Again, this has to do with temperature. Mechanical heat from your fridge can lead to faster spoilage of your protein powder.

As long as you tightly seal your container and keep it in a cool and dry place, your protein powder will be fair game even after its expiration date.

And if you are traveling, you can safely bring your protein powder on a plane. As long as you don't store it in a humid and warm place for an extended amount of time - think days -, you are good to go.

FAQs

With these in mind, let's answer some of the most common questions in regards to storing protein powder, its expiration date, and safety.

Does protein powder expire if unopened?

Yes, protein powder expires even if unopened.

However, the shelf life of an unopened container of protein supplements is longer than that of an opened container.

As mentioned above, protein powder has a shelf life of 12 to 19 months.

If you open the container, you are looking at the 12-month shelf life mark, whereas if you don't open it, you are looking at 19 months. However, most manufacturers use different preservatives which extend the shelf life to up to 24 months.

Do liquid protein shakes expire?

Yes!

As opposed to protein in its powdered form, ready-to-drink protein shakes should absolutely NOT be consumed past their expiration date. If the shake is no longer in its prime, throw it away.

Can I make my protein shake ahead of time?

Yes, and you can drink it within 24 hours as long as you've stored it in the fridge.

If you've made a protein shake and forgot it on your kitchen counter in the heat, you are better off just throwing it away and making a new one. To find out more, read our article on how long does a protein shake last.

Conclusion

So, does protein powder expire?

It does. However, it doesn't expire the way other products do.

As long as you store your protein supplement in a cool and dry place, with the lid tightly closed, you don't have to worry about it going bad - even after its expiration date.

We do encourage you to err on the side of caution and still look out for signs of spoilage like changes in smell, color, texture, and taste. If anything seems off, then you should throw away the tub and purchase a new one.

Over to you.