Protein powder is a great workout supplement and perfect for building muscle fast. Yet it’s important that you only purchase as much protein powder as you’ll realistically drink within a month or two since protein powder has a chance of expiring before you use it all.

But wait – what if your protein powder container doesn’t have an expiration date? Does protein powder even truly expire? Let’s get to the bottom of these questions now.

What’s Used in Protein Powder?

Both professional athletes and regular folks who want to get fit will use protein powder to improve their body’s protein synthesis rate. Put more simply, protein powder helps you build muscle fast.

That’s because protein powder includes several excellent ingredients that can induce boosts for muscle gain, in addition to extra benefits. Protein powders usually have primary, protein-based ingredients like:

  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • And so on

Other protein powders may use whey or casein proteins, which are synthesized proteins that will digest quickly or slowly depending on your workout goals.

In addition, protein powders are often fortified with additional ingredients like:

  • Collagen, which can help with skin texture and appearance
  • Peas, which provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Rice, which provides vitamins and fiber
  • Natural flavors so that you don’t dread drinking a protein shake after a workout!

While the included ingredients are undeniably effective, they’re also natural products derived from animals or plants and will eventually degrade or expire over time.

Does This Mean Protein Powder Expires?

Yes. Like practically any other food product, protein powder will eventually expire. Poor storage and exposure to the open air will speed spoilage.

What exactly does expiration mean? In the case of protein powder, it means that bacteria eventually feed on the protein-based ingredients inside, spreading and “rotting” your tub of powder. Of course, you shouldn’t eat protein powder after it has expired!

Even if bacteria weren’t a problem, environmental issues can also ruin the powder given enough time. Oxygen, heat, and moisture can all affect the texture and effectiveness of a protein powder’s ingredients. Even if you store protein powder correctly, it’ll eventually expire, so it’s important to know how much time you have to eat protein powder and get the best results.

What’s the Normal Shelf Life for Protein Powder?

Of course, the exact shelf life for a given protein powder is dependent on the manufacturer and the exact ingredients included in its composition. In general, supplement manufacturers are not required to include a specific expiration date on their products.

Many companies do this anyway so that their consumers don’t have any negative side effects. This date may be represented by an “expiration date” or “best by” stamp somewhere on the outer packaging. Generally, protein powders will last for several months at a bare minimum.

Some whey-based protein powders can last for up to 12 months or even longer depend on how they are stored.  

Expiration Date vs True Expiration

Although expiration dates are handy tools to use, you have to remember that they’re not the same thing as true expiration points. According to the FDA, expiration dates are just dates that the manufacturer sets to indicate the last point at which they can guarantee top quality.

Let’s break it down with a specific example. Say that you had a protein powder with a milk base. The expiration date is for three months in advance. Does the protein powder automatically go bad after three months and one day?

Not at all. It just means that after three months, the manufacturer is not liable if your protein powder goes bad or if it doesn’t provide optimal performance for muscle growth.

This doesn’t mean expiration dates are worthless. In many cases, they are good general timelines to stick to if you want to make the most of your protein powder.

What Happens if You Consume Expired Protein Powder?

It depends – some protein powders expire and not much happens to them. In fact, the majority of protein powders are low moisture, which means they are less likely to get excessive bacterial growths that can harm you if consumed.

However, some protein powders can cause negative side effects if they’re ingested long after their expiration dates. For example, if your protein powder has a rancid smell or a bitter taste, it’s a good sign that you should stop eating or drinking it.

If you do consume expired protein powder, you might experience side effects or symptoms like:

  • An upset stomach
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • And more

Suffice it to say that it’s a much better idea to go get a new tub of protein powder if your current tub has been expired for quite a while.

How to Store Protein Powder for Best Results

Fortunately, storing protein powder to make sure it lasts for as long as possible is pretty simple. Your protein powder should come in a closable jar or tub. Always make sure that the lid is sealed tightly.

If your protein powder comes in a bag, squeeze out all the air possible after removing the protein powder for your current shake and seal the opening as tightly as possible.

Furthermore, you should try to store your protein powder in a cool, dry place that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight or moisture. For example, you could store your protein powder in a pantry or a cupboard that is away from direct sunlight. If you live in a humid climate, try to make sure that it’s stored a dry part of the house. That’s because humidity directly leads to bacterial growth.

Summary

All in all, protein powder can and does expire, but it takes bad storage practices and quite some time for the expiration to have measurable effects. Still, it’s a good idea to use good judgement for your protein powder, even if you get a high-quality supplement from Dr. Livingood.

Dr. Livingood, yes that is his real name, is the Founder of drlivingood.com natural health site and also the founder of Livingood Daily. He has authored two Amazon #1 Best Selling Books Livingood Daily and Make Food Simple. In 2007 after nearly losing his father to health conditions, Dr. Livingood was prompted to find a health care system to save his father’s life. Where medicine failed Dr. Livingood discovered solutions that got his father off 15 medications and overcame major heart and autoimmune conditions. As a Doctor of Natural Medicine and DC he now serves thousands of people in Morrisville, NC, and millions through his online and media presence. Dr. Livingood, his wife Jessica, and three kids spend their lives leading people nationally and locally in the hopes that others can experience real health.

Sources

Does Protein Powder Expire? (healthline.com) 

Safety and Effectiveness of Expired Protein Powder (menshealth.com) 

Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods? (fda.gov)