How Long Does Protein Powder Last?

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Bought a container of protein powder that turned out to be too big? If so, you’re probably wondering how long does protein powder last?

Protein powders typically last a long time, but they lose efficacy with time.

Understanding the food expiration date of these nutritional supplements is crucial if you want to see maximum muscle gain.

Fortunately, you have come to the right place. 

Below, we’ll discuss the shelf life of protein powder products before and after you mix them.

How Long Does Protein Powder Last?

There are many types of protein powder formulas, all of which come with tons of health benefits.

They provide a relatively affordable way to boost your protein intake, allowing you to achieve your fitness goal quickly and safely.

As such, many buy these popular supplements in tubs, packs, or any other container they are sealed in.

If you are one of them, you are on the right track.

What Are the Factors That Affect Its Shelf Life?

So, how long does protein powder last, really?

The answer would depend on the combination of ingredients used by the protein powder brands.

For instance, a typical whey protein powder with no preservatives usually has a 12-month shelf life under harsh conditions.

Under normal conditions, it can last for seven extra months. 

That said, some protein powder manufacturers use maltodextrin, lecithin, or salt to extend the shelf life of their products.

If the mix of ingredients contains any of these substances, a dry protein powder can last for up to two years without any significant reduction in protein quality.

What Does Shelf Life Even Mean?

Note that the term “shelf life” generally refers to the amount of time that food products retain optimal quality.

Most manufacturers of supplements stamp this date on the containers, along with the date of production.

This way, you will have a better idea of when to consume your protein powder.

Another thing you need to remember is that manufacturers are not required by federal law to indicate the expiration dates of their products.

However, some brands do this voluntarily to help their customers.

They go out of their way to do an accelerated shelf life test, which is a process where they subject samples of their products to stressful conditions.

These can include high temperatures and humidity. This process gives sports nutrition companies a good idea of how long their protein powders can last.

How To Tell If Your Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?

As mentioned, manufacturers use extreme conditions to gauge the longevity of their products.

They play it safe by preparing for the worst scenario, allowing them to provide the best possible quality to their customers.

This approach has significant implications for how you approach the expiration of your protein powder.

The biggest one is that these conditions are hard to recreate in a normal home setting.

So, even if you neglect your protein powder, there is a good chance the sample in the manufacturer’s lab went through worse.

Essentially, this means that you can expect your protein powder to last beyond its declared expiration date.

Still, this is no reason for you to go crazy and use a protein powder that has expired for years.

learn how long does protein powder last

When To Toss It Out

It is generally safe to consume it a few months after it has supposedly gone bad. One or two weeks is even safer. 

However, if you decide to do this, check for signs of spoilage first. There are many ways to see if an expired protein powder is not safe to consume.

If there is any mold growth, you can go ahead and toss it out. Also, if its texture and color have changed or the powder has solidified into lumps or clumps, it has gone bad.   

Of course, like other food items, there is a rancid smell sometimes.  

In some cases, the signs are more subtle, and you have to be pretty familiar with your protein powder to know the difference.

A good example is how protein powder that has spoiled leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

If you think something is amiss but are unsure, err on the side of caution and get a new batch of whey protein instead.

The Maillard Browning Reaction

What happens between the declared expiration date and the point where you can no longer drink expired protein safely?

Usually, the powder slowly loses effectiveness, so you may not get the full amount of protein or amino acids you want.

That is because the protein and sugar in the mixture start to react with each other.

When this happens, it breaks down the lysine in the powder, which is an essential amino acid. This process is known as the Maillard Browning reaction. 

Will You Get Sick From Drinking Expired Protein Powders?

For most food products, the expiration date does not indicate when the food is no longer safe for consumption.

Instead, it signals the start of a decline in its quality.

One of the few exceptions is infant formula because the slightest deviation from the standard can be harmful to babies.

Now, going back to protein powders, drinking expired protein powders won’t make you sick.

You just won’t be getting your expected levels of protein or amino acids, diminishing the results.

Again, keep in mind that this is only true if the powder is not yet rancid or has not developed mold growth.

Just make sure there are no signs of spoilage before you try your luck with an expired protein powder.

Another thing you need to consider is that, while it rarely happens, it is still possible for these products to go bad before their expiration date.

This can happen if you do not store the container under cool and dry conditions.

Your best bet is to make a habit of checking your protein powder every time you open it to prepare your shake or drink.

This way, you ensure it is safe for consumption whether the product is expired or not.

How To Store Protein Powders Properly?

At this point, you should already know how to spot a protein powder that has gone bad.

It is important to keep this piece of information in mind because it will help keep you safe, regardless if your protein powder is past its expiration date or not.

That said, there is another thing you should be paying attention to, which is how to store your protein properly.

By following proper storage practices, you’d be able to prevent it from spoiling prematurely in the first place.

You won’t find yourself in a position where you have to decide if it’s okay to drink your protein or not.

To extend the shelf life of your protein supplement, make sure your storage space has a temperature close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A safe bet is a pantry in your kitchen.

Aside from this, make sure the storage space is dry. Better yet, keep the humidity below 65 percent. You can do this by opening the windows and drying clothes outside the room.

If you live in an area with naturally muggy conditions, you might need a dehumidifier.

It will be a good investment because it will help improve the overall air quality of your indoor space.  

How Long Do Protein Shakes Last?

So far, everything we have discussed involved protein in its powder form. What happens if you have already mixed it with water or whatever your favorite drink is?

Note that once your protein powder gets in contact with liquid, it immediately starts to deteriorate.

To give you a better idea, your protein shake would only last two to four hours if you do not put it in a refrigerator.

This does not necessarily mean it has gone bad, as curdling or fermentation is a slow process. Instead, it would be less pleasant to drink and riskier for your digestive system.

The more hours pass, the worse it gets, but the point where it becomes undrinkable is not always obvious.

So, if you plan to prepare your shake before heading out to the gym, make sure you put it in an insulated container.

How To Tell If Your Protein Shake Has Gone Bad?

Similar to the powder, there are ways to tell if a protein shake has gone bad. The most obvious ones are the smell and texture.

If your protein shake becomes clumpy or the powder and liquid start to separate, don’t drink it anymore.

In some instances, your drink can turn slimy, which is very discouraging to drink anyway.

Also, it is possible for your drink to look fine but taste weird. In this case, you are better off preparing another protein shake.

Safety First!

Protein powders last up to two years, and those that are a few weeks or months past their expiration dates are generally safe to drink.

That said, if you are in doubt, then don’t drink it. You’d be better off investing in a new tub of protein powder than risk going to the hospital.

If you always end up with spoiled protein powder, it might be a good idea to buy it either in smaller containers or individual packets.

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