protein powder expire

Protein Powder Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

You bought some big jars of protein powders when they were on a great sale, assuming that you will finish up a jar quickly as you exercise regularly. You forgot to check the best-by date in the store. Too bad, it’s only a few months left from now. Does protein powder go bad?

We’ve all been there! No worries, in this article we share some useful knowledge on protein powder; its shelf life, storage, and general signs of spoilage. Are you ready to take notes? Read on!

How To Store Protein Powder

Protein powder is a popular supplement to increase your protein intake. It’s notoriously known for muscle gain and weight loss.

Protein powder is sourced from a diverse range of animal- and plant-based materials. It may contain a single source of protein or a combination of some sources. 

Whey protein is the most popular variety processed from milk. Other sources include casein (also from milk), soy, egg white, peas, rice, hemp, collagen, etc.

Protein powder is a dried product. So, the storage guidelines are similar to other dry goods, like flour. The goal is to keep it dry and protected from moisture. Some protein powders may contain added sugar, so the powder may attract some bugs.

Storing an unopened pack is straightforward—no preparation needed. You can keep a bag or tub of protein powder in a cool, dry, dark place, protected from heat and lights. As usual, a pantry is an ideal place, but a kitchen cupboard or cabinet is excellent too.

Once opened, make sure to close the lid tightly after each use. If you purchase in a plastic bag, squeeze the air as much as possible. If the original package is not resealable, transfer the powder into an airtight container.

Use a clean, dry spoon to scoop out the powder and try not to leave the container open for too long. Excess air and moisture are detrimental to the powder.

How Do You Tell If Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?

A variety of factors may accelerate the deterioration of protein powder, from a chemical reaction, exposure to air, and contaminants.

Maillard reaction (or nonenzymatic browning) is a chemical reaction associated with the deterioration of whey powder. As a result, the nutritional value of the protein decreased from the break-down of lysine (amino acids). (*)

Other effects include off-flavor (rancid, sour), discoloration, decreased solubility, changes in textures, and increased acidity.

If moisture or water gets into the powder, it forms clumps and grows molds. If the powder smells like cardboard, stale, or musty, that’s definitely a bad sign. With any of these signs observed, it is better to discard the powder.

If everything seems reasonable, try to mix a drink from the powder. If it smells or tastes unusual, let’s just stay on the safe side.

How Long Does Protein Powder Last?

Protein powder may contain additives and preservatives to maintain the quality and prolong its shelf life. The average shelf life of protein powder is around 2 years after its production.

Does protein powder expire?

Manufacturers provide a “best-by” date on the package to estimate when the product should retain its peak quality. Just like many other packaged foods, a “best-by” date refers to quality rather than safety.

If you take good care of the powder and ensure that no spoilage signs are observed, the protein powder might still be safe to use within a few months after the recommended date.

The quality profile, such as the flavor or taste, may change a bit. Keep in mind that the nutritional value of protein content has changed. It means the protein powder won’t be as effective as it used to be.

Protein powderPantry
Protein powder (unopened or opened)Best by date + 3 to 6 months

This table serves as a rough estimate. The actual shelf life depends on the brands and storage conditions. Protein powder can also go bad before its “best by” date if not stored properly. If you’re doubting, it’s better to err on the side of the caution.


Can expired powder make you sick?

Protein powder might be safe to consume after its expiration date, as long as no spoilage signs are observed. The “best by” date is an indication of the best quality. However, if you see any symptoms mentioned in the earlier section, it’s better to discard the product.

Can protein powder go bad after mixing?

Yes, don’t leave protein shake too long at room temperature, especially if you add perishable ingredients such as milk or fresh fruits. Keep it chilled in the refrigerator if you need to prepare it in advance before hitting the gym.

Does protein powder go bad in the heat?

A study shows that prolonged storage of protein powder at 113 °F (45 °C) can accelerate the oxidation process, which forms various compounds and later impart the taste. (*)

Final Thoughts

Protein powder can be quite pricey, so you may want to make sure to store it under optimal conditions to maintain its quality and shelf life.

Keep it in a cool, dry, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Never leave it open and close the lid tightly after use. Consider transferring the powder into an airtight container if the original container is not resealable.

With proper storage, expired protein powder might still be usable. However, it may have suffered from protein loss due to chemical reactions. Common symptoms of spoiled protein powder are off-smell (rancid, sour, musty), discoloration, clumps, and signs of molds. Discard the powder if any of these signs is obvious.

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